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Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

RICHARD BUTLER. The Real Danger: A New Nuclear Arms Race.

New US nuclear weapons policies, quantitative and qualitative will ensure that a new nuclear arms race proceeds. Global danger will increase as will the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons. Its not just Trump that is at issue. He has merely enabled an increased influence of the US military/industrial/intelligence complex and, of a specifically imperial mind-set, in the US: the one that has seen the US author war repeatedly since the Second World War. Does the Alliance compel Australia to support this?   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | Leave a comment

ANDREW LEIGH. The false economy of sacking public servants in favour of consultants.

Would you burn $1 of petrol driving to the other side of the city so you could save 50 cents filling up? Would you recommend to a friend that they buy the cheapest printer, knowing it has the most expensive ink cartridges? Do you advise family to save money by not getting the flu vaccine?  Of course not. Fortunately, we’re familiar with the idea of a false economy: a saving that turns out to be illusory because it eventually costs you more. Unfortunately, not everyone seems to have cottoned on to what this means for the Australian Public Service. While public service jobs have been decimated, spending on consultants has ballooned. Work that used to be at the core of the public service, like policy development and stakeholder engagement, is increasingly outsourced.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

RAMESH THAKUR. Nuclear arms: Look ahead to 2018 in hope, not back at 2017 in anger.

We begin 2018 with a surreal contest between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un as to whose nuclear button is bigger. Against North Korea’s anxiety-inducing rapid nuclear advances, the biggest positive story line of 2017 was a new United Nations nuclear ban treaty adopted on July 7 and opened for signature on Sept. 20. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | Leave a comment

CHRIS BONNOR AND CHRISTINA HO. Selective school decisions coming back to haunt us.

Almost alone in Australia, New South Wales has been expanding its number of selective schools, accompanied each time by arguments about the need to increase choice and cater for the gifted and talented. And each time we are left with one less school for local students, together with an ongoing trail of collateral damage to other schools and overall student achievement.  The Department of Education, successive governments and even peak education groups have long ignored the downsides of selective schools – until now. The NSW Education Minister now wants to open the doors of these schools to solve a student accommodation problem.  Continue reading

Posted in Education | Leave a comment

JENNY HOCKING. The palace treats Australia as the colonial child not to be trusted with knowledge of its own history-A REPOST from September 11 2017

Forty-five years after Governor-General John Kerr dismissed Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, records of his communications with the British monarchy in the lead-up to that event are still withheld from us, the Australian people. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

IAN DUNLOP. Facing “Disaster Alley”, Australia shirks responsibility- A REPOST from June 27 2017

The first responsibility of a government is to safeguard the people and their future wellbeing. The ability to do so is increasingly threatened by human-induced climate change, the accelerating impacts of which are driving political instability and conflict globally. Climate change poses an existential risk to humanity which, unless addressed as an emergency, will have catastrophic consequences. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

GEORGE RENNIE. Australia’s lobbying laws are inadequate, but other countries are getting it right- A REPOST from June 23 2017

Lobbying is a necessary component of representative democracy, yet poses one of its greatest threats. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

IAN McAULEY. Reframing public ideas Part 5: Competition

Competition is a means of encouraging innovation and productivity, and bringing those benefits to the community. When it becomes an end in itself, however, it can impose costs on us all. Continue reading

Posted in Economy | Leave a comment

MUNGO MacCALLUM. Turnbull’s scare campaign on negative gearing

Exclusive, scoop, shock, horror! Politicians tell porkies!  In an amazing journalistic breakthrough, it can be revealed that sometimes Australia’s political leaders may not hold strictly to the unvarnished truth. Lengthy and painstaking research shows that there are times when they exaggerate and even mislead the public in a quest for advantage.   Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

IAN WEBSTER. Policy failures in mental health

Mental health problems arising out of modern despair have to be tackled with insights gained from the day-to-day lives of society’s outcasts and the social sciences.  Matthew Fisher, (Australia’s policy failure on mental health, Pearls and Irritations, 14 December 2017) argues that Australian mental health policies have failed: “(We) are subject to a deafening silence from politicians, organisations and the key individuals who shape Australia’s policy discourse and action on mental health”. The ubiquitous mental health problems arising out of social conditions and chronically stressed lives are neglected: “The social causes of mental illness and their impacts on populations, as something we might act on, are largely hidden”.  Continue reading

Posted in Health | Leave a comment

A paraplegic woman and her elderly carer.

A well-known and respected doctor has written to me about caring for his loved wife.  He outlines a compelling and human story.  With his permission I share with readers his account of the burdens and cost of caring. John Menadue.   Continue reading

Posted in Health | 3 Comments

ANDREW GLIKSON. Climate change, droughts and wars: is there a nexus?

According to Al Gore during 2006 and 2010 some 60 percent of farms in Syria were destroyed and abandoned and some 80 percent of the livestock were killed during the most severe drought parts of the Middle East ever recorded[i]. Subsequently more than a million Syrians migrated into cities, along with refugees from the Iraq War, setting the stage for a civil war. Beginning with the ‘Arab Spring’ demonstrations in Syria in January 2011 and a brutal crackdown by the regime, the conflict escalated since July 2011, killing over 450,000 and displacing more than 12 million Syrians[ii]. More than 4.8 million Syrians left the country.   Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, International Affairs | Leave a comment

ALLAN PATIENCE. It’s Time for New Politics.- A REPOST from June 12 2017

How do we explain the phenomenon of a Bernie Sanders, who almost certainly would have won the US presidency if he’d been the Democrat candidate running against Trump? How do we account for the astounding failure of, first, David Cameron and now Theresa May, to maintain the Conservative Party’s dominance of contemporary British politics? How is it that a political maverick like Jeremy Corbyn can drag a recalcitrant British Labour Party kicking and screaming to the brink of government in the UK? These questions point to the failure of old politics and the urgent need to imagine a new politics for progressing the West into the twenty-first century. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. Domestic violence, not terrorism, is the big killer in Australia- A REOST from November 10 2017

Compared to other risks, we have little to fear from terrorism. In the last two decades only three people in Australia have died from terrorism. But there is a ‘vividness’ bias in terrorism because it stands out in our minds. Importantly, a lot of politicians, businesses, stand to gain from exaggerating the terrorist threat. It is also easy news for our media.
The Domestic Violence Death Review Team in NSW established by the Coroners Court has given us some chilling information that shows that domestic violence is a much more serious threat than terrorism. Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights | 6 Comments

GARETH EVANS. Trump’s US has abdicated global leadership- A REPOST from June 20 2017

Following his presentation at the EU-Australia Senior and Emerging Leaders’ Forum last week, ANU Chancellor and former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans spoke with Melissa Conley Tyler, Executive Director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs. Evans said that by withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and progressively shunning its allies, the US has finally abdicated its global leadership role. The days when the US led the world in developing international institutions and laws for the advancement of global goods were now over. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | Leave a comment

GEOFF MILLER. Singapore, Australia, “the Quad” and ASEAN—same same but different!

Singapore and Australia are having to deal with the same set of problems and relationships as the strategic situation in the Asia-Pacific changes.  Singapore isn’t a contender for an expanded “Quad” but, as next year’s Chairman of ASEAN, it will have an important role to play in one of the Turnbull Government’s major foreign policy initiatives, the ASEAN-Australia Summit to be held in Sydney next March. A REPOST Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 3 Comments

CAROL SUMMERHAYES. At a tribute to Graham Freudenberg.- A REPOST from June 8 2017

Graham revealed in his memoir that he wrote his first speech in Brisbane in May 1945, aged 10, at the time of VE Day, and delivered it to his mother. In 1946 he scored a job with ABC Radio reading scripts of school broadcasts – “I learned a lot about the use of English written to be spoken”. He didn’t know then that this experience would be life-forming: his speeches over the years stand out as words meant to be heard as well as to be read, a different sort of writing altogether.  
Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Tributes | Tagged , | 2 Comments


Writing in The Guardian Alfred McCoy explains “how the heroin trade explains the US-UK failure in Afghanistan“. In that war-torn country opium is the farmers’ most viable cash crop, and the Taliban, once opposed to drugs, are now financed by the opium trade.

Canberra Times journalist Crispin Hull makes a strong case for fundamental tax reform, not only to make the collection of tax fairer, but also to boost public revenue. He also puts up for consideration the idea of a universal basic income, an idea gaining currency in many European countries, including Finland and Scotland.

Peter Martin writing in the Fairfax Press explains the vulnerabilities in our electricity supply industry. He shows how good fortune and good management have saved us from blackouts over recent weeks of hot weather. The weaknesses and vulnerabilities are not where the Commonwealth Government and the coal industry would have us believe they lie.

“For the vast majority of owner-occupiers and would-be buyers, falling house prices are good news”. This is a quote from The Age editorial of January 6 – a refreshing reminder that rising house prices over recent years have not owner-occupiers wealthier. In fact for many high house prices have simply allowed them to get into debt.

Robert Reich on the great Trump con.

Our ridiculous frenzy of road construction will swallow up resources for two decades – Canberra Times.

When it comes to refugees, Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison and Dutton are hypocrites – Julian Burnside

Even the UK courts believe the UK’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia are wrong – which is why protesters were acquitted of criminal damage this week. In addition to selling military equipment for Saudi Arabia attacks in Yemen, BAE in Australia is a major funder of the Australian War Memorial with a theatre named in its honour. It is also a funder of the ‘independent’ think tank, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The Australian Chair is a former senior Australian official.

The growing support for preferential voting in the United States

Trump shows a host of personality disorders – Charles Blow in the New York Times

African gangs just the latest ruse to stoke national insecurity – Jack Waterford


Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

REBECCA PEASE. The federal Climate Policy Review: a recipe for business as usual

The federal government’s newly released Climate Policy Review is hugely disappointing, but far from surprising. It does not depart from what the Turnbull government has been saying for some time: it plans to loosen compliance obligations for emissions-intensive companies even further, reintroduce international carbon offsets, and implement the planned National Energy Guarantee. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

STAN GRANT- We ignore our racist past-A REPOST from August 21 2017

I passed by Hyde Park this week in the heart of Sydney and looked again on the statue of Captain James Cook. It has pride of place, a monument to the man who in 1770 claimed this continent for the British crown. Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights | 5 Comments

GRAHAM FREUDENBERG. Revising history – A REPOST from June 16 2017

For octogenarians like me, the most astonishing development since the collapse of the Soviet Union is that so much of the West’s hopes for international sanity, civility and peace should now rest with, of all countries, Germany.   Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 7 Comments

DUNCAN GRAHAM. Visit Down Under and pay up.

Indonesians will not be getting cheap and easy-to-obtain Australian visas available to Malaysians and Singaporeans. Australian campaigners seeking better access for Indonesian tourists have been officially told there will be no changes. This is despite the Republic giving Australians free visas-on-arrival and the Australian Government claiming it wants more Indonesian visitors.  Continue reading

Posted in Asia | 2 Comments

DYLAN McCONNELL. A month in, Tesla’s SA battery is surpassing expectations.

It’s just over one month since the Hornsdale power reserve was officially opened in South Australia. The excitement surrounding the project has generated acres of media interest, both locally and abroadThe aspect that has generated the most interest is the battery’s rapid response time in smoothing out several major energy outages that have occurred since it was installed.  Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, Infrastructure | Leave a comment

ANDREW GLIKSON. The ALP and global warming

When a lump of coal was presented in Parliament to the cheers of conservative MPs no doubts could remain regarding their position on global warming, covered with the thin fig leaf of the Paris agreement.  One wonders whether the PM would now be willing to repeat his statement of 2010: “Now our response to climate change must be guided by science. The science tells us that we have already exceeded the safe upper limit for atmospheric carbon dioxide. We are as humans conducting a massive science experiment with this planet. It’s the only planet we’ve got.” Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

KIERAN TAPSELL. “Catastrophic institutional failure” can be fixed.

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse spent five years interviewing over 8,000 survivors, their abusers and personnel from institutions that had covered up the abuse. The Commission found that 61.8% of all survivors within religious institutions had been under the care of the Catholic Church. The Commission’s 17 volume Final Report, released on 15 Dec 2017, made hundreds of recommendations for change in structures, practices and internal laws of institutions. Many of the recommendations addressed to the church involved changes to canon law.

Two of these recommendations received massive media attention: that celibacy no longer be obligatory and that civil reporting laws should not provide an exemption in the case of confession. There has been some pushback against these recommendations because they involve overturning long traditions in the church. But many other recommendations had more to do with church law and practice, and could be more easily implemented, if church leadership is willing to take up this challenge.  Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 5 Comments

JOHN WARHURST. Corruption and decay of Australian politics. A REPOST from June 15 2017


This week’s ABC Four Corners program that revisited, after 30 years, Chris Masters’ revelations of police corruption in Queensland, “The Moonlight State”, brings to mind how widespread corruption in Australian politics has been since then.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

JERRY ROBERTS. The Miners Win Again- A REPOST from October 27 2017

A two-paragraph story under the heading “Gold hike dead” on page 24 of the West Australian newspaper, Friday 13 October, ended the latest chapter in the one-sided battle between Australian governments and the mining industry.  The miners won again. Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 2 Comments

PETER MARTIN. How billionaires get uber-rich at our expense- A REPOST from June 1 2017

The rich are different from you and me” the saying goes. “They have more money“. But that’s not the only way they are different. In the updated Financial Review Rich List released on Friday, 45 of the richest 50 Australians are menAnd they are highly likely to have made their money in real estate or finance; something government-controlled. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. National water reform- A REPOST from September 28,2017

According to the Productivity Commission’s draft report on National Water Reform, Australia is now viewed internationally as a world leader in water management. Nevertheless, these reforms continue to be challenged by special interests. In particular, the history of poor investment in irrigation continues, encouraged by the comfortable expectation that governments will not enforce the requirement to recover irrigators’ share of the costs through cost-reflective water pricing. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Environment and climate | 2 Comments

IAN McAULEY. Private health insurers frighten the ALP-A REPOST from June 2 2017

There was a recent flurry of media excitement about a supposed “secret hospital funding plan”, which turned out to be no more than an option under consideration by a think-tank. But the real (and overlooked) issue in health funding is a high and growing hidden subsidy to private health insurance, where, contrary to traditional political alignments, Labor is proving to be more generous to private insurers than the Coalition.    Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Health, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment