When France’s president wants to carry European concerns to the world stage to find solutions for climate change, trade tensions or Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he no longer calls Washington. He flies to Beijing. Continue reading
The latest ad hoc response to the current drought cannot be criticised in terms of the politics of the situation we are now in. If it rains in, say, by March, or in the first six months of 2020, then we will be back to the status quo of drought policy. We simply don’t have a National Drought Policy, nor can I see one being agreed between the Commonwealth and the States which will ever be agreed by all parties and commentators, or which may have predictability or flexibility. The debate about the Murray Darling Basin plan, after30 years of development, is in the same basket. There are so many actors with so many responsibilities that everyone cannot be satisfied. Continue reading
Many pundits are arguing that if Labor is to become competitive at the next election it must focus on economic growth and jobs and abandon or at least downgrade its policies for income redistribution and to combat climate change. The evidence, however, is precisely the reverse. It is these policies that are the key to future economic growth and jobs. Continue reading
Labor’s post-election post-mortem demonstrates conclusively that Scott Morrison’s victory was no miracle. It also shows why so many people thought it was. Continue reading
A hundred years ago the victors marked the first anniversary of Armistice Day. Our own memorialisation of the war, then and now, has been mostly in the spirit of ‘Take a bow, Australia’. But we need to lift our eyes from our own narrow horizons and question our ingrained instinct for self-congratulatory narratives. Continue reading
Due process has been missing in action with the proposed Australian War Memorial demolition and expansion. Wide-ranging and serious concerns from many people have been dismissed, as AWM Director Dr Brendan Nelson continues to be given green lights in his quest to have the Memorial display yet more of the machinery of warfare. One wonders whether that’s the sort of commemoration the World War 1 diggers would have wanted. Continue reading
One of the best ways to determine how history will judge a politician is not to tot up what they achieved but to try to evaluate the depths they sometimes sank to as they pursued their careers.
As this year’s election result became clear, Bill Shorten stated, “We were up against corporate leviathans, a financial behemoth, spending unprecedented hundreds of millions of dollars advertising, telling lies, spreading fear – they got what they wanted.” That is the voice of a hapless victim, complaining about forces beyond his control, and not the alternative leader of the country. Continue reading
Here we have two wombats, Lofty and Rorty. They’re stranded on the median strip in the middle of a busy freeway, on their way home from a meeting where, against most expectations, they were outflanked in their bid to take over the Association of Australian Native Animals (AANA). Continue reading
There are two basic components to the Morrison government’s latest A$1 billion package response to the drought affecting large parts eastern Australia. One part involves extra subsidies to farmers and farm-related business. The other involves measures to create or upgrade infrastructure in rural areas. Continue reading
Nearly all about climate change this week: 20 fossil fuel companies responsible for producing 35% of all greenhouse gas emissions and confusing the public and politicians about the causes of climate change; the USA starts the formal process of withdrawal from the Paris agreement: will others follow? is the Paris agreement dead in the water regardless?; and security companies making big profits from climate migrants. Finally, our sea eagle chicks fledge and Richard Flanagan talks about birds.
A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts in other media Continue reading
A bunch of decrepit old Australians had a particular interest in South Africa’s astonishing win at the World Cup in Yokohama last week. As a delighted and inspirational black captain, Siya Kolisi raised the Webb Ellis trophy high in victory, some of us had teary eyes. We are some of the survivors of a bunch of Australians who almost 50 years ago were heavily involved in the 1971 anti-Springbok campaign. Continue reading
This is the follow-up article promised yesterday. It was first published in October 2015 in The Wire, one of India’s premier online news and analysis site that has managed to remain independent and critical. I have added translations of common Hindi words used in the article. Because the original was aimed at an Indian audience, there was no need of any translation. The original article can be found here. Continue reading
Foreign Minister Marise Payne recently incurred the wrath of China by daring to mention the treatment of the Uighurs. At first sight this might seem to signal the beginning of a new commitment to human rights by the Coalition Government. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister is leading domestic policy in the opposite direction.
The government’s traditional scare campaign having failed to work – because Medevac transfers have not re-started the ‘people smuggler’ boats – a very frustrated Home Affairs Minister Dutton is running a new ‘repeal Medevac’ line: he says the Medevac law is a con because no transferees are in hospital. But it’s his own Australian Border Force that is keeping them out of hospital. Continue reading
Whether anybody — anybody at all — understands the workings of the world economy, or even the national economy, is a moot point but there are lots of interesting theories. Continue reading
Henry Wotton is perhaps best remembered as the author of the phrase that an ambassador was an honest gentleman sent abroad to lie for the good of his country. Continue reading
As the CO2 level rises to 408 ppm and the total greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, including CO2, methane and nitrous oxide, reaches about 500 parts per million CO2-equivalent, the stability threshold of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, currently melting at an accelerated rate, is exceeded. Under warming drought conditions, firestorms currently engulfing California, large parts of South America, Siberia, Australia and elsewhere are a direct consequence of the extreme changes in the composition of the atmosphere.
Our Government maintains the primacy of the economy in all its deliberations.
Even when mental health gets attention through the Productivity Commission it is with a view to “improving mental health to support economic participation and enhancing productivity and economic growth,” rather than with the primary purpose of alleviating suffering. Continue reading
The ‘one country, two systems’ framework is coming under increasing pressure as unprecedented protests and months of unrest rock Hong Kong. Sustaining local autonomy against the background of an increasingly assertive Chinese centre has become a progressively tricky issue. Continue reading
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, that many ill-informed users have come to believe. Continue reading
An obsession with “balanced budgets”, promoted by successive Coalition governments, is having serious economic consequences. Continue reading
Our political contest used to be between Left and Right, Labor and Conservative. That has changed with growing anger that power is now rigged in favour of a largely unchallenged and powerful oligarchy. Our democratic system including our traditional parties are just not properly responding .Voters are fleeing the major parties and particularly Labor. Continue reading
This gut-wrenching story is from and about my hometown where I was born and grew up. I wish I could say I’m surprised as well as horrified but that would be a lie. This is the reality I grew up with and still return to for one-two weeks almost every year. Brutal, savage, barbaric and primitive even by Indian standards, so much so that Bihar state is a foreign country to most Indians. If it’s not religious violence, it’s caste and gender killings that will be the main news from Bihar. To make it worse, Sitamarhi is named after the Hindu goddess Sita, the very symbol of purity, peacefulness, gentleness, because this is her birthplace. Continue reading
The problem with the housing bubble is not a shortage of housing, the problem is an excess of money. The solution is to restrict the amounts banks can loan. The solution is a credit squeeze. But it would have to be done carefully and the government would have to be willing to spend.
Four years ago in December 2015, every member of the United Nations met in Paris and agreed to hold global temperature increases to 2°C, and as close as possible to 1.5°C.
The bad news is that four years on the best that we can hope for is holding global increases to around 1.75°C. We can only do that if the world moves decisively towards zero net emissions by the middle of the century. Continue reading
We humans have never been so determined as now to make contact with life somewhere else in the Universe. Most people surveyed support such contact. It may not be such a good idea. Continue reading
There have been a few developments since the abortive Hanoi Summit but overall little of substance has changed. Continue reading
Prime Minister Morrison says that he will make sure that government services are reliable and responsive to the needs of those “quiet Australians” whose legitimate expectations are consistent with past practice and social conventions. What that means for the growing number of other Australians, who are less able to have a go and look after themselves, is apparently of no great concern. Continue reading