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ANDREW FARRAN. The fog of the Irish Sea still overhangs Brexit.

The House of Commons vote on 12th June has saved Prime Minister May for another day but has also left open the role Parliament might play in the outcome of the EU negotiations. A (definitive) White Paper on Britain’s negotiating terms can be expected after the European Economic Summit meets later this month.

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Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

JOANNE McCARTHY. Australia’s bishops still don’t get it – things have changed (SMH 13/6/2018)

Everything changed on December 15, 2017 when the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse presented its final report and recommendations to the Australian public. It’s a shame Australia’s Catholic bishops missed the memo.   Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 8 Comments

SIMON ROUGHNEEN. How Beijing is winning control of the South China Sea (Nikkei Asian Review 13/6/2018)

Erratic US policy and fraying alliances give China a free hand.  

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Posted in Asia, Defence/Security, International Affairs | Leave a comment

MICHAEL PASCOE. RBA awakes – Australia is not getting the wage rise it needs

The laws of supply and demand for labour are broken. The Australian economy is not getting the wage rises it needs and there’s no sign of that changing. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

AURELIA MULGAN. Deja vu all over again in US–Japan trade.

From the late 1970s until the 1990s, US-Japan trade relations were marred by regular bouts of economic friction. These periods often peaked in tandem with rises in the United States’ trade deficit with Japan and ended in ‘voluntary’ Japanese concessions to US pressure. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | Leave a comment

PAUL KRUGMAN. Debacle in Quebec. (New York Times, June 9,2018)

For all their pomp, most multilateral summit meetings are boring and of little consequence. I once spoke to a State Department official who had a role in putting these meetings together; he described his job as “policing the nuances,” which gives you an idea about how much is normally at stake.   Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | Leave a comment

DANIEL RUSSEL. A Historic Breakthrough or a Historic Blunder in Singapore?

Kim Jong Un May Have Outwitted Trump at the Summit. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 3 Comments

PEPE ESCOBAR. The key word in the Trump-Kim show

By reaffirming the Panmunjom Declaration, the US President has committed to bringing its military back from South Korea and thus a complete denuclearization of the South as well as the North. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Defence/Security, International Affairs | 1 Comment

MICHAEL McKINLEY. A possible deep-seated flaw in the ADF’s third inquiry into allegations of misconduct and war crimes.

The allegations against rogue elements within the Special Air Service Regiment are, sadly, almost predictable: other, similar units in the military traditions of both Britain and the United States have succumbed to such behaviour in similar circumstances as those faced in Afghanistan.  Indeed, they constitute a virtual template for the decline in discipline which is alleged.  Equally, there are templates for what to avoid when investigating them, and the ADF, at present, appears to be scoring only two out of three.  Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights | 1 Comment

HANS HENDRISCHKE and WEI LI. Chinese investment in Australia falls as political debate hits confidence

Chinese direct investment in Australia has declined, according to a new report by the University of Sydney and KPMG. In 2017, the value of investment fell by 11% in US dollar terms, from $11.5 billion in 2016 (A$15.4 billion) to $10.3 billion (A$13.3 billion). Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Economy, International Affairs | 1 Comment

NICHOLAS GRUEN. All finance requires is an upgrade for the internet age

The Financial  Times has published a letter from Nicholas Gruen in response to Martin Wolf’s column about the Swiss ‘sovereign money’ referendum, previously reprinted on this blog).  Mr Gruen’s letter is as follows:

Given the resounding ‘no’ from the Swiss Vollgeld or ‘sovereign money’ referendum, and notwithstanding Bob Sleeper’s relief, Martin Wolf’s central question from last week’s column remains. A decade after the devastation, where’s the “radical rethink” of finance?

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Posted in Economy, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

GARETH HUTCHENS. Australia should not join US in South China Sea operations, says retired defence chief (The Guardian 21/2/2017)

Activities in the South China Sea continue to be in the news.  Published below, are comments made in February last year by Sir Angus Houston, who was formerly Australia’s defence chief.  John Menadue.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | 1 Comment

CAVAN HOGUE. Digger mates in Singapore?

We have two countries and individuals with a well established record of breaking treaties, agreements and promises who tell us they have established a relationship of trust. How reassuring! At least for the time being they have stopped threatening and that is a good thing but no clear definition emerged of exactly what is meant by denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.  No doubt further talks will take place and the optimist in me says this gives hope but the pessimist says don’t start counting chickens. There are many traps and problems to be solved. While we don’t know what Kim is willing to offer nor do we know what he is willing to accept from the Americans and what they are willing to give. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

THE LOCAL. Italy demands apology for France’s ‘hypocritical’ criticism on migrants.

Italy on Wednesday summoned the French ambassador and postponed planned finance talks, in an escalating diplomatic spat with France over the handling of a migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Refugees, Immigration | Leave a comment

TRAVERS MCLEOD. Fog of law in war not the Australian way

“We will never forget that 100 years ago a young and brave nation on the other side of the world made history by writing our history. Lest we forget.”

So ended French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe’s tribute to the Anzacs in April this year at the opening of the Sir John Monash Centre at Villers-Bretonneux. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 1 Comment

ANDREW GLIKSON. Silence over the acceleration of global warming.

“To ignore evil is to become an accomplice” (Martin Luther King)

If there is a single critical issue science has ever conveyed, it is that altering the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere can only bear fatal consequences for nature and humanity. It is estimated that, to date, some 150,000 to 400,000 people world-wide have perished each year due to the direct and indirect effects of global warming (;, including for example 1833 in New Orleans, possibly 5000 in Porto Rico, 6329 by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippine. The list goes on. While these events have been documented in detail, the silence in most of the mainstream media regarding the connection between global warming on the one hand and the rising spate of hurricanes, storms and fires on the other hand, is deafening. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 4 Comments

DENNIS ARGALL. Trump-Kim, Korea, China and the future.

The underpinnings of Australian strategic utterances are slipping away.

There will be, it is the way the world is, a flood of “yeah, but…” comment on the Trump-Kim Singapore summit. Not least because the number of experts on Korean affairs has risen multifold in the past several months much as did the number of experts on China in the then Department of Foreign Affairs go through the roof after Whitlam and Kissinger visited China in 1971. The DPRK now and the PRC then deserve comparison, both as to their political, social and economic affairs and their prospects — but that is another subject.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | 1 Comment

JOHN MENADUE The media are finding Chinese under most rocks.

The campaign run by some of our security agencies  and people close to them about the alleged  Chinese threat is getting great support from some  journalists.  The latest is Andrew Greene, the  security and defence  reporter at the ABC who breathtakingly reported last week that ‘A Chinese vessel, believed to be a spy ship, docked next to HMAS Adelaide in Fiji.’ Good god! Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Media | 5 Comments

SOPHIE VORRATH. Martin Green – Australia’s “father of PV” – beats Elon Musk to Global Energy Prize.

Australia’s “father of PV,” UNSW Scientia Professor Martin Green, has been awarded the 2018 Global Energy Prize, beating out a shortlist that included Tesla’s Elon Musk, and becoming the first Australian to win the $820,000 gong. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

JULIAN BURNSIDE. The legality of off-shore detention

In 2002 Australia, along with more than 80 other nations, acceded to the Rome statute by which the International Criminal Court was created.  The court is the first permanent court ever established with jurisdiction to try war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide regardless of the nationality of the perpetrators and regardless of the place where the offences occurred. Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 6 Comments

JACK WATERFORD. Trust Labor on national security? Sure can’t. (Canberra Times, 9 June 2018)

The looming five by-elections are giving the government an opportunity to polish and rehearse one of the centrepieces of its re-election strategy for the next election – the argument that the alternative government – Labor – is fundamentally unsound on national security policy, as on borders and boat people – and cannot be trusted with the responsibilities of government.  

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Posted in Defence/Security, Politics | 1 Comment

JAMES FERNYHOUGH. Revealed: This is how much ordinary Australians really earn. (The New Daily June 8, 2018)

A casual glance at the news in recent months may have left you thinking the average Australian earns almost $85,000 a year.

If that sounded insanely high to you, then your instincts were bang on. An ordinary Australian earns way, way less than that.

But it doesn’t appear to have stopped Treasurer Scott Morrison using the figure to sell his income tax cuts.   Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 1 Comment

RENE PFISTER. Merkel’s dark view of the world we live in.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is watching with deep concern as the pillars of the postwar international order collapse. But what is she doing about it?  Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

GREG HAMILTON. Little or no talent for getting it right.

A great Australian recently said: ‘we’re a helpless audience watching an awesome spectacle, powerless to act because we haven’t produced leadership with the courage to match the precipitous nature of the hour.’ The Rev. Ted Noffs got most things right. When his own church charged him with heresy, it proved the old axiom that a good deed never goes unpunished. Unfortunately, it’s the daily reality of our political system. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

MUNGO MacCALLUM. Wishful thinking.

It may be sheer fantasy, wishful thinking. But in the last week the torpor of politics appeared to lift a little; there were signs that progress might not be stalled forever in the coalition party room in Canberra.  Not that anything much has changed within the gaffe-prone cabinet of Malcolm Turnbull – at least not yet. But perhaps the exit of the reactionary influence of Barnaby Joyce as deputy prime minister is providing a glimmer of hope for the handful of rational optimists who have been frustrated for so long by Turnbull’s capitulation to Joyce and his rightist rump. Continue reading

Posted in Indigenous affairs, Politics | 2 Comments

MARIAN SAWER. Foreign donations and beyond.

In the furore over Chinese political donations, the broader electoral reform agenda can easily be forgotten. Australia was once a pioneering democracy but it has fallen behind in protecting its reputation for electoral integrity and political equality. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | Leave a comment

GREG BAILEY. The IPA and the Survival of the ABC.

Two prominent members of the IPA have just edited a book calling for the privatization of the ABC. This has long been a desire of this group, but with Minister Mitch Fifield, an IPA member, now taking the role of the LNP government’s attack dog against the ABC, is privatization a possibility? Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 10 Comments

PAUL WALDMAN. Trump’s effort to isolate us from the world is going great.

In 2013, before travelling to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, Donald Trump asked plaintively on Twitter whether Vladimir Putin would be attending, and “if so, will he become my new best friend?” Putin never showed, and President Trump is apparently still pining for the Russian president’s approval. Meanwhile, there may never have been a president of the United States who is so unremittingly hostile to America’s closest allies.

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Posted in International Affairs | 2 Comments

YANIS VAROUFAKIS. The Italian crisis was the left’s final warning: it must adopt a new, credible EU policy agenda.

It’s time to explain how the bloc, and the euro, could be run differently, democratically and sustainably. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

KIM WINGEREI. The longevity vacuum.

Short term thinking has taken hold of our society at all levels – our political leaders rarely see beyond the next poll or the next election, and in many ways they are responding to a populace that is equally sucked into the demands of the moment – resulting in ‘the longevity vacuum’ – putting us all at the mercy of an unplanned future.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 7 Comments