The recent election result was a major disappointment for those interested in improving the health of the nation. The re-election of the Coalition promises an ongoing increase in support for private health insurance as the Government continues its long-term agenda of two tiering the health system. Continue reading
The Shadow Cabinet mirrors the Government in more ways than intended, uninspiring in its uniformity, offering limited hope for new beginnings or imagination.
It has been said that in the world order of the 21st century, countries will end up as a colony of either the US or China or be a member of the EU. This may sound overly simplistic but one thing appears to be clear: whilst the US and China are headed for a new cold war, the Brexit saga and the recent European elections have strengthened the EU. For Australia, who is dangerously exposed not only by the US/China conflict but also by losing the UK as its gateway to Europe, it would be inexcusable to not give top priority to the ongoing free trade negotiations with the EU and use the opportunity to seek the closest possible ties with it. However, this requires a much better understanding of the EU.
Allan Patience argued cogently for a substantial change in left-wing political economy: Labor has been trying hitherto to interpret the neoliberal world in various ways; the point however is to change it. A robust public sector is urgently needed to compete against a rapacious private sector. He suggested a number of ways this could be done but we need to make sure we have the financial means to do it. ..The whole art of Conservative politics in the 20th century is being deployed to enable wealth to persuade poverty to use its political freedom to keep wealth in power.
The fossil fuel industries don’t survive by chance or benign government neglect. Two recent reports expose the massive subsidies the industries receive from governments globally, including in Australia, and the multiple very close and enduring links between high-ranking personnel in Australia’s coal industry and the Coalition government. Many of us enjoy spending time in parks and they make a valuable contribution to reducing climate change and air pollution but they need to be carefully looked after to be welcoming and safe. Insects are disappearing from the earth at an alarming rate with potentially catastrophic consequences for humanity. Finally, a quiz about an interesting-looking critter.
A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts in other media Continue reading
For the past fortnight I’ve read, listened and watched every in-depth explanation of how and why Bill Shorten got the election wrong. The wait was deliberate. I wanted to ease my way out of the shock of how Labor lost “the unloseable election”. Until now, only John Hewson is the public figure who knows what it’s like to wear that sobriquet. Continue reading
New Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, Kristina Keneally and Shadow Immigration Minister have signalled they intend to hold the Government to account for the chaos in our visa system. This article updates some of the data on that chaos which confirms Home Affairs continues to struggle. The Department’s funding over the next few years, together with its plans for visa privatisation, suggest the Government has no effective method for regaining control over our air borders. Continue reading
Those who accuse Labor of having engaged in “class warfare” in its election campaign are trying to stymie economically responsible taxation reform and to deflect attention from the corrupting influence of big money on our democracy. Continue reading
Australia’s election results are routinely distorted by fake news about the economy. Alan Austin explores what this might mean in seats won and lost. Continue reading
So the ALP lost the election and everyone has a post mortem explanation of what went wrong (eg Ian Macaulay: it’s the economy)or what needs to be the future focus (Albo: It’s jobs, we are here for the workers). Yet the big story should be how voters reflected increasing distrust of the current ‘democratic processes’ because of policy omissions. The low turnout, reported high levels of really undecided voters, and the failure of the accuracy of poll sampling to reflect the results are all indicators that too many voters were not engaged because of not trusting their decisions. Continue reading
The road to Adani. There are more hurdles to overcome, and Gautam Adani might have to put up his own money. Continue reading
Homelessness has increased greatly in Australian capital cities since 2001. Almost two-thirds of people experiencing homelessness are in these cities, with much of the growth associated with severely crowded dwellings and rough sleeping. Continue reading
Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan has taken a decidedly authoritarian turn. Continue reading
Stuck in a traffic jam every day on the way to work do you imagine this is the way it is always going to be – only a little worse? If your livelihood is agriculture, like your father and his father before him, you face challenges they did not have to face. Weather patterns are changing, droughts are more frequent and intense and the rains, when they come, are more torrential. Do you imagine this is now your lot and that as your children prepare to inherit the property, their experience will be the Murray Darling Basin 2018/19 on steroids? If you live in one of the mega cities of the world do you imagine that wearing a face mask to mitigate air pollution will be the norm if you dare to venture outside? Continue reading
Readers of my generation will recall the horror story told to the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus on 10 October 1990 by a 15-year old Kuwaiti girl. ‘Nayirah’ claimed to have witnessed invading Iraqi troops storming a Kuwaiti hospital, ripping 15 babies out of incubators and leaving them to die on the cold floor. On 19 December 1990, an 84-page report by Amnesty International concluded: ‘300 premature babies were reported to have died after Iraqi soldiers removed them from incubators, which were then looted’. The Amnesty story and Nayirah’s testimony were widely circulated around the world and used as a powerful mobilising tool by the George H. Bush administration to drum up public and Congressional support for a resolution to grant the president authorization to use force in Kuwait.
A year ago, discussion of climate change as an existential threat, and the corresponding need for emergency action, was anathema to those leading debate on climate policy in the political, corporate and NGO incumbencies globally. Incremental change remained the order of the day. But even that was too much for Australia, where political denial of climate change remained dominant. Continue reading
For the past 40 years, the United States and other advanced economies have been pursuing a free-market agenda of low taxes, deregulation, and cuts to social programs. There can no longer be any doubt that this approach has failed spectacularly; the only question is what will – and should – come next.
The past week has seen a series of media articles about how some people must fund raise to cover the cost of expensive brain cancer surgery and a paper released from the Actuaries Institute, How to Make Private Health Insurance Healthier, that highlights (yet again) the needed reforms to Australia’s private and publicly funded healthcare. Together they highlight the need to reign in the free marketplace that is specialist medicine in Australia and that is costly to both Medicare and private health insurance.
Many factors appear to have contributed to the unexpected victory of the Coalition in the May 18 election. Two factors were predictable and had a devastating impact on the ALP vote where they were activated – ethno-religious prejudices around sexuality and gay culture, and fears about perceived threats to economic stability in some ethnic communities. Continue reading
In 2018, prosecutors in Brooklyn subpoenaed information from the family-run real estate development business Kushner Companies to investigate how it “routinely filed false paperwork that resulted in the company netting millions during a three-year period” when presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner was its CEO. Continue reading
When people describe their part in events of our own life time, they often awaken in us recognition mixed with self-reproach. We recognise how greatly our attitudes have changed, but also that our images of significant people and movements are still tinged with our earlier prejudices.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has grown so large that it has become difficult to separate from the international economic and technology policies of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC). Policies crafted in the name of BRI are reshaping the economic order and technological landscape in Australia’s neighbourhood – Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands (PI). The BRI also contributes to escalating tensions between the PRC and the United States. Continue reading
There may have been advantages in keeping the recent election campaign away from foreign policy. Statements made to win domestic votes can be damaging to a country’s international relations. It is now time, however, for some serious thinking.
In the (in)famous words of Donald Horne: “Australia is a lucky country run by mainly second-rate people who share its luck.” The new Morrison Government is a mostly uninspiring group lacking in diversity and bereft of vision. A staggering lack of diversity making it impossible to match experience, competencies and interests to suitable portfolios.
Following the Labor party’s defeat in May’s general election, the Queensland Labor government seems keen to approve the development of the Adani thermal coal mine as quickly as possible. However, a report released this week by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) exposes the Queensland government’s poor economic analysis and failure to recognise the accelerating global trend from coal to renewables in energy generation, and the difference between thermal and coking coal.