ALLAN PATIENCE. W(h)ither Labor?

The election loss in May devastated the ALP. The loss was made worse as the party realised that those voters who were heartily fed up with the shenanigans of the Liberal-National Coalition had nonetheless avoided turning to Labor. Since then, Labor MPs and the administrative machine of the party have been licking their wounds while trying to work out what went so horribly wrong. Continue reading

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JERRY ROBERTS Income management by the Cashless Welfare Card

The Cashless Debit Card when seen in the context of drug testing at Centrelink, tax cuts for the comfortable, religious protection laws. the Witness K trial and open slather for financiers adds to the impression that our country now resembles more closely Margaret Atwood’s Gilead than Ben Chifley’s Australia.

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LESLEY RUSSELL. Where is the Focus on Rural Health (Redux) – Looking at You, National Party

The impacts of drought and climate change on health and wellbeing are threatening to increase the growing gap in health status between Australians who live in metropolitan and rural areas. Yet the Morrison Government and its National Party partners have lost focus on rural health, they have failed to focus on a national drought strategy and are international laggards in climate change action. Rural families and communities are suffering as a result.

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JONAH BEN AVRAHAM. Palestinians Could Have Historic Influence in Israel’s Next Government (Truthout 5-10-19)

The political climate in Israel following September’s snap elections is by no means favorable to Palestinians. However, there is reason to be hopeful for gains in Palestinian political power as the prospect of a unity government between the center-right Kahol Lavan party and the further-right Likud party looms large. Palestinian parties are contesting for a historic amount of influence in shaping the next Israeli government, and the challenge for Palestinian political leaders will be to turn this growing relevance in Israeli politics into real power in the fight for Palestinian liberation, rather than a force for the normalization of Israel’s colonial rule over Palestine. Continue reading

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THE SOUTHERN CROSS (Adelaide). New Vietnamese church a blessing. Our Lady of the Boat People.

 

In what was a momentous occasion in its 40-year history in South Australia, the Church of Our Lady of The Boat People was dedicated by Apostolic Administrator Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, with an evening of Vietnamese celebrations to follow.

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Posted in Religion and Faith | 3 Comments

STEPHEN DUCKETT. Time to kill the Private Health Insurance zombies

Two zombie policies stalk the Private Health Insurance (PHI) policy world: A ‘Hospital Benefits Schedule’ and ‘Medicare Select’. Here’s why both should have been put to rest long ago. Continue reading

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MICHAEL KEATING. Drought Assistance: Is it efficient? Is it fair?

Australia is currently experiencing a severe drought; possibly the most severe on record. Not surprisingly there have been calls for governments to do more. Some have even claimed that Australia lacks a proper drought policy. This article discusses the key features of an ideal drought policy, and what are the respective responsibilities of those being assisted – mainly farmers – and governments that are the principal source of any assistance. Continue reading

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JOHN MCCARTHY. The Morrison Doctrine.

Dear Prime Minister,

I see you are developing a foreign policy doctrine of your own. Good. We haven’t had one for a while.

Congratulations on taking this stuff seriously. The management of our external environment will be your toughest job as Prime minister. Our external challenges are of a scale not seen since the Pacific War. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 2 Comments

AMY GOODMAN and PATRICK COCKBURN. On the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish area in Syria. (Truthout 7.10.2109)

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s start with the surprise announcement, after the phone conversation between Erdogan and Trump, that the U.S. is pulling back its troops for Turkey to attack in northern Syria. Explain what you understand is happening and the significance of this.   Continue reading

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NOEL TURNBULL. The Kurds. Yearning for a new Saladin

Over centuries – when faced with adversity, invasions and threats – much of the Arab world has often yearned for a new Saladin.

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GREG BARTON. Australia isn’t taking the national security threat from far-right extremism seriously enough (the Conversation, 3 October 2019)

Until the terror attack in Christchurch in March, the threat of far-right terrorism in Australia was one we knew was coming, but believed was well over the horizon.

The sordid story of the Christchurch attacker – “ordinary Australian” turned hateful bigot turned mass-murdering terrorist – contains some uncomfortable truths for our country, not least of which is the fact that the threat of far-right extremism has arrived in the here and now. Continue reading

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WANG GUNWU. China’s rise this time is different (East Asia Forum, 29 September 2019)

On 1 October China will be celebrating the 70 years of unification that followed Mao Zedong’s victory over the Nationalist regime in 1949. Many thought that had brought about the rise that the Chinese peoples had been waiting for since the beginning of the 20th century. But it was not to be. After the Great Leap Forward and Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution had nearly destroyed all that Mao had established, there were doubts that China would ever rise. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 1 Comment

DUNCAN MACLAREN. Boris Johnson: the Embattled ‘Hammer of the Scots’

The Scots were largely ignored by English politicians during the Brexit negotiations but they now loom large in the fight to stop a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. Will this urge Boris Johnson to become the embattled ‘Hammer of the Scots’, the moniker given to King Edward I of England in his wars against Scots’ wishes not to be an English colony like the Welsh in the 13th to 14th centuries? If so, there is something which the unelected UK PM should remember from history.   Continue reading

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GERARD O’CONNELL. As Amazon Synod begins, Pope Francis looks to proceed with a ‘pastoral heart’

Pope Francis opened the first plenary session of the synod for the Amazon region this morning by praying with the synod participants at the tomb of St. Peter in the basilica dedicated to his name and then gave an incisive speech to offer some direction to guide them over the next three weeks.

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DAVID ROWE. It’s a miracle! (AFR 7.10.2019)

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MICHAEL KEATING The Fiscal Outlook: Is the projected Budget surplus sustainable and should it be? Part 2

With a stagnant economy, there are strong arguments for a fiscal stimulus package that would almost certainly postpone the return to Budget surplus for a couple of years. But what of the longer term? This article uses the Medium Term Fiscal Projections recently released by the Parliamentary Budget Office to query the longer-term fiscal outlook, and whether Budget surpluses are in fact sustainable without policy changes. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 1 Comment

JACK WATERFORD. Thin pickings from big bikkies

Britain’s ‘war’ on organised crime is failing, and it’s probably the same here

Some fresh and depressing evidence for those who, like me, fear that federal law enforcement is a good deal less effective and efficient than it could be, because of the way its resources are configured, led, and under the close and very unaccountable supervision of ministers and bureaucrats. Continue reading

Posted in Drug Reform, Politics | 2 Comments

MUNGO MACCALLUM.  Reserve Bank gives up on Morrison

The Reserve Bank, like so many economic pundits, has finally given up on the government of Scott Morrison.

After months, years, of pleading for a sensible stimulus policy to drag Australia out of its torpor, Philip Lowe has conceded that it just not going to happen and all he can do is bet the farm on interest rates, his only effective weapon. Continue reading

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LAURIE PATTON. Time to stop digging our way out of trouble. A lesson from the past?

For the foreseeable future Australia will rely on mining for economic growth and to maintain our current standard of living. Yet unresolved debates over a number of proposed coal mines have exposed a rift in political circles that may well determine the outcome of the next federal election, just as the issue had a major impact on this year’s poll. While the risk is arguably greater on Labor’s side the turning tide of public opinion spurred by concerns about Global Warming suggests both the major parties would be well-advised to start thinking about their future responses to the demands of the mining lobby. Continue reading

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LUIZA CH. SAVAGE. How Russia and China are preparing to exploit a warming planet

Hurricanes, floods, and wildfires aside, climate change is delivering another threat: a remaking of geopolitics that stands to empower some of America’s adversaries and rivals.

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Posted in Environment and climate | 3 Comments

JERRY ROBERTS Income management by the Cashless Debit Card

The Cashless Debit Card when seen in the context of robots and drug testing at Centrelink, tax cuts for the comfortable, religious protection laws, the Witness K trial and open slather for financiers adds to the impression that our country now resembles more closely Margaret Atwood’s Gilead than Ben Chifley’s Australia.

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JOHN CARLIN. Wrestling with Pigs

Trump deserves to be dismissed, but the impeachment process will only play into his hands. It will give him the opportunity to wage a populist war in which anything goes. Boris Johnson has ditched the admirable English tradition of fair play and has opted to copy Trump. The two old Anglo-Saxon democracies are now involved in a struggle between civilisation and barbarism. Continue reading

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MICHAEL KEATING. Economic Update Part 1

The recent release of the National Accounts data confirms that the Australian economy is stuck in secular economic stagnation. This article argues that current policies are unlikely to restore economic growth sufficiently to allow Australia to realise its economic potential. The fiscal implications of this outlook for economic growth are further explored in a subsequent article to be posted tomorrow. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 2 Comments

MUNGO MACCALLUM.  Morrison joins the dark side.

The conservative line about Donald Trump used to be that really, he himself was not all that important. What mattered was the unbreakable link between Australia and the United States, our great and powerful ally. Continue reading

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GREG LOCKHART. David Walker’s Stranded Nation

Professor David Walker’s Stranded Nation: White Australia in an Asian Region is a work of great and very readable erudition, which does something new: places Australian cultural, political and diplomatic history in its regional context at the time of Asian decolonisation. Continue reading

Posted in Arts and Reviews | 1 Comment

MIKE SCRAFTON. The real basis of Morrison’s foreign policy

The Prime Minister’s speech ‘In our interest’ to the Lowry Institute is curious, befuddled, and a little disturbing. As is normal with such presentations, it was peppered with political bromides and Morrison did not drill deeply into the details. The tips of much bigger and weightier conceptual massifs were detectable through the fog of self-laudatory political statements. The PM faces difficult a difficult task balancing Australia’s interest in pleasing both China and the US, his efforts to straddle these stools resulted in him employing specious values to cover raw self-interest.

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RAMESH THAKUR. PM Morrison tilts at UN windmill

During Scott Morrison’s recent trip to the US, did the PM absorb some of Donald Trump’s intellectual genius by a mysterious process of osmosis? How else are we to explain his incoherent, befuddled speech at the Lowy Institute on Thursday evening where he puffed up his own importance by running down the United Nations? Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 3 Comments

FIONA STURGES. Snobs,Brexit and Lady Hale (The Guardian, 27 September 2019)

For all the talk of an industry in crisis, you have to hand it to the British media for their ability to get to the nub of a story. It was, one imagines, with a gasp of triumph that the Daily Mail was able to deliver a stinging blow to the president of the supreme court, Lady Hale, she of the spider brooch and the damning verdict on our prime minister’s prorogation wheeze. Via a stunned headline, the paper was this week able to reveal that Hale, who graduated top of her class at Cambridge in law, who was the first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission, and the second to be appointed to the court of appeal, was in fact an “ex-barmaid”. Truly, we must applaud this mighty organ’s dogged commitment to truth and scrutiny. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

ROBERT MICKENS. A controversial synod and an unusual consistor. Pope Francis doubles down on reforming the Church and the Vatican

There’s a lot of commotion in and around the Vatican right now. It consists mostly of the angry rumblings of traditionalist Catholics who don’t particularly care for the way Pope Francis is leading the Church. Then there are the retaliatory rebukes of the pope’s most eager supporters. This has only increased the volume.

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LOUIS COOPER. Trudeau heads for the polls

At eleven o’clock on Wednesday, September 11 this year, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, arrived at Rideau Hall, the official residence of Canada’s Governor-General, Julie Payette, and asked her to dissolve parliament, allowing a federal election to be called for October 21 2019. Continue reading

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