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A more sustainable Australia needs better public policy

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Our Common WealthThe online magazine New Matilda may be Eureka Street's competition, but it shares with us the conviction that better public policy is the key to achieving a fairer and more sustainable future. The long-term good of the nation is at the heart of New Matilda’s recently-launched Reclaiming our Common Wealth. It's a campaign that aims to inject into a regime of policy development, a degree of rigour, and values such as good citizenship and ethical responsibility.

The questions posed, and suggestions made, go beyond the ‘What’s in it for me?’ approach that dominates our national Zeitgeist. The questions are more profound, and more vexing, than current political leaders would have us believe. The document Reclaiming our Common Wealth would see our laws formed not on the basis of whim, or political expediency, but something much deeper. 

During its 16 year history, Eureka Street has tried to play a part in setting the agenda for national public debate. We have not gone to the extent of formulating policy like New Matilda. But many of our articles have policy input as their underlying agenda.

Vital Signs Vibrant SocietyFor instance, in this issue Frank Brennan highlights the need to work out policies that address ethical questions that accompany the medical breakthroughs promised by embryonic stem cell research. He warns against the dangers of a fundamentalism or intransigence in some religious leaders, that is disengaged from the conscience of the nation. But the same time, he says some of the promoters of the research 'have played fast and loose with the processes of political deliberation.'

If Brennan sees fundamentalism and impatience as the enemies of good policy, Francis Sullivan identifies timidity and loss of nerve as major stumbling blocks. He assesses the efforts the the ALP's Craig Emerson to arrive at a series of policy positions that could 'withstand intellectual scrutiny and at the same time could reverberate with the instincts of an old social democratic party'.

The collection of articles in this Eureka Street goes beyond Australia, with Elizabeth Ascroft presenting a snapshot of Cambodia that many will find uncomfortable, 13 years after the UN sponsored and managed democratic elections. And former longtime editor Morag Fraser ambles through a London, both known and not known, to her, and considers the impact of the bombings one year ago.

Click here to download an MP3 audio reading of this editorial.



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New Matilda has lost its way, focussing its 'news' capapcities on 'name' journalists; it is to be commended though on its polic efforts.

andrew joh nson | 07 July 2006  

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