The elephant and the mouse

China is much more powerful than Australia and no amount of criticism from us will change this. In a fight with China, we must lose. Calm analysis must replace jingoistic hot air. Why are they really attacking us and what can we do about it now? Continue reading

Posted in China, Top 5 | 30 Comments

Brereton’s comments which gave rise to the Chinese tweet on Australian Afghanistan war crimes

The Brereton report sheds light on the tweet posted by a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry of a digitally altered image depicting an Australian soldier holding a knife to a veiled Afghanistan child.But I have not seen any of  our mainstream media do the obvious, publish the relevant extracts on alleged killing of Afghan children by Australian soldiers. Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | 21 Comments

That’s all she wrote

I never thought I’d say it, but I can no longer go on working. Continue reading

Posted in Community | 52 Comments

Challenging the wolves: how to reply to Beijing’s tweet

An unexpected tweet from a senior Chinese diplomat on Monday 29 November provided a perfect excuse for the Prime Minister to divert attention from his domestic problems, to praise our gallant defence forces, to refer to our national values, and to stand up to the People’s Republic of China, who, as everyone knows from numerous press reports and commentaries in recent months, has been threatening our trade and undermining our public institutions. Continue reading

Posted in World Affairs | 3 Comments

An all-out trade war with China would cost Australia 6% of GDP

China accounts for more than a third of export dollars earned by Australia. Continue reading

Posted in China | 1 Comment

From here on our recovery will need more than fiscal policy, it’ll need redistribution

From the 1980s right through to the global financial crisis, the standard response in Australia and elsewhere to too weak or too strong an economy has been monetary policy — the manipulation of interest rates by a central bank, in our case the Reserve Bank. Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 1 Comment

Framing the Palace Letters by our National Archives

It doesn’t need a conspiratorial mind frame to explain the Murdoch media, Morrison Government and National Archives synchronous framing of the Palace Letters – just a realisation that such strategies are now so institutionalised that overt co-ordination is unnecessary. Continue reading

Posted in Media, Politics | 2 Comments

Australia no longer an apostle, or exemplar, of good government

The OECD is also an academy and apostle of good government and good public administration. Clean public administration, open and accountable and subject to checks and balances, including integrity commissions. These are all things that the Morrison government, with the particular support of the hard-right Western Australian faction that Mathias Cormann has led, is opposed to, in both principle and practice. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

Lobby Land -Dan Conifer. Queensland integrity watchdog backs review of lobbying laws.(ABC 7.30,28 Nov. 2020)

The ABC’s 7.30 program this week highlighted the regular, high-level access Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Government has given to a select group of lobbyists. The politically connected lobbying firms represent multi-million and multi-billion dollar companies hoping to influence government decisions. Continue reading

Posted in Lobbyland | Leave a comment

Not only governments exert foreign influence. What about Rupert Murdoch?

A Royal Commission under the best leadership could shine an enormously powerful spotlight on the fact that NewsCorp grossly breaches our foreign interference laws on a daily basis. Continue reading

Posted in Media, Top 5 | Tagged | 6 Comments

Australia against China: a face-off which must be avoided

It may be a statement of the bleeding obvious, but a face-off with the People’s Republic of China would not be a good idea. Continue reading

Posted in China | 75 Comments

Morrison’s selective attitude to human rights

Article 1 of the UN Charter declares objectives to promote and encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion. But the Morrison government ignores the abuses of its friends, does not care about the ‘without distinction’ principle, and thereby undermines claims to champion human rights. Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Politics | 20 Comments

Can macroeconomic policy ensure the inflation target?

If Australian wages do not increase sufficiently in line with economic capacity, it risks a shortfall in aggregate demand that will make the achievement of an inflation target very difficult, or even impossible. Continue reading

Posted in Economy | Tagged | 5 Comments

A bridge too far for Cormann?

For the OECD, improved world health is as important an outcome as an improved world economy. Managing that, or contributing to that debate, is not, as with climate change action, Cormann’s long suit. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 8 Comments

Natasha Kassam and the AFR have it wrong on China-Australia tensions

Australia is fast becoming a sad joke, an object lesson in how not to behave towards China. If we are becoming an example, it is an example of what to avoid. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 32 Comments

Reflections on the economic record of the Trump Administration

It no doubt came as a shock to many (non-American) observers of the recent US election that almost 74 million Americans (more than 47% of those who voted) would have preferred Donald Trump to remain in the White House for another four years. Like many among America’s academic, media, and corporate elites, outside observers have long struggled to understand the reasons for Trump’s ongoing popularity with such a large proportion of the American population. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Tagged | 2 Comments

Jeff Borland. New finding: boosting JobSeeker wouldn’t keep Australians away from paid work

Incentives, the Freakonomics author Steven Levitt once quipped, are the “cornerstone of modern life”. To this I would add: only if the incentive is big enough. Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 1 Comment

“The most lamentable engineering disaster in Australia”…?

Echoes of one of the great public policy failures of this nation are starting to grow louder. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

Why the Biden victory is not the answer to our prayers

Much of America is breathing a sigh of relief that, gracefully or otherwise, Trump will soon vacate the White House. Allies of the United States – not just governments but much of the commentariat – are expecting a less turbulent and more predictable international environment. That may be wishful thinking. Continue reading

Posted in Top 5, World Affairs | Tagged | 27 Comments

Reputation laundering: weapons companies infiltrating schools to promote education

Lockheed missile blows up a bus full of Yemeni children; in Australia Lockheed Martin gains kudos by sponsoring the National Youth Science Forum. BAE Systems sponsors underprivileged kids in Australia while being complicit in the killing of thousands of needy children in Yemen. All you see in industry marketing pitches is euphemism, with nary a mention of the word “weapons”. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 16 Comments

The importance of the Brereton report on our alleged war crimes in Afghanistan

On 20 November, the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) General Angus Campbell finally presented the public with the redacted version of NSW Justice Major General Paul Brereton’s report into our alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | 8 Comments

How can we best ensure that retirement incomes are adequate?

The present superannuation contribution (SG) rate of 9.5 percent can finance an adequate retirement income for most middle-income people, provided they fully draw down their savings. Logically, therefore, any action to stop further increases in the SG rate should be contingent on accompanying policies to remove the present impediments to using retirement savings efficiently. Continue reading

Posted in Public Policy | Tagged | 2 Comments

The unsustainable theory of ‘counter- insurgency warfare’ in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Australia’s disastrous military campaign in Afghanistan has been based on the so-called strategy of ‘counter-insurgency warfare’ – COIN in the military vernacular. Yet for decades, COIN demonstrably has been an intellectually unsustainable theory. Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | 6 Comments

Is Morrison finally nearing the tipping point on climate?

He would rather forego his parliamentary pension than admit it, but
our prime minister is unobtrusively softening his hardline stance on climate change.
Continue reading

Posted in Climate, Politics | 8 Comments

Australia’s unnecessary involvement in various wars

Our Prime Ministers and other senior Ministers must bear the greatest responsibility for atrocious decisions to involve us in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam. They have shown repeatedly that they are not up to the task. Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | 6 Comments

Sunday environmental round up, 29 November 2020

Despite COVID, atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise. Does increasing complexity in societies explain the collapse of civilisations? Western Australia is failing to adequately protect sharks and Australia is taking risks with imported flowers. China has an each-way bet on energy: big on renewables; big on coal.

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Posted in Climate, Politics | 6 Comments

Old dog, new tricks? John Kerry needs to lead a total reform of U.S. climate diplomacy

An introduction by Peter Sainsbury to an article by Brendon Wu concerning John Kerry as President Biden’s Special Presidential envoy for Climate. Continue reading

Posted in Climate | 3 Comments

Morrison has misread China

The Prime Minister thinks he can set the terms with Beijing. But hard choices and compromises are required to manage our region’s ruthless great power. Continue reading

Posted in China | 46 Comments

Election 2020: a Democratic Mandate or a Vote Against Trump? (CounterPunch Nov 24, 2020)

Every election year is accompanied by countless analyses of why Americans voted the way they did. The 2020 election is no different.

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Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

China-Australia relations: ex-Australia foreign minister says Canberra must drop adversarial approach to fix ‘frozen’ relationship (South China Morning Post Nov 24, 2020)

Only a herculean shift in foreign policy, a change of government or major external event will thaw a “frozen” relationship between China and Australia that has been damaged by a lack of diplomacy from Canberra that has compounded over the past three years, according to former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr.

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Posted in China | 8 Comments