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MARC HUDSON. The Nationals have changed their leader but kept the same climate story (The Conversation 28 February 2018)

After Barnaby Joyce’s demise as Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader, and his replacement by Michael McCormack, we might wonder what the junior Coalition partner’s leadership change means for Australia’s climate policy. Continue reading

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WAYNE McMILLAN. Are Millennials Thinking Seriously about Socialism?

A recent report from the Australian conservative, right wing think tankThe Centre for Independent Studies, 1. reckons that Australian millennials are lurching towards Socialism. In this report millennials don’t mention what they think about Socialism, or what shape or form it should take and how it could be implemented. I guess they are feeling that any alternative to Capitalism that promises a glimmer of social, economic and ecological hope is worth a go. Continue reading

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MUNGO MACCALLUM. Turnbull running out of energy.

Neg can be an abbreviation of either negative or negligible, both terms the vociferous critics from left and right have used to denigrate Malcolm Turnbull’s masterwork in progress. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

KERRY GOULSTON. Why not commemorate the Frontier Wars in the Australian War Memorial?

As an Australian schoolchild I learnt the history of England, including a long list of English Kings, but nothing at all about the Frontier Wars here in Australia or indeed the history of our Indigenous, the oldest people on the planet.  Continue reading

Posted in Indigenous affairs, Politics | 1 Comment

ABUL RIZVI. What is Dutton Hiding Now?

In announcing the outcome of the migration and humanitarian programs, immigration ministers have traditionally provided extensive details on outcomes against planning levels by visa category, as well as other relevant information (see here for examples of such reports for past years). For the 2017-18 outcome, Peter Dutton rushed to get the news out via an exclusive for the front page of The Australian around a week before the Longman by-election. But unlike past years, Dutton held back the details. The report on the 2017-18 outcome is still under embargo almost a month after the exclusive for The Australian. Dutton is unlikely to release the report until at least after the next Senate Estimates hearings in October.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Refugees, Immigration | Leave a comment

JUDITH WHITE. Truth telling and cultural amnesia (Culture Heist)

Truth telling was the theme of this year’s Garma festival, held in northeast Arnhemland on the first weekend of August. It’s also a crucial element in the Statement from the Heart made by the indigenous National Constitutional Convention at Uluru last year but rejected by the Turnbull government. Continue reading

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STEPHEN DUCKETT. Time to name and call out unconscious racism in the treatment of Indigenous Australians.

Indigenous Australians suffer racism when they seek or require medical treatment. The good news is that the medical profession acknowledges there is a problem. The bad news is that doctors are not doing nearly enough to bust the systemic bias against our First Peoples. Continue reading

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JOSEPH E STIGLITZ. The US is at Risk of Losing a Trade War with China.

The “best” outcome of President Donald Trump’s narrow focus on the US trade deficit with China would be improvement in the bilateral balance, matched by an increase of an equal amount in the deficit with some other country (or countries). In fact, significantly reducing the bilateral trade deficit will prove difficult.

Continue reading

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TED TRAINER. Hugh Mackay sees the problem, but not the solution.

Over many years Hugh Mackay has made a significant contribution to the critical discussion of social issues and problems.  His recent book, Australia Reimagined, continues the good work. His account of our deteriorating ”spiritual” welfare is in my view quite correct and important. But on the causes and what to do about the situation I think he is surprisingly and sadly mistaken. Continue reading

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BOB CARR. Australia draws line under anti-China hysteria. Will it be enough to unfreeze relations? (South China Morning Post 11.08.18)

Bob Carr says Malcolm Turnbull’s reset of relations with China was inevitable, as the fears his government has allowed to spread – about Chinese money in Australia’s democracy and China’s growing influence in the region – had little substance, and have done Australia more harm than good. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 2 Comments

JENNIFER DOGETT AND P & I CONTRIBUTIONS. -An important series on drug law reform (Croakey)

Drug law reform is an issue that has been on the political agenda for decades, with varying degrees of urgency.  Yet despite the overwhelming evidence for law reform and the sustained efforts of advocates from a range of sectors, most of the political and legislative changes required to reduce the harms associated with illicit drug use have not been achieved. Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. Peter Dutton wants to rule the nation.

If Peter Dutton was to be arraigned before an international tribunal for serial abuse of human rights I would cheer. If the charges were upgraded to crimes against humanity I would regard it as a fair cop. But if the court in its wisdom imposed a death sentence I would protest in the streets. My opposition to capital punishment is absolute and unequivocal.   Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

HYLDA ROLFE. What’s in a name? The threat to our National Parks

For three years now, Sydney-based company Gap Bluff Hospitality Pty Ltd (GBH) has been revising an offer it made to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) under which the company would assume a large share of the burden of repair and maintenance of former Defence and other buildings in the Gap Bluff and Green Point sectors of Sydney Harbour National Park at Watsons Bay NSW. While the financial terms of the offer were not made public, the deal envisaged the adaptation and use by GBH of several buildings in the National Park as an integrated event/function complex. The mountain laboured….    Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, Politics | 2 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR and RICHARD BUTLER. A spying scandal exposes Australia’s immoral behavior toward East Timor (Washington Post, 10.08.18)

Australia is leading the Western world in enacting tough new laws to curb foreign interference and influence-peddling in domestic affairs. The primary intended target is China. Continue reading

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CHRISTIANE BARRO. Ninety years on, no justice for Australia’s last Aboriginal massacre.

Last Tuesday marked 90 years since the last recorded massacre of Aboriginal people in Australia. Continue reading

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KIM WINGEREI. The ABC needs relevance, not lifestyle!

When Socceroo defender Aziz Behich put the ball in his own net during the recent World Cup, handing France the win, Australia groaned in collective disappointment. He didn’t mean to, and he is already forgiven. But when CEO Michelle Guthrie launched ABC’s new lifestyle section, it was an own goal for which it is hard to give absolution. Continue reading

Posted in Media | 3 Comments

DEREK ABBOTT. Time to play to the ALP’s strengths

The outcome of the super Saturday by-elections have settled the question of Bill Shorten’s leadership at least until after the next general election. Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership also seems secure, if for no other reason than the lack of plausible alternatives. Both are unpopular and the by-elections (and polls) suggest that the electorate is sick of the focus on the leadership challenges and three word slogans masquerading as policy. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Posted in Drug Reform, Health | Leave a comment