TONY SMITH.- Virtual parliament or elective dictatorship?

As the Morrison Government responds incrementally to the Corona Virus epidemic – apparently following expert medical advice – there has been much comment about decisions to close businesses such as hairdressing salons. Sadly, the decision to shut down parliament received comparatively little discussion.

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GREG LOCKHART.- Quarantined in the Jazz Age

A friend mailed me recently to ask if I was well and safely distanced socially. He also pasted the following letter and asked me if I’d seen it. I hadn’t.  Continue reading

Posted in Arts and Reviews | 5 Comments

JOHN DWYER. Health care professionals want a lockdown now.

In sharper focus than ever this week is the danger health professionals experience in caring for seriously ill patients infected with COVID-19. Continue reading

Posted in Health | 2 Comments

JACK WATERFORD.- The not-so-dirty secret the COVID-19 panel wants to hide Part 1

Officials are not independent. They are more loyal to ministers than the public need for information Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

HUGH MACKAY: How will widespread social isolation change us?

Social isolation is hardly a new problem for us: it has been high on the list of concerns for social scientists and health professionals for many years. But the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to confront the potential for loneliness on an unprecedented scale.  Continue reading

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MUNGO MACCALLUM.- Confusion beyond parody.


Barbers are considered essential, but the MPs are considered redundant in a way they have never been, not during wars, depressions and previous pandemics. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

KIM OATES.-COVID-19. Good news and bad news for children

There is good news for most children and bad news for some in this pandemic. Unlike most epidemics, where those at both ends of the age spectrum are more likely to succumb, the good news is that we are seeing a smaller proportion of deaths and infections in children. Continue reading

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STEPHEN LEEDER. The ambiguity of herd immunity and the coronavirus

In the US, the first formal clinical trial of a drug to treat coronavirus and  of a vaccine give us a good moment to reflect on the immunology of this illness. Continue reading

Posted in Health | 2 Comments

CAMERON LECKIE. Catabolic Collapse: Round 2

COVID-19 is far from being the end of the world, but it does signify the start of the second cycle of a process known as catabolic collapse.

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Posted in Economy | 5 Comments

CHARLES LIVINGSTONE.- Crown and other casinos finally shut, but initial exemption suggests special status

Getting in early to stop the spread of the virus would have been good for the community, and from Crown’s perspective good for the company’s floundering reputation, as it faces multiple official inquiries. It would also have demonstrated that even ‘special’ companies have to play by the rules. Continue reading

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Stopping the boats but not cruise ships.

Imagine stopping the boats the centrepiece of your entire political platform for 10 years, and then failing to stop the one boat that actually fucking mattered.
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KEN HENRY supports Pearls and Irritations.

Pearls & Irritations should be a priority resource for anyone with an interest in public affairs who would prefer to hear the voice of experience. Continue reading

Posted in Commendations | 3 Comments

HENRY REYNOLDS.- When will we see a cost-benefit of our meddling in the Middle East?

By the end of this year Australia will have begun the process of removing our armed forces from the Iraq and Afghanistan or at least be considering what can fairly be termed a retreat after a series of engagements lasting almost twenty years. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 8 Comments

KERRY BREEN and KERRY GOULSTON.- Further update: An apolitical approach to the Covid-19 crisis – hopes are fading.

In the eleven days since we first tried to make sense of the Federal Government’s approach to the current health crisis, little has changed in its approach. Continue reading

Posted in Health, Politics | 2 Comments

MUNGO MACCALLUM.- Team Australia on the Corona virus

Scott Morrison’s National Cabinet is working pretty well so far. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 9 Comments

PATRICIA and DON EDGAR. Who is expendable? Ethics in an age of a pandemic

In 1651, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, writing about the social contract, warned that without a strong central government man reverts to his natural state of self-interest and life is ‘solitary, poore, nasty, brutish and short’. The West has rejected Hobbes’ philosophy and we have seen the erosion of strong central government across decades.

And the school girl with her school bag. Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Politics | 5 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Coronavirus pandemic: sceptical question marks make for better policy than excitable exclamation marks

When did the world’s media and politicians become collective versions of Lance Corporal Jones in the British comedy series Dad’s Army, screaming ‘Don’t panic! Don’t panic!’? Colour me contrarian, but since the 2003 Iraq war, my working motto has been: when you come across excitable exclamation marks, substitute sceptical question marks and you’ll be right. Continue reading

Posted in Health, International Affairs | 10 Comments

STUART REES An End To Global Capitalism

The raiding of supermarket shelves shows the influence of capitalism at its worst: competition, selfishness, exploitation by the successful raiders at the expense of those who could not compete or decided not to. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 10 Comments

MICHAEL GRACEY. Protecting remote Indigenous people from the COVID-19 pandemic

The current pandemic caused by the virus COVID – 19 is affecting many countries; it is highly infectious and potentially fatal, especially for vulnerable people. Indigenous Australians are especially at risk to this infection and will need special arrangements to minimise the devastation that this virus could bring to them. How can this be best achieved? Continue reading

Posted in Health, Indigenous affairs | 1 Comment

PETER SAINSBURY. Sunday environmental round up, 29 March 2020

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. How will a coronavirus-led recession affect CO2 emissions? Will health improve from cleaner air with fewer vehicles on the road? How can governments use stimulus packages to protect the vulnerable and hasten the transition to a low carbon, environmentally sustainable, just world? And good news for Torres Strait Islanders: $25m to cope with sea level rise.

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Posted in Environment and climate, Politics | 5 Comments

SATURDAY’s GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND 

What people in other forums are saying about public policy Continue reading

Posted in Health, Politics | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

JOHN MENADUE.-Strengthening Pearls and Irritations.

From next week, we will be outsourcing the production, technical support and promotion of Pearls & Irritations.  Continue reading

Posted in Media | 26 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING.- Good health policy is good for the economy

The Government seems to think that it must balance the needs of the economy against the actions needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. In fact this is not true, and Australia’s future economic capacity will fall if the virus is not defeated as quickly as possible. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Health | 6 Comments

ALEX MITCHELL: Mark Latham goes all nuclear – again!

Mark Latham, former Federal Labor leader who now sits in the State Legislative Council as head of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation in NSW, is running a one-man campaign to end the ban on uranium mining which came into force in 1986. Is he flogging a dead horse? Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

DAVID SOLOMON. The Government could do better

There’s a simple way for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to assert some real leadership and focus the attention of the nation on how the corona virus pandemic should be confronted: he should sack the two Ministers who have demonstrated most publicly their incompetence in dealing with it. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 9 Comments

DUNCAN GRAHAM The land of no social distance

While the Western world thinks staying apart is wise to avoid Covid-19 infections, Indonesians still remain together.

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CHIARA BOCELLI-TYNDALL.- Coronavirus in Italy – a view from “exile”

On Sunday, February the 23rd my Australian husband and I was in Florence Italy, where we regularly enjoy an alternative residence, and lifestyle, to that of Basel Switzerland. We had tickets for a coveted opera performance of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, that afternoon when we heard the news.

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ALAN TYNDALL. Stem Cell Therapy; Hype or Hope?

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “stem cell therapy”? Miracle cures for wheel chair bound paraplegics? Building new organs to replace burned out old ones? Eternal beauty and youth? Immortality? Continue reading

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BRUCE THOM.- Challenge and Response: The Current Crisis

Thinking now about our current global health/economic crisis, I see how we need creativity to get us over the proverbial hump and back to that desired state called normality. Continue reading

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JOHN TAN. John Mearsheimer: Foreign policy hawk? Controversial as ever. Part 2 (of 2):

He has enraged the Israel lobby in Washington with his book about the lobby and US foreign policy. He is persona non grata in many circles, but he’s not taking a step back. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 4 Comments