PAUL DALEY. The moment that forever changed my perspective on Anzac mythology (The Guardian).

The Surafend massacre shows that the core business of good history must always be the preservation of memory. 

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Posted in Tributes | 1 Comment

MICHAEL KELLY SJ The biggest con in any current debate in Australian public life

In a highly contested event, one political con over the last decade stands out as the greatest bipartisan piece of deception in any enduring debate: the obfuscation employed in the public arguments over asylum seeker arrivals in Australia. Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 6 Comments

SAMANTHA MAIDEN. Tanya Plibersek backs Shorten’s boat turn-back policy in major backflip (The New Daily, 11.12.18)

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek has backed boat turn backs but pledged a Shorten government would “get people off Manus and Nauru” and boost Australia’s refugee intake. Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. The great marketeer seems determined to double down on the tactics and double up on the volume.

So that was the parliamentary year that was, finishing in rancour, dysfunction and procrastination, a triumph of politics over policy.

This was not a surprise, but the level of hyperbole and hysteria whipped up by the desperate prime minister and his colleagues finally went off the map. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

CAVAN and ALEX HOGUE. Cyber legislation – the oldest trick in the book.

The proposed legislation on cyber powers raises some questions that need to be answered.  The debate has been rhetorical and has not addressed the technical or legal aspects of the legislation in any detail. Has the implementation been thought through by all concerned? We don’t have  all the answers but wonder if the Government does either. The political debate is on the level of kindergarten abuse instead of dispassionate discussion of the issues. There are serious problems in implementing the legislation and it may well fail because it is impractical. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 1 Comment

ROGER SCOTT. Universities and the competition for international students

Compared to Britain, Australia has been highly successful in its venture into international education over the past decade but a number of writers have raised concerns over the continuing viability of depending on this source of funding into the future.   Continue reading

Posted in Education | 1 Comment

STEPHEN DUCKETT. Activity-based funding and prevention: a message for state governments (Croakey)

JENNIFER DOGGETT.  Keeping people well and out of hospital should be a primary focus of our health system.  Yet the evidence is that we could do much better in preventing and managing problems in the community, before they require hospital treatment.

In the post below, Professor Stephen Duckett, Health Program Director at the Grattan Institute, provides some useful advice to state/territory governments on how to focus own hospital avoidance without losing funding under the current ‘activity-based’ system. Continue reading

Posted in Health | 1 Comment

JACK WATERFORD. Why do crime-busters need ASIO-type powers?

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ANTHONY PUN. A winter of China panic followed by a spring thawing of Australia-China relations – a view from the Chinese Australian community.

A chronological sequence of the post-winter China panic with the spring thawing of Australia-China relations is presented.  Media reports showed a definite attempt to improve Australia-China relations with commitments by PM Morrison, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and former PM Howard.  How well can Australia play in the game in making friends with two countries which are currently fighting a trade Cold War and with the US having ambitions to contain China?  The Chinese Australian community welcomes the thaw but would like to see the government consult the community on these sensitive international matters as well as taking positive steps to reverse the unintentional effects of China panic on citizens of Chinese descent.  Continue reading

Posted in Asia | 2 Comments

JENNIFER RANKIN. Group led by Thomas Piketty presents plan for ‘a fairer Europe’ (The Guardian 10.12.18)

A group of progressive Europeans led by the economist and author Thomas Piketty has drawn up a bold new blueprint for a fairer Europe to address the division, disenchantment, inequality and rightwing populism sweeping the continent. Continue reading

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ABUL RIZVI. Dutton Sets New Asylum Seeker Application Record

Why did 50,000 asylum seekers arriving by boat represent a crisis for our border sovereignty while the arrival of a similar number over the past two and a half years by plane is just ho hum? Peter Dutton in 2017-18 has set a new record for the number of asylum seeker applications received. His record surpasses that set in 2012-13 under the Rudd/Gillard government. This is the result of a crisis in our visa processing system (see here) which is likely to be creating a honeypot for people smugglers. The new record will likely be exceeded in 2018-19 as Home Affairs is reducing frontline staff and IT contractors (see here). Outsourcing visa processing will make the problem worse. Tackling the chaos in our visa processing system will cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly north of a billion dollars and take many years. Is the Government’s border protection mantra a diversion from its real border protection failings?  (Note:  Please print this post to obtain a clearer view of the tables) Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 4 Comments

MICHAEL PASCOE. Irony: Record number of asylum seekers arrive on Dutton’s watch (The New Daily, 09.12.18)

For all the government’s tough-on-asylum-seekers rhetoric, protection visa applications have blown out to record numbers on Peter Dutton’s watch. Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 1 Comment

MICHAEL McKINLEY. The Occupation of the Australian Mind.

Fear and apathy have taken up residence in the collective political consciousness of Australia. Indeed, it may be that they have achieved that most desirable of states for governments seeking to remain in power, or oppositions sensing their imminent ascendency to it: a state of collective unconsciousness that consents to its own increasing subservience and essential irrelevance while believing that it is being kept safe.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Human Rights | 2 Comments

MUNGO MacCALLUM. Protecting buffoons.

According to at least one member of the New South Wales Liberal executive, Sally Betts, the member of Hughes, Craig Kelly, is a bully, a thug and a disgrace.   Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

CECILIA MERRIGAN.“Is That an Advent Wreath?”

An Advent tale about a small father-less family from South West Africa that has been granted asylum in Australia. This is their first Advent in a new country.  Continue reading

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ANDREW FARRAN. War and the national Interest.

Since the Korean War in the early 1950s, the US has committed a series of political and strategic misjudgements in its war decisions. Does this give us confidence about its future decisions and for a policy of going along with those decisions even when they do not directly involve our national interests? Nationalism and irrationality are on the rise, increasing the chances of conflict today  more than for decades. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 1 Comment

HELEN DAVIDSON. Gareth Evans and Bob Carr join call for Labor to increase Australia’s foreign aid. (The Guardian 7.12.2018)

Former ministers want party’s national conference to commit to target of 0.7% of gross national income.   Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 1 Comment

KIM WINGEREI. The Particracy Rules!

If this week of political machinations, tactical manouverings and partisan grandstanding hasn’t proved beyond doubt what the real problem with our democracy is, I don’t know what will. We don’t live in a democracy, we live in a particracy.   Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

ANTHONY PUN. Advances in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.

From a rubber band lizard tail shooter to a molecular biologist and later medical scientist, it took a life time to understand why the lizard loses its tail and is able to regenerate it completely. The advancement of molecule biology in science and medicine has created sophisticated tools for looking into the stimulation and mechanism of tissue repair and led to the introduction of the field of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. A current example of fingertip regeneration is presented.
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ABUL RIZVI. Dutton Sets New Asylum Seeker Application Record

Why did 50,000 asylum seekers arriving by boat represent a crisis for our border sovereignty while the arrival of a similar number over the past two and a half years by plane is just ho hum? Peter Dutton in 2017-18 has set a new record for the number of asylum seeker applications received. His record surpasses that set in 2012-13 under the Rudd/Gillard government. This is the result of a crisis in our visa processing system (see here) which is likely to be creating a honeypot for people smugglers. The new record will likely be exceeded in 2018-19 as Home Affairs is reducing frontline staff and IT contractors (see here). Outsourcing visa processing will make the problem worse. Tackling the chaos in our visa processing system will cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly north of a billion dollars and take many years. Is the Government’s border protection mantra a diversion from its real border protection failings?  (Note:  Please print this post to obtain a clearer view of the tables) Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 3 Comments

GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND

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

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STEPHEN LEEDER. Private-public partnerships – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Partnerships between public agencies and private providers demand unusual degrees of vigilance of both parties to ensure that the contract between them explicitly states – in great detail – their individual expectations and accountabilities.  Values will differ.  The agreement should, if possible, be tested component by component before “going live.” Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | Leave a comment

ALLAN PATIENCE. Scott Morrison – a politician out of his depth?

Can Scott Morrison inspire the nation to reach for a better future for our children and grandchildren? Does he have a vision for the country? Or is he floundering as he tries to ride two tigers simultaneously – his right foot on the back of the alt-right tiger with Tony Abbott’s rictal grimace spread across its face; his left foot on the back of a tiger of panicking moderates? If the tigers head off in opposite directions, Morrison will fall flat on his face.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

HAMISH MCDONALD. Christian Missionaries and Their Mistaken Message from God (AsianSentinel, 05.12.18)

As fans of the old The Phantom comic strip will recall, an island in the Bay of Bengal is the location of the Skull Cave, home base of The Ghost Who Walks, established by an ancestor washed ashore in a “half-drowned” state after an attack by “Singh pirates” and nurtured back to life by the island’s devoted natives. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 2 Comments

CHRIS BURGESS. Genuine immigration reform still alien to Japan.

On 14 October 2018, a number of marches were held across Japan to mark what the organiser — the Japan First Party — labelled ‘anti-migrant day’. The target of the protestors’ wrath was the government’s proposal to revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act to introduce two new types of residence status for foreign workers in industries currently undergoing labour shortages. Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. The ascendancy of the age of Thorby (PART 1 – the state’s justification for requiring passive citizens)

Contrary to popular belief, modern democracy does not welcome an active, engaged citizenry especially between election campaigns because its interventions would hinder the operations of the state. The preferred condition is one of citizen passivity in which the authorities go about their business of securing the national interest as defined by themselves through an ever-increasing array of “national security” arrangements contrary to any robust definition of accountable and responsible democracy.  In Australia this is justified by fiat and pseudo theory, and practised in plain sight. Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. The age of Thorby (PART 2 – The addictive denial of transparency and the protection of malfeasance)

Where matters defined under the rubric of national security are concerned, the intelligence agencies of the state demand nothing less than the indulgence to act with unwarranted secrecy – secrecy beyond that which is absolutely essential.  Over the last 80 years, as detailed in Part 1, this arrogation and its putative rationale have been explicit especially in the politicised legal casuistry of the Attorney-General. “We, the people” should understand our place as unknowledgeable actors in the drama of governance and desist from dissent; indeed, against an abundance of evidence, we should trust the state – it is the repository of secret information and our guardian. A spelling revision of “citizen” is required: sitizen.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. NSW farce rail

NSW Premier Berejiklian says her Government will ‘deliver a fast rail network slashing travel times across the State.’  Work will commence in the next term of Government and won’t wait for the Commonwealth – NSW will go it alone!  Continue reading

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JENNY HOCKING. Unmasking history: the Queen, the governor general and the Whitlam dismissal (The Guardian newspaper, 06.12.18)

The ghosts of the dismissal of the Whitlam government 43 years ago were on display at an appeal hearing before the full bench of the federal court last week: Gough Whitlam, the deposed prime minister; Sir John Kerr, the governor general who dismissed him; Malcolm Fraser, the leader of the opposition appointed by Kerr to replace Whitlam; and David Smith, the governor general’s official secretary. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

RICHARD ECKERSLEY. The demise of the official future

Americans are more likely to think the US is heading in the right direction since Donald Trump’s election. Why? Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments