Category Archives: Community

How ironic that the Department of Home Affairs sees itself as the guardian of Australian values

A parliamentary report urges the government to work on improving the school curriculum to develop in students ‘‘understanding, empathy, and an openness to diversity’’. It seems the adults in the room also need to learn some lessons.

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Timeless tale about the evils of corrupt power and its enablers

Hans Christian Anderson’s folktale The Emperor’s New Clothes provides a salutary reminder of how easy it is to stay silent about, and remain complicit in, corruption when the consequences of challenging such behaviour risk personal comforts. 

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Vale Andrew Mack

The many Australian friends and colleagues of Professor Andrew Mack will be deeply saddened to learn he passed away in Vancouver on 20 January 2021 after a year of serious illness.

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Vale Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson died on 29 December 2020 aged 83. In this subdued time of Christmas and New Year celebrations, the sombre news of his passing seems quite apposite. He was a talented, sensitive man who cherished his priestly vocation.

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Rethinking 2020: We should never forget it

For millions of people, 2020 was the worst of years. But it also showed humanity at its finest. At times, I find it tempting to want to wish away all memory of 2020. It was a sorrowful, depressing year. Tempting … Continue reading

Posted in Community, Top 5 | 8 Comments

Obituary for Bishop Geoff Robinson

Saying farewell to Bishop Geoff Robinson as we did when he died on December 29, 2020, is saying goodbye to one of the few Australian Catholic bishops with his integrity and reputation for honesty and championing the defence of the … Continue reading

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Things you learn along the way

Occasionally friends suggest to me that I should write my autobiography.  Ruefully I explain that I wrote ‘Things you learn along the way’ 20 years ago. The book sold about 8,000 copies but as far as I know is no … Continue reading

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2020: a year in review for Pearls and Irritations

Despite the turmoil of 2020, Pearls and Irritations almost tripled in size. Perhaps 2020 was a year where independent comment and analysis was needed and appreciated more than most.

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Anyone laughing has not heard the news. Vale Mungo.

In 2001 I reviewed Mungo MacCallum’s memoir ‘The Man Who Laughs’ (AQ 73(6), Nov-December). Although this entertaining writer appeared to have retired from political commentary, I, like so many readers, was thankful that he took up the pen for Pearls … Continue reading

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The great Mungo MacCallum is gone, and half a century goes with him

Crikey pays tribute to the veteran political commentator, wit and brilliant writer.

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That’s all she wrote

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

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Remembering the financial brilliance of James Wolfensohn

At a time when Australia is desperately trying to push one of our own to lead a world economic forum, it’s worth remembering James Wolfensohn, our most influential global financial figure.

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Ignoring diplomatic advice with disastrous consequences

Remembering Harold David Anderson OBE AO David Anderson was a meritorious Australian who brought great distinction and much honour to his country. Anderson displayed strong ethical and moral courage in his realistic pessimism over Vietnam at a time when his … Continue reading

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Something to think about other than that election

In the past 75 years, there have been two authors who have profoundly demonstrated the effects when language is mangled and distorted and, conversely, how to write clearly and powerfully.

Posted in Community, Politics, Tributes | 3 Comments

Homily to Susan Ryan

As we gather here in the Lady Chapel at Newman College, people are gathered in socially distant numbers at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney for the state funeral of Susan Maree Ryan.

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Remembering Harold Evans (AIIA Oct 9, 2020)

Harold Evans had an indefatigable role in encouraging and expanding coverage of international affairs in the publications he edited and in the books he published. He also had great enthusiasm for hiring and fostering well-trained Australian journalists.

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Susan Ryan: a daughter of St Brigid

Long after Susan’s passing, Australians, and Irish-Australians in particular, will continue to be enriched by the legacy that this daughter of St Brigid has left us.’

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Susan Ryan: a forgiving politician

It is difficult to exaggerate the significance of the movements, legislation and offices shaped or led by the late Susan Maree Ryan (Oct 10, 1942 – September 27, 2020).

Posted in Politics, Top 5, Tributes | 3 Comments

An understated and yet a most influential and famous Australian.

Rupert Murdoch aside, which Australian has had the greatest impact on US political and public thinking in recent decades? He comes from Adelaide, is unfailingly modest, was once in the news all the time, despises most politicians and has both … Continue reading

Posted in Media, Tributes | 7 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. Vale Greg Dodds.

After a long illness Greg Dodds died last week in Perth. Kim Beazley will speak at his funeral  today(30 April 2020)  

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DEAN BAKER. Mark Zuckerberg is a Rich Jerk (Counter Punch 5-11-19)

Last week, New York Times columnist Timothy Egan had a piece headlined “Why Doesn’t Mark Zuckerberg Get It?” The piece then goes on to document how Facebook has become a medium for spreading lies and nonsense all over the world, … Continue reading

Posted in Media, Tributes | 1 Comment

BOB CARR. Vale Paul Francis Patrick Whelan.

Bob Carr Tribute to Paul Whelan October 31, 2019. Former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr paid tribute to his Police Minister Paul Whelan for his achievement in implementing the Wood Royal Commission recommendations to reform policing in NSW. 

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JOHN MENADUE. Thanks to guest editor, Ramesh Thakur.

During our three weeks holiday in the UK, Ramesh Thakur has been guest editor for Pearls & Irritations. Susie and I greatly appreciate his contribution. In considering the future of Pearls & Irritations, we may find that guest editorship provides … Continue reading

Posted in Tributes | 5 Comments

ANTHONY ALBANESE. Tribute to Graham Freudenberg (House of Representatives 10 Sep 2019)

Graham Freudenberg climbed inside the soul of the Australian Labor Party in search of the words that lay there. He came back to us with an entire language. When Freudy said the Labor Party was built on speeches, the identity … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Tributes | 2 Comments

LIONEL ORCHARD. Don Dunstan in Perspective: A Review

ANU historian Angela Woollacott has written a major biography of Don Dunstan reflecting on his place in the pantheon of reforming Australian Labor politicians. A review of the biography follows.

Posted in Politics, Tributes | 1 Comment

ALI KAZAK. On the Middle East, Tim Fischer was a man of courage and integrity.

Tim Fischer belongs to a unique generation of politicians we are farewelling fast; a generation such as Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke. A generation which whether you agreed with their ideology or not you could not but respect.

Posted in Tributes, World Affairs | 3 Comments

ROSEMARY O’GRADY. Hail & Farewell.

To Australian Catholics the date 3 December is a holiday. In the Calendar of Saints this date marks the feast of Australia’s ‘patron saint’, sixteenth century Spanish Jesuit and companion of St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, … Continue reading

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RACE MATHEWS. Graham Freudenberg.

When I heard the news of Graham Freudenberg’s death last week I wept. Not just for the passing of this generous, passionate, erudite and supremely eloquent man, but for the dreams and hopes that were shared by those of us … Continue reading

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BRUCE THOM. Climate Change and Relativity—Some Parallels.

Science can be incomprehensible to many, yet it requires others to help communicate and apply great works such as those of Albert Einstein. Climate change science is also quite complex and those in this field are facing similar difficulties to … Continue reading

Posted in Climate, Tributes | 2 Comments

SUSAN CHENERY. A Repost: The Scribe: portrait of Graham Freudenberg, author of the speech that changed Australia (The Guardian 9 October 2018))

Legendary Labor speechwriter Graham Freudenberg was at the centre of power for more than 40 years. A new film sheds light on the man who wrote the script.   (This outstanding documentary will be telecast on the ABC on Sunday night … Continue reading

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