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27 January 2015 |
In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama drew rare bipartisan applause with his anti-Russian rhetoric when he said the US was ‘upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small’. The Cold War ended 25 years ago, yet the desire to weaken Russia has never gone away. This is nonsense. Russia poses no threat to the west. It is just another country trying to make its own way in an unfriendly world.
11 December 2014 |
On Christmas Eve I will deliver, for the twelfth year in a row, an iced, naively decorated fruitcake to my oldest and dearest Australian friend, Enid. I will pull up into the driveway of her brick home. She will open the front door before I have even knocked, and before she’s even kissed me hello will tell me how beautiful the cake is and how she couldn’t possibly cut into it.
11 December 2014 |
As we prepare to mark the tenth anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami, Australia's proud achievement in being the largest per capita provider of overseas aid at the time is being overshadowed by reports of further devastating government cuts to our aid program. Successive cuts - including 20 per cent in the May Budget - mean that we are starting to be seen as a country turning inwards.
09 December 2014 |
One of the fascinating aspects of Australia's political pantomime is the manner in which the Federal Treasurer is forced to metamorphose into a used car salesman who is spruiking the Australian economy. One reason for the relative impotence of the Treasurer is that the Federal government only has control over fiscal policy. Monetary policy, the interest rate, is set by the Reserve Bank, not the government.
01 December 2014 |
The wider Defence community is now ascendant in the Australian community, yet the ADF has still suffered an effective cut in pay. Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie is projecting herself as the defender of defence personnel and promising to vote against all government policy until the pay offer is upgraded. But there are strong reasons to suggest defence welfare may not have much of a political impact at the next election.
24 November 2014 |
Jacqui 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.
18 November 2014 |
People 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.
18 November 2014 |
Investing 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.
17 November 2014 |
Abbott'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.
13 November 2014 |
Phnom 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.
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