PEARLS AND IRRITATIONS LINKS

Bookmark johnmenadue.com/blog to read posts by John Menadue and guest bloggers as they are published (daily).
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IAN WEBSTER. Protecting young people from our ‘favourite drug’ – alcohol.

Marketing of alcohol is out of control. 20% of those watching major sporting events on TV are under the age of 18 years.  
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STEPHEN LEEDER. Over-servicing in health.

Abuse of Medicare or other reimbursement schemes is much easier if the regulations surrounding it are lax. That is what makes the current review of Medicare so important so that the rules are clear and make the best match possible between cost and benefit. This will result in less temptation to overuse useless procedures that might make the clinician rich but do nothing – and perhaps even harm – the patient. 
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MACK WILLIAMS. South China Sea: China taps in the last nail!

It is now clear for all to see that the only potential US “ally” for any US confrontation in the region could be Australia. China has successfully wedged the ASEAN’s in through their common concern that it would be them that would suffer most from any military confrontation in the South China Sea.   Continue reading

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RICHARD BUTLER. Trump and Nuclear Weapons

Trump’s stance on nuclear weapons is ignorant, inconsistent, confused. What he has proposed on nuclear arms control and proliferation will not be accepted. His latest offer to the Russians has no chance of serious consideration.   Continue reading

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TESSA MORRIS-SUZUKI. Anti-PC gone mad.

The moment you condemn something or someone for being “Politically Correct”, you have transformed yourself from being a billionaire businessman, a media pundit, or the bloke down the street, and have instantly become a champion of the oppressed silent majority against the murky and invisible forces of darkness that are supposedly imposing Political Correctness on us.   Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. Private Health Insurance vs dental care.

Australian health would be much improved if the $11 billion subsidy for private health insurance was abolished and part of those funds allocated to universal dental care within Medicare.  
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GETHIN DAVISON & EDGAR LIU. Neighbours’ fears about affordable housing are worse than any impacts.

Housing affordability is a hot topic in Australia. Governments are increasingly recognising that more needs to be done to provide a greater range of affordable housing options, especially in the major cities. It is well documented, however, that proposals for affordable housing development often encounter opposition from host community members.   Continue reading

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ALAN MORRIS. Why secure and affordable housing is an increasing worry for age pensioners.

There is no doubt that an increasing proportion of older Australians on the age pension will be dependent on the private rental sector in coming decades. This is because of the housing affordability crisis and increasing divorce in later life, combined with the virtual stagnation of the social housing sector.   Continue reading

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ERIN GILLEN. Women’s March on Washington (and Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra)

On Saturday 21st January, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend on Washington DC to march to highlight the simple message that women’s rights are human rights. The march is expected to be one of America’s biggest protests.   Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. The new squatters on public land.

The new squatters on public land are being given a leg-up as they were in the 19th Century to seize and occupy public land.   Continue reading

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GEOFF MILLER. Foreign policy in our own interests.

We need to take decisions based on our own national interests.  But we should take those decisions based on a knowledge of what regional countries think.   Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. Malcolm Turnbull and Sussan Ley.

The issue is not one of black-letter legality but ethics, if that concept has not withered away completely in the Australian parliament. Explanation, justification and excuse are utterly irrelevant in this case, and finally, many months after the report that was supposed to fix the Bronwyn Bishop problem was meant to be resolved, there is the prospect of movement.   Continue reading

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JAMES O’NEILL. More alarm bells ring for Australia in the South China Sea.

President-elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of state had his confirmation hearings in Washington last week. A number of his reported statements should have raised alarm among Australian politicians and foreign affairs bureaucrats. With the exception of former Prime Minister Paul Keating however, the response was largely asinine.   Continue reading

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DAVID JAMES.Wage inequality is a bigger threat to workers than robots

he issue of jobs cannot be seen as separate from wealth distribution. The problem is — as Henry Ford understood when he paid his workers well so they could buy his cars — that too much social inequality means insufficient demand for products and low economic growth. The issue is not whether or not there will be jobs — it is most likely that there will be — but how fair the wages system will be.   Continue reading

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BRUCE ARNOLD. The Hanson Card is unworkable rather than just very nasty

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has reportedly proposed that every Australian be required to carry a national identity card. The rationale? The card will supposedly significantly reduce fraud by non-citizens who are resident in Australia.  The proposal may be good politics – a timely diversion from Hanson’s very public tendency to lose candidates – but it is unviable. Continue reading

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TONY KEVIN. Obama’s years of promise and frustration.

For eight years I have delighted in Barack Obama’s words – even richer and more inspiring to see and hear in his ringing tones , than to read in cold print. . Those days are, sadly, about to depart. The Chicago valedictory address was his last, magnificent, gift to us. 

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WALTER HAMILTON. Rex Tillerson and Australia’s national interest

President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks are being cross-examined in public for the first time. Here begins the real business of assessing how a Trump administration might behave––in more than 140 characters. The indications so far suggest the need for an early reappraisal.   Continue reading

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TONY KEVIN. The Rex Tillerson confirmation hearings, and wider issues

Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State and Trump’s best Cabinet choice so far, will probably survive his gruelling full day of confirmation hearings by the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee last Wednesday 11 January (Washington time).   Continue reading

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ANDREW FARRAN. Molan v. Woolcott: The rough and the smooth in regional diplomacy

Molan writes that this sensitive touch in relations with Indonesia is reflected in a long tradition of Australian diplomats putting Indonesia’s interests and the views of Indonesians ahead of our own. Indeed he implies that but for geography Indonesia would be of little or no importance to us at all.  
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RAMESH THAKUR. Australia’s gulag of shame

As someone born after World War II who grew up in India, I have always wondered how it was possible for a highly civilized society like Germany to have been complicit through silence in the horror of the Holocaust. It simply wasn’t possible for people not to have known what was being done to the Jews on an industrial scale, and that too in their name. For the first time, as an Australian, I begin to get glimmers of understanding.   Continue reading

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The strange career of American exceptionalism.

In this article in The Nation, George Grandin of New York University comments

 ‘Obama’s recomposition of American exceptionalism was tactically successful, at least as measured by his 2012 reelection, which expanded the multiracial and cross-class coalition that had given him the White House four years earlier.  Continue reading

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CHARLES LIVINGSTONE. Gambling industry finds plenty of political guns for hire to defend the status quo.

Responsible gambling”, like “responsible drinking”, is a clever-sounding way of deflecting attention away from the product.   Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Syria and the Hippocratic principle: first do no harm

Western interference has worsened the pathology of broken, corrupt and dysfunctional politics across the region from Afghanistan to North Africa.  
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BOB BIRRELL. GP Oversupply and Medical Migration

There are many indicators of GP over-supply in Australia.  … One consequence has been an escalation in the cost of GP rebates to the taxpayer. … Better distribution of GP services could be achieved by restricting new provider numbers to under-supplied districts.  
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JOHN AUSTEN. Roads – another year of congestion-causing deficits

We are spending enormous sums on roads and increasing our national debt. Communities are being seriously disrupted and the congestion is increasing. When will we put a stop to this nonsense?  
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FRANK BRENNAN SJ. The cost of Alexander Downer cutting corners on Timor Leste a decade ago.

If only the government and their supporters like News Ltd had been prepared to listen to the parliamentary committee a decade ago.  
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SPENCER ZIFCAK. Robert Manne v Ramesh Thakur v Gillian Triggs: What on Earth is Going On?

If one were ever in this situation, who would one wish to speak for them: George Brandis or Gillian Triggs? That’s the choice.   Continue reading

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CHRIS SIDOTI. 30th Anniversary of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Part 2 of 2.

Human rights work has a cost, and we need to remember the cost and the toll that it takes on the people who are doing it. Those who are paying the price need the support of those who are not paying so much.  
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RICHARD WOOLCOTT. Indonesia – Complexities, restraints, and opportunities for Australia

The importance of our relations with Indonesia in the future and in the wider context of the Asian century cannot be overstated. It is essential that each country acts to know more about its neighbour.  
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DENIS FITZGERALD. Non-violence is the key to peace, and it starts at home.

For Pope Francis, peace has been a constant theme, as it was for his name-sake, St Francis of Assisi.   His message for 1 January 2017, his fourth such message, draws on the major documents of his pontificate as it focuses on the role of nonviolence in building peace.   Continue reading

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