GARRY EVERETT. Who Is manipulating what?

Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, reportedly said recently: “What Synodal Fathers (Bishops) are wary of, I think, is the way synods might be manipulated today, swept up by the fashions of the age.” He is further reported as being of the view that at the recent Synod on Young People, the young people in attendance “hunted in a pack” and that they “played to a very particular script”. Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 5 Comments

PATRICIA EDGAR. Kids Technology and the Future: Radical revamp needed for Children’s TV content quotas.

Today’s kids are way ahead of our broadcasting regulators and television producers in the way they use both television and digital media. It’s time for a radical rethink of content regulations, quotas, and subsidy for children’s media education and entertainment in their best interest. Continue reading

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KIM WINGEREI. Media Ethics and Politics

As the political circus goes from bad to worse, it is important to not only demand that our politicians improve their behaviour, but the media has an equally important role to play. Journalists and the media already have a code of conduct setting ethical standards, but do they adhere to it?  Continue reading

Posted in Media, Politics | 9 Comments

GEOFF DAVIES. The myth of the robust deregulated economy.

The economic ‘reforms’ of the 1980s are supposed to have set Australia up for an unprecedented run of prosperity: 27 years, and counting, without a recession. The economy’s robustness is supposed to have saved us from the Global Financial Crisis. In fact our economy has been unstable, and its performance has been mediocre verging on anaemic. Any appearance of robust prosperity is due to a huge run-up of debt, some direct intervention, high immigration, overwork, selective blindness and over-active imaginations.  Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 2 Comments

ROSS DOUTHAT. The Two-Emperor Problem (New York Times, 24.11.18)

Generally, Donald Trump’s Twitter beefs are an expense of spirit and a waste of breath. But a minority of them are genuinely edifying, and illustrations of his likely world-historical role — which is not to personally bring down our constitutional republic, but to reveal truths about our political situation, through his crudeness and goading of others, that might be harbingers of the Republic’s eventual end. Continue reading

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

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RICHARD WOOLCOTT. The emergence of China can not be denied.

 The recent  APEC  meeting in Port Moresby underlined the deepening competition between China and the United States in the Asia Pacific region. China has been expanding its influence in the South China Sea and beyond and with the United States,Japan,and regrettably Australia consulting on how it can check China’s expansion.

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Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 2 Comments

JOHN QUIGGIN. Public Private Partnerships. The mirage.

In the UK Budget last week, the  Chancellor, Phillip Hammond announced the end of the PF2 scheme, the Conservative government’s replacement for the discredited Public Finance Initiative originally introduced by the Conservatives under John Major, but greatly expanded  by Tony Blair’s New Labour.  This announcement is less than meets the eye in a couple of respects. Financing under PF2 had already slowed to a trickle.

(The NSW Government should read this to understand what has gone wrong with the PPP venture at the Northern Beaches Hospital…..John Menadue)

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Posted in Economy | 3 Comments

ABUL RIZVI: Is our Visa Processing System in Crisis?

A fundamental aspect of a well operating immigration system is one that encourages people to apply for the right visa and follow intended visa pathways after arrival rather than use visitor visas to by-pass applying for the right visa. Visitor visas have the lowest level of scrutiny and are the easiest to exploit. But the current Home Affairs leadership has let both offshore and onshore backlogs and processing times increase dramatically with a commensurate decline in the integrity of Australia’s immigration system. This includes allowing unscrupulous labour agents to use the Protection Visa system to supply easily exploitable labour to unscrupulous employers. Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 1 Comment

ROBERT KUTTNER. The crash that failed.

Review of “Crashed: How a decade of financial crises changed the world” by Adam Tooze, Viking.

The historian G.M. Trevelyan said that the democratic revolutions of 1848, all of which were quickly crushed, represented “a turning point at which modern history failed to turn”.  The same can be said of the financial collapse of 2008. The crash demonstrated the emptiness of the claim that markets could regulate themselves. It should have led to the disgrace of neoliberalism—the belief that unregulated markets produce and distribute goods and services more efficiently than regulated ones. Instead, the old order reasserted itself, and with calamitous consequences. Gross economic imbalances of power and wealth persisted. We are still experiencing the reverberations.  Continue reading

Posted in Arts and Reviews, Economy | 1 Comment

JIM KABLE. Oz not even a footnote to US victory in the Pacific.

One is constantly reading or listening to the loud declarations of eternal friendship – blood-brotherhood in so many words – of our Australian federal politicians and their US counterparts, including military leaders, generals and so forth. But what is the truth to these vows of undying promises to be all the way with the US of A?  Where can we determine the hollowness to these protestations (leading inevitably to our engagement in the imperial wars of that great and powerful friend in parts of the world which have little importance to us – certainly do not threaten us – or else our rolling over to the establishment of US bases on our sovereign soil, or forcing such on our PNG neighbour).  Continue reading

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JAMES O’NEILL: New Revelations About Australia and the Iraq War

A new ABC report reveals, quoting from a previously classified document, that the Australian government decided in early 2002 to join the American led Iraq War, but failed to disclose that to Parliament or the public. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 1 Comment

JOHN TONS. Testing times for South Australian schools.

Coming soon to your local school is news about South Australia’s ranking on the McKinsey Universal Scale.  Most likely you will have never heard about the McKinsey Universal Scale, or McKinsey for that matter.  McKinsey is yet another international company that is seeking to cash in on the international preoccupation with constructing league tables about education performance.  Continue reading

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ANDREW GLIKSON. Climate cover-up and Orwellian newspeak.

In so far as it may have been assumed that the growing manifestations of global warming through extreme weather events will cause people to realize the reality and the implications of carbon emissions, this is only partly happening, due to ongoing attempts by large part of the mainstream media to attribute these events to natural causes., masking the existential threat posed by global climate disruption. Continue reading

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IAN BURNET. ‘Friends in Australia’ – a message from Sutan Sjahir, the Prime Minister of the newly declared Republic of Indonesia, November 1945.

On 17 August 1945 and two days after the Japanese surrender, Soekarno and Hatta unilaterally declared Indonesia’s Independence and became the first President and Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs, Tributes | 1 Comment

FINTAN O’TOOLE. Saboteur in Chief (The New York Review of Books).

Writing about her friend the famously unpleasant Evelyn Waugh, Frances Donaldson reflected that.  Continue reading

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MICHAEL KEATING. The Future Agenda for Economic Reform

Given the lack of agreement about what are our key problems we shouldn’t be surprised that ‘economic reform’ is presently in the doldrums. But progress would be easier if the business community recognised that the old agenda to improve the flexibility and competitiveness of markets is now largely complete. Instead I argue that the new agenda should focus on reducing inequality by increasing education and skills. Furthermore, this will also help foster innovation by increasing the ability of the workforce to adopt and adapt to technological change.  Continue reading

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JOAN STAPLES: An Australian civil society success story.

Almost twelve months ago, I first wrote of threats to democratic advocacy from three foreign interference Bills.  On Tuesday this week, the final most controversial Bill, the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill, was passed with the support of civil society. The story of this transformation from horrified opposition to support for the Bill is a story of Australian civil society working together to influence legislation in a way rarely seen. It opens the way for future collaboration to proactively promote the strengthening of our democracy. Continue reading

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LESLEY RUSSELL: Time to make dental care an election issue

The Victorian Government’s election commitment to a $395.8 million program to provide free dental care to schoolchildren will be welcome in a state where affordable and timely access to dental care is increasingly difficult. It’s time for a concerted campaign to ensure that improved access to dental care and better prevention initiatives are on the agenda for the upcoming New South Wales and federal elections. Governments must be persuaded that their failure to see oral health, dental services and caries prevention as essential components of health care is a false economy. Continue reading

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MICHAEL MULLINS. Why I avoid social media news feeds

Facebook and the like are not interested in truth in journalism. They use their algorithms to create news that confirms their users’ pre-existing views. If they gave them content with views they didn’t like, chances are that the users would ditch the feed for a rival and revenues would drop. Continue reading

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CHRISTIAN DOWNIE. Australian Energy Diplomacy.

In Australia, little attention has been given to the concept of “energy diplomacy”, including the way in which it might interact with foreign policy objectives. Continue reading

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WILL WILKINSON. Can Democrats Drain Trump’s Gilded Swamp? (New York Times, 27 November 2018)

Democrats are now preparing to assume control of the House. This offers many possibilities for oversight and investigation. For one, the House Ways and Means Committee has the right to inspect the president’s tax returns, and Democrats are sure to swiftly call on the Treasury to hand over President Trump’s tax records. Continue reading

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TERRY FEWTRELL. Seems Pope Francis is with the People

The latest letter from Pope Francis greatly empowers
Australia’s Catholics to use their influence and puts heat on the
bishops to allow the voices and wisdom of Australian Catholics to be
heard seriously. Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 8 Comments

ALEXANDER KAUFMAN, CHRIS D’ANGELO. Federal Climate Report Predicts At Least 3 Degrees Of Warming By 2100 (Huff Post).

The White House’s decision to release the report over the holiday weekend is likely to bury the sobering new findings.

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MICHAEL KEATING. Economic Strategy for the 21st Century

Traditionally economists have tended to ignore distributional issues. These issues were considered to rest on value judgements, and to therefore be outside the purview of orthodox neo-classical economics. To the extent that distribution did enter the economist’s model, it was often presumed that there was a trade-off between equity and efficiency. However, it is argued here that the economic stagnation experienced over the last decade or more, is reason to reconsider the present economic strategy, which assumes that economic growth is largely driven by supply-side factors. Instead, the stagnation seems to be mainly a result of inadequate demand, and the economic strategy for the future should therefore focus equally on how best to sustain the growth of aggregate demand and how that has been impacted by increasing inequality.   Continue reading

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FRANK JOTZO. Labor’s policy can smooth the energy transition, but much more will be needed to tackle emissions (The Conversation).

The Labor party’s energy policy platform, released last week, is politically clever and would likely be effective. It includes plans to underwrite renewable energy and storage, and other elements that would help the energy transition along. Its approach to the transition away from coal-fired power is likely to need more work, and it will need to be accompanied by good policy in other sectors of the economy where greenhouse emissions are still climbing. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, Politics | 1 Comment

MARCIA ANGELL. Opioid Nation. (NYRB 6.12.2018)

In this article, Marcia Angell reviews four books on pain-killers, doctors ,drug overdoses and the drug companies.  She concludes that alcohol and tobacco have far more serious health consequences than opioids.Opioids at least have the redeeming feature that they have a medical use as painkillers . She comments. “As long as this country [the US] tolerates the chasm between the rich and the poor and fails even to pretend to provide for the most basic needs of our citizens, such as health care, education and childcare, some people will want to use drugs to escape.”

Marcia Angell is a member of the faculty of Global Health and Social Medicine at the Harvard Medical School .  She was former Editor in Chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.  See article below.
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JOSEPH CAMILLERI. The seismic shift we can no longer ignore

The acute tensions that disrupted the recent APEC summit, the Brexit fiasco in Britain, the rise of populist discourse and movements in much of Europe, the ‘theatre of the grotesque’ in Trump’s America, are just a few of the symptoms of the seismic shift that has been in the making for over three decades. It is a shift which political leaders, not least in Australia, seem scarcely able to comprehend, let alone address. Continue reading

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TONY KEVIN. The Kerch Strait gambit

A Kiev-provoked Ukraine/Russia naval clash near the Kerch Strait, Crimea, threatens to derail the Argentina G20 Summit (30 Nov -1 Dec) and to worsen US-Russia bilateral relations.  NATO allies are lining up behind a false Ukrainian narrative. The war in Eastern Ukraine could escalate now.  Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 3 Comments

GREG LOCKHART. On reading Peter Stanley’s review of Peter Cochrane’s Best We Forget.

I’ve just caught up with Peter Stanley’s review of Peter Cochrane’s Best We Forget: The war for white Australia, 1914-18, which was posted on Pearls and Irritations on 15 November 2018. I mention this, because it provoked a response that I think deserves underlining: John Mordike’s 15 November reply, which pointed out that a main thrust of Stanley’s review is ‘wrong’. Coming to terms with this thrust will then lead me into a discrete criticism of Cochrane’s book.  
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Posted in Arts and Reviews | 4 Comments