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GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND …

On Phillip Adams’ Late Night Live Tony Moore of the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash explains the Centre’s  “recovering the Australian working class” project. In arguing for a strong social wage he points out how means-tested benefits have contributed to “downward envy”.  Australia’s working class is not necessarily poor, but it is disadvantaged in areas such as health and education.

Transparency International has released its Corruption Perception Index 2017. New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the Nordic countries retain their lead rankings. Australia, which held 8th place behind these countries in 2012, has slipped to 13th place. Even the United Kingdom now ranks ahead of Australia.

On Australia’s stagnating real wages Ross Gittins writes that “the union movement has done too little to counter the alarmists telling their members they’ve lost the power to ask for more”.  Stagnating wages may be stoking workers’ disaffection with the Turnbull Government, to the Benefit of the Labor Party, but they’re doing nothing for people’s pay packets or the Australian economy.

Reports of journalism’s imminent demise are exaggerated, but politicians aren’t helping – the Guardian.

The IMF doesn’t share the Government’s heroic growth predictions – Greg Jericho in the Guardian..

Donald Trump is the worst of the worst – Michael Tomansky in New York Review of Books.

The real reason Americans don’t care about the cost of wars – The Nation.

Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now. He either believes Putin’s denials, or more likely, is afraid of what the Russians have on him – Thomas Friedman.

Turnbull’s US visit should prompt us to rethink our place in the world – The Guardian.

On Saturday Extra this 24th February, Geraldine Doogue brings you the February edition of A Foreign Affair. It was recorded at the ANU on Wednesday evening in front of an audience. Menna Rawlings, the British High Commissioner, Michael Wesley, Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the ANU and Bob Carr, former ALP Senator and Foreign Affairs minister are the guests. Former ALP minister Craig Emerson also joins Geraldine to discuss his life in politics. Rodger Shanahan, research fellow for the West Asia program at the Lowy Institute provides a where are we up to in the Middle East as the situation in Syria becomes worse and Andrew Rosser, professor of Southeast Asian Studies from Melbourne University discusses why the education system in Indonesia is being held back and what the implications are for Australian education providers. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

ROSS GITTINS. Self-interest standing in the way of a fix for the Murray-Darling

Genelle Haldane, my desk calendar tells me, has said that “only until all of mankind lives in harmony with nature can we truly decree ourselves to be an intelligent species”. I’ve no idea who Haldane is or was, but she’s right. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Environment and climate | Leave a comment

JOHN MENADUE. When will we wake up to the risks as well as the benefits of the US alliance (A REPOST)

We are a nation in denial that we are ‘joined at the hip’ to a dangerous ally. Apart from brief isolationist periods, the US has been almost perpetually at war; wars that we have often foolishly been drawn into. The US has subverted and overthrown numerous governments over two centuries. It has a military and business complex, almost a ‘hidden state’, that depends on war for influence and enrichment. It believes in its ‘manifest destiny’ which brings with it an assumed moral superiority which it denies to others. As the US goes into relative economic decline, it will be asking allies such as Australia for more help and support. We are running great risks in committing so much of our future to the US. We must build our security in our own region and not depend so exclusively on a foreign protector.   Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

QUENTIN GRAFTON and JOHN WILLIAMS. States’ dummy-spit over the Murray-Darling Basin Plan clouds the real facts

Given the outraged reaction from some state water ministers to the disallowance of an amendment to the Murray Darling Basin Plan, you would be forgiven for thinking that a heinous crime had been committed against farmers in upstream states. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 1 Comment

GARY JOHNSTON. The Future Submarine: a technical problem

It is nearly two years since the government announced that the Shortfin Barracuda, to be designed and built by the French company, Naval Group, would be Australia’s future submarine (FSM). The proposed acquisition remains controversial. As an Australian citizen who has observed over many years the ongoing waste and incompetence exhibited in many Defence acquisitions, I have been concerned since the outset at the huge cost and immense risks around the FSM project. In this article, I describe what may be a major technical error on the part of the Defence department, with potentially far reaching consequences. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | Leave a comment

ANDREW GLIKSON. The price of the Earth.

Dear Caesar, Keep burning, raping and killing, but please, please spare us your obscene poetry and ugly music” (From Seneca’s last letter to Nero).  

Astrophysicist Greg Laughlin came up with a figure of €3000 trillion for the worth of planet Earth, given its breathable atmosphere—a shield from cosmic radiation. A close estimate is by Greg Laughlin at US$5000 trillion. By contrast Mars is estimated as a modest $16,000 while Venus is dismissed at about a penny (https://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/new-formula-values-earth-at -50000000000000.html).  Far from a joke, such estimates symbolize the religious worship of money, the loss of reverence toward nature and life and the reality of the Faustian Bargain in the roots of the seventh mass extinction of species. Once a species has acquired the power to destroy its environment, the species needs to be perfectly wise and in control if it is to survive.  Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

GILES PARKINSON. Weatherill: Why state election will be a referendum on renewables.

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill might not be able to see much daylight between his Labor Party and the rival Liberals and SA Best, but he’s certainly making sure there is a big difference between his energy policy and those of the Opposition and the upstart party of Nick Xenophon. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

SAUL ESLAKE. The quest for ‘security’ – is it rational, has it made us safer, and at what cost?

In November last year, I gave an address to the Royal Society of Tasmania – the oldest such society ‘dedicated to the advancement of knowledge’ outside of the United Kingdom – at an event hosted by the Governor of Tasmania, Her Excellency Professor Kate Warner AC, at her official residence in Hobart.  In this address I posed, and sought to answer, three questions:

  • How significant a risk is the threat of terrorism in Australia, both in absolute terms and relative to some of the other risks and threats on our horizon?
  • How effective in reducing that risk have the various measures enacted in the name of ‘security’ actually been? and
  • How does whatever reduction in the risks posed by terrorism which has been obtained compare with the costs, broadly defined, of those measures? 

Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 5 Comments

PAUL FRIJTERS. Our Countries Need Us

Humanity is at a high point. What our ancestors dreamed of is slowly becoming a reality: a world without hunger in which the vast majority of mankind live peaceful and long lives. We are not there yet, but in Europe, East Asia, Latin America, and even in Africa (our cradle), mankind is emerging from dark times. People live longer, healthier, happier, and more educated lives. Paid for and organised by countries, helped by international flows of people and information.

And yet, our countries are under threat from a disconnect between the elites and the population of individual countries.

Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 3 Comments

JOAN STAPLES. Bill weak on stopping foreign donations, but strong on silencing NGOs.

The current Bill before parliament to reform electoral donations is the most comprehensive attempt I have seen at silencing public advocacy in 30 years.  It does not succeed in its supposed aim to restrict foreign donations – an aim that is supported by NGOs.  Instead, it is a convoluted, excruciatingly complicated maze that will undoubtedly silence a wide range of charities, NGOs and public interest institutions.  Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Politics | 2 Comments

JOHN DWYER. The curse of political mediocrity; The informed, bold, courageous policies that Australia needs in health are nowhere to be seen. (Part 3 of 3)

This “fair go mate” country of ours is wealthy but in reality ever less egalitarian. Increasing Inequity is palpable and most notable in the problems we have with housing, education and health. Health outcomes for Individuals are increasingly dependent on personal financial wellbeing. Australians are spending about 30 billion dollars a year to supplement the care available from our universal health care system. Many, of course, do not have the resources to to cover “out of pocket” expenses. Many of these problems have become chronic as political intransigence inhibits the development of bold, informed and even courageous policies. Policy development, such as it is, is often insular, ignoring the successful tactics of other countries in addressing similar problems. The Commonwealth Fund, which compares the worlds health systems for quality, is critical of our efforts to swing our health system around to focus on the prevention of disease. Eleven other OECD countries are currently doing a better job than we are.How can we change this unsatisfactory situation? PART 3. Continue reading

Posted in Health | Leave a comment

ELIZABETH EVATT. Democracy under challenge.

In their recent book, How Democracies Die, discussed this week on Late Night Live, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, outlined how democracies can be undermined and ultimately destroyed without the violent coup of Pinochet, but by abuse of the system itself. They address the problems of the United States. But we have to be on guard because some of the symptoms are starting to infect our own democracy in Australia. Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights | 4 Comments

HENRY REYNOLDS. Australia: A Belligerent Nation

Much discussion has been generated by the recently released Defence White. There were several penetrating essays in Pearls and Irritations. But looking at the text as a historian it seemed that some of the most interesting observations passed without notice. I was drawn to the statement that there was no more than a remote prospect of a military attack by another country on Australian territory in the foreseeable future. It was a truism which, it seemed, scarcely needed examination. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 3 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. The failure of the National Party and Barnaby Joyce on rural poverty and rural health.

Country electorates have the most disadvantaged people, the poorest health and inferior health services.  But the National Party does very little about it. Does it care?

Yesterday I referred to the disproportionate political influence of the National Party despite its declining electoral base. I referred also to its policy failures in so many areas like NBN, climate change and irrigation. 

Today I refer to its failure to address rural poverty and poor rural health

Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Health | 1 Comment

QUENTIN DEMPSTER. Emma Alberici’s now more critical tax cuts ‘analysis’ reposted by ABC

After a bitter dispute between ABC management and their star chief economics correspondent,  Emma Alberici, the ABC today reposted her ‘analysis’ of the Turnbull government’s plan for big corporate tax cuts. Continue reading

Posted in Media | 2 Comments

GEOFF MILLER: Trump and Turnbull must recognise that China is not going away.

Foreshadowed warnings by American spokesmen to the Prime Minister and his party during their coming visit to the United States about the rise of China reflect a belated realisation on America’s part that the China challenge is for real, but do not reflect the position of Australia, which has important links to both competing powers. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | Leave a comment

PETER MARTIN. Relax, there’s no need to follow Trump on company tax – yet

We were mugs to believe what we were told in the election about property prices. The Prime Minister said if negative gearing went and capital gains were better taxed, prices would be “smashed”. His Treasurer said it would “take a sledgehammer” to prices. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

RICHARD BUTLER. Turnbull and Trump: Meeting of Mates

It is not clear what this weeks US/Australia summit meeting will achieve. Both participants might welcome its optics, but each have other political needs. The critical issue for Australia is likely to be what exactly will Trump ask of Turnbull and will he get it. It is depressingly unlikely that Turnbull will address any of the areas in which Trump’s policies have been destabilising, destructive and widely rejected. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | Leave a comment

GILES PARKINSON. SA Labor shoots for 75% renewables, 25% storage target

South Australia’s Labor government has doubled down on its commitment to renewable energy, promising to increase the share of renewables to 75 per cent by 2025 if re-elected at next month’s state poll, and announcing plans to install 750MW of “renewable storage” to go with it. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

JOHN MENADUE. The Liberals and the Nationals – Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce

Only weak and compromised Liberal Party leadership would put up with the behaviour of Barnaby Joyce and the Nationals who have influence way out of proportion to their numbers and on policy issues, are a blank page or even worse. As Ian McAuley said yesterday Barnaby Joyce is an albatross around Malcolm Turnbull’s neck. It is getting worse every day. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 7 Comments

BOB CARR. Whitlam had it easier on China policy

When Labor statesman Gough Whitlam opened relations with China it was a Maoist tyranny, more like today’s North Korea than today’s China. It was sunk in poverty. Its people could not travel overseas. They couldn’t move from village to village without party permission. It was illegal to own a small business. And China ran revolutionary movements in Southeast Asia. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | Leave a comment

JOHN DWYER. The curse of political mediocrity; The informed, bold, courageous policies that Australia needs in health are nowhere to be seen. (Part 2 of 3)

This “fair go mate” country of ours is wealthy but in reality ever less egalitarian. Increasing Inequity is palpable and most notable in the problems we have with housing, education and health. Health outcomes for Individuals are increasingly dependent on personal financial wellbeing. Australians are spending about 30 billion dollars a year to supplement the care available from our universal health care system. Many, of course, do not have the resources to cover “out of pocket” expenses. Many of these problems have become chronic as political intransigence inhibits the development of bold, informed and even courageous policies. Policy development, such as it is, is often insular, ignoring the successful tactics of other countries in addressing similar problems. The Commonwealth Fund, which compares the world’s health systems for quality, is critical of our efforts to swing our health system around to focus on the prevention of disease. Eleven other OECD countries are currently doing a better job than we are. How can we change this unsatisfactory situation? PART 2 of 3. Continue reading

Posted in Health, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

GREGORY MCCARTHY. Australia’s iron(ic) curtain hurting China ties

2017 was earmarked to celebrate 45 years of Australian–Chinese diplomatic relations. Instead, Australia alleged that China interfered in its national affairs and the China Daily reported that an on-line poll had voted Australia as the ‘least friendly nation to China in 2017’. Likewise, a Global Times editorial accused Australia of McCarthyism and said that Australia had gone insane regarding the issue of China. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 1 Comment

RANALD MACDONALD. Stop the presses.

Well, they have almost stopped running around this country with so few papers being sold nowadays, but let us stop them anyway. Continue reading

Posted in Media | 6 Comments

COLIN STEELE. Who Owns Australian Research?

Who owns the results of Australian research? Certainly, not Australian researchers, as they, and their institutions, continue to give away publicly funded research to multinational publishers. As a result, Australian research is largely locked up behind expensive multinational publishing firewalls, constituting a form of information feudalism. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Education | 1 Comment

RICHARD BUTLER. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms; and to use them.

Guns and arms are embedded in US culture. It seems unable or unwilling to fix this, even though its people want it fixed.Its arms manufacturers are opposed to any solution. This shapes US foreign policy. Our engagement in this syndrome endangers us.

Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | 4 Comments

BERNARD KEANE. Amid denialism on company tax cuts, the ABC lets us down.

The ABC’s censorship of Emma Alberici in response to pressure from Malcolm Turnbull comes at a time when the national broadcaster’s mainstream media competitors are also increasingly failing to properly inform Australians. Continue reading

Posted in Media | 1 Comment

IAN McAULEY. Turnbull’s dead albatross: the National Party

Barnaby Joyce’s downfall has exposed the National Party as an outfit more concerned with dealing with corporate rent-seekers than with attending to the interests of its traditional rural base. It has also exposed Turnbull’s lack of resolve in dealing with deep fissures in the political alliance between the Liberals and the Nationals. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

CHRIS BONNOR. Indigenous education: closing – and opening – the gaps.

The reports and narratives around the strategy to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians are quite well-known, if only because they don’t change much from year to year. With the possible exception of education, not many targets are being reached. The gains in education in numeracy, reading and school retention will be welcomed by schools more used to wearing all the blame for deficiencies in student achievement. We seem to be closing the gaps that we measure, but a new report from the Centre for Policy Development shows that we risk widening the gaps that we choose to ignore – especially those created by where indigenous students go to school.  Continue reading

Posted in Education, Indigenous affairs | 1 Comment

JOHN MENADUE -Joined at the hip Mr Turnbull goes to Washington this week.. Part 1 of 2 Repost

We are a nation in denial that we are ‘joined at the hip’ to a dangerous ally. Apart from brief isolationist periods, the US has been almost perpetually at war; wars that we have often foolishly been drawn into. The US has subverted and overthrown numerous governments over two centuries. It has a military and business complex, almost a ‘hidden state’, that depends on war for influence and enrichment. It believes in its ‘manifest destiny’ which brings with it an assumed moral superiority which it denies to others. As the US goes into relative economic decline, it will be asking allies such as Australia for more help and support. We are running great risks in committing so much of our future to the US. We must build our security in our own region and not depend so exclusively on a foreign protector.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 6 Comments