Pearls and Irritations is influential and widely read, with outstanding authors writing about important current events.There are no sponsors and subscriptions are free. Our editors and authors are independent, dedicated and generous.
Please encourage your friends to subscribe on the P & I website, johnmenadue.com
Emails are sent to subscribers daily (Monday to Saturday) or weekly (Saturday).
Please do not reply to these emai ls as we will not receive your response.
There is a manage your subscription link at the end of the email.
To comment on articles, use the link at the end of each post.
Authors should send their posts to the email address provided in the style guide.

IAN McAULEY. Strong employment growth, until you look behind the figures.

The ABS monthly employment data released last Thursday shows that since the Coalition was elected five years ago the Australian economy has generated one million additional jobs. Does this indicate success of the Coalition’s policies? Continue reading

Posted in Economy | Leave a comment

ERIC WALSH. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un.

The highly- important upcoming meeting between North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un and America’s Donald Trump  could hopefully  settle one of the world’s red-hot trouble spots. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 2 Comments

ROBERT MANNE. How we came to be so cruel to asylum seekers.

This is an edited extract of a talk delivered to the Integrity 20 Conference at Griffith University on October 25, 2016

If you had been told 30 years ago that Australia would create the least asylum seeker friendly institutional arrangements in the world, you would not have been believed. Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 9 Comments

GARRY EVERETT. Importance of seeing the ‘big picture’.

Failing to see or accept the big picture is a condition that is currently affecting many organisations in our world, says Garry Everett, and four particular organisations stand out as having significant problems in this regard. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Human Rights, Politics, Religion and Faith | 2 Comments

EMMA CARMODY. Lack of transparency in irrigation efficiency programs

An article by Kerry Brewster in the Guardian this week reports on a significant fraud investigation by Queensland’s Major and Organised Crime Squad (Rural) into subsidies granted to a landholder under the Healthy Headwaters Water Use Efficiency Program. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

GREG HAMILTON. Not much ado about a helluva lot.

A stage play that wouldn’t make it into an Australian theatre today caused a helluva stink back in 1962 and said some wise and courageous (aka shocking) things about the ‘most sacred day’ in our national calendar. The reasons it wouldn’t make it today say something tragic about us as a society of people. Continue reading

Posted in Arts and Reviews | 3 Comments

GREG HAMILTON. Dying for nothing, a-la-Australienne.

According to the oldest surviving veteran of The Great War, Sgt Ted Smout, dead at 106, our war dead died in vain. In his words, ‘they died for nothing’. He must have known something most of us don’t know for him to make such a terrible claim. What could he possibly have known? Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 10 Comments

GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND …

Australia gets a mention in The Atlantic, but probably not the kind we wanted.  It’s a review of the work of Terry Hughes (of James Cook University) and others who have had a paper published in Nature on the effect of global warning on the Great Barrier Reef. Atlantic staff writer Robinson Meyer writes:  “The Great Barrier Reef will continue to collapse and die until humanity stabilizes the amount of greenhouse-gas pollution in the air. But fixing that problem will require remaking the energy system, moving away from oil and gas and to solar, wind, and other renewable sources.”

Katie Acheson, Chair of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, writes in the Canberra Times about a war being waged in Canberra. It’s a war against young people, subjected to unaffordable housing, high unemployment, expensive education and inaction on environmental damage that will become manifest over their lifetimes.

Foreign Affairs allows non-subscribers to access one free article per month. In an article “Eastern Europe’s Illiberal Revolution: The Long Road to Democratic Decline” Ivan Krastev,  of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia analyses the decline of liberal democracy in Eastern Europe.  “A new illiberal consensus is emerging, marked by xenophobic nationalism and supported, somewhat unexpectedly, by young people who came of age after the demise of communism. If the liberals who dominated in the 1990s were preoccupied with the rights of ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities, this new consensus is about the rights of the majority.”

On the ABC’s  Rear Vision Annabelle Quince has assembled an  impressive collection of gambling experts  in her program Australia: the world’s biggest gamblers.  It’s a history of gambling in Australia, leading to the post 1970s fiscal pressure on the states to raise funds through taxes on poker machines.  By now Australia has 76 per cent of high-intensity poker machines (200,000 machines) and we spend $23 billion a year on gambling ($3000 a household). (29 minutes)

Whichever way you cut it, Turnbull’s climate policy is still a sham – Giles Parkinson, RenewEconomy

Senator Rand Paul suggests the chemical weapons attacks in Syria  could have been false flag, unless Assad is the dumbest dictator on the planet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=K4V3jQCi8-o

And Admiral Lord West wonders the same thing in the UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIA_dNkscsw

In Syria, the fog of war, Ross Burns

Scandal pursues Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe – New York REview of Books.

The President Is Not Above The Law. The constitutional order may soon be at stake in the investigation of Donald Trump – The New York Times editorial.

Politics with Michelle Grattan: “Clive Hamilton and Richard Rigby on Chinese influence in Australia

Clement Atlee, the mouse that roared – New York Review of Books.

On Saturday Extra this 21st April, Geraldine Doogue speaks with James Eyers from the AFR on this week’s Royal Commission into the banks and a discussion on the default life insurance built into our superannuation funds with minister for financial services, Kelly O’Dwyer as one of the guests.  The disturbing rape stories coming out of India but is this more about a growing division between Hindus and Muslims in that country and navigating freedom of the press in this era of fake news with foreign correspondents Peter Greste and Salil Tripathi. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/

 

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

MARILYN LAKE. ANZAC from a Turkish point of view.

As Anzac Day comes round once more so we must prepare for the accompanying bombardment of nationalist myth-making. Our sense of national consciousness, so the story goes, was born on 25 April 1915. A nation was born on that day of death. The Anzacs fought for ‘freedom and democracy’. They died so that we might live. 

Mythologies serve to comfort and console. They smooth contradictions and reduce historical complexity. They make meaning of events that might otherwise be senseless or unbearable.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

MICHAEL PASCOE. The banking royal commission – it’s even worse than it looks

If you think the banking royal commission is big, you’re wrong. It’s much bigger. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. The facts don’t show that Liberals are better economic managers.

Malcolm Turnbull has made it clear that his mantra of ‘Jobs-and-Growth’ will be at the forefront of his campaign in the next election. This week he will be talking about the growth of a million jobs in 5 years, but there is nothing really remarkable in that on average over the last 15 years about 200,000 new jobs have been created each year. Further, it is less impressive because our population is growing by about two million every five years.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

JOHN STAPLETON. Abbott and Turnbull’s Assault on Freedom of Speech.

The Abbott and Turnbull governments have mounted the greatest attack on freedom of speech in Australian history. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

ALISON BROINOWSKI. War on demand

The UK and the US moved closer this week to enabling their governments to bypass legal and  democratic processes in committing forces to war, virtually anywhere, at any time and continuously. Australian politicians and the mainstream media seem to assume that this has nothing to do with Australia and we are not interested. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

RAMESH THAKUR. ‘We know where your kids live’ – John Bolton to OPCW DG José Bustani, March 2002

In justifying her decision to commit the UK to joining the US and France in the unilateral air strikes on Syria on 14 April, PM Theresa May said in Parliament on 16 April that a requirement for UN authorisation would effectively give Russia a veto on British foreign policy. Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn called for a new War Powers Act to force the government to get parliamentary approval before launching military action instead of going along with the ‘whims’ of the US president. ‘There is no more serious issue than the life and death matters of military action’, he said. Australia’s Labor Party should take note. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

DAVID BLOWERS. Australia’s slow march towards a National Energy Guarantee is gathering pace.

The finer policy details of the of the proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) have begun to leak onto newspaper front pages and websites, ahead of Friday’s crucial meeting of federal and state energy ministers.

The good news is that the leaked information suggests solid progress has been made over the past couple of months on both the emissions and reliability components of the policy. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

MICHAEL KEATING. Why Australia Needs A Stronger Revenue Base

Earlier this week the Australia Institute released an open letter signed by 48 eminent Australians calling for an increase in taxation. As we might have expected, the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, without any reflection, dismissed this call for higher taxes as “a numpty of an idea”, adding that “The idea that you increase taxes to grow the economy is stupid”. This article argues that instead it is the Treasurer who is wrong, and that full budget repair will not be possible over the medium term unless deliberate action is taken to increase government revenue.   Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 4 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Syria a symptom of a broken international order

Last Saturday US, British and French forces bombed three chemical weapons facilities in Damascus in retaliation for the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces in Douma on 6–8 April that killed around 70 people. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 3 Comments

SAM VARGHESE. Flashback: Only bipartisan NBN policy switch can save us

Last year former Internet Australia Executive Director Laurie Patton suggested the Government and the Opposition work together to find a solution to the serious problems afflicting the NBN. His arguments still stand. Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | Leave a comment

SCOTT BURCHILL. What The West Really Thinks About Chemical Weapons Attacks.

How genuine is the West’s concern about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria last week? Did they constitute a “line in the sand”, a crime so egregious that military strikes by Washington, London and Paris were necessary and morally justified? The historical record would suggest exactly the opposite. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 2 Comments

ROBERT FISK. The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack

This is the story of a town called Douma, a ravaged, stinking place of smashed apartment blocks – and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. There’s even a friendly doctor in a green coat who, when I track him down in the very same clinic, cheerfully tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world – despite all the doubters – is perfectly genuine. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Media | 6 Comments

SAMUEL LIEVEN. Why Syria’s patriarchs back Assad

Three patriarchs — two of them Orthodox and the other Catholic — have co-signed a statement strongly condemning the Western air strikes against Syrian government positions while reasserting their support for the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian allies. Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 1 Comment

MICHAEL LAMBERT. We know about the Grants Commission but what is this thing called HFE?

You may have noticed recent press reports of some angry Premiers or Treasurers bemoaning the loss of revenue in the triannual carve up of the GST pie among the States and Territories while the winners kept their pleasure to themselves. Welcome to the wonderful world of HFE, horizontal fiscal equalisation as practised in Australia.  Continue reading

Posted in Economy | Leave a comment

ANDREW FARRAN. Stalemate and Lawlessness over Syria.

On ABC News Radio (Monday 16th April) Paul Barrett, a former Deputy Secretary of DFAT and former Secretary of the Department of Defence was asked in an interview whether the military actions over the past weekend in Syria by the United States, the UK and France were legal in both international and domestic law.

He replied that they were not legal. When asked if Australian forces had participated would that have been illegal as well? He again replied that it would have been illegal. When asked further whether if he was still in his previous position as Head of the Department of Defence he would see it as his duty to advise the government of the illegality. He said it would be his duty to do so.

Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | 4 Comments

PATRICIA EDGAR. The Death of Australian Children’s Broadcast Television Programming.

How many times must it be said that if we do not take action Australian children’s programming will disappear from our screens? Continue reading

Posted in Media | Leave a comment

JAMES FERNYHOUGH. Cheap mortgages for everyone! Greens’ call for ‘People’s Bank’ unpicked

The Greens have unveiled a radical plan to give Australians access to much cheaper home loans than are currently on offer, in an unabashed attack on the big four banks’ stranglehold on the mortgage market. Continue reading

Posted in Economy | Leave a comment

ROSS BURNS. In Syria, the fog of war

Chemical weapons have been a feature of the Syrian conflict since 2011. Are we any closer to a strategy to deal with their use — and with the forces fuelling the wider conflict? Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

RICHARD BUTLER. Hypocrisy and Sanctimony: a Poisonous Brew.

The arguments advanced to justify the illegal US/French/UK attack upon Syrian CW related facilities incorporated buckets of sanctimony and numbing hypocrisy. There has been no serious discussion of the justification given by the three; because it was known to be patently false. And, worse, by setting themselves above the law, these three permanent members of the UN Security Council, hammered another nail into the now, well advanced, shape of the Security Council’s coffin. And, there’s been no serious discussion of this dangerous reality. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | 2 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. The Coalition and media myth about stopping the boats.

With the appointment of Angus Campbell as the new Chief of the General Staff we have witnessed again the repetition of the nonsense that the Coalition and Operation Sovereign Borders stopped the boats. As if the media farce over a Chinese military base in Vanuatu was not enough the media has climbed aboard again to continue the myth about the stopping of the boats. Perhaps being careless in the first place the media finds it embarrassing to admit error.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Refugees, Immigration | 3 Comments

MORTON HALPERIN, PETER HAYES, LEON SIGAL. Options for denuclearising the Korean peninsular

A critically important part of assembling the Korean peninsula-wide denuclearization jigsaw puzzle is the institutional and legal form of North Korean commitments on the one hand, and the nuclear negative security assurances by the NPT-Nuclear Weapons States (NWSs), especially the United States, on the other.  

In Nautilus  Institute there is a special report ‘A Korean nuclear weapons-free zone treaty and nuclear extended deterrence:  options for denuclearising the Korean Peninsula’. (Nautilus Institute Report).  A summary of this special report follows.   Continue reading

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

RAMESH THAKUR. Was DT Mouse-Trapped Into Attacking Syria?

Those of us of a certain age will remember the phrase ‘DTs’, short for delirium tremens: a rapid onset of confusion caused by an alcoholic’s immediate abstinence. Is the world suffering from a different set of DTs: the rapid-fire onset of domestic and global crises by a confused president revelling in his role as the wrecker-in-chief of international law, global norms and diplomatic conventions? Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | 1 Comment