A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts in other media Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MAX HAYTON. Jacinda Ardern leads a nation in grief.

Under a remarkable young woman New Zealand is discovering deep resources of kindness and compassion. In the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre people touched by the tragedy built mountains of flowers and in their thousands attended rallies in support of the Muslims living in their communities.  Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 3 Comments

ADRIAN PISARSKI. Tackling the Housing Crisis Properly Requires a National Housing Strategy

There is a plethora of well-intentioned research and opinion aimed at solving Australia’s growing housing crisis, including Labor’s proposed reforms to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount. However, to be really effective, all of this must be considered in the context of a new national housing strategy. Only by taking that sort of holistic approach can we transform Australia’s housing system to be fit for the 21st Century.

Continue reading

Posted in Housing | Leave a comment

PAUL COLLINS. Talking Heads in the Catholic Church


Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 5 Comments

RICHARD BUTLER -Rationality and Fairness in International relations

The reliable and stable conduct of international relations rests on two key assumptions: rationality and fairness. Both are in dangerously short supply today. When a new government is formed in Australia, it should at least make a start on correcting the part we have played in shaping these circumstances Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 3 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. NSW infrastructure: who is fit to govern?

Readers of Pearls and Irritations may have followed the transport infrastructure fiasco in NSW under conservative governments led first by Mr O’Farrell, then Mr Baird and now by one-time Transport Minister and Treasurer, Ms Berejiklian. Several reports last week put an exclamation mark to the debacle and raised questions about the fitness of either side to govern.  Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 1 Comment

ISABELLA HARDING. How would I sum up the youth climate strike in Melbourne last Friday ?

If I had to sum up the youth climate strike in Melbourne last Friday in one word, it would be empowering. If I had to sum it up in three words, they would be empowering, inspiring and disappointing. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 2 Comments

CLIVE KESSLER.  Daley’s Asian blunder … And beyond

 Yes, Michael Daley’s Asian blunder was a bad choice of words —— and more. But when we have finished fulminating about his “racism”, consider this. What he is talking about to people in “the stressed and stalled lower middle” of Australian society touches upon a deep reversal in their, and most Australians’, long-ingrained attitudes, assumptions and expectations. Continue reading

Posted in political | 4 Comments

LINDA BRISKMAN. Let’s disentangle free speech and hate speech in the media.


We are all seeking answers to the heartbreaking mass murder of Muslims in Christchurch. It assuages consciences if we can attribute blame that absolves us as a collective of non-Muslim Australians. There are many nonetheless who cannot be let off the hook. The media is one. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

STEPHANIE DOWRICK. We owe the dead and grieving insight and action as well as unlimited sorrow

The first response of most to the catastrophic tragedy in Christchurch is unlimited sorrow for all those directly and indirectly affected, but most especially for those whose lives have been ended or shattered. “Noor” means light in Arabic. Most of those slaughtered were at al-Noor, the “Mosque of the Light”. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

MACK WILLIAMS : The Hanoi Summit and aftermath – a South Korean perspective

Special Advisor to President Moon assesses the Hanoi Summit as not a failure but a setback. China and the ROK continue to agree the need for a US:DPRK agreed roadmap to move past the present stalemate towards the longer term common objective of the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. At the same time the ROK has stepped up its working level contacts with the US. Prior to Hanoi, the ROK Opposition worked hard in Washington to urge Congress, the military security lobby and thinktanks to pressure President Trump to maintain a hardline approach in his negotiations with Kim Jong-un.

Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | Leave a comment

HAJO DUKEN. The Brexit crisis – devil’s work and people’s contribution – are the voters to blame?

Britain is in panic. The public realises that the Brexit crisis is self-inflicted and anger and frustration with MPs from all sides is palpable. MP bashing is now in vogue. The collective and individual responsibility of the vast majority of MPs for the Brexit mess seems to be established. ‘House of Fools’ and ‘muppets’ are some of the milder judgments. However, isn’t there an inconvenient question looming: under which circumstances do voters need to accept responsibility in a democracy?

Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 2 Comments

CAMERON DOUGLAS. Thailand’s military erect a democratic facade

Thailand is about to return to popular elections but the democratic facade will ensure the military remains the country’s fourth branch of government. New rules should confirm the 2014 coup leader as prime minister but will leave him relying on a coalition to govern
Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment



President Trump wants to get US troops out of Syria, and probably out of Iraq as well, and soon. The Pentagon however has said US forces will be out of Afghanistan in five years, a period estimated to allow successful negotiations with the Taliban, while reserving to themselves the right to initiate drone strikes. Five years will take the withdrawal into the next administration, which might decide against it. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

DUNCAN GRAHAM Doing democracy differently

Outsiders who propped their eyelids apart to watch Indonesia’s third TV ‘debate’ ahead of next month’s national elections would have concluded the campaign is bloodless.

For 150 minutes – minus about a third for commercials and promos – vice president hopeful and hidebound Islamic cleric Ma’ruf Amin, shared a platform with challenger and business tycoon Sandiaga Uno.

Amin is coupled to incumbent President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo; Uno supports former general Prabowo Subianto in his bid for the top job. In this show only the VP candidates performed. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

CRISTA PONGRATZ-LIPPITT. Renowned reformer: ‘Church has 5 years for a complete turnaround or it’s over’

Father Helmut Schüller of Austria says the sex abuse crisis shows urgent need to ‘desacralize’ the Catholic priesthood and empower the laity. .

Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 6 Comments

GWYNNE DYER. New Zealand vs. Australia: Terrorism and the difference (Japan Times 19.03.19)

LONDON – Extreme right-wing terrorism, mostly of the “white nationalist” variety, is becoming as big a problem as Islamist terrorism in many places. That’s certainly the case in the United States, where the U.S. Government Accounting Office calculated last year that 119 Americans have been killed by Islamist extremists since the 9/11 attacks, and 106 Americans by far-right extremists. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs, Politics | 5 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Defending against the sacrificial knight errant on an existential crusade

Hopefully the security agencies won’t simply default to the jihadist archetype in their response to the atrocity in Christchurch, as the media has. Distinguishing between motives of the perpetrators of such unpardonable acts and understanding the internal logic by which they justify their actions is important. Marques like far right, white supremacist, white nationalist, neo-Nazi, or Islamophobe occlude the detail in Tarrant’s case and are unhelpful in finding an implementable understanding of these violent phenomena.

Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 3 Comments

ANDREW GLIKSON. At a climate tipping point

According to Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chief climate advisor to the European Union, “We’re simply talking about the very life support system of this planet”. As fascism and the horror of murderous hate crimes are spreading around the world, governments are presiding over runaway climate change which is leading toward a mass extinction of species, costing the lives of billions and the demise of much of nature, while children are protesting the betrayal of their future.

Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 3 Comments

ALAN PEARS. Electric vehicles thrill school children

My grandchildren were too young to go to the ‘school strike’ last Friday. But on Saturday they experienced the excitement and reality of a zero carbon future at the Electric Vehicle Expo.

Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

TIM WOODRUFF. Out of Pocket Costs: Who is missing out on health care?

One of my patients has epilepsy. She sees a neurologist for that and he charges $200 out of pocket per visit. He has controlled her epilepsy very well. She is on a disability support pension. She believes she will get better care seeing him privately despite the fact that he also works in the public system. 

Out of pocket (OOP) costs have been in the news particularly since 4 Corners exposed huge costs impacting significant financial hardship on many sick Australians. As a result of a Ministerial Committee report the Health Minister has proposed tackling the issue with a website of specialist charges and an education campaign for patients. The Committee consisted of ten health care provider representatives and one consumer representative. My suggestion to the Minister that more consumer representatives might be appropriate resulted in an intensely angry response. Continue reading

Posted in Health | 3 Comments

ANDREW FARRAN. PM May’s Brexit blind-sided by Parliamentary Speaker

Prime Minister May’s Brexit was on course to be delivered on 29th March as scheduled until the resubmission of the previously thwarted Withdrawal Agreement was blocked by the Speaker John Bercow, citing a 1604 convention last used in 1920 to the effect that legislation previously rejected cannot be resubmitted in the same Parliamentary session unless in a fundamentally different form.

Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

NICK DEANE. Thoughts on the Schools Strike for the climate.

NICK DEANE. Thoughts on the Schools Strike for the climate.

Concerns about climate change and the environment cannot be separated from concerns about militarism and war. All military activity is polluting. Climate change increases the likelihood of war. Environmentally damaging activities are, ultimately, protected by armed force. Preparation for war runs in parallel with climate change.

Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

COLIN HAWES. Why Defamation Lawsuits Are Crucial for Protecting Rule of Law: A Comment on the Chau Chak Wing Case

Following the recent success of Dr. Chau Chak Wing’s defamation lawsuit against Fairfax and John Garnaut, Liberal MP Andrew Hastie stated that the judgment will be “carefully analysed”: “The ability to report freely and fairly on national security is a vital part of our democracy,” and “we are concerned about the impact that defamation laws in Australia are having on responsible journalism that informs Australians about important national security issues.” One can only hope that Hastie and related national security hawks do actually read the Federal Court’s 100-page meticulously reasoned judgment before jumping to conclusions about protecting “democracy” and “responsible journalism”.

Continue reading

Posted in Media | 2 Comments

MUNGO MACCALLUM.  The mob will always work you out.

It is not clear who said it first, but it quickly became a catchcry of the long-lived government of Bob Hawke: the mob will always work you out. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

BOB CARR. Disaffected electorate knows the real score (The Australian, March 18 2019)

Why in a sports-mad nation, with football as an overarching religion divided into different denominations, has the promise of two new stadiums been such a vote loser? Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

ALEX MITCHELL. Gladys clings on in NSW

Liberals and Nationals will vote in all kinds of weather and in all circumstances. They will show up in coaches, hire cars and even wheelchairs. Some dress up in their Sunday best as if they are going to the races.

Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

ALEXANDER HOLDEN and HEIKO SPALLEK. Laying Out the Road Map for an Australian Universal Dental Scheme

Can you imagine an Australia where visiting a dentist was as simple as visiting a GP? The Grattan Institute has released a report: Filling the dental gap: A universal dental scheme for Australia, that does just this. The report begins by highlighting the disparity between a routine health check with a GP and visiting the dentist; those visiting the dentist might expect it to hurt more, but usually in the pocket more than anywhere else.

Continue reading

Posted in Health | 1 Comment

KATHERINE McKERNAN. Sydney’s rough sleeping problem – no rest for any of us!

Sydney’s incidence of rough sleeping, just the extreme manifestation of the broader problem of homelessness, remains on the increase and has been so for a number of years. Set against the backdrop of a booming NSW economy, ironically riding the stamp duty boom of a rampant property market, it is a sad indictment on the effectiveness of government responses to homelessness. As the people of NSW once again head to the ballot box, it is time that politicians of all persuasions showed determination and unity in solving this problem.

Continue reading

Posted in Housing | Leave a comment

ALAN KIRKLAND. Government gives in to mortgage broking lobbyists

“Unintended consequences”. It’s the clichè consumer groups like CHOICE are used to hearing from industry groups every time a major review recommends a change that would put people before profits.

Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment