SATURDAY’s GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND 

What people in other forums are saying about public policy


The world economy isn’t looking too flash – nor is Australia’s

The OECD has produced its Economic Outlook for June and it isn’t pretty. It presents two scenarios – a “single hit” of the pandemic (essentially what the world is experiencing) and a “double hit” (with a second wave of infections before the year-end).

In the single hit scenario global economic activity falls by 6 per cent in 2020 and OECD unemployment climbs to 9.2 per cent from 5.4 per cent in 2019. By 2021 five years of income growth is lost.

In the double hit scenario global economic output falls by 8 per cent in 2020 and the OECD unemployment rate nearly doubles.

The document shows models of countries’ increase in public debt resulting from necessary fiscal stimulation. Under both scenarios Australia’s increase in public debt remains well below the average for OECD countries.

The full report goes into detail. One extract summarises the world situation:

Economies are diverging, depending on when and to what extent they were hit by the virus, the preparedness of their healthcare system, their sectoral specialisation and their fiscal capacity to address the shock. Emerging-market economies have also been shaken by the crisis. Commodity prices have plummeted. Large capital outflows, plummeting remittances, weaker healthcare systems and a large share of informal workers have threatened their health, economic and social resilience. Everywhere, the lockdown has also exacerbated inequality across workers, with those able to telework generally highly qualified, while the least qualified and youth are often on the front line, unable to work or laid off, with the effects further compounded by unequal access to social protection. Private debt levels are uncomfortably high in some countries, and business failure and bankruptcy risks loom large.

It warns that “the recovery will not gain steam without more confidence, which will not fully recover without global cooperation” – cooperation on both economic policy and the development and distribution of a vaccine.

Its section on Australia has attracted some media attention. It states that “some income support measures may need to be extended beyond their September expiry date”. The report notes that there is already stimulus for construction. It is unlikely that the Murdoch media will give much prominence to its advice that “The authorities should also ensure that the social safety net is adequate and consider further investment in energy efficiency improvements and social housing.” Nor is its warning about Australia’s high household indebtedness getting much media attention.


A renewable recovery for Australia

While the Coalition’s selected group of gas industry lobbyists, the National Covid Coordination Commission, is seeking subsidies to lock renewable energy out of the market, there are others advocating more economically responsible paths out of recession.

WWF – a plan for renewable-based export opportunities

WWF Australia (previously known as the “World Wildlife Fund”, now the World Wide Fund for Nature) has commissioned Ernst and Young to prepare a pair of documents with the general theme Securing Australia’s future: Renewable recovery from Covid-19.

The first of these two documents is Delivering economic strength through renewables. It “outlines how an economic recovery based on renewables can boost local manufacturing, grow existing sectors and unlock new industries, increase exports, reskill our workforce, and reduce carbon pollution”.  It illustrates how a renewable-led recovery could re-employ people across industries subject to some of the biggest job losses, including construction and manufacturing. It provides first-order estimates of the fiscal cost of public investments and the value of economic outcomes – as a package the proposals reveal a benefit:cost ratio of about 5:1 and 45 000 direct jobs. The other document, Australian renewable export COVID-19 recovery package, is about specific projects, with an emphasis on export opportunities.

WWF Australia has also released a report Making Australia a renewable export powerhouse, essentially a condensation of the second of the above reports. It lists six export opportunities that can be developed in association with a strong domestic renewables industry. They include direct exports of energy (hydrogen and electricity through undersea cables), energy-intensive products (green steel and possibly aluminium), and technical and consulting services.

WWF is in good company

The WWF is just one of many bodies endorsing an open letter Building a stronger and cleaner post-pandemic Australia. Oher signatories include the Australian Industry Group, the Business Council of Australia, the ACTU and eleven other organisations. To quote from the letter:

Beyond the pandemic, Australian prosperity also depends on dealing with other long-term challenges – including the transition to net zero emissions.

Commenting on both the WWF reports and the open letter, the ABC’s science and technology reporter Michael Slezak quotes Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox “We need to look at this as an opportunity, not as a challenge and not as something that we should be afraid of.” – More jobs in renewable-led COVID-19 economic recovery, EY report finds.


Those demonstrations

The issues missed here and in the USA

Americans’ understandable concern with the enduring consequences of slavery has largely distracted their attention from settlers’ relations with the aboriginal people of North America. Here it’s the reverse: we have largely forgotten our own history of slavery. Even our prime minister seems to be unaware of our history of slavery.  On the ABC’s Breakfast program on Friday Bruce Pascoe (author of Dark Emu), set the record straight: PM claim “there was no slavery in Australia” rejected. Pascoe mentioned our history of “blackbirding”, when people from the South Pacific were taken into slavery to work in the cane fields, but also the way aboriginal people, driven off their land, were forced to work on cattle stations.  (10 minutes)

Randall Akee of the University of California has written on the Econofact site about the impact of Covid-19 on the indigenous people of the US. In some American Indian reservations infection rates are many times higher than in the US population as a whole (which themselves are high), and in some American Indian populations death rates are very high. Poor housing in these settlements, particularly poor plumbing, is a possible explanation for these high rates.

In Australia we no longer have the formalised slavery of the nineteenth century, but that doesn’t get us off the hook for complicity in the crime. We turn a blind eye to the exploitation of illegal immigrants and we don’t look too far into the supply lines that bring us cheap goods made by forced labour in other countries.

In 2018 the NSW Parliament, with support across the political spectrum, passed legislation to combat modern slavery, but to date it has not been implemented. Speaking with Andrew West on the ABC Religion and Ethics Report, barrister Michael McAuley, president of the Thomas More Society, explains how business lobbies have brought pressure on the government to block the legislation. What happened to the legislation to combat the scourge of modern slavery?  (8 minutes).

Implicit bias against indigenous Australians

As we observe America’s strife, we shouldn’t be too smug about our own attitudes. Siddharth Shirodkar, a PhD candidate at ANU, has had published a paper Bias against Indigenous Australians: Implicit Association Test results for Australia.  When he analyses the results of this test conducted on 11 099 Australians, he finds that “The result implies that the level of implicit bias that Australian residents have towards Indigenous Australians is comparable in magnitude and direction to the implicit bias that US residents have towards African Americans.”  The test involves recording people’s immediate reactions to faces with different ethnic appearances. (A summary article on the ANU website includes a link to the test – see the bottom of the page.)

Shirodkar found that 75 per cent of subjects had a bias against faces with indigenous characteristics. Those described as “Caucasian/Anglo-Saxon/European had the strongest negative bias, while those with more mixed ethnic backgrounds were less negative.  The negative bias appears to be strongest in rural regions, remote from state capitals, and strongest in Western Australia and Queensland. Those with high and low education had similar biases, and among occupations the lowest bias was observed among community and personal service workers. Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims exhibited lower levels of bias than Jews and Christians. And unsurprisingly, those describing themselves as “right wing” had stronger bias than those describing themselves as “left wing”.

Care should be taken in interpreting the results. It is an indicator of association, not of prejudice.

Indigenous deaths in custody

The Guardian keeps a database Deaths Inside – Indigenous deaths in custody, continuously updated, tracking known deaths. That reveals a slight downward trend over the last twelve years – 84 deaths between 2008 and 2013, 77 deaths between 2014 and 2019. But that’s only part of the data. Over recent years many more indigenous Australians have been taken into custody: ABS data on corrective services shows that in the March quarter this year just over 6000 indigenous Australians were taken into custody, compared with around 5000 a quarter in 2016. Out of 44 000 Australians now in custody, 13 000, or 30 per cent, are indigenous, while 3.3 percent of the Australian population are identified as indigenous.

It’s not that indigenous Australians in custody have higher death rates than other Australian in custody.  Writing in The Guardian    Aboriginal deaths in custody: 434 have died since 1991   Lorena Allam, Calla Wahlquist and Nick Evershed point out that if anything the indigenous death rate in custody is probably a bit lower than the death rate of others in custody.

The problem lies in that 30 per cent number. Indigenous Australians are more likely to die in custody than other Australians because they are far more likely to be in custody. Police stations, paddy wagons and jails are dangerous places.  Reducing the interactions – the negative interactions – of indigenous Australians with the justice system has to be the priority of government policy.

2020 and 1968 compared

Politico has a short (6 minute) video comparing the demonstrations of 2020 with those of 1968 in a discussion with two historians – Michael Fortner of the City University of New York, and Clayborne Carson of Stanford University. There are important differences (besides the pandemic). In 1968, a time when crime rates were high, “law and order” may have had more traction with the public than it does now. These demonstrations have been more spontaneous and have had wider support. (Listen for a few telling comments about “looting”.)


On America’s troubles

Police reform – the easy task

While our own police forces are not beyond reproach, many US police forces, with their militaristic behaviour and normalisation of extra-judicial punishment, seem to operate on a different plane.  Note, for example, that George Floyd’s killing was in plain sight of witnesses.

On the ABC’s Saturday Extra Geraldine Doogue interviewed Matt Taibbi, author of the  2018 book I can’t breathe, a killing on Bay Street, which describes the death in New York of Eric Garner in a police chokehold. Saturday’s interview – How US police became the enemy – is about systemic problems in the nation’s police forces – how police forces became militarised, and how their task morphed from one of maintaining public safety to one of maintaining “order”. On his own Taibbi goes into more detail in light of the Floyd killing – Where did policing go wrong?.  Recent developments such as the “broken windows” movement, and the culture of performance management with its pressure to perform to metrics, take some of the blame, but there are also historical forces at work. “Because Jim Crow police were upholding a way of life, the actual laws they were given to enforce were deliberately vague, designed to be easily used as pretexts for controlling the movements of black people”.

Cultural change – the hard task

No matter how grave the problem, it’s always tempting to seek technical solutions – such as reforming the police force – to problems that require the much harder work of adaptive change. On Ted Talks Bernice King says people didn’t listen to her father’s words: the country is still tearing itself apart. There is still little progress on the country’s triple evils her father identified – poverty, racism, violence.  She calls for a fundamental reconstruction of values in America – a public morality centred on people, not profit. (7 minutes)


The pandemic’s progress

The news this week is that New Zealand has effectively lifted all restrictions, apart from international travel, declaring itself free of corona-virus after the last patient has recovered.

In Australia, like children who have trouble with delayed gratification, sporting bodies and business lobbyists are calling for our internal borders to be opened and for a rapid easing of restrictions.

Their irresponsibility has been vindicated by the organisers of the “Black Lives Matter” protests, who were so thoughtless and unimaginative that they couldn’t think of an alternative to the hackneyed street march, with people chanting on cue like Pavlov’s dogs to exchange droplets with one another and crowding together to hear speakers pointing out, as if it is a sudden revelation, that Australia has a disgraceful record in the relations between European invaders and the original owners of the land.

Mathias Cormann called the organisers “self-indulgent”: a more apt accusation may have been “unimaginative”. An unfortunate by-product of their chosen method of demonstration is that their important cause will probably become associated with thoughtless and anti-civil behaviour. It has already been confirmed that at least one person infected with coronavirus was at the Melbourne demonstration last Saturday. (We might recall that in South Korea, it took just one person to set off an outbreak of several hundred infections.)

New Zealand has gone three weeks without any new coronavirus cases; over the same period we have had 186 new cases. We’re doing well, but there is still a small amount of community transfer in New south Wales and Victoria, which account for more than 80 per cent of our new infections.  We’re only a month or so behind New Zealand, so why cannot the lobbyists be a little patient, and why do they disregard the community’s demand for caution as revealed in opinion polls?  Do those purporting to speak for the interests of business disregard the risk of a hard-to control breakout, as has happened in Singapore, which would deal a severe blow to our fragile recovery?

Country curves

We have dropped South Korea and New Zealand in our plots of new infections – they were simply showing up as flat lines along the axis. And we have added Brazil: its curve is showing no sign of reversing.  In terms of published figures on cases and deaths, the Americas have become the new epicentre of the virus, with south Asia and the middle east also showing strong growth. Because of data limitations we don’t know what’s happening in Africa.

In the US the most that can be said is that there is a downward trend, but it’s spikey. Maybe the latest bump up is the result of the unrest in that country – it is now three weeks since George Floyd was killed. But in addition many states have relaxed restrictions, often against the advice of public health experts.

The UK is on a slow path to containment; it will be a couple of weeks before we see the effects, if any, of what public health experts consider to be a premature lifting of restrictions.

In the EU the daily new infection rate seems to be flattening at 8 per million people, but that average across all 27 member countries is influenced  by very high and worsening infection rates in Poland, Portugal and Sweden. Without these countries, the EU daily rate would be 4 per million and falling.

Information sources

These are the same sources as we have been presenting.

The WHO daily situation report;

Our Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) current situation and case numbers;

Our Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert;

A group of volunteers’ daily-updated site Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Australia;

The ABC’s daily-updated site Charting the COVID-19 spread in Australia;

The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center;

Norman Swan’s Coronacast;

The Economist paywall-free Coronavirus hub;

The coronavirus update from the Harvard Gazette;

The ABC’s The one Covid-19 number to watch, tracking the reproduction factor (R)

The ABS program of special statistical releases.

The Scientific American The Coronavirus Outbreak covering scientific aspects of the virus.

The ABC’s Digital Story Innovation Team set of graphs Charting recovery after the coronavirus crisis.

On the right of the political spectrum there are still some talking down the threat imposed by Covid-19.  Some journalists and others have interpreted studies cited by the WHO as evidence that spread of the virus by those not showing symptoms is very rare. But as Shannon Palus writes in Slate, the World Health Organization didn’t actually mean asymptomatic spread Is “very rare”.  She points out the distinction between categories: “asymptomatic and presymptomatic. The first, technically speaking, describes people who never show symptoms of the virus, while the second describes people who just haven’t shown symptoms yet.”  Evidence confirms that those with Covid-19 but who are yet to reveal symptoms (presymptomatic) are quietly spreading the disease, while evidence about the extent of spread from those who contract the virus but never reveal symptoms (asymptomatic) is still inconclusive. Even in countries with a high rate of testing, a simple decision-rule that the country can be opened up once there are no active cases detected, is not valid.

To a new normal

Stephen Duckett and Anika Stobart of the Grattan Institute have written a short history of Covid-19 in Australia: Australia’s COVID-19 response: the story so far.  It concludes with a summary of how our lives will be led until this beast goes away – which could be a long time.  “Some of these changes, such as telehealth, and options to work or study from home, are positive. But others, such as restrictions on travel, concerts, and major sporting events, less so.”


Other countries’ experience

USA – it’s not just Trump: it’s American exceptionalism

It’s easy to blame Trump for America’s failure to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, but Trump is a creature of the American political system. Jeremy Konyndyk of the Center for Global Development looks deeper into the country’s political traditions, and identifies the deep-seated tradition of American exceptionalism as the reason the country failed to learn from Asian countries when the virus broke out.  In his article in Foreign AffairsExceptionalism is killing Americans – he points out that “the belief in exceptionalism isn’t confined to the White House. It is hardwired into American politics and society, and it explains many of the United States’ failures in combating COVID-19”, and that “Congress, many states, and the private sector all disregarded lessons from countries that had faced the coronavirus earlier.”

Japan – doing it their way

Japan is one of the countries least touched by the coronavirus. It had a surge in early April – about the same time as European countries – but this was quickly contained, and last month it had a small rise in cases (which some journalists, who failed to look carefully at the numbers, called a “second wave”). Its peak was only 4 new infections per million per day, and its infection rate is now tracking alongside Australia’s and a little better than South Korea’s.

Writing in the Japan Times, Geariod Reidy recounts Japan’s approach, as described by Hitoshi Oshitani, a professor of virology at Tohoku University and a member of the expert panel advising the government: An architect of Japan’s virus strategy sees flaws in West’s approach at fighting the pandemic.  He points out that rather trying to track down every individual case, Japan “allowed some degree of transmission of the virus and focused instead on identifying clusters of infection”.  They ignored the WHO “test, test, test” advice, deliberately providing only limited access to tests, fearing a repeat of their experience during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 when people crammed into clinics to get tested.

Africa’s manifold crises

Boko Haram attacks, refugee crises, armed conflicts in several countries, locust plagues – and we almost forgot to mention Covid-19. The Norwegian Refugee council has released its list of the world’s ten most neglected displacement crises. Nine of them are in Africa.


Polls and surveys

Leaders’ approval ratings and voting intention are not the same

Last week, in response to this section, Ken Dyer drew our attention to the common fallacy that popularity indicators such as “preferred prime minister” indicates support for that person’s party. Two polls, both reported on William Bowe’s Poll Bludger, confirm the point:

The June Newspoll shows that Morrison’s lead over Albanese as “better prime minister” is still widening (56 – 26, compared with an equal rating at the beginning of the year), but in terms of both primary vote and 2PP vote there has been no statistically significant movement in parties’ support since the election last year.

A YouGov Galaxy poll of Queensland’s voters finds a surge in Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ratings: her lead over the LNP’s Deb Frecklington as preferred premier is now 44 – 23, while Labor trails in the 2PP poll (52:48 in favour of the LNP) and there seems to have been a significant swing in the primary vote from Labor to the LNP since the 2017 election. The same poll finds strong approval for the way the state government has handled the Covid-19 crisis.

The Newspoll also asks people about their “positive”, “negative” or “neutral” assessments of the WHO, the UN, Xi Jinping and the Chinese Government, and Donald Trump and the US Government. We’re pretty undecided about the WHO and the UN, but with partisan differences (Labor and Green voters are more supportive of these international organisations), and we’re pretty negative to both the Chinese and US governments. There are partisan differences, but even among Coalition voters only 10 per cent of them give Trump and the US Government a 10 per cent positive rating.

Essential – take it slowly

This week’s Essential poll has the usual swag of questions on the coronavirus.  It seems we are becoming a little less concerned about its threat – personally and nationally.

It asks about our attitudes to the speed of easing restrictions: only 13 per cent of respondents believe the states are moving too slowly. It has a set of questions specifically on re-opening pubs cafes and restaurants, allowing exercise classes, opening schools for all students, and re-opening state borders: in response people seem to be fairly happy about the pace at which their state governments are moving. (Those strident voices calling for a rapid easing of restrictions are the voices of commercial self-interest.)

It asks about our attitude to the government’s “Robodebt”. We think the government should apologise (74 per cent) and pay interest on money wrongly taken (66 per cent). There are some partisan differences in these responses, but they are minor.

Has the government apologised? There is Morrison’s strange statement “I would apologise for any hurt or harm in the way that the government has dealt with that issue”. Why the conditional construction “I wouldapologise”? Is it his poor command of English, his conditioned aversion to making a clear statement, or does he really mean that any apology from the government is conditional on something else happening?

There is a set of questions on protests in America. Unsurprisingly it’s not hard to find we’re outraged at racism in another country. There is also a set of questions on racism in Australia, specifically about whether there is institutional racism against indigenous Australians in our police forces. We do believe there is racism in our police forces: 30 per cent believe it is institutionalised while 43 per cent believe it involves isolated incidents.

Trump slips

US polls on presidential candidates’ ratings probably carry more information on voters’ intention than our polls on preferred PM, because in presidential elections people vote for the individual. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight consolidation of polls shows a significant slide in Trump’s approval rating since his high point in late March.

Even Trump’s core supporters believe he has handled the Covid-19 crisis poorly

A survey by the Pew Research Center has polled Americans by religious and racial classifications on their confidence in Trump’s handling of Covid-19. Among US adults in general, between late March and early May, the gap between those who say he has done a “good” or “excellent” job and those who say he has done a “fair” or “poor” job has widened from minus 3 per cent to minus 18 per cent.  Among those classified as “white” Christians, including “white Catholics” Trump still enjoys net support, particularly among “white evangelical Protestants”, who were Trump’s most loyal supporters in the 2016 election, but even they have dropped some of their support from plus 62 per cent (81 per cent good or excellent, 19 per cent fair or poor) to plus 51 per cent (75 – 24). (These figures are a little hard to follow: we get a concise graphical presentation if we download the document.)

When asked about Covid-19 restrictions, 68 per cent of US adults were concerned that states would lift restrictions too early, but there are differences according to religious affiliation: only 51 per cent of “white evangelical Protestants” feared restrictions would be lifted too early, and 49 per cent believed they wouldn’t be lifted quickly enough.

The survey was completed on May 5, before George Floyd’s killing on May 25 and well before Trump’s Bible photo-op stunt before St John’s Church in Washington on June 1, and it related only to Covid-19 issues. Writing in The Atlantic on June 2 – Trump Does Not Speak for These Christians Emma Green reports on various religious groups’ reactions to Trump’s stunt – it has not gone down well among mainstream Episcopal and Catholic Church elders. She also reports on a poll that finds that only 43 per cent of evangelicals believe Trump has handled the situation well – a poll that was taken just before his Bible stunt.


Morrison to take time off to go to a circus

The US presidential election is in early November (November 3). The 46th G7 Summit, deferred from June, is to be held at Camp David in the US. Trump has invited a few extras including Indian PM Narendra Modi, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and our own Scott Morrison. These facts carry their own political messages.

Laura Tingle, writing on the ABC website, points out that while Germany’s Angela Merkel has diplomatically suggested she may not be able to attend, Scott Morrison has eagerly accepted the invitation – Scott Morrison will join Donald Trump at the G7 this year — and it’s sure to be a circus.  She writes “Australia’s desperation to be included in the international conversation has too often made us an alibi for respectability rather than an ally.”


Cuts to the ABC – when we most need trusted media

Over the last nine months – four months of catastrophic bushfires and five months of pandemic – we have relied on the ABC as a trusted source of news and information. And this is against the background of a proliferation of fake news and the strong market position of the Murdoch media.  Writing in The ConversationAndrea Carson of Latrobe University reminds us that the Morrison Government is not backing away from its cuts to the ABC – Cutting the ABC cuts public trust, a cost no democracy can afford.  She includes time-series analysis of declining trust in most traditional media. Worryingly the only media not to have suffered a decline in trust are commercial radio talkback and internet blogs.


G’day mate – welcome to Australia

Hieu Van Le, his wife and 40 other refugees, fleeing Vietnam, had their first encounter with Australians on the morning of 21 November, 1977, when their small boat, as it approached Darwin, came across a tinnie with a couple of men, clad in shorts and singlets, one of whom yelled out “G’day mate – welcome to Australia” while raising his stubbie in a salute to the voyagers.

On Saturday Extra Geraldine Doogue interviewed His Excellency Hieu Van Le, now the Governor of South Australia – A state governor and the corona pandemic. The interview is mainly about how a governor goes about the duties of office during the pandemic restrictions, but it also includes some background about his extraordinary life. (11 minutes)


A stimulus for blokes

Because women are over-represented in hospitality and retail trade, and in casual employment across a range of industries, they have been over-represented in job losses during the Covid-19 restrictions. But the government stimulus measures, by contrast, are concentrated on industries where men are over-represented, such as construction. These effects are analysed in a paper by David Richardson and Richard Denniss – Gender experiences during the COVID-19 lockdown – published on the Australian Institute website.

Given that spending on education, health and hospitality create so many more jobs per million of stimulus than other forms of spending, and so many more jobs for women in particular, it is surprising that there has been so little analysis released by governments to support claims that they are focussed on creating as many jobs as possible.

Writing on the ABC website Andrew Probyn takes up another aspect of gender discrimination in the government’s policies – JobKeeper for childcare out, renovations in: Morrison’s perplexing experiment turns the focus from women to men.  Probyn quotes Early Childhood Australia chief executive Sam Page: “A lot more women have either lost jobs or lost hours than men and I would’ve thought that involvement in early childhood was one of the best things Government could do to protect jobs for women.”


The moral complexity of collaboration

Looking at America from the outside we wonder why Republicans in Congress, apart from Mitt Romney, stick so solidly behind Trump. On the ABC’s Late Night Live Phillip Adams interviews Anne Appelbaum on collaboration. Drawing from examples in France under the puppet Vichy Government and the stories of two young German communists (Wolfgang Leonard and Marcus Wolf) who joined the party elites in East Germany, she recounts how some people revolt, while others ease themselves into collaboration.  She explains how many patriotic Americans rationalise their collaboration with Trump – a rationalisation known as the “effectiveness trap” (“I can remain effective only so long as I am close to power”).  She also describes the function of Trump’s obvious lies: they’re not about getting people to believe something else; rather they’re about asserting power, demonstrating that not even the truth stands in the way of the bully. And she concludes with observations on those in Trump’s circle who believe they are part of the “biblical moment” – the opportunity to rescue America from the curse of liberal secularism. (21 minutes)

Appelbaum is author of The Twilight of democracy: the seductive lure of authoritarianism.


A little bucolic pleasure

Friday June 5 was World Environment Day, and 2020 is Beethoven’s 250th birthday. Here is how musicians from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Melbourne Youth Orchestra celebrated the occasion, conducted by Benjamin Northey.  (The fourth movement from Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, the “pastoral” symphony.)


Saturday’s Good Reading and Listening is compiled by Ian McAuley

Watch out tomorrow, Sunday, for Peter Sainsbury’s Sunday environment round up.

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Ian McAuley is a retired lecturer in public finance at the University of Canberra and a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development.

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