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JOHN AUSTEN. The roads club is having a great spend.

Overspending on roads may be already damaging national productivity as well as adding to debt burdens of future generations.  Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | Leave a comment

BILL ROWLINGS. ‘Secret’ committee wants more power, but what about ASIO?

The Australian Parliament’s most secret committee is angling for more powers and the ability to conduct its affairs live on TV, just like in the USA. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | Leave a comment

ALISON BROINOWSKI. The trust deficit in Canberra.

When Marshall Green was sent by Richard Nixon as Ambassador to keep a close eye on Gough Whitlam, some said his was the first serious American appointment in our history. Harry Harris, for different reasons, may turn out to be another. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 3 Comments

PETER JOHNSTONE. Should Australian Catholic Bishops be Trusted?

The bond of trust between the laity and their bishops has been severely impaired…a serious erosion of trust in the hierarchical leadership of the church’’.- leading Australian Catholic theologian Professor Neil Ormerod of the Australian Catholic University in Fairfax papers on Sunday 11 February 2018.

Many Catholics have become demanding of their Church leaders following the starkly inadequate responses of the Australian bishops to the findings of the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It is remarkable that the bishops have focussed on processes and procedures, basic changes that did not need a Royal Commission, while failing to address the culture of unaccountable clericalist leadership exposed by the Commission – the actual basis of the cover up and protection of paedophiles. Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 8 Comments

BERNARD KEANE. Joyce has always been a dud and should never have been deputy PM.

It was Tony Abbott who bestowed the appellation “best retail politician in the country” on Barnaby Joyce. Even now, some continue to preface their comments about him by claiming he is possessed of some form of political genius. It is true that Joyce has been successful at the time-honoured Nationals tactic of demanding handouts for farmers despite a complete lack of policy rationale (beyond Joyce’s personal and, given recent events, now ironic vision of Australian agriculture as a rural idyll of white heterosexual families). Hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted on irrigation infrastructure and concessional loans to farmers at Joyce’s behest. But a quick check of Joyce’s other career highlights suggests he has serially been a problem for his own side of politics.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

PETER BUCKSKIN. Closing the gap on Indigenous education must start with commitment and respect.

There were angry rumblings at last week’s meeting of Indigenous leaders and the Prime Minister and in the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee Report. They will get significantly louder with today’s release of the 10th Annual Closing the Gap Report.  Continue reading

Posted in Education, Indigenous affairs | Leave a comment

MUNGO MACCALLUM. Warriors of the right stumble into minefield.

The latest incarnation of the identity politics so despised by the elites of the right (but vigorously embraced when it suits them) is the non sequitur that what people have done previously (even generations ago) can be used as an excuse for their current transgressions. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

JOHN DWYER. The curse of political mediocrity; the informed, bold, courageous policies that Australia needs in health are nowhere to be seen (Part 1 of 3).

This “fair go mate” country of ours is wealthy but in reality ever less egalitarian. Increasing Inequity is palpable and most notable in the problems we have with housing, education and health. Health outcomes for Individuals are increasingly dependent on personal financial wellbeing. Australians are spending about 30 billion dollars a year to supplement the care available from our universal health care system. Many, of course, do not have the resources to to cover “out of pocket” expenses. Many of these problems have become chronic as political intransigence inhibits the development of bold, informed and even courageous policies. Policy development, such as it is, is often insular, ignoring the successful tactics of other countries in addressing similar problems. The Commonwealth Fund, which compares the worlds health systems for quality, is critical of our efforts to swing our health system around to focus on the prevention of disease. Eleven other OECD countries are currently doing a better job than we are.How can we change this unsatisfactory situation? PART 1 of 3.

Continue reading

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QUENTIN DEMPSTER. The ABC’s selective publication of classified documents: “gutless kow-tow” or responsible journalism?

The ABC has been blasted by journalist critics over its selective editing of the national security classified and Cabinet-in-secret documents it received from a “bushie” who discovered them in discarded filing cabinets. Continue reading

Posted in Media, Politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

ROBERT MICKENS. Pope Francis, a brewing crisis and ‘feminine genius’

The biggest error Catholic leaders have made regarding the church’s response to priests abusing children has been the exclusion of women leading the policy-making and reform process. Continue reading

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JOSHUA GILBERT- Partnerships in Agriculture- the time for mutual collaboration and respect

Farmers have a natural affinity with their land. The farm is the home of their family’s dreams and aspirations; the page upon which they write their stories of passion and love; their life; their livelihood; their heart. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

RAY MOYNIHAN. Beware the hype on genomics and precision medicine.

Last week’s landmark report on personalised medicine plays down potential for harm and oversells uncertain benefits. Continue reading

Posted in Health | 1 Comment

ANDREW FARRAN. The ‘hidden state’ behind the latest batch of repressive legislation

From the back-reaches of the ‘hidden state’ has come this latest batch of suppressive legislation ostensibly to protect our secrets and to counter surreptitious foreign influences. Instead it will facilitate yet again the tendency of Australian governments to commit to overseas military adventures, sometimes illegally, without  proper Parliamentary consideration and pubic approval. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Politics | 1 Comment


Are we heading for another Saturday Night Massacre? – Woodward and Bernstein.

The wall Street “correction” is a financial phenomenon, only loosely connected to the real economy. As ABC Business Editor Ian Verrender explains, “markets — and particularly Wall Street — disconnected from economic fundamentals years ago”.  High American share values have been driven by years of easy monetary policy, and more recently by Trump’s fiscal recklessness. Mild monetary tightening has caused a panic.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the ABC has kicked off its new program The Economists with a session on the economics of love.  Peter Martin discusses the economics of loyalty – to one’s companion, friends, children, country.  Such loyalty may not align with the “rational” economics of self-interest, but it has huge evolutionary advantages.

Fairfax journalist Jessica Irvine writes about corruption. No the brown-paper-bag-full-of-$50-notes corruption, but the corruption that emerges when governments regulate markets. She points out that  “rent-seeking, the practice of attempting to manipulate government decisions to earn profits above what would otherwise be required to stay in business, is now rife”.

Dispatchable wind and solar will be the death of coal and gas – RenewEconomy

Why not fund an Australian tobacco industry?  We’re doing it for weapons – Crispin Hull

Security agencies use their cock-ups to demand more power they don’t need – Jack Waterford

NSW minister altered Barwon-Darling water sharing plan to favour irrigators – the Guardian..

Why Antonio Gramsci is the marxist thinker of our times – New Statesman

Church leaders never fully acknowledged that the culture, structure, processes of the church were part of the problem – Fatima Measham

The family who owns Tasmania’s gambling industry – the Canberra Times.

An aspiring Democrat Presidential  candidate takes on a bank and wins – New Republic

Is private health insurance a con? The answer is in the graphs  – Greg Jericho

Tesla big battery is already bringing Australia’s gas cartel to heel – RenewEconomy

“Private health insurance rebates don’t serve their purpose. Let’s talk about scrapping them” – the Conversation.

On Saturday Extra with Geraldine Doogue this 10th February: political controversy continues in Kenya that now has a President and a “People’s President”, guests Nic Cheeseman from the University of Birmingham and columnist with Kenya’s Daily Nation and Njoki Wamai, a Kenyan researcher at the University of Cambridge; how the manslaughter charge of a junior British doctor who has also been struck off the medical register has concerned the medical profession in Australia with former President of the AMA and former chair of the WMA Mukesh Haikerwal and health economist Stephen Duckett; the Winter Olympics have begun in South Korea and  Scott Snyder, from the  Council on Foreign Affairs compares today’s situation with that of the Summer Olympics thirty years ago in South Korea and North Asia expert Rana Mitter on the lingering tensions between Japan, China and the Korean Peninsula and the promising situation of an upcoming summit between these countries (sans North Korea). In a good news story, journalist Lisa du Bode discusses the success of women farming seaweed in Zanzibar.





Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Women in Tehran protest head scarves

Recently Iranian women started a movement  all over the country especially in Tehran . They stand on a platform, take their scarves off and drape them over a street sign. It is in protest again the Islamic dress code . In Tehran, 28 women have been caught and gaoled so far . The first woman arrested did it in Tehran’s Revolution Street so they are called “The Girls of Revolution Street.”  See photos. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

JIM COOMBS. What makes good government?

Recently in P & I the question has been raised as to how we can get better government – parliamentary reform, more professional public service, changes in economic policy and so on. But it is the answer to the question above which seems to have got lost.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

ALLAN PATIENCE. Changed America is now a threat.

Malcolm Fraser’s lucid case for Australia to strike out independently from the USA in its foreign and defence policies (Dangerous Enemies, MUP 2014) pointed to a vitally important fact. The America we signed the ANZUS treaty with in 1951 is absolutely no longer the America with which Malcolm Turnbull would have us joined at the hip today. It is time to face the fact that the contemporary USA is a major threat to Australia’s security and prosperity. It’s time to replace ANZUS with a more mature agreement that will not constrain Australia’s independence. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

BOB DEBUS. Restoring integrity in nature conservation. Part 2 of 2

There is a limit to what laws can achieve, but they are an essential part of any robust system of environmental governance. Environmental laws should effectively enable the protection, conservation, management and, where needed, restoration of our national heritage. The effectiveness of our environmental laws must be founded on the values of integrity, transparency and accountability, in both their formulation and enforcement. These laws must also be kept up to date, so that they continue to reflect our ever-changing environmental, social and political conditions. Our current laws fall short of these standards’. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

CAVAN HOGUE. The Philippine War and the Saviour syndrome

The American war against the Philippine Republic which began in 1898 and its subsequent colonisation  of the Philippines teaches us many things about perennial American beliefs and actions. The concept that the US is saving somebody from something is a constant in American foreign policy. Some even believe they saved Europe from Hitler! We need to examine carefully the clash between manifest destiny and isolationism but mostly to look at the influence of the genuine belief  amongst most Americans that they have a duty to save the less fortunate from something and bring them to accept truth, justice and the American Way. Combine this with ignorance of what others may want and a belief that force may be needed to save the heathen and you have a dangerous formula. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Defence/Security, International Affairs | 4 Comments

RICHARD BROINOWSKI. Corruption in the Arms Trade

The Turnbull government is very excited about turning Australia into one of the world’s ten biggest arms traders. The announcement was prompted as much as anything else by President Trump’s announcement of a $US716 billion rise in the United States military budget, with prospects of Australia gaining a significant share in this gigantic spend. Of course the government claims Australian arms sales are selective, never offending Australian foreign policy or humanitarian priorities. But foreign weapons  companies which inevitably control the trade, have a record of corruption and indiscriminate selling. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

JIM DOWLING. Did Aussies really vote for these sociopaths?

I walked into the kitchen the other day and our illustrious defence industries minister Chris Pyne was on the radio answering a question relating to the recent horrific suicide bombing in Kabul which left 100 dead and 250 wounded. Aussies making more weapons seemed to be the answer!  Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Politics | 4 Comments

IAN WEBSTER. Welfare sanctions.

To save $204.7 million, the Government plans to impose draconian sanctions on those needing income support who miss appointments, or work interviews, or who don’t take up the jobs proposed for them. That can’t be the real reason, since the dollar savings count for nothing against the inestimable human and economic costs of these impediments. So much for “mutual obligation”.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

PAUL RODAN. Colleges of Advanced Education.

Roger Scott’s trilogy on the state of higher education raised a number of important issues, several of which might have led me to the keyboard, but his observations about the former colleges of advanced education (CAEs) seem particularly worthy of further comment. Continue reading

Posted in Education | 1 Comment

BRIAN TOOHEY. ABC kowtow to government and ASIO on cabinet papers was gutless.

The ABC’s treatment of what it calls one of the “biggest national security breaches in Australian history” is a disgrace. It put the identity of its source at risk, but reported very little from the documents, preferring to talk at length about how it got them and handed them over to the government. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

JONATHAN GREEN. Media complicit in the rise of political trolls

There’s an arresting moment early in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury in which Steve Bannon explains the mechanics of alt-right politics. Continue reading

Posted in Media, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

PETER DRYSDALE AND JOHN DENTON. Australia must move beyond Cold War thinking

Searching for evidence of ‘Chinese influence’ in Australia? Look no further than the census. Around 1.2 million people declared themselves of Chinese heritage. About 600,000 were born in mainland China. And while recent coverage of alleged Chinese ‘influence’ in Australian politics might suggest otherwise, the Australian-Chinese community is not a dagger pointed at the heart of Australian democracy — it is a diverse community with every right to participate in the political process. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs, Refugees, Immigration | 2 Comments

IAN VERRENDER. Why global markets are in free-fall

It was always going to be a tough ask. How to remove all that stimulus, all those trillions of freshly minted dollars in emergency money from an economy, without causing conniptions on financial markets? Continue reading

Posted in Economy | Leave a comment

St.Vincent de Paul Society



Please click here for more details.

Applications close on Monday 19 February 2018.


Posted in Economy | Leave a comment

JENNY HOCKING. Relics of colonialism: the Whitlam dismissal and the fight over the Palace letters

We will make better decisions on all the great issues of the day and for the century to come, if we better understand the past. – Gough Whitlam

The celebration of the “Queen’s birthday” in Australia is a perfect reflection of a fading, remnant, relationship. Commemorated in the Australian states as a public holiday on three different days – none of which is her birthday – and honouring an event of dubious significance, the “Queen’s birthday” reminds us that, despite our national independence, the symbolic ties of colonial deference remain. Continue reading

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DON AITKIN. Whose universities are they, anyway?

Roger Scott’s extended rebuttal of Ross Gittins’s excoriation of ‘money-grubbing’ universities, and the publication of three books about the recent past and possible future of higher education, suggest that all is not well in academe. While all has never, at least since the end of the second world war, been well in academe (the AVCC first used the word ‘crisis’ in 1947), may be true that the level of tension within higher education is notably high. The three books are Glyn Davis’s The Australian Idea of a University, Stuart Macintyre’s No End of a Lesson, and my own Critical Mass. How the Commonwealth got into funding research in universities. All were published at the end of 2017.   Continue reading

Posted in Education | 5 Comments