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ANDREW GLIKSON. Last call on climate—evidence for a demise of the planetary life support system.

In a key paper titled “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene“, published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Science (6.8.2018), a group of 17 climate and environment scientists (Will Steffen, Johan Rockström, Katherine Richardson, Timothy M. Lenton, Carl Folke, Diana Liverman, Colin P. Summerhayes, Anthony D. Barnosky, Sarah E. Cornell, Michel Crucifix, Jonathan F. Donges, Ingo Fetzer, Steven J. Lade, Marten Scheffer, Ricarda Winkelmann, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber) have issued a stern warning to humanity  with regard to the future of advanced life on Earth (  Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 1 Comment

ALEX WODAK. Drug Reform Series- Portugal’s successful drug law reform in 2001

Treating personal drug use as an administrative offence along the lines of a parking violation has worked well for Portugal. It has not only been a public health and public policy success but also a political one. Continue reading

Posted in Drug Reform, Health | Leave a comment

DOUG TAYLOR. Drug Reform Series. Canada is set to become only the second country in the world to legalise marijuana.

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced the move to legalise marijuana   earlier this year. He said the move would take the market share away from organised crime and protect the country’s youth. Continue reading

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

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

RICHARD BUTLER. Foreign Policy on Auto-Pilot: In Spite of the Weather

Every week now, we are presented with another reason to think hard about exactly what our “joined at the hip” relationship with the US obliges us to do. July Bishop’s Foreign Policy White paper doesn’t meet that need. Indeed, it urges us to deepen our relationship with the US as the way ahead. Our relationship of dependence on the US renders us unable to address effectively the key current and foreseeable determinants, of politics among nations.   Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 4 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Syria: what if?

US President Donald Trump has been widely criticised for his supposed fawning performance in Helsinki at the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But a minority of commentators have made three countervailing arguments to explain and justify Trump’s statements: preventing a US–Russia nuclear war by calming bilateral tensions that have arisen from the dangerous infection of Russophobia is a transcendental goal that should override all other considerations; if the main strategic rival in the foreseeable future is going to be China, then improving relations with Russia is a strategic move on the geopolitical chessboard; and Russian cooperation is essential to extricating the US from the mess created by the Obama administration’s pursuit of incoherent and inconsistent goals in the Middle East. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 2 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. Whither Political Science?: Not dead but on life support – a response to Roger Scott.

In a recent post Roger Scott asks an appropriate question but it’s anachronistic – like asking why doesn’t Elvis do live concert anymore? Political Science was always a bastard, left-handed, red-haired child of the turn to scientism by the social sciences in the late 19th Century and it never recovered, thanks to the domination of successive generations of third-rate positivists deriving chimerical insights from mathematics ill-suited to a decent understanding of their subject matter.   Continue reading

Posted in Education, Politics | 5 Comments

WILLIAM FINNEGAN. California Burning.

On the northwestern edge of Los Angeles, where I grew up, the wildfires came in late summer. We lived in a new subdivision, and behind our house were the hills, golden and parched. We would hose down the wood-shingled roof as fire crews bivouacked in our street. Our neighborhood never burned, but others did. In the Bel Air fire of 1961, nearly five hundred homes burned, including those of Burt Lancaster and Zsa Zsa Gabor. We were all living in the “wildland-urban interface,” as it is now called. More subdivisions were built, farther out, and for my family the wildfire threat receded. Continue reading

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

JERRY ROBERTS. Termites and other animals.

When West Australian Opposition Leader Mike Nahan appeared on the news under fire for dual citizenship I hope everybody else shared my reaction. Not again, I moaned. Surely, we had enough of this nonsense in the federal Parliament. Do we have to go through it in the States? Continue reading

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ROGER SCOTT. Whither Political Science 2: A parochial perspective

The World Congress of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) was held jointly with the annual conference of the Australian Political Studies Association (AuPSA) in Brisbane in July 2018. The papers on Australia provided a snapshot of the breadth of scholarship and also underlying attitudes among political scientists towards the political system within which Australian universities function. Continue reading

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Q&A with Michael Dillon: History and Indigenous Policy

In this Q&A, former senior bureaucrat Michael Dillon offers some very thoughtful insights into the last several decades of Indigenous policy-making and the role of historical knowledge in the policy process. Continue reading

Posted in Indigenous affairs | 1 Comment

CHRIS PUPLICK. Drug Reform series -The evidence for drug policy reform is clear.

Australia’s drug policy regime is ruining people’s lives and causing more misery and cost than it saves.  A new approach is needed, one that is evidence based and recognises the personal, social and economic benefits of policies other than mere prohibition and law enforcement.  With good leadership and open-minded public debate, we can do better. Continue reading

Posted in Drug Reform, Health | Leave a comment

PETER BAUME. Drug Reform series- Drug policy: None so blind

Current drug policy is based on the unrealistic belief that we can stamp out possession and use of illicit drugs, much like prohibition of alcohol in 1920s America.  It also fails to account for the harm caused by our strictly punitive policy approach. Continue reading

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TONY TRIMINGHAM. Drug Reform Series-Don’t punish drug users. Help them instead.

This is mostly a personal story, about my son Damien, who died from heroin use in 1997, at the age of 23.  I feel sure that his death could have been avoided if we had at the time an approach to drug use that was based on harm prevention rather than punishment. Continue reading

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RICHARD WOOLCOTT. An Updated Approach to Australia’s Engagement in the Asia and the South West Pacific.

The Australian Government and the Opposition must now base policy on three realities, namely that;

(a)     Trump is essentially a unilateralist, despite the contradictory comments he often makes;
(b)     United States involvement in Asia and the South West Pacific will be less active during Trump’s Presidency; and that
(c)     China’s role in the Asia and the South West Pacific will be much more active in the decades ahead, including its ‘One Belt, One Road’ project.

Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 3 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. National Parks and the new squatters

The new squatters on public land are being given a leg-up, as they were in the 19th Century, to seize and occupy public land. By deliberately underfunding National Parks developer-friendly governments are putting commercial interests ahead of the public interest.  

Our early wealthy and powerful squatters forced indigenous people off the land they had occupied for tens of thousands of years. The new squatters are taking over more and more of our public land – national parks, botanic gardens and public reserves.

There is currently an attempt by a latter-day squatter, aka developer – Gap Bluff Hospitality Pty Ltd – to in effect destroy the ‘peaceful enjoyment’ of the Sydney Harbour National Park by developing a series of quite inappropriate features for weddings, ‘bucks’ and hens’ parties’ and student formals.   Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, Politics | 4 Comments

NICK BISLEY. Is there a problem with… the Quad?

At the sidelines of the 2017 East Asia Summit (EAS) in Manila, senior officials from Australia, India, Japan and the United States’ respective foreign ministries met under the aegis of the ‘Australia-India-Japan- United States consultations on the Indo-Pacific’. This was followed by a stage-managed meeting of the four countries’ naval chiefs at the Raisina Dialogue, a Track 1.5 process in India. The 2007 still-born Quadrilateral Security Initiative was back. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 3 Comments

Catholic bishops’ opposition to Donald Trump emboldens church liberals.

They may be disappointed.  Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Religion and Faith | 2 Comments

WILLIAM PESEK. Toyota driving into a fierce economic storm.

What GM used to be to America, Toyota is to Japan: a weathervane for macro trends. On Friday, the carmaker admitted it is downhill from now. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 1 Comment

JEFFREY SACHS. Trump is robbing America of what makes it great (Washington Post)

American prosperity since World War II has been built upon science and technology breakthroughs spurred by a powerful innovation system linking the federal government, business, academia and venture capital. U.S. innovation policy has been successfully emulated in Europe and Asia, most recently by China. President Trump’s trade war against China aims to slow China’s technology ascent but is misguided and doomed to fail; instead, American prosperity should be assured by doing what America does best: innovating at home and trading with the rest of the world. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | Leave a comment

HELEN TYRRELL. Drug Reform series-Grasping the nettle: Prisons, drug use and the law

Every day people are imprisoned for drug-related crimes in line with ‘tough on drugs’ policies. It’s time to face the futility and unsustainability of this approach to drug use.   Continue reading

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KEITH HAMBURGER. Drug Reform series – punishment alone is not the answer.

Australian prisons are severely overcrowded. Much crime is drug related. Some 75% of prisoners have a substance abuse problem. The majority of prisoners are not rehabilitated by their prison experience as evidenced by high recidivism rates, particularly for First Nation people. A holistic, whole of community response is required founded in restorative justice and justice reinvestment. Continue reading

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GINO VUMBACA. Drug Reform series-At last, a government sanctioned pill testing program

We are finally seeing in Australia the first signs of a recognition by government of the important public health benefits of sanctioned pill testing programs.  Law enforcement alone will never overcome the problems that can arise from drug use. Much like needle and syringe programs, pill testing is a real-world response which is evidence based and rightly treats harm reduction as one of the primary objectives of drug policy.

Continue reading

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IAN DUNLOP. A Parliament Without Trust or Legitimacy Must Go

The insults hurled by David Leyonhjelm at Sarah Hanson-Young recently put parliamentary discourse in the gutter. Leyonhjelm was roundly condemned, but not by our leaders. A limp slap across the knuckles from Turnbull and Shorten, then on to more pressing matters, hoping it will all go away. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

IAN McAULEY. Don’t rush to endorse the National Energy Guarantee: There’s an election in a few months.

The best outcome for electricity consumers would be for state governments to kill the National Energy Guarantee when the COAG energy council meets on Friday. Having gone nine years without a well-grounded energy policy we can wait a few months until the next election. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Environment and climate | 2 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. The Great Barrier Reef Foundation and crony capitalism

Just imagine if a Labor prime minister handed out a $444 million grant to a small reef ‘charity’  without any due process.  The Murdoch media would be even more apoplectic than usual.  There is a lack of transparency and probity in this case.  The Chairman’s Panel for this reef charity is full of  mates and cronies. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, Politics | 11 Comments

ANTHONY PUN. The Battle for Indo-Pacific.

China is surrounded by at least 16 countries, some with common borders and territorial disputes with her. Japanese PM’s proposal in 2005 to form a Quad alliance (US, Australia, India and Japan) is seen by China as the introduction of Cold War in the Asia Pacific. Former Australian Ambassador to China, Geoff Raby provides a deep insight why Australia should not be a part of it. The analysis of individual countries surrounding China revealed that the BRI initiatives are making an impact on the recipient countries and they are more likely to be neutral or distance themselves from the Quad. India and Japan are likely to changes sides when it suits their national interests and that leaves Australia holding the unwanted baby.  Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 3 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. The need think more seriously about war

Government justifications for major investments in ADF new capability and assertions by defence experts that Australia should substantially expand its defence spending rarely address two important issues. The prospect for military success in a war in East Asia and the expectations around Australian casualties—military and civilian. Thinking about the first issue helps shed some light on the second. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 5 Comments

TONY KEVIN. Australian foreign policy – Riding two horses.

Australian foreign policy at present seems to be trying to ride two horses at once: an inherently dangerous pursuit, requiring the skills of a trained and superbly fit circus acrobat. Are we really up to this, or should we be pursuing safer courses, with our feet more firmly planted on the ground?    Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Refugees, Immigration | 1 Comment

IAN WEBSTER. Drug Reform Series- Drug policy and justice

In the final analysis, drug policy based on prohibition fails to meet the test of fairness and justice in the lives of those most directly affected. Continue reading

Posted in Drug Reform, Health | Leave a comment