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BOB BIRRELL and BOB KINNAIRD. Migration policy; All about numbers

The permanent skilled migration program should be cut by nearly half, from 128,000 (primary and secondary applicants) to around 70,000. This includes migrants granted visas under the points test and those sponsored by employers.   Continue reading

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

JAMES O’NEILL. A tale of two cities: Aleppo and Mosul.

The double standards of the western media are clearly demonstrated in the different treatment accorded the liberation of Aleppo by Syrian and Russian forces and the ongoing battle for the liberation of Mosul by ‘coalition’ (i.e. US) forces in northern Iraq.

Also completely missing from western accounts is the fact that prior to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US, UK, Australia and others, there was no al Qaeda or ISIS in either Iraq or Syria. That illegal invasion was based on a series of massive lies and has caused the deaths of well over one million Iraqis and plunged the region into chaos and destruction.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Media | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

PETER WHITEFORD. ‘Them’ and ‘us’: the enduring power of welfare myths.

Despite the evidence that deliberate fraud is a tiny fraction of social security spending, it remains a mainstay of much reporting of welfare in the Australian media. The Daily Telegraph is a repeat offender.   Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Media, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

RICHARD BUTLER. The many risks we run – Trump and the US. (Part 2 of 2)

The deep-seated argument taking place within the US polity, partly but not only because of the mess being presided over by President Trump, makes even more urgent the need for a thorough-going review of Australia’s foreign policy, including how we conduct ourselves within the alliance.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

LAURIE PATTON and ROBIN ECKERMANN. Time for rational, informed debate about the NBN

We believe it’s time for the Government and the Opposition, and their respective sword carriers, to put down their weapons and strive to agree on a bipartisan NBN strategy that will deliver all Australians fast and affordable broadband – using modern technologies and an investment strategy that balances deployment costs with the demonstrable socio-economic benefits achievable through advanced fixed broadband.   Continue reading

Posted in NBN | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

RICHARD BUTLER. The many risks we run – United Nations (Part 1 of 2)

The United Nations continues to be vital in the humanitarian field, but is failing in its role of maintaining international peace and security. The continuing abuse of their veto power, by the permanent five members of the Security Council, is jeopardizing the UN itself. This must be resisted.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Foreign Affairs and Trade | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. The terrorism threat here is because our troops are over there.

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 failing and lazy media.  This is a repost from 14 February 2017. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Defence/Security, Media, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

ERIC HODGENS. Back to following The Way.

Power is still the Church’s stumbling block. Mind you, Jesus warned us: The gentiles lord it over their subjects – not so with you. The Church’s power to “lord it over” society has been curtailed by today’s pluralism but is still jealously guarded within the institution. And ideas and laws are the instruments by which power is exercised. Doctrine and law are sacralised as the teaching of the Church – or even the teaching of God.  
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JOHN DALEY and BRENDAN COATES. The latest ideas to use super to buy homes are still bad ideas.

Treasurer Scott Morrison wants to use the May budget to ease growing community anxiety about housing affordability. Lots of ideas are being thrown about: the test for the Treasurer is to sort the good from the bad. Reports that the government was again considering using superannuation to help first homebuyers won’t inspire confidence. Continue reading

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

JOHN MENADUE. Pauline Hanson sides with the powerful while pretending to speak for the weak.

Pauline Hanson talks a great deal about battlers and people who are left behind and are fed up with the major parties . But she invariably sides with the wealthy and powerful.   Continue reading

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CAMERON MURRAY. Affordable housing reform.

While the decline of our economic diversity, has failed the average worker, it has been a boon for the landlord class. Those who already own land and housing benefit at the expense of those who want access to housing for their own household security.  Those who own the banks benefit too. And we have seen the enormous lengths to which government will go to support the way things are. Every “affordable housing” policy, … is designed not to let housing prices fall, and housing become genuinely more affordable.  Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Housing, Politics | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

DAVID JAMES. Penalty rate cuts are the result of thinking small

 Australia is showing signs of contracting the American disease of rising inequality, which will ultimately spill over into low growth, especially when the effect of high household indebtedness has its inevitable dampening effect. In the last quarter of 2016 GDP growth was strong and corporate profits jumped 20.1 per cent. But wages and salaries actually went down 0.5 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis.  

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Posted in Economy, Politics | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

ALBERT MISPEL. 1938-2017

Pearls & Irritations advises the sad news that Albert Mispel, who was instrumental in getting this blog started (and indeed, suggested its name) has passed away. Albert had an exciting life during which he taught school in New Guinea, was a core member of the Glebe Society fighting expressways during the 1970s and, later in life, became a computer programmer/web designer. He was enthusiastic about all progressive causes. He provided the technical know-how to get this blog up and running five years ago, and supported it thereafter. He believed in the ‘cause’. The first blog password was ‘November 1975’. With many others, he would never forget the Whitlam dismissal. Albert’s death is mourned by his wife, Kathy, two daughters, Jo and Madeleine, and his grandchildren. He will be sadly missed. Vale Albert.

Posted in Tributes | Tagged | 1 Comment

JOHN MENADUE. How the gaming of land rezoning by vested interests keeps housing unaffordable.

After Easter, we will be posting a ten-part series on making housing more affordable for all. One of the problems in housing affordability is the political muscle of some developers in gaming rezoning and reaping substantial capital gains from property.  The politics of property is a major issue. Property-owning interests have a particular interest in inflating property prices. In the repost below, Paul Frijters and Cameron Murray describe the corruption of land rezoning in Brisbane. When this report was first posted, Michael Pascoe in the SMH on 29 September 2015, said ‘This paper should have brought down state and local governments, sparked a royal commission and radically changed the Australian housing industry. Months later, the paper seems to be forgotten and Australia’s biggest racket rolls on unchallenged;  gaming land rezoning for enormous profits.’   John Menadue   Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics, Vested Interests | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. India’s democracy is strained by illiberalism

India continues to be robustly, even chaotically, democratic. But its freedom is under growing threat.  Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. Gas bags and hydro hype.

So Turnbull gave his orders: ensure that there will be enough gas held locally if there are crises. And the bloated gas bags were only too happy to concur, at least a couple of them were, which was enough to secure Turnbull bragging rights. But what was missing was just how this process would be implemented, and more particularly, what it would cost.  Continue reading

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

IAN VERRENDER. How the free market failed Australia and priced us out of our own gas supply

We are the landlords. The energy companies are tenants. If we had a controlling stake in the business, it would be much easier to ensure the kind of chicanery that has taken place in the past few years was never repeated. There would never be shortages.  

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JOHN NIEUWENHUYSEN. Dark Days for Immigration Policy. Nation building or border protection.

The concept of Australia’s Immigration Department being a minor part of a version of the United States department of homeland security is a frightening one. What will have happened to the “Welcome to Australia” banners of years past?   Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. The litany of failed privatisations.

Ideologues ,the self interested bankers and accountants and lawyers still persist with their fixation with privatisation despite the fact that it is failing in one area after another and the electorate shows very clearly that it does not want it.    Continue reading

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TIM COLEBATCH. Why gas prices went sky-high, and what governments need to do about it

There is an overwhelming consensus that the centrepiece should be an emissions intensity scheme, as proposed by the draft Finkel report, by the government’s handpicked Climate Change Authority, and by electricity generators and big users alike. This would give the energy industry a clear, bipartisan timetable to reduce emissions, enabling it to plan and invest with confidence.   Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Economy, Politics, Taxation, Vested Interests | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

JOHN AUSTEN. NSW rail projects – a lot of explaining to do

Yet more questions arise about projects set off by former NSW Transport Minister now Premier Ms Berejiklian. This time about light rail. As for the port privatisations and metro, real answers are yet to come. The sooner a Commonwealth inquiry gets to the bottom of all this the better.   Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. Opponents of political correctness have had a ball.

The elitist couch crusaders of the far right have had a busy but productive week – so many pesky lefties to sneer at,, so much political correctness to whinge about. It was almost an embarrassment of carnage, which was just the way they like it.   Continue reading

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PETER BROOKS and JOHN WILLOUGHBY. A call for doctors to take a stand on the Adani Carmichael coal mine

The comprehensive investigation, published as The Adani Files  (, provides a litany of stories of pollution, failed clean-ups of damaged environments, and allegations of corruption and of abuse of workers.   Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Economy, Health | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

HANS J OHFF. A Future Submarine bonanza for France

Seen through the eyes of an engineering contractor and shipbuilder I suggest that the French have hit the jackpot. They will be falling over themselves to sign the proposed Framework Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the French Republic concerning cooperation on the future Submarine Program.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Economy, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

ANDREW FARRAN. The hideous Syrian tragedy.

Our armed forces have been deployed abroad opportunistically, even cynically, for decades. This must be avoided in future if they are to serve Australia’s true  defence interests in future.   Continue reading

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PHIL ROBERTSON. A new wave of atrocities is being committed against Muslims in Burma’s Rakhine state

The burned-out mosques in Sittwe, the capital of the Rakhine state in western Burma, loom as silent reminders of an atrocity, hiding behind overgrown bushes and cement walls amid the daily port city bustle.   Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Refugees and asylum seekers | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

KIERAN TAPSELL. A Response to Francis Sullivan

I agree with what Francis Sullivan has said in the edited version of his speech to Catalyst for Renewal. But there is a recitation of history in the full version that cannot go unchallenged.   Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

STEPHEN DUCKETT. Labor charts a health policy rethink

The Labor Party has released a summary of the proceedings of its ‘National Health Policy Summit’, held in Canberra on 3rd March. Good on the ALP for holding the summit. Trouble is, the ‘communique’, while summarising the views of the quite diverse range of participants, gives no clear indication of where Labor might be heading.   Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Canberra wrong-footed in our region?

For Ms Bishop to be talking in Singapore about China and democracies, the Japanese “big ship” and rallying the claimants while pleading with the US to remain staunchly committed in the region certainly is risky. We could be exposed as being more hard line than the US might turn out to be and interpreted as Australia insensitively lecturing the claimants.  
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Posted in Australia and Asia, Defence/Security, Foreign Affairs and Trade | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

GEORGE BROWNING. The non-existent Australian government energy policy.

It has been clear for some time that the normal capitalist approach of privatising everything does not work in relation to energy.  Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Infrastructure, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments