Media in the Asian Century: crises galore but screens are filled with Boris’ antics

Australia takes a safety-in-numbers approach to Myanmar, but shows no such restraint in dealings with China. And speaking of China, there was a meeting of minds in The Australian, both left and right. 

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Posted in Media | 10 Comments

Australia’s plans for a $2 billion airstrip in the Antarctic is environmental vandalism

While Australia criticises other countries for their supposed expansionist policies, Australia is the most brazen of any country in asserting ownership of territory that doesn’t belong to it. And while Australia claims to be staunchly committed to the environmental protection of the Antarctic, its actions belie such a claim, with its proposal to build a $2 billion concrete aerodrome at its Davis base.

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Posted in Climate, Top 5 | 14 Comments

The JobSeeker rise – back to 2007 payment levels

Lowering the overall level of unemployment benefits that job seekers are going to receive in the middle of a recession is likely to cost jobs.

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Posted in Politics | Tagged | 4 Comments

Rethinking Australia’s Covid vaccine rollout: beware a two-tier system. Part 1

If our rollout proceeds, using two different vaccines, we might create a society of suspicion and division: vaccinated v non-vaccinated, Pfizer v AstraZeneca. Most other countries need to mass vaccinate now but Australia doesn’t. We should forget AstraZeneca and wait for higher efficacy vaccines to avoid having lower overall immunity than those other countries.

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Posted in Politics | 11 Comments

Three school education policies for Labor

It seems just months since the last one, but the next election is already highlighting interest in policy development. What school education policies might a progressive sort of party like the ALP develop? They would have to pass three simple tests: they must address something that urgently needs fixing, they mustn’t scare the punters and they should be readily understood and agreed, including by those responsible for their promotion and, with luck, implementation. Continue reading

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The humble necktie (or ‘colonial noose’) remains a powerful symbol

It turned into a prickly day in the Beehive in Wellington when Rawiri Waititi walked into Parliament wearing a large greenstone taonga around his neck, rather than a necktie. Continue reading

Posted in Politics, World Affairs | 6 Comments

An unsentimental China policy: The case for putting vital interests first

Fifty years ago come July, US President Richard Nixon announced what would become his signature foreign policy achievement: the opening to China. The following February, in what the press called “the week that shook the world”, he flew to Beijing to meet Mao Zedong, the leader of communist China. So began a half-century of US engagement with Beijing. Continue reading

Posted in China | 22 Comments

The light on the hill could soon be solar powered

Global warming runs amok thanks to our coal, cities are unsustainable, more roads means more trucks, more anti-China Cold War rhetoric, and all undoing the many positive features of Australia and its diverse population. Continue reading

Posted in Climate | 9 Comments

The Morrison method – if you don’t ask, you can’t tell

Some prime ministers are more practised liars than others. Some can confuse, distract and prevaricate in such a way as to strangle the truth. Morrison, however, is a special case. He does not seem to recognise any obligation to account. He resists any scrutiny and while using words such as “transparency” almost everything he does is opaque. 

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Posted in Politics | Tagged | 22 Comments

Helen Coonan saw no evil and heard no evil over nine long years

For more than nine years, Helen Coonan has been a non-executive director of Crown. More than enough time to get wise about this criminal organisation, one would have thought.

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Posted in Public Policy, Top 5 | Tagged | 16 Comments

Media bargaining code dire for public interest journalism if small outlets aren’t protected

In Spain in 2014, when Google shut Google News, small independent publishers were hit far harder than the big players. If Facebook plays a similar role in Australia, then the consequences of Facebook’s recent action will be dire for public interest journalism and Australian media diversity.

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Posted in Media | 2 Comments

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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Posted in Community | 9 Comments

The frightening cost of Morrison’s climate inaction

Scott Morrison loves saying he won’t take action on climate change without knowing what it will cost. Joel Fitzgibbon takes the same tack when defending his coal mining constituents. But now we have a clear idea of the cost of not taking action. Continue reading

Posted in Climate | Tagged | 4 Comments

Carbon tariffs and taxes should not be an item for the WTO

Carbon border tariffs would tie the World Trade Organisation in knots and detract from its core purposes. Such a tax would also discriminate against the poorest in the world. Without broad consensus they would be illegal.

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Posted in World Affairs | 3 Comments

Keeping an open mind: rules based order needs to be malleable

As countries like China continue to integrate into the world economy, the liberal “rules-based” order – centred around political governance and the military – needs to remain flexible.

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Posted in China, World Affairs | 6 Comments

I have never seen, over 50 years, a more slippery customer than Morrison

How Prime Minister Scott Morrison ‘feels’ the pain of others. For him, almost everything is a public relations problem. 

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Posted in Politics | Tagged | 64 Comments

Coalition government continues to short-change bushfire victims

No figures are publicly available for the three largest bushfire recovery funds, which account for more than 55% of the $2.73 billion the federal Coalition has promised to devastated communities. And by the end of last year, less than half of that $2.73 billion had been spent, some $500 million less than claimed by David Littleproud, the minister in charge of the recovery effort. 

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Posted in Politics, Top 5 | 4 Comments

Free speech for the Public Service? Only for friends … foes face prosecution

The Department of Parliamentary Services has been in the news following reports that it withheld its security incident report into the Brittany Higgins case from the Australian Federal Police, despite multiple requests, and was only provided after the police escalated inquiries. It seems the DPS has form in wanting to bury bad news. 

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Posted in Politics | 10 Comments

Skilled operators: Europe is back in the Indo Pacific

The US might be coming back to the region, but so too is Europe, a nod to the fact that the central locus of global economic weight and geopolitical activity has moved. However, we need to beware the excessive zeal of Boris Johnson. 

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Posted in World Affairs | 37 Comments

Competition for technological primacy between the great powers will draw in ASEAN

Scott Morrison assumes the ASEAN states will line up with the US and Australia in attempting to blunt China’s growth and influence. Yet China can offer the ASEAN states solutions to their pressing problems of population growth, poverty and urbanisation  through its ‘smart cities’ technologies.
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Posted in World Affairs | 9 Comments

China, Russia steal a vaccine diplomacy march

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented mobilisation of advanced biotechnology globally. Progress in developing, testing and deploying vaccines has proceeded with breathtaking speed. China-Russia collaboration is helping to get cheap and effective Covid-19 vaccines to the developing world. Continue reading

Posted in Health | 6 Comments

Sidney Nolan’s St Kilda paintings: the ‘innocence’ of a man in his 20s with a wife and two mistresses

The Canberra Museum+Gallery is exhibiting several of Sidney Nolan’s St Kilda paintings until March 30, complete with a Children’s Trail for the nippers. But are the paintings as innocent as the stories that have built up around them – curated by Nolan himself – suggest?

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Posted in Arts and Sport | 1 Comment

Laughing Stock: Australia’s new media code rivals our climate policy for absurdity

Google good, Facebook bad. That sums up mainstream media coverage of the Coalition government’s bizarre new media code. That’s because Google paid up, Facebook decided it was extortion and called Josh Frydenberg’s bluff, banning Australian news. The mainstream media has been corrupted.

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Posted in Media | 29 Comments

Even a brown paper bag filled with cash may not be enough to start an investigation

The recent release of Australian Electoral Commission political donation figures has put the lack of transparency back in the spotlight. This issue is also behind the push for a federal integrity commission. But the Coalition government, which is by far the largest recipient of political donations, has no intention of reforming the system and is pushing for a toothless integrity commission on purpose.

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Posted in Politics, Top 5 | Tagged | 1 Comment

Trial by media, politicians or social media does not serve justice

The mindset that says that all persons who make claims of sexual abuse are to be believed and therefore they are “survivors” or “victims” is problematic to say the least. 

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Posted in Politics | Tagged | 14 Comments

For the Prime Minister, sovereignty is reduced to possessing 70 fighter jets

Prime Minister Scott Morrison appears to be suffering from the neurological condition visual agnosia – the inability to recognise certain objects for what they are. It is a condition popularised the neurologist, Oliver Sacks, is his book on the condition, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales.

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Posted in Defence and Security | Tagged | 16 Comments

Brexit fallout: How London lost its place as the world’s financial capital

The Amsterdam stock market, which traded the first-ever equity in the Dutch East India company, has regained its position as the top European stock market after more than three centuries of trailing London.

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Posted in Top 5, World Affairs | Tagged | 5 Comments

The new normal: the former ministers racing down the Gold Brick Road (Part 1)

This is a three-part look at the afterlife of former Commonwealth ministers of the Crown. Because of space limitations, the inquiry focuses on the notorious post-politics employment of two defence ministers, Christopher Pyne and Brendan Nelson, and one foreign minister, Julie Bishop.

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Posted in Defence and Security, Lobbyland | 1 Comment

What Rupert wants, Scotty gives

My public posts are now unavailable on Facebook because the dopey Morrison Government chose to charge Facebook for linking to media websites. Continue reading

Posted in Public Policy | 9 Comments

Sunday environmental round up, 21 February 2021

Stories from Guyana, USA and south west Africa illustrate the local dangers of oil and gas developments, while oil companies globally are struggling. Stories from Nicaragua, Cambodia, India and Lizard Island about the effects of climate change on communities and nature.

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Posted in Climate, Politics | 1 Comment