IAN McAULEY. Surely Morrison isn’t seriously asking us to trust him

Morrison’s words are a plea to trust his government, but his tactics seem to be aimed at spreading mistrust, not only of Labor but also of democratic institutions more generally.  Continue reading

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SAM BYFORD. Huawei chairman accuses American critics of hypocrisy over NSA hacks (The Verge 27.2.2019)

Huawei’s rotating chairman Guo Ping has gone on the offensive this week at Mobile World Congress, following continued pressure on US allies to drop the Chinese telecoms giant over national security fears.  Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Media, Politics | 1 Comment

ALISON BROINOWSKI. Who are the terrorists, Iran or the US?

In April 2014 John Howard surprised an audience in Sydney by saying that war with Iran would be next. He didn’t know then about Syria but his alarming prediction about Iran looks like coming true.

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HAL PAWSON and BILL RANDOLPH. On housing, there’s clear blue water between the main parties (The Conversation, 12 April 2019)

Labor’s bold stance on housing tax reform and investment makes this one of the likely policy flashpoints in the coming election campaign. How does the Coalition government’s housing record stand up to scrutiny? What would be in prospect in a third Liberal-National term? And exactly what is Labor’s alternative pitch? Continue reading

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MEGHAN SULLIVAN. Envisioning the Afterlife. The problem with Lazarus.

During Lent, Christians are asked to think much more concretely about our short, precarious lives. We swear off chocolate, alcohol, or, in my case, swearing itself. Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 4 Comments

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said greenhouse gas emissions have turned around by 1.1 billion tonnes under the Coalition. Is he correct? (ABC News)

The Morrison Government has for months argued Australia is on track to meet its international greenhouse gas emissions abatement targets “in a canter”. Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. The next clash between India and Pakistan (Japan Times 2.4.2019)

For many years, I have argued in these pages that the Indian subcontinent and the Korean Peninsula are among the least unlikely theaters of a nuclear war. The known consequences of a nuclear war mean a deliberate policy decision to go to war is highly unlikely in either theater. But there are different dynamics at play in South and East Asia for an inadvertent nuclear war through an escalation spiral that can be triggered by a minor event, including miscommunication, flawed intelligence, system error or misperception of red lines.  

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JOSHUA J. McELWEE. In new letter, Benedict blames clergy abuse on sexual revolution, Vatican II theology.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has published a new letter blaming the continuing Catholic clergy abuse crisis on the sexual revolution, developments in theology following the Second Vatican Council, and modern society’s aversion to speaking about God. Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 5 Comments

ANTHONY PUN. A response from the Chinese Community Council of Australia (CCCA)

The Chinese Australian community warmly thanks Prof Bob Carr for speaking out for the Chinese Australians and giving a detailed analysis of China panic over a period of more than 2 years.  Prof Carr’s suggestion of  a community response based on the Jewish model is a great suggestion and plans can be made to initiate the implementation.  However, the successful implementation would depend on the unity of the 1.2 million Chinese Australian diaspora. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 3 Comments

DAVID MACILWAIN.  Two Australians in trouble abroad.  

The law to censor violent content rushed through Parliament last week connected dots between two Australians abroad, when Julian Assange was “extradited” from Ecuadorian territory, in London. I examine the linkages. Continue reading

Posted in Media, Politics | 2 Comments

RICHARD FLANAGAN. Have we, Australia, become a country that breeds mass murderers with our words? (The Guardian 14.4.2019)

We are better than our politicians’ dark fears.  We are not their hate. We are optimistic about a country built on openness.  Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 1 Comment

TIM LINDSEY. Indonesia goes to the polls: rematch or replay? (University of Melbourne, 15 April 2019)

Indonesia goes to the polls on 17 April, with the same presidential candidates as five years ago: the incumbent, Joko Widodo (known as Jokowi), a self-made former furniture exporter and former governor of Jakarta, and Prabowo Subianto, a former general who was once a son-in-law of Soeharto, the authoritarian former president who ruled for three decades until 1998. Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. ScoMo is happy to keep the campaign as mean and ugly as possible.

The final jobs for the boys and girls have been squared away, the pointless tit for tat over taxpayer advertising and who is closer to the Chinese have been shelved, and Melissa Price has obediently signed off on Adani, as ordered by the Queensland Nats.   Continue reading

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BOB CARR. Australians with Chinese origins need to come together.

A new burst of messaging on China Panic has been unleashed by Four Corners and newspapers, again giving the impression that hostile forces are threatening Australia. Last month former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans noted  “a new form of Sinophobia is emerging.”  He said this is one of the reasons Chinese-Australians are underrepresented in senior leadership.  Continue reading
Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 6 Comments

JACK WATERFORD. Are management and trustworthiness Morrison’s strong points? (Canberra Times 13.4.2019)

We do not get much sense of Morrison himself from what he has said or done, or what he has told us of why he is there. The ambition has been obvious, but for what and why? Nor is his history as an economic manager, Treasurer, or promoter of Australian growth so compelling that it makes his claim to greater competence (than Labor) or to having better small government principles a compelling one.

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DUNCAN GRAHAM. Indonesia – after the count – chaos?

The alphabet of election campaign hyperbole runs from Absurd through Fatuous and Stupid to Zero (as in logic).  Most statements are ephemeral for the nonsense spruikers know little is taken seriously once the losers are trampled by the triumphant.

But in Indonesia pledges by the former champion of the 1998 ‘People’s Power Revolution’ are causing deep disquiet.
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ANDREW FARRAN. Extending the way to a viable Brexit?

Is the path to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU now finally clear, some three years after the Referendum that decided it should leave – to regain national sovereignty, to control its borders, and to conclude its own trade agreements with the rest of the world? Deadlines have come and gone – 28th March, 12th April, 22nd May and now a flexible extension to 31 October; or the UK may leave at any time meanwhile if it can get the EU agreed Withdrawal Agreement through its Parliament. Parliament has approved the extension prospectively, largely with Labour votes but with many Tories dissenting. A majority of MPs are opposed to a no-deal Brexit. The EU Council will meet on 30 June solely to review progress, not to engage in further negotiations on the withdrawal. Continue reading

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GIDEON LEVY. Israel’s new wretched republic.

On Tuesday, the Second Republic of Israel was born. It will be different from its predecessor. The First Republic chalked up impressive achievements, accompanied by lies and deceptions. The Second Republic will dispense with any pretense.  Continue reading

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GREG BAILEY. Reflections on Five Years of Political Theatre and Nihilism (Part 2)

For the last three decades the Australian public has been told there will be massive changes which they will have to run with or just suck it up. Now, after five and a half years of floundering and negativism by the government, the people are waking up to what these changes have produced. Such changes have been substantially helped along by the government’s promotion of the market as the arbiter of all things and all interrelations, changes exacerbated by the impact of digital technology and its individualising tendency. For its absence in attempting to properly guide these changes, this period of governance will be long remembered. Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Australia and the United States more than joined at the hip?

The recent Morrison Budget and the subsequent public commentary had precious little new to add to policy debate about future foreign policy directions for Australia other than to cut again our overseas aid budget – to an accumulated 27% since this government has been in office. Sadly neither did the Shorten Budget Reply. But  tucked away in the DFAT Portfolio Budget was a reference to an Australia: United States “joint work plan” which represents a significant strengthening of our linkage with the US.   Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. Our Leader remains, as so often, in Luddite denial.

According to ScoMo , electric cars are for wimps and latte sippers – real Australians want more grunt. Oink oink, vroom vroom! Wheelies, doughnuts, burnouts!   Continue reading

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JOHN TULLOH. The vanishing international interest in the Mideast

How curious that the US fought on the same side as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards last year to defeat ISIS in Syria and then, once the job was done, denounced them as a terrorist organisation and applied sanctions. How curious that the US had been considering all this ‘for months’, but only decided to go ahead on the eve of the Israel general election when Benjamin Netanyahu, whose nemesis is Iran, was fighting for his political life. How curious the US is willing to hold discreet talks with the Taliban, the perpetrator of endless terrorist atrocities, but would recoil at the very idea of such a discussion with Iran. And how curious that Saudi Arabia, the banker of many an atrocity against the West, in Yemen and Shia targets, gets away with what it has, never mind last year’s extra-judicial killing in Istanbul.  Continue reading

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SUSAN RYAN. Older women are budget losers.

The 2019 budget contains little to improve the circumstances of the poorest older women. Increases of 10,000 previously announced home care places are provided for.  An extra 13,500 residential places were provided.  A new $8.4 million is allocated to mandatory reporting against quality indicators in residential aged  care.  Tax changes are of little use to older women living on pensions. One-off energy payments of $75 for an individual or $125 for a couple will reach pensioners and carers. An elder abuse hotline allocation of $18m is re announced. Over ten years $185m will be allocated to establish a dementia, ageing and aged care research program. The crisis in housing affordability, unaffordable rents  and homelessness among older women is not addressed. Continue reading

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ALISON BROINOWSKI. How long to extradition for Assange?

WikiLeaks watchers had been expecting it for weeks, but when news came on 11 April that Ecuador had revoked Julian Assange’s asylum, a collective shudder went around the extended community. Next day the pictures appeared, and they made it worse. Images familiar to everyone of a young man waving from the Embassy balcony were suddenly replaced by the sight of a puffy-faced, balding, white-bearded victim of seven years on the inside. It was rather like when instead of the early Osama bin Laden, the world saw the new reality – a stooped, grizzled invalid, soon to be shot down by Navy SEALS. ‘I told you so,’ Assange quipped.  Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 3 Comments

GREG BAILEY. Reflections on Five Years of Political Theatre and Nihilism (Part 1)

Retrospective reflections are now beginning on what might be the heritage of the five and a half year long Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments. In advancing such reflections attention should not just be focussed on the political infighting within the government, and between it and the opposition. Consideration should also be given to what has occurred outside of, or in spite, of government in defining Australia’s governing culture and the cohesion of its society. Continue reading

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ABUL RIZVI. New regional visas – a recipe for exploitation and destitution.

The Government’s new regional migration arrangements make it easier for potential migrants with lower skill levels and limited English to access temporary residence via low paid jobs in regional Australia. At the same time, the government is making it significantly more difficult for these people to secure permanent residence. This is a recipe for more exploitation and the potential to add to a growing underclass of destitute people who have no access to any form of social safety net.  Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 2 Comments

GEOFF HARCOURT. Sluggish Wages Growth

Recent comments on sluggish wages growth in Australia trace their origins back to the Accord introduced in the early 1980s. It is also argued that the Accord was a precursor to the introduction of the neo-liberal era in Australia. I was one of the academic pioneers of the Accord. A group of us were led by the late Eric Russell; we were backing up Ralph Willis’s “voice crying in the wilderness” arguments in political circles. Joe Isaac took a similar stance. Continue reading

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Australia unprepared for worsening wild weather, ex-emergency chiefs warn (The New Daily)

Concerned former fire and emergency chiefs have warned of increasingly catastrophic extreme weather events and demanded action on climate change.

The group of 23 ex-top brass fired a salvo against Prime Minister Scott Morrison as well as state and territory governments in a signed joint letter issued in Melbourne on Wednesday. Continue reading

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PETER SAINSBURY. Sunday environmental round up, 14 April 2019

Different pasts, presents and challenges but the UK and Indonesia are both making significant progress toward sustainable futures while Australia continues to fiddle and fume, albeit comically on occasions. No laughs associated with large increases in the numbers of people exposed to malaria, dengue and Zika as a result of changing climate patterns though, and what’s a concerned shopper to choose for carrying the weekly groceries: paper or plastic? On a (literally) brighter note, pictures of Australia’s wrens.

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