ANTHONY PUN. Chinese Australian votes and the 2019 NSW State Election

This article promotes the theory that there is an effective Chinese Australian vote that can change political outcome of a seat if the ingredients viz. issues affecting Chinese Australians, high percentage of Chinese Australian voters and a marginal seat.  This observation is similar to the ethnic votes under John Howard administration. The conclusion is drawn from observation of events leading to the election, the election result, the use of social medial as a strategic weapon. Continue reading

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MUNGO MACCALLUM.  The Right get back to dog-whistling.

It didn’t take long for the cultural warriors of the right to revert to form. Continue reading

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KIM WINGEREI. Independent Media Continues to Grow!

Independent media continues to grow apace, while mainstream media is at best stagnant. Based on data provided by SimilarWeb – a global online traffic measurement service – independent media traffic has grown by 9.76% from November 2018 to February 2019*. During the same period the top corporate mainstream media sites** grew by 1.1%.

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JACK WATERFORD. Prime Minister’s ever-diminishing credibility. (Canberra Times 23.3.2019)

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LAURA TINGLE. Scott Morrison said all the right things after Christchurch attack, but his history tells another story (ABC News 22.03.19)

New Zealand artist Ruby Jones shared a simple drawing online last week after the massacre in Christchurch. It depicts a Muslim woman being embraced by another woman in grief . “This is your home and you should have been safe here”, the message says. It is an image that has gone viral online and now adorns buildings all over Christchurch.

Morrison has a history of low shots. He has form in this sort of politics.
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JUDITH BETTS. Dutton, the media and framing Lebanese migration as Fraser’s ‘mistake’

Events in Christchurch have prompted a long-overdue examination of our own tolerance of the dog whistling and hate speech our politicians and the right-wing media have engaged in for years now.  But research conducted by a colleague, Dr Mehal Krayem, and I after Dutton’s comments in 2016 found that it was not just the right-wing media who have a case to answer.  Our mainstream media have also failed to challenge politicians such as Dutton and right-wing commentators like Bolt, Devine and Henderson, over their inflammatory and misleading comments, in this case about Lebanese migration. Continue reading

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DANIEL P. HORAN. Francis of Assis’s model for church reform may help in the abuse crisis

There is a famous story about St. Francis of Assisi that takes place early in his experience of ongoing conversion to live a more committed Christian life. According to those friars who knew St. Francis during his lifetime and documented their stories of him in an early Franciscan text known as The Legend of the Three Companions, one day he was walking by the country church of San Damiano and felt led by the Holy Spirit to enter and pray before the crucifix hanging there. As he was praying, the crucifix “spoke to him in a tender and kind voice: ‘Francis, don’t you see that my house is being destroyed? Go, then, and rebuild it for me.’ “

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PETER SAINSBURY. Sunday environmental round up, 24 March 2019

In Europe ExxonMobil is spending billions of Euros every year to hold back climate action in the EU, while in Asia communities living in the sixteen downstream countries of the ten rivers that rise in the Hindu Kush region of the Himalayas face increasing problems with food production and incomes as a result of climate change. In the USA forest regrowth after bushfires is also threatened by climate change. And yet recent research demonstrates that action on climate change makes social, environmental sense and economic sense. An initiative by Melbourne City Council produces unexpected heart-warming results.

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A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts in other media Continue reading

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MAX HAYTON. Jacinda Ardern leads a nation in grief.

Under a remarkable young woman New Zealand is discovering deep resources of kindness and compassion. In the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre people touched by the tragedy built mountains of flowers and in their thousands attended rallies in support of the Muslims living in their communities.  Continue reading

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ADRIAN PISARSKI. Tackling the Housing Crisis Properly Requires a National Housing Strategy

There is a plethora of well-intentioned research and opinion aimed at solving Australia’s growing housing crisis, including Labor’s proposed reforms to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount. However, to be really effective, all of this must be considered in the context of a new national housing strategy. Only by taking that sort of holistic approach can we transform Australia’s housing system to be fit for the 21st Century.

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PAUL COLLINS. Talking Heads in the Catholic Church


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RICHARD BUTLER -Rationality and Fairness in International relations

The reliable and stable conduct of international relations rests on two key assumptions: rationality and fairness. Both are in dangerously short supply today. When a new government is formed in Australia, it should at least make a start on correcting the part we have played in shaping these circumstances Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. NSW infrastructure: who is fit to govern?

Readers of Pearls and Irritations may have followed the transport infrastructure fiasco in NSW under conservative governments led first by Mr O’Farrell, then Mr Baird and now by one-time Transport Minister and Treasurer, Ms Berejiklian. Several reports last week put an exclamation mark to the debacle and raised questions about the fitness of either side to govern.  Continue reading

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ISABELLA HARDING. How would I sum up the youth climate strike in Melbourne last Friday ?

If I had to sum up the youth climate strike in Melbourne last Friday in one word, it would be empowering. If I had to sum it up in three words, they would be empowering, inspiring and disappointing. Continue reading

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CLIVE KESSLER.  Daley’s Asian blunder … And beyond

 Yes, Michael Daley’s Asian blunder was a bad choice of words —— and more. But when we have finished fulminating about his “racism”, consider this. What he is talking about to people in “the stressed and stalled lower middle” of Australian society touches upon a deep reversal in their, and most Australians’, long-ingrained attitudes, assumptions and expectations. Continue reading

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LINDA BRISKMAN. Let’s disentangle free speech and hate speech in the media.


We are all seeking answers to the heartbreaking mass murder of Muslims in Christchurch. It assuages consciences if we can attribute blame that absolves us as a collective of non-Muslim Australians. There are many nonetheless who cannot be let off the hook. The media is one. Continue reading

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STEPHANIE DOWRICK. We owe the dead and grieving insight and action as well as unlimited sorrow

The first response of most to the catastrophic tragedy in Christchurch is unlimited sorrow for all those directly and indirectly affected, but most especially for those whose lives have been ended or shattered. “Noor” means light in Arabic. Most of those slaughtered were at al-Noor, the “Mosque of the Light”. Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS : The Hanoi Summit and aftermath – a South Korean perspective

Special Advisor to President Moon assesses the Hanoi Summit as not a failure but a setback. China and the ROK continue to agree the need for a US:DPRK agreed roadmap to move past the present stalemate towards the longer term common objective of the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. At the same time the ROK has stepped up its working level contacts with the US. Prior to Hanoi, the ROK Opposition worked hard in Washington to urge Congress, the military security lobby and thinktanks to pressure President Trump to maintain a hardline approach in his negotiations with Kim Jong-un.

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HAJO DUKEN. The Brexit crisis – devil’s work and people’s contribution – are the voters to blame?

Britain is in panic. The public realises that the Brexit crisis is self-inflicted and anger and frustration with MPs from all sides is palpable. MP bashing is now in vogue. The collective and individual responsibility of the vast majority of MPs for the Brexit mess seems to be established. ‘House of Fools’ and ‘muppets’ are some of the milder judgments. However, isn’t there an inconvenient question looming: under which circumstances do voters need to accept responsibility in a democracy?

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CAMERON DOUGLAS. Thailand’s military erect a democratic facade

Thailand is about to return to popular elections but the democratic facade will ensure the military remains the country’s fourth branch of government. New rules should confirm the 2014 coup leader as prime minister but will leave him relying on a coalition to govern
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President Trump wants to get US troops out of Syria, and probably out of Iraq as well, and soon. The Pentagon however has said US forces will be out of Afghanistan in five years, a period estimated to allow successful negotiations with the Taliban, while reserving to themselves the right to initiate drone strikes. Five years will take the withdrawal into the next administration, which might decide against it. Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Doing democracy differently

Outsiders who propped their eyelids apart to watch Indonesia’s third TV ‘debate’ ahead of next month’s national elections would have concluded the campaign is bloodless.

For 150 minutes – minus about a third for commercials and promos – vice president hopeful and hidebound Islamic cleric Ma’ruf Amin, shared a platform with challenger and business tycoon Sandiaga Uno.

Amin is coupled to incumbent President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo; Uno supports former general Prabowo Subianto in his bid for the top job. In this show only the VP candidates performed. Continue reading

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CRISTA PONGRATZ-LIPPITT. Renowned reformer: ‘Church has 5 years for a complete turnaround or it’s over’

Father Helmut Schüller of Austria says the sex abuse crisis shows urgent need to ‘desacralize’ the Catholic priesthood and empower the laity. .

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GWYNNE DYER. New Zealand vs. Australia: Terrorism and the difference (Japan Times 19.03.19)

LONDON – Extreme right-wing terrorism, mostly of the “white nationalist” variety, is becoming as big a problem as Islamist terrorism in many places. That’s certainly the case in the United States, where the U.S. Government Accounting Office calculated last year that 119 Americans have been killed by Islamist extremists since the 9/11 attacks, and 106 Americans by far-right extremists. Continue reading

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MIKE SCRAFTON. Defending against the sacrificial knight errant on an existential crusade

Hopefully the security agencies won’t simply default to the jihadist archetype in their response to the atrocity in Christchurch, as the media has. Distinguishing between motives of the perpetrators of such unpardonable acts and understanding the internal logic by which they justify their actions is important. Marques like far right, white supremacist, white nationalist, neo-Nazi, or Islamophobe occlude the detail in Tarrant’s case and are unhelpful in finding an implementable understanding of these violent phenomena.

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ANDREW GLIKSON. At a climate tipping point

According to Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chief climate advisor to the European Union, “We’re simply talking about the very life support system of this planet”. As fascism and the horror of murderous hate crimes are spreading around the world, governments are presiding over runaway climate change which is leading toward a mass extinction of species, costing the lives of billions and the demise of much of nature, while children are protesting the betrayal of their future.

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ALAN PEARS. Electric vehicles thrill school children

My grandchildren were too young to go to the ‘school strike’ last Friday. But on Saturday they experienced the excitement and reality of a zero carbon future at the Electric Vehicle Expo.

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TIM WOODRUFF. Out of Pocket Costs: Who is missing out on health care?

One of my patients has epilepsy. She sees a neurologist for that and he charges $200 out of pocket per visit. He has controlled her epilepsy very well. She is on a disability support pension. She believes she will get better care seeing him privately despite the fact that he also works in the public system. 

Out of pocket (OOP) costs have been in the news particularly since 4 Corners exposed huge costs impacting significant financial hardship on many sick Australians. As a result of a Ministerial Committee report the Health Minister has proposed tackling the issue with a website of specialist charges and an education campaign for patients. The Committee consisted of ten health care provider representatives and one consumer representative. My suggestion to the Minister that more consumer representatives might be appropriate resulted in an intensely angry response. Continue reading

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ANDREW FARRAN. PM May’s Brexit blind-sided by Parliamentary Speaker

Prime Minister May’s Brexit was on course to be delivered on 29th March as scheduled until the resubmission of the previously thwarted Withdrawal Agreement was blocked by the Speaker John Bercow, citing a 1604 convention last used in 1920 to the effect that legislation previously rejected cannot be resubmitted in the same Parliamentary session unless in a fundamentally different form.

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