“What is the good of drawing up, on paper, rules for good behaviour, if we know that, in fact, our greed, cowardice, ill temper, and self-conceit are going to prevent us from keeping them? I do not mean for a moment that we ought not to think, and think hard, about improvements to our social and economic system. What I do mean is that all the thinking will be mere moonshine unless we realise that nothing but the courage and unselfishness of individuals is ever going to make any system work properly. It is easy enough to remove the particular kinds of graft or bullying that go on under the present system; but as long as men are twisters or bullies they will find some new way of carrying on the same game under the new system. You cannot make men good by law, and without good men you cannot have a good society.” Continue reading
Every Australian owes a great debt to John Deeble who died this week in Canberra, aged 87. Together with Dick Scotton he provided Gough Whitlam from 1967 onwards with the essential advice on how to establish a compulsory public insurance health program – Medicare. The result was Gough Whitlam’s triumph in government on 7 August 1974, in a joint sitting of the parliament, to establish Medicare. The scheme started on 1 July 1975 when Medicare cards were issued to all Australians.
We now have one of the best health schemes in the world, although it clearly needs renovation. Without John Deeble it is hard to visualise how Medicare would have been possible. Continue reading
A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts covered in other media. Continue reading
Australia has been described as the “front line of the battle for climate change adaptation”, and our farmers are the ones who have to lead the charge. Farmers will have to cope, among other pressures, with longer droughts, more erratic rainfall, higher temperatures, and changes to the timing of seasons. Continue reading
As responsible adults we need to do all we can to ensure that our young are provided with the best opportunities to live purposeful, fulfilling lives and are encouraged to partake of these opportunities. We need to strive to provide them with an optimum set of values and attitudes, and an environment in which they will make lifestyle choices that will enhance their physical, mental and social wellbeing. There is the question of alcohol and its place in our society. Continue reading
None of the “wicked’ problems in health – obesity, mental illness and suicide, chronic illness, ageing – will be solved with just hospitals, doctors, nurses and prescription pads. They all require resources beyond those provided by the health care system. That’s not news; there are very few health professionals who deny the impact of the social determinants of health on health outcomes and health care costs and the importance of linking into social services. The challenge is how to achieve this. In essence – how do we move the focus from general practice and primary care to primary health care? (There is a difference: see Primary care vs Primary health care: and who cares?) Continue reading
The End of Hegemony
The battle between Left and Right is intensifying. Major parties thinks they will win this contest at the ballot box. Continue reading
A former forensic investigator at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has called for the major accounting firms hired to audit and approve sensitive company reports to be brought before the financial services royal commission to prove their independence. Continue reading
Ever wondered who is now the culprit for many of the woes of the United States? Then look no further than a major speech delivered by US Vice President Mike Pence last week. Continue reading
Prime Minister Morrison, for such, alas, he is, sees the Opera House as a billboard for promoting whoever can pay for it. That’s BUSINESS, isn’t it ? Anything that turns a quid is, for them, Business, and that’s good enough. Indeed this government seems to think its job is done if it looks after business, and devil take the hindmost. And then sell off government functions so that some entrepreneur (French for middleman) can squeeze a profit out of the citizens. The sale of NSW Land Titles Office ( which one would think was a key function of government : control of land and title) led to gouging up to 1800% of previous state charges. Great for Business, bad for the state and its citizens. The privatisation of the responsibilities of government, such as the operation of prisons is an abrogation of its responsibilities and has dire results, due to lack of adequate supervision. When children are taken into care, subject to court orders, the government should not pass them on to agencies which may or may not do justice in the situation, which is the state’s responsibility. Continue reading
As Brendan Byrne SJ, scripture scholar, comments on today’s Gospel( 7 October 2018): “Any pastor would be aware that no Sunday Gospel read throughout the year… will require more careful handling than this one… To simply read out the rulings of Jesus in the Gospel without comment or nuance would be to turn Gospel into Law, and simply add to a burden of guilt that may already be oppressive” So, here goes, for my take!
Perhaps the most masterful PR campaign of international diplomacy this year was the visit to the US of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman commonly known as MBS. He was feted on a two-week coast-to-coast tour by politicians, big business, oil tycoons and the tech industry. President Trump fawned over him with a photographic display of the billions of dollars of American weaponry the Saudis were buying. ‘Just peanuts to you’, said Trump with some admiration. The media lined up like drooling supplicants. The main reason was that they all thought the new ruler of Saudi Arabia in all but name was a reformist who would steer the theocratic kingdom into the sunlit world of freedom and democracy. Continue reading
Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants to halve Australia’s immigration intake. It is a diversionary tactic to disguise her infrastructure policy failures. Road and rail policies are in melt down
Immigration does present challenges but it is Australia’s great success story. Some of the problems that immigration faces are the result of policy failure in other areas like housing and particularly transport. Continue reading
Last week, on 4 October, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, accompanied by Immigration Minister David Coleman, paid a visit to Hurstville in south Sydney, dropped in on some local Chinese shops, and had lunch with around 80 people—members and leaders of the local Chinese community. The event generated quite a buzz among the Chinese communities but went mostly unnoticed by the English-reading public.
It was a strange way to do diplomacy with China or was it domestic electioneering.It was all very odd. Continue reading
The current meeting of the world’s Synod of Catholic Bishops in Rome to discuss “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment” will clearly have an eye to the vast decline in vocations to the priesthood, particularly in the Western world. Its deliberations come shortly after the recent appeal by the Australian National Council of Priests (ANCP) for Pope Francis to call an end to compulsory priestly celibacy. Continue reading
When Bill Shorten on camera announced that Labor would support the TPP he looked like a schoolboy telling the teacher that the dog ate his homework. Bill knew his excuse was phony. Will the TPP be the issue that finally forces the ALP back to the labour movement or will the Party fudge its way into office as it has done throughout the 30 years of neoliberal ascendancy? Continue reading
The recently announced promise of preschool education funding for 3 year olds has the potential to improve developmental and education outcomes for young children, but with chronic teacher shortages in early learning centres, delivering new preschool programs will be a major challenge. Continue reading
On 4 November, indigenous and some other longstanding New Caledonian residents will vote on the question “Do you want New Caledonia to accede to full sovereignty and become independent?” The referendum process will re-shape the role of France in the South Pacific at a time of geostrategic change, and yet is passing relatively unmarked in our media and our region. Continue reading
Last week, the world gazed on as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified against a man backed by the strongest political forces in America. I couldn’t watch. Continue reading
Massive government debts and eroded fiscal buffers since 2008 suggest global dominos await a single market crash. Continue reading
Australians from culturally diverse backgrounds often feel frustrated about media coverage of news events and issues that portray them in a negative light. A new study analysing media coverage of issues related to multicultural Australia found that more than a third of stories reflected a negative view of minority communities. Continue reading
In Part 1 I pointed to opinion research which suggests that European and Australian political leaderships are playing to their narrow base, that the population has not abandoned humanitarian attitudes towards refugees, but do reject the dominant slogans of advocates and the implied consequences. I’ll comment on one of the aspects, and report on the 2017 Alexander Betts and Paul Collier book “Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System.” Continue reading
The government has thrown in its lot with climate sceptics, the loony right which includes the Murdoch media and the coal miners.
We have a government with no policy on climate change at all. The responses by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Ministers for the Environment and Energy to the latest IPCC report are a disgrace. Continue reading
Australia is in the deep throes of the most severe energy crisis in living memory. Power and gas prices have skyrocketed in recent years and are continuing to go up in spite of claims from the Liberal government that they have solved the energy crisis and prices are coming down.
Both Robert Manne and John Menadue have recently put proposals at this blog for better refugee policy. As an amateur who has accumulated an awareness of the counter-intuitions, swirling dynamics and deep knowledge required in this fiendishly complex policy space, I have no detailed prescriptions of my own other than “first, do no harm”. But the European events and an imminent Australian election suggest an urgency for advocates to review their orthodoxies and adapt to new realities. There’s not much public conversation and it needs to happen. Continue reading
If short term reactions are any guide it seems that many of those who submitted to the Ruddock review into religious protections might have some cause for regret. While it is early days, it is likely to throw a timely spotlight on religious school enrolment and employment discrimination. Such discrimination already applies unevenly across Australia, but an emerging question might be why it should exist at all. Continue reading
Theology tends to ramp up the status and certainty of its models and theories so that what starts off as a theory morphs into unquestionable truth. Continue reading
This speech by Scott Morrison on 4 October 2018 does not seem to have been run anywhere in the mainstream media. It is the most constructive statement from the government in a long time. Interestingly, the speech was posted on the Australian Embassy website in Beijing six days ago! (John Menadue) Continue reading
The NSW Government says there is an ‘amazing’ light at the end of the tunnel with the closure of the Epping-Chatswood line that is part of the Metro project. The analogy is apt. An approaching light in a railway tunnel heralds big trouble. Continue reading