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Columnists & Opinion

Commentary blinded by the light of Gladys

The news of the resignation of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed the depths that the media and public discourse around politics has sunk to in this country. The notion of the alleged corruption was lost in the cacophony of praise for Berejiklian and heated criticism of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). “Gladys Berejiklian was invincible as Premier until a ‘stuff up’ in her personal life brought her undone” was the headline on the ABC…

Submarine program suffers nuclear meltdown

Remember the patriotic fervour when the Future Submarine Program was announced? “Australian built, Australian jobs, Australian steel, here right where we stand “crowed PM Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne at the announcement of the $50 billion project awarded to French company DCNS. Sold as an essential element of our national security requirements, this vote buying exercise soon became a byword for political and financial mismanagement. Within the blink of an eye…

The seeming enigma of Afghanistan

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan – we didn’t know what we were doing...” “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.” So said Douglas Lute, a three-star Army General who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, to government interviewers in 2015. What I hope you are about to read should in no way…

On the passing of Hal Wootten, a great lawman

As I mourn the passing of a great Australian and a man I called the lawman, Hal Wootten, I wonder how Indigenous voices will record his enormous contribution to our struggle and his recent passing. I have known about Hal Wootten for a long time and his words influenced the path I chose to take in life. As a 15-year-old I remember reading Kevin Gilbert’s ‘Because a White Man Will Never Do It’ in which…

COVID is no place for politicking in Australia

Think of the three ideal characteristics a country should have to fight a global pandemic. First, an island with no shared international borders so arrivals and departures can be controlled. Second, the island should have one federal jurisdiction, so the public health messaging is consistent and based on the best medical advice to government. Third, that federal jurisdiction should be constitutionally responsible for quarantine. Of course, what I have just described is Australia. We have…

Trump, populism and the rest of the world

More than just a reckoning day for the Divided States of America, next week’s election has consequences for the rest of world. Worsening economic and political relations with China, Russian expansionism, Middle East conflicts and climate change policy are just some of the lenses through which the world is observing the American election. The election is also a test of populism – the campaigning strategy that claims society is split into the ‘ordinary people’ and…

Judgement day: This American election matters

The American election next month matters not only to Americans, but to the rest of the world as well. It will determine how we view America and how influential they will be for generations to come. America has taken the concept of Manifest Destiny – a mid-19th Century imperialist belief the United States was destined to expand its dominion across North America spreading democracy and capitalism – to market itself as the paragon of democracy…

Converting your privacy into corporate profits

No doubt many of you use or know people who use the online genealogy website Ancestry.com. Its billions of genealogy records are innocuously searched by millions looking to research their near and distant ancestors. Ancestry.com is the largest for-profit genealogy company in the world, and the world’s largest provider of DNA testing and tracing services. It was sold several weeks ago for US$4.7 billion to private equity fund Blackstone Group Inc. With an eye to…

Taxing matters: Spending my tax matters to me

I HAVE been paying income tax for the best part of 35 years, always as a salaried employee who dutifully did their annual tax return and kept within the ‘rules’. I always felt paying tax was part of the societal contract we agree to when being part of an educated, healthy and peaceful society. But here we are at tax return time and I’m suddenly agreeing with the late Kerry Packer, who in 1991 declared…

Racism: it’s the age old virus untreated

The killing of yet another African American by police in the United States has rightfully sparked outrage and protests on American soil and around the globe. The anger is righteous, for the killing of George Floyd was the latest unprovoked death by excessive police force to stain the history of American ‘democracy.’ What was once able to be silenced and withheld from the public, the silent scourge of American society, has been brought to the…

The cost of allowing power to come at all cost

When the President is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office’, Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the United States Constitution allows the Vice President and a majority of heads of the executive departments to formally declare the Vice President as Acting President, and divest the President of all authority. Given the subnormal mental capacity of the current President, his incompetence, conflicts of interest, cronyism, and his ignorance of the rule…