Category Archives: Politics

JOAN STAPLES: Incredulous disbelief at Gary Johns to head charities regulator.

The appointment of Gary Johns last week as director of the regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), has created incredulous disbelief and concern amongst NGO leaders.  For decades, Johns has been proactive in criticising the public advocacy of … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Human Rights, Politics | 3 Comments

MUNGO MacCALLUM. Malcolm Turnbull ran dead on SSM

Malcolm Turnbull may not have wished to appear churlish last Thursday after the final vote on the same sex marriage bill, but he had no choice: that was his job.  So rather than following the parliament to embrace bipartisanship at … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Politics | 4 Comments

GREG BAILEY. The Institute of Public Affairs, finance and the contradiction between individualism and corporatism.

Readers of Pearls and Irritations will be fully appreciative of the considerable influence exercised by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) on the commentariat and political decision-making through its representatives in various parliaments and its presence in the media. And … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

MUNGO MacCALLUM. Malcolm Turnbull and Sam Dastyari.

There is an old science fiction story about a totalitarian state which regularly paraded dissidents before a packed arena bent on retribution and punishment.  

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

ROGER SCOTT. Queensland State Election: Winners and Losers

The last rites were a long time coming but can now be pronounced with confidence. On Monday night, the TJ Ryan Foundation held a post-election function advertised as ‘Who Won and Why’. Even then, over a fortnight after polling day, … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

GRAHAM HAND. No, Gladys, build it and they will not come

The NSW Government has announced it will knock down and rebuild Allianz Stadium at Moore Park at a cost of $700 million and the Olympic Stadium at Homebush, only 17 years old, at a cost of $1.6 billion. However, there … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure, Politics | 3 Comments

ALI KAZAK. Why should Israel’s lobby have different standards?

The government’s plans to address foreign influence in Australian life provide an opportunity for the first time to define the level of Israeli activity designed to influence the making of our foreign policy. George Brandis didn’t plan this. But it … Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 6 Comments

ALLAN PATIENCE. It’s time for a citizens’ constitutional convention.

Unsurprisingly, very few Australians have any interest in their Constitution. It was designed in the closing stages of the 19th century by mostly older white men (no women were involved) for a “horse and buggy” era. It is an awfully … Continue reading

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TONY SMITH. A hope for the future?

There is plenty to criticise in the current state of Australian politics. It is important that expert commentators continue to point out the shortcomings of the system and the poor quality of those attracted to politics. There are however, occasional … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

ROSS GWYTHER. A sledgehammer for a walnut ?

Unbeknown to most Australians, a court case has been underway in Alice Springs over the past few months with implications far and wide.  Employing a sixty year old law drafted during the height of the anti-communist 1950s in Australia, the … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

MICHAEL PASCOE. What’s the story behind the Dastyari story?

What do leaking spooks, a dashed Dastyari and a dubious donor say about our most important trade partner?

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

LAURIE PATTON. Unpopulate or perish – revisiting the Whitlam decentralisation vision in a digital age.

On the 45th anniversary of the election of the Whitlam Government Laurie Patton reflects on a forward-thinking policy that deserves revisiting for a digitally-enabled world.

Posted in Media, Politics | 4 Comments

MUNGO MacCALLUM. Malcolm Turnbull and John Barilaro.

When the New South Wales Nationals leader John Barilaro called for Malcolm Turnbull’s resignation last week, it was simple for Turnbull’s federal allies to dismiss it as just another distraction – just another frustrated voice howling into the empty air.  

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

JERRY ROBERTS Parliamentary reform needs external drive

Privatisation and corporatisation of government services such as Australia Post have reduced the power and influence of the Parliament and made it less relevant to our daily lives. Parliamentary reform is important but needs to be seen as part of … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

BRUCE WEARNE A Suggestion to the Ruddock Committee

The discussion of Freedom of Religion in relation to proposed changes to the Marriage Act should not avoid analysis of how the current Act refers to a wedding ceremony’s “monitum”. The Marriage Act decrees that the “Monitum” must be announced … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Religion and Faith | 5 Comments

DAVID WATTERS AND COLLEAGUES. An open letter to the Australian Parliament regarding the health of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island

(The following letter appeared in the MJA Insight on 27 November 2017) WE are senior Australian clinicians who write in our individual capacity to express our concerns about the ongoing health and well-being of the former detainees still based on … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 1 Comment

MIKE WALLER. The Royal Commission we really need – into Australia’s public administration.

 As Terry Moran has recently pointed out, our system of public administration is in serious trouble.  The last fundamental look at Australian federal public administration was some forty years ago – the Coombs Royal Commission.  We urgently need a successor … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

TERRY MORAN. Back in the game. Part 2 of 2.

Active and effective government I want to highlight two messages from the attitudes research that I referred to in Part 1.  First, the health of our democracy can’t be divorced from the health of our public institutions and our public … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 3 Comments

Myanmar Is Not a Simple Morality Tale

In this article published in the New York Times on November 25, 2017, Roger Cohen writes about the dilemma of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  He comments ‘The West made a saint of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The Rohingya crisis revealed a … Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 1 Comment

TERRY MORAN ‘Back in the Game’ Part 1 of 2

The policy pendulum is swinging away from a consensus on the primacy of light touch regulation of markets, the unexamined benefits of outsourced service delivery, a general preference for smaller government, and a willing ignorance of public sector values and … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 1 Comment

IAN DUNLOP. Climate & Energy – Appeasement Does Not Work

The current chaos around climate and energy policy brings to mind George Santayana’s caution that: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. That is exactly what we are witnessing, albeit with far more profound implications even … Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, Politics | 3 Comments

MUNGO MACCALLUM. Tax cuts, religious freedom and Turnbull’s other distractions

A vague and uncosted promise of tax cuts and a debate on religious freedom are Turnbull’s tactics to push serious policy issues off the Parliamentary agenda, and to distract public attention from the Coalition’s troubles.

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

IAN MCAULEY. Queensland election: a policy challenge for the Coalition

The Queensland election has been a disaster for the Liberal-National Party. There is a risk that the Coalition will misinterpret the result and become even more alienated from the Australian electorate.

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

TIM LINDSEY. Will Indonesia’s fugitive Speaker escape again? The elite’s war on the Anti-Corruption Commission continues.

 Indonesians have been riveted for the last two weeks by a bizarre series of events that finally led to the arrest late last week of Setya Novanto, the speaker of the DPR, Indonesia’s national legislature.  

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 1 Comment

MUNGO MACCALLUM. Bishop’s credibility leaking away.

The government of Malcolm Turnbull has now transcended mere dysfunction – it has lapsed into anarchy, total chaos.

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

FRANCESCA BEDDIE. The way ahead for VET

The Productivity Commission’s five-year review, Shifting the Dial, recommends reforms in vocational education and training (VET). These are based on ‘the key premise…that skills formation is one of the central pillars for productivity improvement, even if its benefits are not … Continue reading

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JIM COOMBS. Is “Parliamentary Reform” needed?

When we contemplate the hopelessness of our national (and state) politics now, we are tempted, like John Menadue, to think that tinkering with the machine will turn a clapped out jalopy into a Roller. It is more likely the quality … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

Yesterday, the government released the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.   A group associated with Pearls & Irritations made a submission in the preparation of the White Paper:  Submission on foreign policy white paper – filling the void. The media release … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs, Politics | 1 Comment

EVA COX. Unhealthy Tribalism

The marriage equality survey has re-enforced the tribal type divides that now seem increasingly endemic in our socially defined political differences. Like most Western democratic nations, we are finding that the traditional views about voters as predictable blocs of left … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

GREG BAILEY. On the Importance and the Difficulty of Renewing Australian Democracy

John Menadue has offered a series of nine excellent practical proposals as to how the current two party system – which has virtually assumed monopoly status as a duopoly–might be converted into a multi-party system. This would seemingly reflect the … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments