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FRANK BRENNAN. Edging closer to a just regime in the Timor Sea.

On Tuesday the governments of Timor Leste and Australia will sign a maritime boundary treaty in New York in the presence of Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations. This day has been a long time coming. 

Continue reading

Posted in Asia | 3 Comments

MARK BEESON. Can Trump be socialised into good behaviour and policymaking?

Will Donald Trump have a lasting and possibly pernicious impact on American foreign policy, or will the so-called ‘adults’ in his administration educate him and change his ways?  Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 1 Comment

DAVID ZYNGIER. Spending more on private schools doesn’t guarantee success!

It is often claimed as fact that private schools outperform public schools. New analysis of MySchool data and 2017 Victorian Certificate of Education year 12 results shows that public schools with similar Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) rankings or Socio-Economic Status have very similar or even better VCE results than private schools. However, these public schools achieve these results with far less funding per student.   Continue reading

Posted in Education | 5 Comments

MUNGO MacCALLUM. Federal Hotels win in Tasmania

So Tasmania has a new government.  Yes, I know the Libs are still in office at 1 Salamanca Place and Will Hodgman is still premier. But the real government, the one run by the pokie industry under the Federal Group and the Farrell family has now been confirmed as the successor of the dynasty of rent seekers who actually manage the Apple Isle.   Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

IAN McAULEY. Tax reform, not tax cuts

From an unlikely source comes a message that Australia doesn’t need “smaller government”. Rather we need tax reform to ensure we can build a social safety net, and fund world-class health and education. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 4 Comments

PAUL COLLINS. The Real Crisis of Australian Catholicism.

It is patently obvious that Australian Catholicism is in crisis. The usual analysis is that this has been caused by the appalling mishandling and cover-up of child sexual abuse and the subsequent investigations of the Royal Commission. However, this is only a partial explanation. Catholicism’s problems have a much longer history and go much deeper. They won’t be solved merely by the application of the recommendations of the Commission. A much more radical root and branch reform is needed.  Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 8 Comments

SCOTT BURCHILL. Class power in the US.

All for ourselves and nothing for other people seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind (Adam Smith).

Class is a Communist concept. It groups people together and sets them against each other (Margaret Thatcher).

[Current opposition to free trade in the United States is] heavily influenced by perceptions that voters themselves now view trade issues in terms of a domestic class struggle, not as promoting exports and global integration (David Hale, economist). Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 2 Comments

BOB DOUGLAS. Time for Australia to lead in building a safer future

A combination of hazards threatens the continued survival of human civilization on Planet Earth. They are all man-made – and most are being systematically ignored or under-rated by political decision makers everywhere and especially, here in Australia.

Continue reading

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

ANDREW GLIKSON. The onset of climate tipping points

 As extreme temperatures, sea ice melt rates, collapse of Greenland glaciers, thawing of Siberian and Canadian permafrost, increased evaporation in the Arctic and intrusion of cold fronts into Europe and North America are rising, analogies with geological hyperthermal methane-release events such as the 56 m.y. old Paleocene-Eocene boundary thermal maximum and mass extinction (PETM), and even with the 251 Ma-old Permian-Triassic (PT) boundary and mass extinctions, are becoming more likely. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 3 Comments


In the Fairfax press Martin Myer of the Myer Foundation has an article “Rules around foreign donations threaten to cripple thousands of charities”.  It’s about legislation currently in Parliament, which ostensibly is designed to track foreign political donations, but which would actually place huge administrative burdens on organisations involved in policy advocacy and on their donors.

The principles of taxation are complex: in 2009 it took five volumes of the Henry Review to explain tax reform. But on ABC Radio National The Economists website is a lively 28 minute discussion “The joy of tax” between three experts, telling you (almost) everything you need to know about tax and tax reform.

Commenting on Tony Abbott’s rant calling for reduced immigration, Jessica Irving suggests that while at university he may have snoozed off at a crucial point in his economics lectures. Her article “Tony Abbott’s economic argument against immigration is flawed” dismisses the argument that immigrants take jobs from those who are already here, and she recommends that the government take up recommendations of the Grattan Institute to lower the discount rate governments use to evaluate infrastructure projects so that we can provide for a growing population.

On Phillip Adams’ Late Night Live is an interview with Kate Raworth of Oxford University about the need for “An economics for the 21st century” to deal with problems of inequality, pollution and overuse of the earth’s resources.  She gives a convincing and empirically-based critique of the neoliberal idea that the workings of the market inevitability reduce inequality.

Philosopher and author Damon Young writes on his blog and in the Canberra Times about “The deceptive story of virtuous homebuyers”.  We can engage with the yarn that all first home buyers are struggling, but in reality many have significant support from parents. The most disadvantaged are those who will never be able to buy real estate and will face a lifetime as renters, and “those excluded from stable housing altogether, by poverty and violence.”

Love, justice and humility to abuse survivors – Robert Fitzgerald, Eureka Street (Audio).

Is the British Establishment finally finished – the Guardian

The book Xi Jinping wants people to read for all the wrong reasons – the Canberra Times.

Malcolm Turnbull decides he does need an NBN connection of 100Mbps – buzz feed.

Kevin Rudd protests that Clive Hamilton attacks are just not on – Canberra Times.

Battered Barnaby Joyce all too belatedly bails out – Jack Waterford, Canberra Times

Michaelia Cash’s slur on women staffers in Parliament this week further debased our already-degraded political system, forced Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull back into his post-Barnaby Joyce corner and further exposed a Coalition killing itself with its own mistakes, writes Michelle Grattan.

Lessons in feminism via Jacinda Adern, Michaelia Cash and Bill Shorten – the Guardian

Will Turnbull’s Snowy Hydro continue his war against battery storage – RenewEconomy

On Saturday Extra this 3rd of March, Geraldine Doogue discusses primarily elections and leadership. Italy goes to the polls on Sunday under new electoral laws, writer Tim Parks explains; Germans find out on Sunday if Angela Merkel has been able to form a coalition with the SDP five months post the election, political analyst Mark Kayser discusses and Geoff Raby, former Australian ambassador to China talks about Xi Jinping’s grab for eternal power. Also academics Sarah Teo and Ralf Emmers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore discuss Asia’s middle powers. And in the month of March Saturday Extra will be bringing a special series on emerging and established historians bringing in a new genre. ANU’s Tom Griffith explains what this is and Tony Hughes d-Aeth discusses his literary history of WA’s wheatbelt area.


Posted in Politics | Comments Off on GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND …

MACK WILLIAMS. Australia : US – Limits and responsibilities of mateship!

The recent quick visit of the Prime Minister to Washington has raised more questions than it has answered about the state of Australia’s relations with the US and China. Have the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister set out a new policy on China and the South China Sea or are they just playing at trying to distance themselves modestly from Washington? Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

JOHN MENADUE. The AMA did its best to scuttle Medicare over 40 years ago.

 This week I posted an article ‘Health Ministers may be in office but they are seldom in  power’  I pointed out how doggedly and often quite selfishly the provider institution-  mainly the AMA, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Medicines Australia and the parasitical Private Health Insurance funds-resist  almost all health reform unless it benefits provider interests. The public, patients and the community run a poor last. Continue reading

Posted in Health | Comments Off on JOHN MENADUE. The AMA did its best to scuttle Medicare over 40 years ago.

JEFFREY A. BADER. Seven things you need to know about lifting term limits for Xi Jinping

At its annual meeting beginning on March 5, the Chinese National People’s Congress appears poised to adopt a “recommendation” by the Communist Party that the two-term limit for president and vice president be eliminated. The change is of course not an expression of a preferred governance norm for longer terms, but rather a dramatic shift designed to permit President Xi Jinping to stay in power after his second presidential term expires in 2023. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | Comments Off on JEFFREY A. BADER. Seven things you need to know about lifting term limits for Xi Jinping

Michael Thorn. Will a sugar tax drive you to drink?

Imposing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages has become the go-to policy for health and medical advocates wanting an effective population-wide intervention to deal with the world’s growing problem of obesity and poor diet. Continue reading

Posted in Health | Comments Off on Michael Thorn. Will a sugar tax drive you to drink?

STEPHEN FITZGERALD AND LINDA JAKOBSON. Engaging with China does not mean being an agent of China

[A letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 February 2018]

Clive Hamilton conveys a message which must be challenged, namely the insinuation that any person who engages with the Communist Party of China (CPC) should be viewed with suspicion or as belonging to a CPC fifth column (“Powerful relations raises a red flag”, February 24-25). It is wrong and indeed damaging to Australia’s interests if people (Hamilton refers to unnamed powerful corporate figures) who have dealings with the CPC are to be looked upon as untrustworthy. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 2 Comments

DAVID MACILWAIN. Standing up Against America.

Arguing that Australia should cut all support for US forces in Syria, and support the Syrian government and its allies in the fight against the terrorist insurgency. This starts with a recognition that the “White Helmets” are allies of Al Qaeda, supported by the US and UK. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

RAMESH THAKUR. The rant in The Australian on the Department of Foreign and Trade

On 17 February, The Australian published an article by former Australian ambassador to the EU and former adviser to Tony Abbott Mark Higgie that was sharply critical of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Unfortunately, the initial takeaway from reading it was that it is more of a rant than a critical analysis of all that ails DFAT. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 2 Comments

JOHN MENADUE Australians prefer government funding for dental care rather than private health insurance

Polling released by Essential Report on February 27 2018 revealed that 48% of Australians favoured abolishing the taxpayer subsidy to Private Health Insurance (PHI) and using the savings to establish a Medicare Dental Scheme. 32% opposed such a change and 20 % did not have a view.   Continue reading

Posted in Health, Politics | Comments Off on JOHN MENADUE Australians prefer government funding for dental care rather than private health insurance

RICHARD TANTER. Bad, bad BADA (aka Bipartisan Australian Defence Agreement)

One explanation popular in some thinktank and corporate circles for incoherence in Australian defence policy and inefficiencies in defence procurement attributes these problems to the influence of politicians and elections. If only politics could be got out of the way, so the argument goes, we could have an effective policy process and an efficient defence procurement process. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | Comments Off on RICHARD TANTER. Bad, bad BADA (aka Bipartisan Australian Defence Agreement)

ANNE HURLEY. Questions should be asked about the Coalition Agreement and its potential impact on the NBN rollout in rural Australia?

Over the last few weeks we have been inundated with reports of the Barnaby Joyce saga. One aspect of the saga has involved a call for transparency in the provisions of the agreement between the Liberal Party and Nationals – the Coalition Agreement – pursuant to which they operate as the Government for all Australians.  Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure, Media | 2 Comments

TREVOR COBBOLD. NSW Public Schools Benefit Under Gonski 1.0

New school funding figures show that public schools were the main beneficiaries of the Gonski 1.0 funding plan in NSW. Public schools received a funding increase nearly double that for private schools and it reversed the previous trend of large funding cuts to public schools. However, public schools in NSW remain significantly under-funded while private schools are over-funded. Continue reading

Posted in Education | Comments Off on TREVOR COBBOLD. NSW Public Schools Benefit Under Gonski 1.0

MARC HUDSON. The Nationals have changed their leader but kept the same climate story

After Barnaby Joyce’s demise as Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader, and his replacement by Michael McCormack, we might wonder what the junior Coalition partner’s leadership change means for Australia’s climate policy. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 1 Comment

ANDREW GLIKSON. The ABC and the climate impasse.

“Half-truth is much worse than a whole lie because it makes it even harder to tell the difference between the two.” (Gene Ruyle)

For many weeks the Australian parliament, paralyzed by the antiquated legalistic of Section 44 and pre-occupied with the marriage equality issue and the hounding of top politicians, remained oblivious to the existential risks to life on Earth, expressed by extreme weather events including powerful cyclones and extensive wildfires, engulfing large parts of the globe, and to the rising threat of nuclear annihilation. Nor does the majority of the Fourth Estate appear to be too concerned, preoccupied as they are in the chase of ratings and profits. But while it is “normal” for commercial channels to pander to their readers through the hour by hour reporting of salacious titbits, the ABC, the supposed guardian of the public good, appears to be living in fear of external pressures. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 1 Comment

GORDON DE BROUWER. Achieving balance in Australia’s strategic thinking

A lot has been said about the challenge that Australia and other countries in Asia and the Pacific face in balancing their security interests with the United States and economic interests with China. The need to deal systematically with this challenge is sharpening as Beijing and Washington shift their conventional approaches to international relations. China has been more assertive in its foreign policy, especially in the South China Sea and in cyberspace. Meanwhile, there is concern that the United States under President Trump is abandoning its support for a rules-based and market-oriented global order and is championing an order that prioritises protectionism, unilateralism and the pursuit above all else of American interests. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. We need a Metro public inquiry in NSW to sort out the railway mess

A recent opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Heaald effectively called for a stop to criticism of the NSW Government’s approach to Sydney railways – in particular Metro – and for everyone to get onboard the transport ‘revolution’. I can’t agree.   Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 1 Comment

JOHN MENADUE. Health Ministers may be in office but they are seldom in power

The major barrier to health reform is the power of providers. A succession of Australian health ministers Liberal and Labor for three decades have failed in any serious health reform.  It is a very sorry story. Any Minister, Liberal or Labor who wants to reform health must be prepared to take on the providers.  Otherwise, we can forget serious health reform.  Continue reading

Posted in Health | 1 Comment


Over the past 10 years, there has been a range of initiatives by federal and state governments that aim to improve the nation’s capacity to meet the challenges of climate change. Considerable attention has been directed at reducing emissions, or climate change mitigation, especially at a federal level. Efforts to respond to impacts of climate change, or climate change adaptation, have been the subject of less public debate although the focus of research and planning by governments, academic institutions and some businesses. It appears that the appetite for continuing such efforts is dwindling. This does not bode well for the nation’s future. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Comments Off on BRUCE THOM. CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION—A LOSS OF MOMENTUM

MICHAEL KEATING- Wages, Profits and Economic Growth.

This article summarises the analysis in a new book, Fair Share: Competing Claims and Australia’s Economic Future, which examines the interrelationship between the stagnant economic growth experienced by most developed countries over the last decade and the increasing inequality in the distribution of income. Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 1 Comment

RICHARD TANTER. Joined at the hip with Donald Trump and implications for Pine Gap and Australian sovereignty.

In the repost below from 18 December 2017, Richard Tanter pointed out

Apart from the multiple US–Soviet nuclear crises of 1983, there has probably never been a more important time for Australians to consider the immediate implications of hosting Pine Gap. In the event of war on the Korean peninsula, Pine Gap hardwires Australia into US military operations, whether Canberra likes it or not. … Pine Gap today is a US battlefield asset, and if President Trump’s threat to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea shifts from rhetoric to policy, Australia will automatically be involved in the second Korean War, unless the Turnbull government turns away from ‘joined at the hip’ rhetoric of alliance to join the German blanket rejection of its — and Canberra’s — ally’s belligerence.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | 1 Comment

MATTHEW RICKETSON & RODNEY TIFFEN. The chronicler we deserve?

Michael Wolff’s book owes a large debt to the ethically grounded work of the journalists he professes to disdain. Continue reading

Posted in Media | 1 Comment