ROD TIFFIN. Murdoch and Stokes

If the Liberal leadership upheaval was a Muppet show, as Scott Morrison described it, Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes have been revealed as its Statler and Waldorf. Muppets fans will remember the two cantankerous old men who heckled from the sidelines. The media moguls did not publicly heckle, but their behind the scenes barracking was reflected in their media.   Continue reading

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JENNY HOCKING. ‘Bullying, betrayal and backstabbing’: Can the Liberal party survive?

Scott Morrison is an unlikely Prime Minister. The day before the latest Liberal leadership change Morrison appeared in a memorable photo, arm casually draped around then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s uncomfortable shoulders, and proclaimed his support; ‘This is my leader. I’m ambitious – for him!’. Two days later Morrison emerged from a rancorous party meeting, brought on by the failed plotter and would-be Prime Minister Peter Dutton and his vengeful side-kick the deposed Prime Minister Tony Abbott, to become the third Liberal Prime Minister in as many years. The image and its aftermath have defined our 30th Prime Minister as duplicitous, disloyal and clearly ambitious – for himself. Continue reading

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WAYNE SWAN. Ten years after the crash, tax competition threatens global economies and democracies.

Ten years ago, the global financial system was rocked by the largest crisis since the Great Depression. Continue reading

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ANDREW PROBYN. What did Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes have to do with the Liberal leadership spill? (ABC News, 18.09.18)

Malcom Turnbull’s demise as Australia’s 29th prime minister was unusual for many reasons, and truly unique for one: his was the first known prime ministership to be the subject of a billionaires’ tug of war between the nation’s most powerful media moguls. Continue reading

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JOE ASTON. Rupert Murdoch to Kerry Stokes: “Malcolm has to go.” (AFR 18.9.2018)

Murdoch met with Seven West proprietor Kerry Stokes …… “Malcolm has got to go,” he told the Perth billionaire.  

(This abuse of power by media barons is appalling.There is strong case for Bill Shorten  to propose a Royal Commission into this unacceptable abuse of power and the general failure of our main stream media on issues such as climate change. The health of  our democracy is at stake   John Menadue) Continue reading

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STEPHEN LEEDER. Employing less qualified people in aged care

The Royal Commission announced this week will have a full agenda. If it can help us get aged care back on track we will all be the richer. Continue reading

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MEREDITH DOIG. Open Letter to Scott Morrison upon becoming Prime Minister.

Dear Prime Minister,

The Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) congratulates you upon becoming the 30th Prime Minister of Australia. We have two concerns we would like to raise with you: firstly, your Government’s response to the Ruddock Report, and secondly, your urging Australians to pray for rain in drought affected areas. Continue reading

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JAMIE LINGHAM. The changing face of Australian immigration.

Now more than ever we need to work together as a nation to address the immigration department and the mechanisms of safe passage, and put a stop to Australia’s unacceptable practices and inhumane treatment of individuals. Continue reading

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MASSIMO FAGGIOLI. Flirting with Church schism.

The right-wing effort to delegitimize Pope Francis is continuing. Continue reading

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WANNING SUN. Blind Spots in Australia’s Soft Power Strategies.

Blessed with an enviable healthy and relaxed lifestyle, beautiful landscape, and clean environment, Australia has rich soft power assets and resources. Yet, more than ever before, Australia faces unprecedented challenges in its soft power efforts. The China factor cannot be ignored, even when we are considering Australia’s soft power initiatives in places other than China.  Continue reading

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MAUREEN DOWD. Trump Finally Makes a Friend (New York Times, 15.09.18)

The president may be shunned nearly everywhere but at the bottom of the world he has finally found a loyal mate. Continue reading

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ERIN O’DONNELL, AVRIL HORNE. Giving environmental water to drought-stricken farmers sounds straightforward, but it’s a bad idea (The Conversation, 18.09.18)

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack last week suggested the government would look at changing the law to allow water to be taken from the environment and given to farmers struggling with the drought. Continue reading

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MUNGO MACCALLUM. ScoMo, ProMo, Status QuoMo

We still don’t know just who or what the new Prime Minister is, but he is determined to tell us whether we like it or not. Our manic leader is seldom lost for words and this is just as well as he appears chronically short of ideas. Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM. Robbing Roads To Keep Rice Cheap.

Unlike their southern neighbours, Indonesians know when they’ll go to the polls – 17 April 2019. That Wednesday will be a public holiday to encourage a big turn out.  Voting is not compulsory.

In the 2014 election 135 million electors punched a hole in a ballot paper to make their choice – around 70 per cent of those on the roll – in the world’s third largest democracy.  

Next year voters aged over 17 will get the chance to directly elect the president, 580 members of the People’s Consultative Assembly (known as the DPR) and 128 to the Regional Assembly, (DPD). 

Fifteen parties will bid for seats but there are only two rematch contestants for the top job – incumbent Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, 57, and former general Prabowo Subianto, 67, who lost his 2014 bid by just under seven per cent.

Though campaigning is not supposed to start till 13 October, jostling is well underway.  Now is the time for Australia to keep its head down; if we get dragged into the contest the collateral damage to relationships could be lasting. Continue reading

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ROSS GITTINS. Morrison’s surplus secret: bracket creep kills the tax cuts. (SMH 15-16.9.2018)

With publication of the Parliamentary Budget Office’s report on the May budget’s medium-term projections, we now know. Short answer: by assuming loads more bracket creep between now and then.   Continue reading

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GREG BAILEY. Whereto for the LNP and the ALP. Part 2.

What about the ALP which, despite its protestation about its commitment to social justice and the social wage, has also effected neoliberal outcomes over the past three decades? Just witness its recent support to Australia becoming a member of a revised TPPT. And it has done this even in the face of objection from parts of its left wing and the remnants of the union movement. Yet the union movement itself has been corporatized with a number of high profile ex union leaders having moved into the corporate sector.  Continue reading

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DAVID STEPHENS. The Australian War Memorial admits receiving $1,271,473 over three years in donations from military and defence firms.

During Budget Estimates hearings, then Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon (NSW) asked Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial, how much the Memorial had received in donations from military and defence firms. The answer covered the years 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 year to date, which would have been almost the full year, as the answer was posted in Hansard on 25 July 2018. Continue reading

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NICOLE GIBSON. A Letter to Canberra from a young Australian.

“Each Australian story I’ve heard is etched on my heart, permanently shifting my views and perspectives on leadership. I pray that you also have the humility to silence the chatter in your own minds and be inspired by the people you represent.” Continue reading

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BIANCA BRIJNATH. Improving dementia awareness in Australia’s multicultural communities can mean better care for all.

Sheila holds 10 teaspoons in her hands and every time the cooker whistles, she puts one down.  After 10 whistles, she switches the cooker off. The rice is done. She takes down two pots and prepares one of the five vegetable dishes she remembers. When dinner arrives at the table, there are two places set for five people but she is resolute about particular people being assigned particular plates. There is to be no intermingling or sharing of plates; everyone must know their plate and place at this table.   Continue reading

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JIEH-YUNG LO. Reflections of a Chinese-Australian.

To ensure we remain as the world’s most successful multicultural society, it is important to get the China debate right from now on to prevent the re-emergence of sinophobia in Australia.  Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. Failed leadership in church and state. Repost from 24 August 2018

Good leadership is about facing the group up to the hard issues. Without clearly defining why and how we need to change and creating  some disequilibrium there will be no worthwhile change. 

In the AFR on September 14 2018 Laura Tingle asked ‘What makes a good leader?’.That article makes a similar case to the one I outlined on 24 August 2018. See below. Continue reading

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MUNGO MACCALLUM. Turnbull lets fly.

Unlike Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull did not hang around in parliament, which must be a major relief for Scott Morrison – one baleful ex-prime minister glowering from the backbench is more than enough. Continue reading

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JAMES FERNYHOUGH. Ten years on, there’s just one positive legacy of the Global Financial Crisis.

“No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.” Continue reading

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TAMSIN SHAW. Edward Snowden Reconsidered (New York Review of Books Daily 13.09.18)

This summer, the fifth anniversary of Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance passed quietly, adrift on a tide of news that now daily sweeps the ground from under our feet. It has been a long five years, and not a period marked by increased understanding, transparency, or control of our personal data. In these years, we’ve learned much more about how Big Tech was not only sharing data with the NSA but collecting vast troves of information about us for its own purposes. And we’ve started to see the strategic ends to which Big Data can be put. In that sense, we’re only beginning to comprehend the full significance of Snowden’s disclosures. Continue reading

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BRUCE DUNCAN. Scott Morrison, the ‘prosperity gospel’ and neoliberalism.

Sounding surprisingly like an evangelical revivalist, Prime Minister Morrison in Albury on 6 September highlighted the need for love in our country, for every Australian, and that this set the value base for his own thinking and presumably for policies of his government. No one in Albury objected to the ideal of love of neighbour, but it sounded a bit odd when people were expecting a significant statement about changed policies of his government after the leadership bloodletting. Continue reading

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GREG BAILEY. Whereto for the LNP and the ALP. Part 1.

Australian politics as judged by the antics of the two major parties over the past three weeks is almost a (hyper-) reality television show, replete with microscopic media coverage of the principal personalities involved. Building up for many years this has implications for the survival of these parties, but disappear they certainly will not. The task for long-term survival is certainly before the LNP, whereas for the ALP the prospects seem brighter. Continue reading

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KIM WINGEREI. The responsibility of free speech.

I don’t like what Steve Bannon has to say. I find Nigel Farrage’s attempts at shrouding his anti-immigration messages in “Judeo-Christian values” abhorrent. But I am also quite certain that neither pose more nor less of a threat to Australia than Chelsea Manning does. The idea of picking and choosing who gets to speak is what we should be afraid of.  Continue reading

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HYLDA ROLFE. Protection v exploitation – Uncertain outlook for National Parks in New South Wales

A common framework for crime fiction builds on the notion of a heavy character leaning on target persons in order to ‘encourage’ them to fund the provision of protection from even heavier characters.  Hoping for security, the targets oblige and meet more and more demands, until at last they baulk.  So then the heavies appear with some attendant thuggery, and the ‘protection’ turns out to be a bit of a myth. It was really only exploitation.   Continue reading

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FRAN BAUM and TOBY FREEMAN. Time for the reform of primary health care in Australia: a ten-point plan (Croakey, 12.09.18)

12 September)marks 40 years since the World Health Organization member countries gathered for the International Conference on Primary Health Care in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and signed off on the declaration of Alma-Ata. Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. The urgent need for democratic renewal. We don’t trust the major parties

Australians are sick and tired of politicians. The community is deserting the major political parties in droves.Most recently we have seen it in Longman and Wagga.  We have lost trust in our major political parties and most particularly the Liberal and National Parties in recent months.

In the 1980s we embraced economic change and reform. It was necessary but painful for some. Today we need democratic reform and renewal. Like the 1980s, it is necessary but it will be painful for some.

After the next election we need a government that will assist us in major democratic renewal. It is urgent. We could start with a post-election summit in the same way that Prime Minister Hawke called an economic summit many years ago. We need a summit of community leaders to help chart a new course for democratic renewal.   Continue reading

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