Oct 13, 2018

A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts covered in other media.

On ABC’s Saturday Extra this weekend (in case you missed it):

7.30am His death is as yet unconfirmed, but who is Jamal Khashoggi and what is the true nature of his relationship with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince? Dr Neil Quilliam from Chatham House discusses.

7.45am This week’s debate around using the Opera House as a billboard for horse-racing speaks to a bigger and far more worrying problem – one of powerful organisations exploiting access and buying influence over politicians. Danielle Wood from the Grattan Institute and Christopher Knaus from The Guardianreports.

8.05am Paul Clitheroe, Chair of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board, discusses why it’s necessary to shift the focus from financial literacy to financial capability.

8.20am Australian oncologist Dr Bronwyn King is campaigning for financial leaders and investors to stop investing in tobacco, and one result was the UN launch of the Tobacco Free Financial Pledge.

8.45am Emeritus Professor Peter Spearritt on the many important places around Australia and why their history is so significant.

Other commentary

Laurie Oakes has called Graham Freudenberg “the greatest speechwriter this country has produced”. Ruth Cullen’s documentary The Scribe has brought him out of the backroom and into the light. On the ABC’s Sunday Extra James Carleton interviews him about his political life (reminding listeners that Freudenberg’s own quest for political office was thwarted by a factional deal that favoured Eddie Obeid over Freudenberg). On Pearls and Irritations Susan Chenery has written a short biography of Freudenberg, including not only reminiscences but also his comments on present political developments. Also in Pearls and Irritations Freudenberg’s article 80 years after Munich defends Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” agreement.

We are apt to see tensions over China’s claims in the South China Sea as a recent development, coinciding with China’s assertion of economic and military power. But in an interview on Phillip Adams’ Late Light Livejournalist and writer Humphrey Hawksley (author of Asian Waters) points out that tensions over the South China Sea stretch back into the nineteenth century (China’s “century of humiliation” from 1839 to 1949), and even earlier.

“Want a more capable nation? Start younger” is the title of an article by Ross Gittins. Australia lags behind other nations in pre-school participation by three and four year olds. Presenting the case for more public investment in early childhood education he writes “perhaps the most important and useful scientific discovery of our times is that the human brain develops rapidly in the first five years of life, and both the nurturing and the intellectual stimulation a child receives in that time has huge influence over their wellbeing during their lives.” He urges the Coalition to match Labor’s stated commitment to supporting pre-school education.

There is still plenty of commentary on the portrayal of the Opera House as a billboard. Dr Michael Jensen, Rector of St Mark’s Anglican Church Darling Point, writes about “the habits of the aristocracy and the habits of the working classes” combining to give gambling a privileged status in NSW. On the question of commercialisation of public space, Waleed Aly writes in the Fairfax media “As public spaces become smaller and rarer, and as our sense of even having a public slowly erodes, we should expect people to be stirred passionately when one of the few remaining threads of our public space is threatened”.

As housing prices fall and as the stock market enters what is euphemistically called a “correction”, we do well to realise that our houses are still in much the same condition that they were at the peak of prices, and that companies listed on the stock exchange still have intact assets. What’s happening is only about money, and for an excellent explanation of what money is, one can listen to Peter Martin in a discussion (really a teaching session) with Gigi Foster of the University of New South Wales and Christopher Kent of the Reserve Bank on the ABC’s The Economists.

Two people with strong Liberal party connections have advice for voters in next Saturday’s Wentworth by-election. John Hewson, writing in the Fairfax media, says “a major political party without a climate action plan should forfeit the right to govern” and as reported in  The Guardian he suggests that voters who traditionally vote Liberal should consider voting for others. Also writing in The Guardian, Alex Turnbull urges voters not to support the Liberal Party because it has been taken over by “extremists”. (Here is a link to his short video.)

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