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Jacqui Lambie and wildcard senators are not rogues

24 November 2014 | Tony Kevin

Jacquie Lambie tells the Senate she is quitting PUPJacqui Lambie has resigned from the Palmer United Party, apologising to the nation for weeks of acrimonious sniping and instability in parliament. We can understand the hostility of the major parties, and even the Greens, to independent and PUP senators who took office mid-year. But it is not in their self-interest to try to exploit differences and to weaken and destabilise the newbie senators.

Why the rich are getting richer

18 November 2014 | David James

Businessman examining moneyInvesting capital in the production of goods and services may create jobs, but it's not the best way to make money. It's more profitable to manipulate the financial system to create more money from money, which is why the finance sector does so well. The polarisation of wealth is less extreme in Australia, but we have our own capital-driven Ponzi scheme - the residential property market, which has become an exercise in making money out of money. 

Doing good and being happy

18 November 2014 | Shira Sebban

The Pursuit of Happiness in the Declaration of IndependencePeople of faith seem able to find an opportunity for growth, spirituality and meaning in every good deed they do, apparently experiencing true happiness along the way. By way of contrast, emotional happiness is often dismissed as selfish, elusive and unpredictable. But focusing on 'what works for us', and connection through family, friendship and community, also allows us to find purpose, and to savour many happy moments along the way.

Abbott ready to put G20 behind him

17 November 2014 | Tony Kevin

Tony Abbott at G20Abbott's best G20 moment was his closing media conference, where he gave an outlined the meeting's achievement of a 2.1 per cent global economic growth plan  over the next few years. But on two important matters – climate change and Ebola - the dynamic of the meeting got out of his control and produced outcomes clearly not to his liking. Abbott's counter-strategy – quite successful in retrospect – was to set media hounds running to the side-drama of Vladimir Putin. 

Hun Sen's Cambodia a mirage on the Mekong

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13 November 2014 | Tony Kevin

Cover of Sebastian Strangio's Hun Sen's CambodiaPhnom Penh is a lively, bustling, often happy city of energetic and industrious people, with amazing growth statistics. In 2004 half of Cambodians lived in poverty, and by 2011 the figure had dropped to 20%. But this belies the terrible state of public health, the corruption in education, the abuse of human rights, and much more.

There's no such thing as a free blessing

13 November 2014 | Catherine Marshall

Camel at the Pushkar Camel FairI looked at the Brahmin and felt a cackle rising in my throat. 'You said this blessing was free,' I said. 'The blessing is free, but you must pay for the maintenance of this place,' he insisted, sweeping his arm up towards the ghats and the temples surrounding it. I wondered briefly what the consequence would be of defying the Brahmin's demand.

The masala stone

11 November 2014 | Bernard Appassamy

Masala StoneFamilies, like mine, that are born from migration are reborn punctually through the scent of their cuisine. It's the 1970s and a grinding rhythm from the garden is audible through my window. Leaning over the ros kari, Jessie, our family cook, is crushing spices for the evening curry. With her two hands, she holds flat a cylindrical stone, the baba, and rolls it with her wrists back and forth, on its large rectangular base.

The Americanisation of Australia's universities

09 November 2014 | Sarah Klenbort

US student in debtThe US, whose citizens owe more on student loans than they do on credit cards, is the land of deregulation. Australia’s Education Minister Christopher Pyne has the support of university management in his desire to see Australia to follow the US path. But it is clear to lecturers, tutors and researchers that this will only create more inequality, mainly by forcing people without money to either miss out all together on higher education or go into a huge amount of debt.

G20's opportunity to nail multinational tax dodgers

06 November 2014 | Angela Owen

Ikea storeThe media has reported that Swedish furniture company IKEA's Australian arm has earned an estimated $1 billion in profits since 2003, almost all of which has been exported tax-free. Action to crack down on tax avoidance is on the agenda of next week's G20 in Brisbane, but it remains to be seen if the interests of developing countries will be looked after.

The Australian Christian Lobby will not go away

03 November 2014 | John Warhurst

ACL LogoThe ACL's recent national conference was held in Canberra and featured Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as keynote speaker. Appearances at the lobby's conferences have become something of a political rite of passage in recent years. Despite serious academic criticism from Professor Rodney Smith of the University of Sydney questioning its claims to political influence, it is now established in the top echelon of lobbying groups.

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