JOHN MENADUE. A way out of the politicking on refugees- A repost from 20 August 2018

We can be proud of what we have done for refugees in the past but like many others I am ashamed that we have now had a succession of ‘leaders’ who have appealed to our most selfish instincts.

When I feel discouraged about our national failure, I am reminded of Graham Greene’s challenge that ‘the only unforgivable sin is despair’. Continue reading

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STEPHANIE DOWRICK. Facts flung overboard on refugee health – and our nation’s.

Thursday 6 December was the final sitting day of the Australian Parliament for 2018 and one of only 10 sitting days between now and next May when an election is expected. It was a day to get things moving. Yet far more was undone than done, and not just for the asylum seekers and refugees held in indefinite, punitive detention off-shore, or the 6000 Australian doctors and the Australian Medical Association speaking up for their care.  Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. Newcastle Port – another botched privatisation -A repost from 5 September 2016

 The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission  has taken legal action over the terms  on which the NSW Coalition Government in 2013 privatised Port Botany and Port Kembla and imposed severe restrictions on Newcastle Port.

Our mainstream media has shown scant interest in this episode of ‘crony capitalism’  which lessened competition, disadvantaged the Hunter region and put more trucks on our roads. It was done to boost the sale price of Port Botany and Port Kembla so the Coalition could claim a successful  privatisation. The public interest was ignored.

Over two years ago John Austen, in P & I, on 5 September 2016, broke all the details about this port restriction and “how port privatisation will hobble Newcastle”.  A month later, on 14 October 2016, I wrote a follow up piece “Privatisation and the hobbling of Newcastle Port”.

John Austen’s article of 5 September 2016 follows.   Continue reading

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ALI KAZAK. Australia’s or Israel’s national interest?

In their arguments for recognising Jerusalem as “Israel’s capital” and moving the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, his deputy Josh Frydenberg and the Minister of Defence Christopher Pyne have been repeating Israel’s propaganda and hiding the truth from the public. Continue reading

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JOHN WARHURST. Catholics grow restless at bishops’ lethargy.

Rather than despair at the absence of half of humanity in the clergy and disappearance of their adult children from the church pews, reforming Catholics are seeking to turn their old church around. Continue reading

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CHRIS BROOKS. Swept Up in France’s Yellow Vest Protests (Truthout).

I’ve never been tear gassed before. The smell is similar to fireworks and the effect is explosive—and effective. I immediately wanted to get as far away as I could from the noxious source of burning eyes and throat. Continue reading

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PAUL DALEY. The moment that forever changed my perspective on Anzac mythology (The Guardian).

The Surafend massacre shows that the core business of good history must always be the preservation of memory. 

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MICHAEL KELLY SJ The biggest con in any current debate in Australian public life

In a highly contested event, one political con over the last decade stands out as the greatest bipartisan piece of deception in any enduring debate: the obfuscation employed in the public arguments over asylum seeker arrivals in Australia. Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 4 Comments

SAMANTHA MAIDEN. Tanya Plibersek backs Shorten’s boat turn-back policy in major backflip (The New Daily, 11.12.18)

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek has backed boat turn backs but pledged a Shorten government would “get people off Manus and Nauru” and boost Australia’s refugee intake. Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. The great marketeer seems determined to double down on the tactics and double up on the volume.

So that was the parliamentary year that was, finishing in rancour, dysfunction and procrastination, a triumph of politics over policy.

This was not a surprise, but the level of hyperbole and hysteria whipped up by the desperate prime minister and his colleagues finally went off the map. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

CAVAN and ALEX HOGUE. Cyber legislation – the oldest trick in the book.

The proposed legislation on cyber powers raises some questions that need to be answered.  The debate has been rhetorical and has not addressed the technical or legal aspects of the legislation in any detail. Has the implementation been thought through by all concerned? We don’t have  all the answers but wonder if the Government does either. The political debate is on the level of kindergarten abuse instead of dispassionate discussion of the issues. There are serious problems in implementing the legislation and it may well fail because it is impractical. Continue reading

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ROGER SCOTT. Universities and the competition for international students

Compared to Britain, Australia has been highly successful in its venture into international education over the past decade but a number of writers have raised concerns over the continuing viability of depending on this source of funding into the future.   Continue reading

Posted in Education | 1 Comment

STEPHEN DUCKETT. Activity-based funding and prevention: a message for state governments (Croakey)

JENNIFER DOGGETT.  Keeping people well and out of hospital should be a primary focus of our health system.  Yet the evidence is that we could do much better in preventing and managing problems in the community, before they require hospital treatment.

In the post below, Professor Stephen Duckett, Health Program Director at the Grattan Institute, provides some useful advice to state/territory governments on how to focus own hospital avoidance without losing funding under the current ‘activity-based’ system. Continue reading

Posted in Health | 1 Comment

JACK WATERFORD. Why do crime-busters need ASIO-type powers?

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ANTHONY PUN. A winter of China panic followed by a spring thawing of Australia-China relations – a view from the Chinese Australian community.

A chronological sequence of the post-winter China panic with the spring thawing of Australia-China relations is presented.  Media reports showed a definite attempt to improve Australia-China relations with commitments by PM Morrison, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and former PM Howard.  How well can Australia play in the game in making friends with two countries which are currently fighting a trade Cold War and with the US having ambitions to contain China?  The Chinese Australian community welcomes the thaw but would like to see the government consult the community on these sensitive international matters as well as taking positive steps to reverse the unintentional effects of China panic on citizens of Chinese descent.  Continue reading

Posted in Asia | 2 Comments

JENNIFER RANKIN. Group led by Thomas Piketty presents plan for ‘a fairer Europe’ (The Guardian 10.12.18)

A group of progressive Europeans led by the economist and author Thomas Piketty has drawn up a bold new blueprint for a fairer Europe to address the division, disenchantment, inequality and rightwing populism sweeping the continent. Continue reading

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ABUL RIZVI. Dutton Sets New Asylum Seeker Application Record

Why did 50,000 asylum seekers arriving by boat represent a crisis for our border sovereignty while the arrival of a similar number over the past two and a half years by plane is just ho hum? Peter Dutton in 2017-18 has set a new record for the number of asylum seeker applications received. His record surpasses that set in 2012-13 under the Rudd/Gillard government. This is the result of a crisis in our visa processing system (see here) which is likely to be creating a honeypot for people smugglers. The new record will likely be exceeded in 2018-19 as Home Affairs is reducing frontline staff and IT contractors (see here). Outsourcing visa processing will make the problem worse. Tackling the chaos in our visa processing system will cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly north of a billion dollars and take many years. Is the Government’s border protection mantra a diversion from its real border protection failings?  (Note:  Please print this post to obtain a clearer view of the tables) Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 4 Comments

MICHAEL PASCOE. Irony: Record number of asylum seekers arrive on Dutton’s watch (The New Daily, 09.12.18)

For all the government’s tough-on-asylum-seekers rhetoric, protection visa applications have blown out to record numbers on Peter Dutton’s watch. Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 1 Comment

MICHAEL McKINLEY. The Occupation of the Australian Mind.

Fear and apathy have taken up residence in the collective political consciousness of Australia. Indeed, it may be that they have achieved that most desirable of states for governments seeking to remain in power, or oppositions sensing their imminent ascendency to it: a state of collective unconsciousness that consents to its own increasing subservience and essential irrelevance while believing that it is being kept safe.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Human Rights | 1 Comment

MUNGO MacCALLUM. Protecting buffoons.

According to at least one member of the New South Wales Liberal executive, Sally Betts, the member of Hughes, Craig Kelly, is a bully, a thug and a disgrace.   Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

CECILIA MERRIGAN.“Is That an Advent Wreath?”

An Advent tale about a small father-less family from South West Africa that has been granted asylum in Australia. This is their first Advent in a new country.  Continue reading

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ANDREW FARRAN. War and the national Interest.

Since the Korean War in the early 1950s, the US has committed a series of political and strategic misjudgements in its war decisions. Does this give us confidence about its future decisions and for a policy of going along with those decisions even when they do not directly involve our national interests? Nationalism and irrationality are on the rise, increasing the chances of conflict today  more than for decades. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 1 Comment

HELEN DAVIDSON. Gareth Evans and Bob Carr join call for Labor to increase Australia’s foreign aid. (The Guardian 7.12.2018)

Former ministers want party’s national conference to commit to target of 0.7% of gross national income.   Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 1 Comment

KIM WINGEREI. The Particracy Rules!

If this week of political machinations, tactical manouverings and partisan grandstanding hasn’t proved beyond doubt what the real problem with our democracy is, I don’t know what will. We don’t live in a democracy, we live in a particracy.   Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

ANTHONY PUN. Advances in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.

From a rubber band lizard tail shooter to a molecular biologist and later medical scientist, it took a life time to understand why the lizard loses its tail and is able to regenerate it completely. The advancement of molecule biology in science and medicine has created sophisticated tools for looking into the stimulation and mechanism of tissue repair and led to the introduction of the field of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. A current example of fingertip regeneration is presented.
Continue reading

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ABUL RIZVI. Dutton Sets New Asylum Seeker Application Record

Why did 50,000 asylum seekers arriving by boat represent a crisis for our border sovereignty while the arrival of a similar number over the past two and a half years by plane is just ho hum? Peter Dutton in 2017-18 has set a new record for the number of asylum seeker applications received. His record surpasses that set in 2012-13 under the Rudd/Gillard government. This is the result of a crisis in our visa processing system (see here) which is likely to be creating a honeypot for people smugglers. The new record will likely be exceeded in 2018-19 as Home Affairs is reducing frontline staff and IT contractors (see here). Outsourcing visa processing will make the problem worse. Tackling the chaos in our visa processing system will cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly north of a billion dollars and take many years. Is the Government’s border protection mantra a diversion from its real border protection failings?  (Note:  Please print this post to obtain a clearer view of the tables) Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 3 Comments

GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND

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

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STEPHEN LEEDER. Private-public partnerships – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Partnerships between public agencies and private providers demand unusual degrees of vigilance of both parties to ensure that the contract between them explicitly states – in great detail – their individual expectations and accountabilities.  Values will differ.  The agreement should, if possible, be tested component by component before “going live.” Continue reading

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ALLAN PATIENCE. Scott Morrison – a politician out of his depth?

Can Scott Morrison inspire the nation to reach for a better future for our children and grandchildren? Does he have a vision for the country? Or is he floundering as he tries to ride two tigers simultaneously – his right foot on the back of the alt-right tiger with Tony Abbott’s rictal grimace spread across its face; his left foot on the back of a tiger of panicking moderates? If the tigers head off in opposite directions, Morrison will fall flat on his face.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

HAMISH MCDONALD. Christian Missionaries and Their Mistaken Message from God (AsianSentinel, 05.12.18)

As fans of the old The Phantom comic strip will recall, an island in the Bay of Bengal is the location of the Skull Cave, home base of The Ghost Who Walks, established by an ancestor washed ashore in a “half-drowned” state after an attack by “Singh pirates” and nurtured back to life by the island’s devoted natives. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 2 Comments