MUNGO MACCALLUM – What Bob Hawke meant by aspiration.

Bob Hawke’s widow Blanche d’Alpuget summed it up best: his was a life triumphantly well lived. The state memorial service last week sent the silver bodgie off in grand style. It was a fitting celebration of a remarkable leader. Continue reading

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RICHARD BUTLER The Espionage Olympiad and the Art of “Plausible Deniability”.

If there was a competition between the key ways in which international relations is conducted, aside from the use of military force, then the area of intelligence gathering and the covert pursuit of national objectives – all-round spookery – would easily win gold. It is widespread, has been entrenched for centuries and, nothing matches its deployment of hypocrisy, moral relativism and, all round obscurantism. It is also an endless source of fascination and entertainment; in both fact and fiction.

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Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 1 Comment

NOEL TURNBULL. Remember the Alamo, remember the Maine etc etc etc

Remember the Alamo, remember the Maine, remember the Gulf of Tonkin, remember the weapons of mass destruction and now remember the Kokuka Sangyo tanker.

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TREVOR WATSON. Hong Kong and Beijing – two cities, one fearful regime.

Millions of students, blue collar workers and professionals poured into the streets of Hong Kong in protest over proposed legislation that would allow people to be extradited for trial in China. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 1 Comment

JOHN TÖNS JP. Is the trend towards Artificial Intelligence a threat to Employment?

If today’s (12/06/19) National Press Club address by Chris Richardson is to be believed then the trend towards artificial intelligence presents no threat to employment. The analysis presented, however, reminded this listener to Mark Twain’s comment ‘that there are lies damned lies and statistics.’ Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 1 Comment

BERNARD KEANE.  Corporations start to question Business Council’s climate denialism (Crikey)

With Westpac joining the growing list of corporations that are questioning the climate policy stance of the Business Council of Australia (BCA), it seems that major companies that take climate change seriously have sussed out the strategy of one of Australia’s most toxic denialist lobby groups. Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. Post-election infrastructure review

The NSW and Federal 2019 elections saw the return of Coalition Governments.  My perspective – from western Sydney – is: Coalition infrastructure policies have been dreadful, Labor’s offerings weren’t any better. Continue reading

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LAURIE PATTON. The Assange dilemma. What is journalism in the online age?

Julian Assange released bulk material, unfiltered and uncorroborated, via the Internet. If he had leaked it directly to the media outlets that subsequently, but selectively, published reports based on his WikiLeaks’ dumps he probably would not be in gaol facing extradition to the United States. His identity as a ‘source’ would have been protected. Ironically, any American journalists who used his material would quite possibly now be in prison for failing to reveal their source. Continue reading

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NIALL McLAREN IT’S TIME…. TO QUESTION THE US ALLIANCE.

Before entering any alliance, it’s better to be certain you have worked out what you hope to gain from it.

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PETER SAINSBURY. Sunday environmental round up, 16 June 2019

A strong emphasis on economic, ethical and equity issues associated with climate change this week. Global warming has increased inequalities between rich and poor nations; tackling climate change and reducing inequalities must occur simultaneously but only rich and powerful nations and individuals have the resources required to do it; even low emitting nations have a responsibility to contribute to global efforts to fight climate change; and action on climate change makes economic sense but we should do it even if it didn’t. Is Theresa May’s commitment to reach zero emissions in Britain by 2050 all it seems? And to lighten the load, watch nesting White-bellied Sea Eagles live.

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SATURDAY’s GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND

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

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MACK WILLIAMS . North Korea : The tangled web becomes more so !

That the past few months have seen no real progress towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula is not all that surprising given the swirling global environment demanding priority attention for President Trump and other key stakeholders. Post mortems of the failed Hanoi Summit have revealed some significant divisions within both sides. Trump persists in proclaiming his close personal relationship with Kim Jong-un will eventually produce a deal but many of his allies and advisers remain sceptical. In the past few weeks the China card has become a major issue not only for Trump but also for President Moon as the spin-off from the US:China tariff war and the associated Huawei controversy pose some daunting issues for Seoul.

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Posted in Asia, International Affairs, Politics | 3 Comments

BERNARD MACLEOD Youth Suicide

Our new government is making the elimination of youth suicide a focus of health policy under Minister Greg Hunt. However, billions of dollars of investment over the years has failed to reduce the numbers of those taking their own lives. Business as usual is not an option and radical ideas are required for treating suicidality in both in-patient and out-patient settings.

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Posted in Health | 5 Comments

BRUCE THOM.  Federal election and coasts

I am not sure how many Australians appreciated promises made about coastal issues during the recent federal election. Perhaps very few. This despite the fact that so much of our national well-being and livelihoods are dependent on healthy coasts and waterways. Yet it is interesting to look at promises made by the two major parties and think about what our federal system has to offer over the next 3 years (and beyond!). Continue reading

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MICHELLE PINI: AFP raids journalists: We need to talk about our Government

There is no doubt the AFP raids are an affront to our democracy. One in which the hand of a secretive and ruthless Government can be felt, if not seen or heard. Continue reading

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MIKE SCRAFTON. Strategy In A Bubble: ASPI’s war plans

ASPI’s relentless push for ever greater defence spending gets another iteration in Malcolm Davis’s Forward defence in depth for Australia . As a breathless list of ‘key horizon technologies’, Davis’s paper makes entertaining and informative reading. As a justification for putting Australia on a permanent war footing it is wanting.

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Posted in Defence/Security | 3 Comments

CHRISTIAN DOWNIE. It’s time for Australia to scale up its energy diplomacy

A huge transformation of global energy production and consumption
is underway but sorely needs international governance.
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MICHAEL JOHNSTON. Taming the beast – a challenging new initiative.

Corporations’ unbridled pursuit of self interest (aka ‘shareholder interest’) has plunged the planet into an existential crisis. It is no longer a radical proposition to suggest that the community should expect its corporations to pursue stakeholder interest on an equal footing with shareholder interest. 

“The law locks up the man or woman

who steals the goose from off the common

but lets the greater villain loose

who steals the common off the goose”.  Anon

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JERRY ROBERTS. Liberal leadership change in WA shows conservative confidence.

Liza Harvey’s unopposed ascension to leadership of the West Australian parliamentary Liberal Party points to growing confidence among conservatives in the West but Mike Nahan deserves high praise for holding the fort after the Liberals’ 2017 rout.

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PETER SINGER. Rugby Australia’s “Own Goal” (Project Syndicate 11.6.2019)

If Rugby Australia had existed in the first century of the Christian era, and Paul had had enough talent to be a contracted player, the sport’s national governing body presumably would have ripped up his contract once his first letter to the Corinthians, with its injunction against homosexuality, became public. Just ask star fullback and born-again Christian Israel Folau.  Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Religion and Faith | 8 Comments

ALI KAZAK.  Another side of Bob Hawke

Bob Hawke was long known as a great friend of Israel, but in his years after retiring from Parliament, I came to know him as person increasingly concerned about Palestinian rights and getting a fair peace deal for Palestinians and Israelis. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 3 Comments

RICHARD KINGSFORD. Current economic modelling dudding the environment and future generations

With the Federal election verdict widely attributed to ‘quiet Australians’ favouring the economy over the environment, one key point has been missed in the wash-up analysis. Rather than supposedly avoiding a gaping economic hole required to fix the environment through the public purse, the modelling incorrectly assessed the impacts, costs and benefits of the environment. Current economic modelling predominantly relies on a confined definition of economy: one focused so narrowly that it fails to measure long-term environmental benefits or costs.

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Posted in Environment and climate | 3 Comments

JANE McADAM An evidence based refugee policy agenda

Summary

A successful refugee policy not only manages national borders but also protects people who need safety, and demonstrates leadership in meeting the global challenge of displacement. That’s why the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law has set out an independent, nonpartisan, evidence-based refugee policy agenda, challenging policymakers and the public to reimagine Australia’s current approach – so that both refugees and the nation can prosper amid today’s real challenges.

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Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 2 Comments

ALEX MITCHELL. Unrepresentative Tory swill choosing the next British Prime Minister

All registered members of the British Conservative Party are currently voting to elect a new leader to replace Prime Minister Theresa May. Hailed as an exercise in party democracy, it’s more like a chook raffle.

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RAMESH THAKUR. Modi vs who? The question needed a clear answer in a quasi-presidential contest (The Times of India)

No Bihari political scientist can possibly understate the importance of caste and religion in shaping the electoral contest. However, there is one other factor that is of growing importance. In all parliamentary democracies across the world, including Australia, power is being centralised in the office of the PM. PMs, including Narendra Modi, increasingly resemble and act like presidents more than the textbook ‘first among equals’ (primus inter pares). This also turns general elections in parliamentary democracies into quasi-presidential contests. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 1 Comment

KISHORE MAHBUBANI. A ‘yellow peril’ revival fuelling Western fears of China’s rise (East Asia Forum)

Do we arrive at geopolitical judgements from only cool, hard-headed, rational analysis? If emotions influence our judgements, are these conscious emotions or do they operate at the level of our subterranean subconscious? Any honest answer to these questions would admit that non-rational factors always play a role. This is why it was wrong for Western media to vilify Kiron Skinner, the director of policy planning at the US State Department, for naming racial discomfort as a factor at play in the emerging geopolitical contest between the United States and China. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 5 Comments

KIM WINGEREI Independent media continues to grow

Independent media continues to grow. With 21.7% growth in online audience in the last quarter sites such as this are taking significant mind- and marketshare from the mainstream infortainment giants who continue to lose readers both online and offline.

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GREG JERICHO. Coalition’s lies, damned lies and election-winning strategies (The Guardian)

No, the government doesn’t care about reducing carbon emissions and no, the economy is not strong. 

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CHRIS MILLS. Truthslaying The Environment.

In the Australia in Wonderland in which we are now living, things are getting curiouser and curiouser. Like the time-travel budget surplus arriving in 2019 from the 2020 budget, the Prime Minister has declared that Australia will meet its Paris Climate Change promise ‘in a canter’. (Or is that ‘at a canter’?) Curiously, the Department of Environment and Energy reports total emissions for the year to September 2018 increased by 0.9%.  What, then, is the true State of the Nation’s greenhouse gas emissions? Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 4 Comments

BEN GRUBB.  The CIA’s investment fund is stalking Australian tech startups and has opened a local office (Sydney Morning Herald, 11 June 2019)

A technology investment fund bankrolled by America’s foreign spy agency, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is stalking Australian companies for future investment opportunities. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments