GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND

A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts covered in other media.

On ABC’s Saturday Extra this weekend (in case you missed it)

  • Iran –  As the deadline approaches for renewed US sanctions against Iran, this is a country already facing a huge set of economic problems.  They sparked recent widespread riots in Iran, inflation is spiralling and the plummeting value of the currency, the rial, will hit everyday Iranians and their businesses.   A letter from the powerful Revolutionary Guards to President Hassan Rouhani, criticising him for paying more attention to political enemies than trying to solve the country’s problems, is seen by many as an ominous sign of a wider crisis within the Iranian government.  Guest is Dr Sanam Vakil, Adjunct Professor Johns Hopkins University & Associate Fellow covering Iran at Chatham House
  • Zimbabwe – Stuart Doran, historian and a one-time advisor to Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), on why it’s so hard to achieve a fair and transparent election in that country; and what Chinese interests will make of the election outcome.
  • Central banks –  Around the world, Central Banks took a leading role in handling the Global Financial Crisis.  However the judgment of the US Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates was questioned recently by US President Donald Trump, and this was replicated in Turkey and in Italy. The former deputy governor of the Bank of England, Sir Paul Tucker, has written a book, arguing that the independence of Central Banks, run by unelected authorities need to be upheld and maintained, but not without some constraints.
  • Portugal’s revival –  Greeks and other Europeans are watching Portugal closely these days. In 2015, seven years after the GFC, Portugal rejected harsh austerity measures imposed by the EU and the IMF and today is reaping the economic and psychological benefits. Liz Alderman Paris-based chief European business correspondent for The New York Times, covering economic and inequality challenges around Europe.
  • Robert Drewe – on his latest collection of essays, The True Colour of the Sea.

Other commentary

In the wake of the by-elections last week, John Hewson has political advice for Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party’s political strategists. His article in Fairfax media He won’t admit it, but Turnbull knows Shorten has his number is mainly a call for electoral funding reform, and a call for a grown-up consideration of tax reform. He also calls for the government to introduce a national anti-corruption and integrity commission.

Turnbull doesn’t go into details on corruption, but in The Monthly Paddy Manning’s article Corrupting Canberra (limited free access) points to “a rising stench around the Turnbull government”, listing many instances of questionable practices. The most recent is a trip to Japan by backbencher George Christiansen, funded by the Minerals Council of Australia to beg investment in a new coal-fired power station, all at the request of Resources Minister Matt Canavan. No wonder Australia’s score on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index is slipping.

“Without wanting to be branded a class traitor, I have to admit that we Baby Boomers have enjoyed a rails-run in the race of life.” That’s Ross Gittins’ take on the way the tax system and broader economy have made life so hard for young people now entering the labour market. His article Young people bearing the brunt of a weak economy points out that while many macro economic indicators look healthy enough, the economy for younger people life is very tough.

Should Australia have religious discrimination legislation?  The ABC’s Law Report presents edited highlights of a discussion among five experts hosted by Monash University. Presenter Damien Carrick introduces the question as concerning the balance between “freedom of religion” and “freedom from religion”. Gillian Triggs says that the debate needs to be in the wider context of rights, reminding us that “Australia is the only Commonwealth country and the only democracy in the world that does not have a charter of fundamental rights and freedoms”.

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