About Pearls & Irritations

Pearls & Irritations is a platform for discussing public policy, both domestic and foreign, anchored in Australia. We hold good policy development to be the foundation of good politics. We respect ideas, including contrarian ones, and value the free exchange of ideas as the means to help Australia flourish. Pearls & Irritation aims to provide a platform for this exchange of ideas from a broadly left-liberal perspective, with emphasis on peace and justice.

We are not dogmatic, but we do have a point of view.

Our focus is on in-depth commentary on issues that matter to Australians and our place in the world. We publish new stories daily, covering politics and public policy, the economydefence and security matters, climate change and the environment, as well as religion and faith, media and the arts.

How did Pearls & Irritations begin?

Pearls & Irritations began as a blog in January 2013 because John Menadue was concerned about several important issues. The first was how good policy discussion was being crowded out by gamesmanship, personal gossip, faction fights devoid of content and a ‘gotcha’ media style. Second was the importance of political action which is so much discredited and derided by populists and conservatives.

Politics is about how power is exercised. It is a noble calling which must be restored in public estimation. The third was the preoccupation of Australian mainstream media with newsfeeds out of US and UK, to the neglect of media coverage and interest in our own region. We really do have a ‘white man’s media’

Who are we?

John MenadueJohn Menadue is founding editor-in-chief. He was formerly Secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ambassador to Japan, Secretary of Immigration and CEO of Qantas.

More about John Menadue here.

Elizabeth MinterElizabeth Minter is the editor, She began her career in journalism in 1990 and worked at The Age newspaper for two 10-year stints – as a reporter, sub-editor, layout sub, and Letters Editor for eight years. She also worked at The Guardian newspaper in London for more than seven years as a sports sub-editor and a production editor.

Callum FooteCallum Foote is the production editor. Callum also writes for and edits the Revolving Doors database at Michael West Media. He has an honours degree in political science from the University of Sydney


Michael KeatingMichael Keating is a former Secretary of the Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Finance and Employment, and Industrial Relations.  He is presently a visiting fellow at the Australian National University. 


Ian McAuley is a retired lecturer in public sector finance at the University of Canberra and is co-author with Miriam Lyons in Governomics: Can we afford small government?  He is a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development.


Susie MenadueSusie Menadue is the business manager of Pearls & Irritations.  She was formerly a Registered Psychologist and a director of Stephen FitzGerald Pty Ltd.


Ramesh ThakurRamesh Thakur is an Emeritus Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, and a former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General.

How is Pearls & Irritations funded?

You can help by contributing here.  We greatly appreciate your support.   Production, technical support and promotion are now contracted out but there is still a heavy workload for John and Susie Menadue. Editors and writers are  unpaid. Pearls & Irritations is not pay-walled and we do not accept advertising.  That policy will continue. 

How can you submit an article?

Guidelines for submissions can be found here.

What about comments?

Our articles are normally open to comments for up to seven days after publication. We require full name (no pseudonyms) for publication and email address for our records (not published).  Comments should normally be less than 100 words. Keep it civil and respectful.