RAMESH THAKUR. Modi vs who? The question needed a clear answer in a quasi-presidential contest (The Times of India)

No Bihari political scientist can possibly understate the importance of caste and religion in shaping the electoral contest. However, there is one other factor that is of growing importance. In all parliamentary democracies across the world, including Australia, power is being centralised in the office of the PM. PMs, including Narendra Modi, increasingly resemble and act like presidents more than the textbook ‘first among equals’ (primus inter pares). This also turns general elections in parliamentary democracies into quasi-presidential contests. Continue reading

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KISHORE MAHBUBANI. A ‘yellow peril’ revival fuelling Western fears of China’s rise (East Asia Forum)

Do we arrive at geopolitical judgements from only cool, hard-headed, rational analysis? If emotions influence our judgements, are these conscious emotions or do they operate at the level of our subterranean subconscious? Any honest answer to these questions would admit that non-rational factors always play a role. This is why it was wrong for Western media to vilify Kiron Skinner, the director of policy planning at the US State Department, for naming racial discomfort as a factor at play in the emerging geopolitical contest between the United States and China. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 5 Comments

KIM WINGEREI Independent media continues to grow

Independent media continues to grow. With 21.7% growth in online audience in the last quarter sites such as this are taking significant mind- and marketshare from the mainstream infortainment giants who continue to lose readers both online and offline.

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GREG JERICHO. Coalition’s lies, damned lies and election-winning strategies (The Guardian)

No, the government doesn’t care about reducing carbon emissions and no, the economy is not strong. 

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CHRIS MILLS. Truthslaying The Environment.

In the Australia in Wonderland in which we are now living, things are getting curiouser and curiouser. Like the time-travel budget surplus arriving in 2019 from the 2020 budget, the Prime Minister has declared that Australia will meet its Paris Climate Change promise ‘in a canter’. (Or is that ‘at a canter’?) Curiously, the Department of Environment and Energy reports total emissions for the year to September 2018 increased by 0.9%.  What, then, is the true State of the Nation’s greenhouse gas emissions? Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 4 Comments

BEN GRUBB.  The CIA’s investment fund is stalking Australian tech startups and has opened a local office (Sydney Morning Herald, 11 June 2019)

A technology investment fund bankrolled by America’s foreign spy agency, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is stalking Australian companies for future investment opportunities. Continue reading

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BEVAN RAMSDEN. The Anti-Terrorism Act and other Acts strip us of many civil liberties we thought we had.

The recent intimidatory police raids on the ABC and a journalist’s home for making public, matters of community concern, is a wake-up call that press freedoms can no longer be taken for granted. But looking wider, personal freedoms we thought we enjoyed are also fast disappearing thanks to the anti-terrorism act and other laws passed last year.  Continue reading

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MICHAEL KEATING Budget Deficits: Good or Bad


Returning the Budget to surplus has been an article of faith in most Australian political dialogue for the last decade. However, with stagnant economic growth and the Government’s proposed tax cuts, there is a real risk that Budget surpluses cannot be sustained. On the other hand, some people who are concerned that more public spending is needed to maintain services, have argued that these can be deficit funded. Instead this article argues that in the long run Australia will need to augment its taxation revenue if it wants to maintain the public expenditure required to achieve reasonable economic growth and welfare. Continue reading

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GEOFF RABY. What a Morrison Government could do on China.

The Accidental Morrison Government needs now to face up to Australia’s most important foreign policy challenge: how to restore relations with China.  Under Turnbull/Bishop’s mismanagement, the relationship plumbed its lowest depth since diplomatic relations were established 47 years ago.  Doing so won’t be easy and will require substantive policy changes, not merely a re-packaging of existing approaches and changed messaging, as helpful and well-intentioned as these may be.  Continue reading

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NOEL TURNBULL. When you think of Twitter what at do you think of first?

The automatic response when you hear the word Tweet is to associate it with Trump. Yet some recent Pew Research Center suggests the Tweeter in chief is out of step with most other Tweeters.

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KIERAN TAPSELL: Has the Pontifical Secret Been Secretly Buried?

After the criticisms of the pontifical secret at the February summit conference in Rome on child sexual abuse, it was widely expected that it would be abolished. It never happened, but recent announcements by two bishops’ conferences suggest that it may have been quietly buried behind closed doors.   Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 4 Comments

PAUL MASON. Donald Trump’s embrace is a death grip for the Conservative Party (New Statesman, 5 June 2019)

Mainstream conservatism has lost its ideological defences against the far right. 

All over the world, mainstream conservatism has reached the moment of its psychological surrender to the authoritarian right. In the US, the Republican Party is using control of state legislatures to roll back 50 years of abortion liberalisation. In Austria, the conservative People’s Party pinned the country’s future on a coalition with the pro-Putin, far-right Freedom Party, and stands bereft now that coalition is in ruins. Continue reading

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DAVID SHEARMAN. Obligations to the World’s children in the climate emergency.

This government is not fit to govern on the climate change emergency because of its incapacity to grasp the imminent danger to Australia, our neighbours and indeed the world. Today science strongly indicates we have only a few decades to act before the impact of a temperature rise of 3 or 4 degrees brings civilisation to chaos this century. This article will explore some reasons for this incapacity to cope with dire emergency. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, Human Rights | 1 Comment

DENNIS ARGALL. Tiananmen in context

There has been feverish interest in the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen incident, in Australia with some focus on repression in China, fuelling antagonism towards China. In this essay I want to provide context that is lacking: in the evolution of economic reform and liberalism in China, in the evolution of Sino-Soviet relations and regional strategy and China’s united front with the US (and Australia) against Vietnam and the Soviet Union.

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Posted in International Affairs | 2 Comments

PAULINA GUZIK. Polish bishops hope ‘knight of Malta’ will help Church battle abuse. Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the Vatican’s chief expert on clerical sex abuse, will visit Poland on Friday.

When the people of Poland think of Malta and the Catholic Church, they usually think of the Knights of Malta, the fraternal order which is active throughout the country. Next week, a different kind of Maltese knight will be arriving: Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta – the island country in the Mediterranean – is coming to Poland on June 14.Scicluna is also the Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and considered Pope Francis’s most trusted expert on clerical sexual abuse, having previously served as the Vatican’s chief prosecutor in abuse cases.

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WILLIAM PESEK Abe-Trump smiles mask the coming anger. (Nikkei Asian Review 30.5.2019)

Donald Trump visited Tokyo for four days (25-28 May) intending to cement his “unshakable bond” with Shinzo Abe. Instead, the visit showcased why their unlikely bromance is headed for trouble.

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LINDSAY HUGHES. Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Plans: The Regional Danger (Future Directions International)

Saudi Arabia remains one of the largest oil producers (it produced 9.8 million barrels of oil a day in April this year) and the largest oil exporter in the world, despite the fact that Venezuela has larger proven oil reserves of around 300 billion barrels. Saudi Arabia’s oil exports account for around 42 per cent of its overall GDP, 90 per cent of its export earnings and over 85 per cent of its budget revenues, which, in 2017, totalled approximately 691.5 billion Saudi riyals ($266 billion). Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, International Affairs | 1 Comment

BOB CARR. Making a multilateral Belt and Road (East Asia Forum)

Between 2012 and 2030, China will add 850 million people to its middle class. This is unprecedented in human history, even exceeding the numbers of the European, North American and Japanese industrial revolutions. It is the biggest rolling back of poverty within any nation. China deserves to be taken seriously and have its international personality assessed on available evidence, not framed in advance as something inherently disruptive. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 1 Comment

MUNGO MacCALLUM. Our freedom is at risk.

Our Prime Minister assures us that the AFP raids of last week had absolutely nothing to do with him. Well, of course not – he and his government are never responsible for anything.   Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM – Past their use-by date but still current

They ignore the local statistics, but hang on to the exceptional example, Mahathir bin Mohamad. Next month the Malaysian Prime Minister will turn 94 and although he promised to hand over to Anwar Ibrahim, 71, that has yet to occur. Continue reading

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JOCELYN CHEY Hongkongers deserve support.


Sunday’s march on Hong Kong’s Legislative Council brought an estimated million people onto the streets, which if true would make it the largest demonstration in the history of the Special Administrative Region. The reason for the demonstration was the proposed Extradition Treaty, which will be debated on Tuesday 11thJune. Legislators will do well to listen to the voice of the people and the rest of the world has one last chance to put their concerns.

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MARTIN WOLF. The looming 100-year US-China conflict (The Financial Times)

Donald Trump’s unnecessary fight for domination is increasingly being framed as a zero-sum game.  Continue reading

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MIKE SCRAFTON. The new national security – protection from global warming

Ian Dunlop has argued persuasively that global warming now represents an emergency situation ‘akin to wartime’. The alarmingly obstinate year-on-year increase in the levels of greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere has brought this about and will ensure the IPCC prediction that ‘[G]lobal warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate’ is exceeded. The disaster of the Anthropocene is now unavoidable. The world has passed a tipping point and national security now means defence against the consequences of global warming.

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JOHN STAPLETON Australia’s Vicious Assault on Freedom of Speech…


World’s most secretive democracy. Absurd overreach of power. Secretive, ruthless and vindictive executive government.

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ERNST WILLHEIM. Cover up of Illegal government activities continue with the AFP raids. They follow the Witness K and Bernard Collaery travesty.

This is a talk (on 27 February 2019 at Manning ClarkHouse, ANU )about some shameful events in Australia’s recent history.And I very much fear the shameful saga is about to continue.It is about Australian commercial espionage,  bugging of the cabinet office of a friendly neighbour by an Australian intelligence agency, a raid by another  Australian intelligence agency and fears of a secret trial.It is also about Australia’s failure to abide by a rules based-order, the rule of law.

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CHRIS BONNOR Selective schools … again

Making stupid policy on the run is hardly new, but Gladys Berejiklian’sdecision to establish a new selective school in Sydney’s south-west has set new precedents. Few people seem to support it, even fewer will benefit. It ignores the debate about selective schooling, a debate underpinned by concern about the regressive impact on the unselected schools and students – without any significant gains for the annointed. This ‘captain’s call’ by the NSW premier even fails basic tests of fairness and logic.

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BRETT McGURK. American Foreign Policy Adrift (Foreign Affairs)

Pompeo Is Calling for Realism—Trump Isn’t Delivering Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. Israel Folau and the problem with fundamentalist religion.

The Israel Folau saga is finally moving to the tribunals – first to the Fair Work Commission, and if that does not produce a result, on the Federal Court and perhaps beyond.   Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Press freedoms: ‘No one is above the law’ is a slogan, not a policy

On the one hand, Australia lacks media protections of the type found in the US and Europe that enshrine free speech in human rights charters. On the other hand, we may well have more national-security and anti-terror laws than any other Western democracy, with around 70 passed or amended since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The resulting repressive legal regime gives the executive wide-ranging powers to hide any damaging or embarrassing information by classifying it as secret, and simultaneously to criminalise investigative journalism.

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MURRAY SAYLE. On Tiananmen Square – June 1989

On May 13, with Gorbachev’s visit imminent, the students began a hunger strike in seven-day relays. How did the regime react? The People’s Liberation Army sent one thousand quilts; the Chinese Red Cross brought water, salt, and sugar for the hunger-strikers; and Mayor Chen’s own Beijing municipality set up portable toilets. Students were taken to state- owned hospitals for treatment, unhindered by the authorities, and none died. Continue reading

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