PETER SAINSBURY. Sunday environmental round up, 17 February 2019

It may be too slow but the policy environment around climate change is moving. Recently in NSW we have seen a mine proposal refused because of its impact on climate change and the release of a report calling for the development of a plan for the Hunter Valley to transition away from coal. In the USA calls for a Green New Deal have been released. But while all this grinds along, insects around the world are disappearing fast.

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

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It’s time to stop the shrillness.  The boats have stopped.  Both sides of politics are now committed to turnbacks.  Both Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten will do whatever it takes to stop asylum seekers setting sail from Indonesia.  If asylum seekers do set sail, they will be returned.   Continue reading

Posted in Health, Refugees, Immigration | 10 Comments

ABUL RIZVI: Asylum Seekers and Character Checking

Government has expressed concern that under the Medevac Amendments, serious criminals will enter Australia. Immigration Minister Coleman said at Question Time that a backpacker from Norway passes a stronger Character test than the people entering under the Medevac Amendments. While this is superficially correct, in practice the Government is being quite misleading. Let’s unpack the issues.   Continue reading

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CAVAN HOGUE. Comment on Hugh White’s response to Paul Dibb on ANZUS and Taiwan.

Hugh White has made an effective rebuttal of Paul Dibb’s claim that we should join the US if China takes military action against Taiwan.

It is important to stress that ANZUS does not require us to join with the USA in defending Taiwan.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | 6 Comments

MARIE McINERNEY. Labor would set up Aust Health Reform Commission if it wins 2019 poll (Croakey).

Labor’s announcement on Wednesday that it would establish a permanent Australian Health Reform Commission has been welcomed though all eyes will of course be on the detail and the funding commitments to emerge in the leadup to the next federal election. Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. Scott Morrison did not stop the boats.

 The myth  is repeated time and time again that  Scott Morrison ,the Coalition and Operation Sovereign Borders stopped the boats. They did not. But if you tell a lie time and time again people will believe it. It is a marketing trick that Scott Morrison has  learned well.

 I expect that many in the media will continue the myth about the stopping of the boats. Perhaps being careless in the first place the media finds it embarrassing to now admit error.  

Sorry if I keep repeating myself but facts are facts. As a US Senator put it ‘everyone is entitled to their own opinions but no one is entitled to their own facts’ Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 3 Comments

MARY CROCK AND DANIEL GHEZELBA. It’s high time we stopped playing politics with migration laws.

Ordinary Australians are tired of the casual cruelty of hard-line border control policies. The medical evacuation bill was introduced by Dr Kerryn Phelps to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island can access the medical care they require. The bill was passed because our elected representatives, too, recognise that enough is enough. Continue reading

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RUTH ADLER. Brexit uncertainties fuel speculation on Irish unification referendum

With weeks remaining until the 29 March deadline for a deal on Brexit, there is speculation that failure to reach agreement will result in increased momentum for a referendum on Irish unification under the Good Friday Agreement. Several Cabinet Ministers in Theresa May’s government are reportedly seriously concerned about the prospect, with one describing it as ‘very real’. Another has expressed concern that the British government risks ‘sleepwalking into a border poll’. Such a referendum would, however, be unlikely to succeed at the present time.

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DIANNE HERIOT. New Zealand and Federation. (Parliamentary Library Flag Post 25.1.2019)

While New Zealand participated in the Australasian Federation Conference convened in Melbourne in 1890, it had little real enthusiasm for the prospect of federating with the Australian colonies. As Sir John Hall, then Premier of New Zealand and one of two New Zealand delegates to the Conference, observed:

Nature has made 1200 impediments to the inclusion of New Zealand in any such Federation in the 1,200 miles of stormy ocean which lie between us and our brethren in Australia.That does not prevent the existence of a community of interests between us. There is a community of interest, and if circumstances allow us at a future date to join in the federation, we shall be only too glad to do so. But what is the meaning of having 1,200 miles of ocean between us? Democratic government must be a government not only for the people, and by the people, but, if it is to be efficient; and give content, it must be in sight and within hearing of the people.   Continue reading

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MASSIMO FAGGIOLI. An offer we must refuse in the Catholic Church ,big money

The treaty of Feb. 11, 1929 was a diplomatic triumph for both Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI.

The fascist regime was assured the political support of Italian Catholics and the Holy See received minimal, but essential territorial sovereignty.

This would give the papacy necessary freedom to govern the universal Catholic Church, following the Holy See’s humiliating exclusion from the 1919 peace talks.

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HUGH WHITE. The US shouldn’t go to war with China over Taiwan—and nor should Australia (ASPI: THE STRATEGIST, 13 Feb 2019)

Paul Dibb, in his recent Strategist post, writes that America’s strategic position in Asia would be fatally undermined if it didn’t go to war with China if China attacked Taiwan, and that Australia’s alliance with America would be fatally undermined if we didn’t then go to war with China too. The conclusion he draws is that, in the event of an unprovoked Chinese attack on Taiwan, America should go to war with China, and so should Australia. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Defence/Security, International Affairs, Politics | 4 Comments

MICHAEL SAINSBURY. Scott John Morrison: Where the bloody hell did he come from? (Michael West)

It’s not every Prime Minister who loses a vote on his government’s own legislation. The man who ended an 80 year run not only definitely deserves a special mention in Australia’s political history but a closer look at just where the hell he came from. Michael Sainsburyunpacks the peripatetic pre-parliamentary adventures of Scott John Morrison. Continue reading

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LINDSAY HUGHES. Saudi Arabia’s Ballistic Missile Programme: The Tip of the Iceberg.

It was recently reported that Saudi Arabia could be working towards developing a nuclear-capable ballistic missile programme. The fact that the news came as a surprise was, arguably, the biggest surprise of all. Saudi Arabia had made it clear, under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and ex-Foreign Minister Adel alJubeir, that it would acquire nuclear weapons if its regional rival, Iran, did. The issue now is not whether Riyadh wishes to acquire ballistic missiles – nuclear capable or not – but whether it has the technological expertise to manufacture them, or the ability to acquire them. The main question arising from this is how would Riyadh’s acquisition of ballistic missiles affect the regional security balance? Continue reading

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MARGARET REYNOLDS. I love the ABC and I Vote!!

Several public policy issues will be vigorously debated when Australians vote in this year’s Federal Election. But the one policy area where a vast majority of Australians can agree is that our national public broadcaster- the A B C- must be protected. More than 80 per cent of Australians trust the ABC above all other media and value its services to the community.

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ALISON BROINOWSKI. Australian values in free fall.

What Australians value and what they fear are not, apparently, clear to the latest Prime Minister. Scott Morrison’s election campaign, which began at the National Press Club on 11 February, failed to assure voters that his government understands either what they resent or what they want.Two days later, the Coalition lost a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. ‘Thisis historic’, Labor was quick to email its supporters. ‘No Federal Government has lost a vote since 1929. An election could be called any second. This is a Government in full free fall’.

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JON STANFORD. Comment on Mike Scrapton’s article ‘The casual talk of war’.

Isn’t it interesting that in the Prime Minister’s attempt yesterday to make us all very frightened indeed about the national security threats that a Labor government would expose us to — ranging from hordes of asylum seekers at the gates, including paedophiles and murderers in their ranks, to increased domestic violence against women — he completely forgot to warn us about the elephant in the room, namely a major war in the South China Sea over Taiwan. This is now widely canvassed among academic strategic experts, including Hugh White and Paul Dibb, as being distinctly possible in the not too distant future. But apparently as far as the PM is concerned, impoverished refugees and drunken husbands pose a much greater threat to the Australian community.   Continue reading

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JOHN STAPLETON: Hakeem, the Australian Federal Police and a Truly Desperate Government

Just how many own goals can one government make and still survive?

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RAMESH THAKUR. Canada, China, the US and the Rule of Law – A Postscript

It will be recalled that on 1 December, Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huwaei Technologies, was arrested at Vancouver airport by Canadian authorities at the request of US prosecutors seeking her extradition to face charges of breaching sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump on Iran.I argued earlier that the mantra of ‘the rule of law must prevail’ had been instrumentalised as part of US lawfare against China and Ottawa had ignored the need for a carefully considered policy that located the best settling point for Canada between legal processes, geopolitical interests and bilateral relations with the US and China.

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JOHN MENADUE. Getting behind the lies, fake news and spin on refugees and asylum seekers. (Michael West’s blog 13.2.2019)

It is remarkable that mainstream media, without exception, continues to ignore the facts on asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat and air. Michael West has written on the subject today in his blog.  See Michael’s article reprinted below. Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 3 Comments

ABUL RIZVI. Another Dutton mess. This time Citizenship processing.

The Auditor-General on 11 February 2019 found in its audit of citizenship application processing that these are not being processed in either a time efficient manner or a resource efficient manner. But this is a tiny portion of a wider malaise in the administration of a once world class immigration system the Government and the senior leadership of the Home Affairs Department has allowed be run down. The record numbers of largely non-genuine asylum seeker applications (see here and here) and the Government’s lack of action on these (the backlog of these at primary and review stages is now likely to be well in excess of 60,000 – Home Affairs will not reveal the actual backlog) is the end result of the wider malaise. Continue reading

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CHRISTIAN SORACE. From the Outside Looking In: A Response to John Garnaut’s Primer on Ideology (Made in China, 7.2.2019)

An introduction by Mobo Gao, Chair of Chinese Studies, Department of Asian Studies, University of Adelaide.

The article below is a response by Christian Solace, an American academic, to a speech given at an internal Australian government seminar in August 2017 by the respected Australian journalist John Garnaut who was once an advisor to a former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

It has to be pointed out that Solace does not argue, in this response to the Garnaut speech, that we the “West” should not be critical of the CCP and the Chinese governance for their repressive policies and instances of abuses of human rights.

Instead, Solace wants to highlight several points that are important in relation to the discussion of China that increasingly sounds like a new Cold War: 1) ideology is not just a Chinese thing. The West and Garnaut himself are not free from their own ideology; 2) Mao was not Stalin, and Xi is not Mao. China was and is different from Russia and Xi is different from Mao; 3) China under Mao attempted an alternative to Western capitalism but failed and China now is actually not Communist but capitalist; and 4) China should be looked at historically and it has made progress towards liberty and human rights. 

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SHEILA A. SMITH. US policy in Asia heads from bad to worse.

If the past year is any indication of the year ahead, US policy in Asia will be erratic and self-serving. The beginnings of an Indo-Pacific strategy notwithstanding, the Trump administration continues to work out its issues with countries in the region bilaterally and sporadically.  Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE . Heath ministers may be in office but they are seldom in power

The Rudd/Gillard governments muddled through on health policy. There was very little  to show in the way of useful reform,with one exception. That was plain packaging of cigarettes. 

  The record is not encouraging, and will not be  better in future if the next health minister spends her time smoodging  powerful providers . Necessary health reforms are hard.  Without  determined  Prime ministerial and health minister leadership  nothing much will change. Continue reading

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KIM WINGEREI Political Bastardy and Silly Politics

The franking credits scare campaign by the LNP is working. Once again, sensible tax reforms is sacrificed on the altar of short-term politics and the absence of a holistic approach. Once again politics gets in the way of policy making. Once again, fear and obfuscation are winning.

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ANDREW GLIKSON. Imagining the real: Two minutes to mid-night on the Clock of the Atomic Scientists

On January 24, 2019, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists stated: “Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention. These major threats—nuclear weapons and climate change—were exacerbated this past year (2018) by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilization in extraordinary danger.”

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SANDRA MORRISON, INGRID HUYGENS. Explainer: the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi (The Conversation).

The Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand’s foundation document. On February 6, 1840, the treaty was signed by representatives of the British Crown and Māori chiefs who acted on behalf of their hapū (sub-tribes).

Māori are indigenous to New Zealand, with historical ties and common narratives extending to Polynesia. The signing of the treaty confirmed formal European settlement in New Zealand. But debate and confusion have continued ever since regarding the exact meaning of the treaty text.  Continue reading

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MICHAEL KEATING. Housing Affordability and Labor’s Tax Proposals (Revised)

Home ownership has become much less affordable. It is a major source of inequality both between generations and within generations. Housing cannot become more affordable without bringing down house prices relative to incomes. Labor’s tax proposals are intended to do just this. But is this the right time? House prices are allegedly falling already, and will further price reductions undermine the economy?   Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Housing | 3 Comments

PAUL BONGIORNO. Scott Morrison has formally hit the panic button. (The New Daily 12.2.2019)

Scott Morrison is desperately in need of a circuit breaker. Something dramatic to save his government and pull off an unlikely election win.

The opinion polls are stubbornly stuck in wipeout territory, the latest Newspoll just confirming the trend not only since August, but since the last federal election in 2016.

Nothing is working, not even the promise of a million new jobs.   Continue reading

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MUNGO MACCALLUM. Who could have predicted that Kenneth Hayne would turn out to be such an old softie?

For months the stern, uncompromising judicial figure has presided over his royal commission with imperial authority,  a veritable Judge Dredd inspiring fear and trepidation among scores of witnesses ever wary that at any moment he could reach for the black cap.  And when his verdict was delivered, it was appropriately full of fire and brimstone, excoriating the pit of depravity that is the banking system and all those associated with it.  At least, those were the words, but the reality turned out to be something so reassuring that bank shares across the board leapt in relief.  Kenneth Hayne was actually a pussy cat.  Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 6 Comments