In his recent book Worship as Community Drama, sociologist Pierre Hegy described an unusual Catholic parish whose identity he hid under the name Church of the Resurrection. When the book was published earlier this year and we read the chapter titled “A Lay-Run Parish: Consensus Without a Central Authority,” we could tell that it was about us.
I asked Hegy about possibly revealing the facts behind the chapter. He replied that sociological protocols had to be followed in the book, but these would not apply to an article in a newspaper. OK, here goes.
How the new AFP chief juggled his role during an investigation that compromised his own superior
Reece Kershaw, the new Australian Federal Police Commissioner deserved to get the appointment via an open and independent appeal process. He might well have won it, and, assuming that he did, would be walking into the job in a few months confident that he was not facing the jealousies, innuendo and sabotage from colleagues who believe their merits were not considered, or that the selection was contaminated by “politics.” Continue reading
By any standard, Scott Morrison’s Government has a very threadbare policy agenda. Furthermore, the Government seems resistant to new ideas, whether they are from its backbench or the public service. According to Scott Morrison the role of the public service is limited to implementing government policy, which may help explain the thinness of his Government’s policy agenda. Continue reading
One, two, three, four
Keeping faith’s a dreadful bore.
Five, six, seven, eight
Tap the mat, capitulate.
This, it appears, is Labor’s new tribal chant. And needless to say, it is less
of a battle cry than a muted whimper. Continue reading
Scott M. has a new group of faves. It used to be that “hard working Australians” were top of his pops, along with those who benefit from the hard work of others through tax, negative gearing,“canny investments” and superannuation perks. They are still cherished and protected but even closer to Mr Morrison’s heart are “Quiet Australians”: people who feel no need to speak up, protest, argue, or even point to facts when there are issues harming not the quiet Australians but the silenced ones. Continue reading
When growth is slowing and interest rates are falling, the evidence indicates that a timely investment in social housing and an increase in Newstart are more likely to boost growth in jobs and incomes and provide better value than tax cuts, especially those going to high income-earners. Every dollar invested in social housing and Newstart not only improves lives, it also increases GDP by $1.20-1.30.
“If Matteo Salvini becomes prime minister, Italy will have a government led by a Catholic who is devout but schismatic.” So said Sergio Romano, a former Italian ambassador to NATO and the ex-Soviet Union, in a recent opinion piece in the Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera. Continue reading
In his important new book How to Defend Australia, Hugh White has placed before us a very clear picture of the contemporary security challenges now confronting Australia. First and foremost is China’s re-emergence as a (or maybe the) major power in the Western Pacific. This challenge for Australia is heightened by the Trump administration’s confusing responses to Beijing’s assertiveness across the region. Moreover, the United States may not be all that interested in guaranteeing Australia’s security into the next three or four decades. And even if it were so inclined, will its military capabilities be able to easily counter those of a risen China? Continue reading
Engaging in meetings and over dinner in London recently with British figures observing or involved in the Brexit process brought home that, while Australians follow the Brexit drama, we know little of its detail. We enjoy the sport, but try explaining the Irish Backstop in your local pub. Continue reading
Once again, the cultural warriors of the right are caught in a conflict of loathing. They would love to see Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne embarrassed and humiliated – they were supporters of the arch fiend Turnbull, renegades from the Miraculous Morrison and his band of angels. They deserve to be cast into the nethermost pit, along with the other unbelievers and blasphemers. Continue reading
When I was much younger I often dipped into Ripley’s “Believe it or not” for a laugh, amazement and even enlightenment. I had a look at their website recently as I prepared to tell you a story that would fit well into their library and found that “Ripley’s” is alive and well, daily producing their remarkable vignettes; Frederic Baur, creator of Pringle’s chips had his ashes buried inside one of his cans, the common Swift can stay in the air for 10 months without landing, men only blink half as often as women, cats can be allergic to humans! Well, here is a serious story that is certainly hard to believe but, regrettably, is true. Continue reading
Last week’s news that the Australian Dr Yang Hengjun was being moved to a criminal facility in China was, to use Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s words, “deeply disappointing” to say the least. Continue reading
Hunger is on the increase again and the world will need yet more food over the next three decades. How can we properly feed 10 billion people and save the planet? Do the solutions lie in technology, behaviour change or socio-economic change? While the Australian government continues to ignore climate change, state, territory and local governments, of both political persuasions, are getting on with the job in multiple ways. As is Kenya, but not without some policy contradictions. Feral cats kill millions of Australian native animals every day. Endangered species are being released into feral predator-free compounds.
A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts in other media Continue reading
The speech arrived on the Premier’s desk already clipped into the black leather folder. Did my staff realise that coming from the pen of the master and being a speech of welcome to a US President I would be disinclined to change a word? If so, their instincts were right. Two weeks after Bill Clinton in 1996 had been re-elected as President he and Hillary were in Sydney and without effort or fanfare- or even a word with me- Graham Freudenberg served up eight paragraphs that met the occasion of an official welcome speech with grace and historical resonance. Continue reading
A dear friend and colleague, Graham Freudenberg, died this morning at the Redcliffe Hospital. He was admired and will be mourned by many people who knew him personally and a great number of people who knew him in public recognition of his work.
Throughout his long illness, he remained courageous and concerned for people around him, and particularly for the Labor Party that he loved. As he physically declined, the strength of his inner life became even more apparent. He was delighted that, in his last week of life he could see again ‘The Scribe’ on ABC TV.
His close friends and family, and Australians generally, have been privileged to know Graham Freudenberg.
Graham revealed in his memoir that he wrote his first speech in Brisbane in May 1945, aged 10, at the time of VE Day, and delivered it to his mother. In 1946 he scored a job with ABC Radio reading scripts of school broadcasts – “I learned a lot about the use of English written to be spoken”. He didn’t know then that this experience would be life-forming: his speeches over the years stand out as words meant to be heard as well as to be read, a different sort of writing altogether.
Anyone who has heard of Graham Freudenberg, and most aware Australians have, think of him not so much as an individual , but in association with the great men, the massive political personalities whom he served.
The family of Graham Freudenberg, his influential political contacts, his many friends and admirers, the Australian Labor Party and Australia itself are diminished by his passing after a long illness. Continue reading
The Government has at last responded to the chaos in our visa system. In response to a question from Senator Keneally, Senator Linda Reynolds has suggested the bridging visa backlog is apparently due to an unexpected surge in visa applications that caught Home Affairs off-guard. Also, in 2018-19 there has been a 12 percent fall in on-shore asylum applications. So does that mean all is now well? Continue reading
Even read in English it’s a stirring speech with hints of John F Kennedy’s inaugural address: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country’. By the standards of Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, a normally awkward public performer, it was well delivered, calling on voters to move on from the hates of the 17 April election campaign and embrace Pancasila.
Progressives are unsuccessfully pleading with voters to logically approach the major challenges of our time. The problem, though, is not a lack of understanding, it is a lack of actionable alternatives. Continue reading
“Having a go” just to put food on the table? Unless you’re a well-fed restaurateur or politician, it’s unlikely that you’ll “get a go” from this Government. Continue reading
Geoff Gallop offers up eleven theses on Australian politics to provide public servants with a ‘nuanced understanding of politics’. His theses are more than a little condescending and simplistic. The theses seem directed at middle level or junior public servants, or maybe new entrants to the service. However, the nature of the relationship between senior public servants with policy responsibilities and minsters is increasingly an important and fraught issue.
There are major differences but also similarities in the U.S.’ response to Russia’s S-400 deals with Turkey and India Continue reading
Boris Johnson could hardly have chosen a more inauspicious moment to take over the reins in London with Whitehall in the death throes of a Prime Minister, the seemingly inevitable surge to a “no deal” Brexit plus the disrobing of Britannia by the Iranians and the likely accelerated pace of Beijing’s control over Hong Kong which inevitably will dog UK:China relations for some years ahead. All of which will be confused by President Trump’s graceless embrace which not only claimed Johnson as his acolyte but deliberately emphasised that he was his “man”! As Johnson himself noted, he will certainly need a better mojo than DUD but will he regret Americanising it into DUDE?
Cairns in Far North Queensland is a remarkable place where remarkable things – excellent, good, bad and odd – occur.
The persisting poor health of Aboriginal people over decades is an embarrassing stain on our national reputation and one that seems obstinately difficult to erase. How can this situation be effectively managed? Continue reading