LYNDSAY CONNORS. Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind

“They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind”, according to the Book of Hosea in the Old Testament. Not in the Australian federal system of government, they shan’t. Not when it comes to education policy.

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JOHN MENADUE. From little things, big things grow, but problems can arise.

In 1984 the number of international students in Australian was minimal and I found Australian University Vice Chancellors very sceptical about encouraging international students to study in Australia .They feared the displacement of Australian students. But in the Department of Trade we pressed on and now there are almost 700 000 international students in Australia. International education is now our third largest export earner, over $30 b per annum and rapidly rising, year on year.But there are problems Continue reading

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JIM COOMBS. Crime is down,Gaols are bursting. Why?

It is essentially a failure of administration.The nation’s foremost collector of information on this, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics (BOCSAR) recently reported that nearly a third of the NSW prison population is on remand, i.e., awaiting trial. Continue reading

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MIKE SCRAFTON. The conversation about China

Senator Wong’s call for a mature conversation aboutf the issue of China is more than welcome. A serious discussions of the implications for Australia flowing from the rise of China was sadly missing from the recent election. However, there is an unexpected naivety in her suggestion that MPs and Senators receive ‘foreign affairs and national intelligence briefings about China’ to remedy the government’s failure to discuss Australia’s relationship with the emerging superpower.

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TONY SMITH. Capital punishment will not stop gun violence

It is perhaps understandable that in their anger and grief, people who have lost loved ones in gun violence call for the perpetrators to be executed. It is however, inappropriate for political leaders to pretend that capital punishment is an effective way to deal with the issue. It is little more than a diversionary tactic to forestall the adoption of policies that might prevent shootings.

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MARK BUCKLEY. Conservatives in Australia

A friend of mine asked me the other day why I seem to only criticise the Liberals. My answer was that they have been in power for six years now, so if anything is conspicuously wrong with the country, it is probably their fault. And also they appear to be generally a callous lot. I remember when Liberals with a social conscience were dubbed ‘wets’. That was probably the end of their credibility, when the so-called ‘dries’ gained the ascendancy. Continue reading

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RALPH REGENVANU. Vanuatu will host the next Pacific Islands Forum. We want to know if Australia really wants a seat at the table (The Guardian, 20 August 2019)   

Last week at the close of the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu I described the leaders’ discussions as frank and fierce. It is now well-known that the leaders debated the text of the Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now for many hours. I do not want to comment on the tone of the debate, as many others have done that already. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 1 Comment

JOSEPH CAMILLERI. China policy drowning in empty rhetoric – time for an informed public debate

China is in the news and rightly so. If it’s not events in Hong Kong, it’s the China-US trade dispute, or tensions in the South China Sea, Beijing’s expanding influence in the South Pacific, the prospect of a Chinese military base in Cambodia, China’s treatment of the Uighur minority, or China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). For Australia, this is a time for uncomfortable soul searching. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 6 Comments

BRUCE ROBERTSON. Federal government needs to stop the magical gas merry go round (Renew Economy 19-8-19)

Hearing the New South Wales government rush through two import gas terminals approvals is like revisiting the fantasy world of Mary Poppins. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 1 Comment

PETER LEWIS. When it comes to choosing the US or China, perhaps our chickens are coming home to roost (The Guardian 20-8-19)

Essential poll finds Australians less emphatically American than many would have predicted – is economic self-interest winning?

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LOUIS COOPER. Canadian Election in October: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has problems; will it all end in tears or in a minority government?

Earlier this month – in a long-awaited decision – Canada’s federal ethics commissioner concluded Trudeau had violated an ethics law in his handling of a corporate criminal case. Commissioner Mario Dion said that the prime minister had used his office “to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit” Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general, Judy Wilson-Raybould, by improperly pressuring her to seek a civil penalty against SNC-Lavalin, a major engineering company, rather than a criminal conviction. Continue reading

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TONY WRIGHT. Spy versus spy: in Canberra, cover is where you find it. (SMH 16.8.2019)

I have wondered occasionally whether ASIO has a few grainy pictures of me sauntering to the front door of the forbidding embassy of the USSR in Canberra.  Continue reading

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MUNGO MACCALUM. Scott Morrison voted off the Pacific islands

The Great White Father has arrived the far flung atolls of the Pacific. And, like the missionaries before him Scott Morrison is delivering the bringing of the light — a gospel of hope and salvation.

Well, up to a point. Boiled down, his message is that if they are worried about the rising waters, they should sandbag the foreshores and move to higher ground if there is any, because he is not going to do anything  substantial to help. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Environment and climate, International Affairs | 1 Comment

IAN McAULEY.  Tuvalu, climate change and Westminster

The conventional wisdom is that Morrison’s intransigence on climate change, which has badly damaged our relations in the Pacific, is due to the arithmetic of his slim parliamentary majority. But why do we have to assume that our two-party “Westminster” system with its rigid party loyalties is immutable?  Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 3 Comments

JACK WATERFORD. Can Knut Morrison hold back the tides?

We’ve lost influence over China and the US, and over Hong Kong and Kashmir and the world may be slipping into recession.

It is beginning to look as if we are drifting, more or less without a pilot, into the interesting times of the old Chinese curse. As one might expect, given our luck, the damnable thing is that there is almost no way that Australia can now much influence or affect a host of events with the capacity to completely change our fortunes. Continue reading

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LYNDSAY CONNORS. Slogans like “those who have a go get a go” are no substitute for rational, coherent policy.

The status of Jean Blackburnas one of the finest contributors to Australia’s education policy is confirmed by the recently released biography by Craig Campbell and Debra Hayes covering her life and work. Above all, Jean Blackburn understood the interrelationship between schools and society. Schools both reflect and shape reflect the nation’s broad political, social and economic character.

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GEOFF RABY.  Our China Threat is based on a fundamental error (Australian Financial Review, 19 August 2019)

Andrew Hastie’s intervention on the China Threat helpfully highlights the extent to which Australia’s intelligence, security and defence establishment (ISDE) is running Australia’s China foreign policy.   In stark language he has laid out many of the assumptions that underly the supposed Threat.  Contrary to the Prime Minister’s assertion, as Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, his is no mere private view. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 6 Comments

CHRISTOPHER ALTIERI. Rarely has a Vatican official spoken so bluntly on abuse.

As Spring 2019 turned into summer, journalists, media relations professionals and communications experts gathered for four days in St Petersburg, Florida, to take part in the annual Catholic Media Conference. The event, sponsored by the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, included a talk by the head of the disciplinary section in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Mgr John Kennedy.

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DONNA AH CHEE. Given this history of strength and success, why do Aboriginal health dollars keep going to NINGOs? (Croakey 14-8-19)

Aboriginal community controlled health services have many advantages, including their power to advocate and shame governments into action, according to Donna Ah Chee, CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. Continue reading

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MUNGO MACCALLUM. A conference of moaners in Sydney

The Conservative Political Action Conference held in Sydney last weekend should not be dismissed lightly. It must be dismissed heavily, so here goes.

The elite reactionaries gathered in their luxury hotel not to celebrate, but to moan. The parade of paranoid plutocrats complained that their traditional privileges were being challenged – their  hitherto untrammelled power was under threat. Continue reading

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DUNCAN MACLAREN. Will the last PM of the UK please put out the lights?

The dissolution of the United Kingdom is now bruited abroad on a daily basis as a likely outcome of a No Deal Brexit. This applies not just to Scotland, the likeliest candidate to be first to leave, but also to the possibility of Northern Ireland joining with the Republic, and even tiny Wales rethinking its future. Continue reading

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TREVOR WATSON. Hong Kong Chaos – Beijing weighs its options.

As Hong Kong’s anti-administration protests grow stronger and increasingly violent, fears of a Tiananmen Square style response by Beijing also mount. Trevor Watson looks at the difficulty faced by China watchers as they attempt to predict the next move by one of the world’s unpredictable regimes. Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Kashmir: the battleground that will shape the fate of India (CapX 15-8-19)

On 5 August, the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fulfilled a founding ambition and repeated election promise: they ended Kashmir’s unique status in India’s federal structure by scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution. Continue reading

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MICHAEL SAINSBURY. Things haven’t been this bad between Australia and China in 30 years (Crikey, 14 August 2019)

The Morrison government’s increasing ties to the Trump administration is, by consequence, achieving quite the opposite of its previous goal of “resetting” Australia’s relationship with China. Continue reading

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MASSIMO FAGGIOLI. Adapting to a ‘World Church’. A New Internatio nal Commentary on Vatican II

Vatican II was, according to Karl Rahner, the beginning of the “world church.” Elected bishop of Rome half a century after Vatican II, Francis is the first pope who is not from the Euro-Mediterranean area, and he can therefore be understood as the first pope of Rahner’s “world church”: a truly global, non-Eurocentric church. But theological globalization and institutional globalization are two different things, and they have been surprisingly disconnected from each other in the recent history of the church. The institutional shock of a Latin American Jesuit being elected as pope has been slower to influence theology than one might have expected in 2013.

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GRACE BLAKELY. Why the rise of Boris Johnson is the last laugh of a decaying elite (New Statesman America 14-8-19)

Right-wing populism is a symptom of a crumbling capitalist order that no longer promises a better future for most people.  Continue reading

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PETER SAINSBURY. Sunday environmental round up, 18 August 2019

A new report from the IPCC focusing on land and climate change draws together many threads from the environmental and social crises facing the world. CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are of course the major cause of global warming but methane from fracking and tipping points in earth systems also magnify the problem. Victorians send a very clear message to their government about how much they value and want to preserve their native public forests.

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IAN DUNLOP.  Time for the Coal Industry to Face Reality

The first priority of any government is the security of its people. The greatest threat to that security today is human-induced climate change. Because of the refusal of political and corporate leaders over the last two decades to take climate change seriously, it now represents a threat which will wipe out civilisation as we know it, unless we move to emergency action. We have left it too late to make a gradual transition to a low-carbon world. Continue reading

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STUART REES ‘Australia’s Authoritarian Future? CPAC & The High Court’

In early August, two events cast a shadow over Australia’s democracy. The US Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) met in Sydney to fight to ‘protect the future.’ The High Court ruled that the government may restrict the right of public servants to express political views, and in this way supported the sacking of a public servant for anonymously criticising her employer the Department of Immigration. Continue reading

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