• Remember the light on the hill?
    At the 1949 ALP Convention, then Prime Minister Ben Chifley
    delivered the ‘Light on the Hill’ speech. The speech is seen as
    a declaration of ‘traditional’ ALP values. As a movement bringing
    something better to the people, better standards of living, greater
    happiness to the mass of the people.
  • The Chain of Responsibility
    There are certain responsibilities when you are driving a vehicle.
    You are required to comply with rules such as not being affected by
    drugs or alcohol, not checking your social media accounts while driving,
    maintaining control over your vehicle, parking only where allowed and so on.
  • Just answer the Question!
    I know that, like me, you fume when politicians steadfastly refuse
    to answer a question directly, preferring to prevaricate by evading
    an answer altogether, giving an answer to a question they would
    prefer to answer, or wandering off into a boring recital of the dot
    points with which their minders have briefed them.
  • The economy is sinking, but where is the lifebuoy?
    Those of you who hear experts describe in frightening terms the
    dire state of our economy, and then hear the faux reassurances that
    issue from the mouths of our Treasurer and Prime Minister, must wonder
    if they live in some parallel universe, where, reminiscent of Humpty
    Dumpty, words can mean anything they want them to mean.
  • The root cause
    Frequently, when presented with a problem, we attempt to treat the symptom rather
    than the real issue. For example, if every morning when you get in your car you
    notice that one of the tyres looks a bit flat, you could treat the symptom by calling
    in at the nearest petrol station and putting more air in the tyre. However, as air
    doesn’t shrink or disappear for no reason, there is obviously a deeper issue involved.
  • Duttonisation – an existential threat to Morrison?
    Duttonisation – an existential threat to Morrison? Make no mistake
    – Dutton’s thirst for power remains unquenched. His conviction that
    he is ‘the better man’ to be prime minister continues unabated. This
    piece argues that in pursuit of this lofty goal, he has now consciously
    embarked on a process best described as ‘Duttonisation’.

The Political Sword

Get the inside track on the media and government.

Time to resurrect witchcraft

Back in 1971 I wrote my honours thesis for social anthropology at Sydney University. Its theme was a link between witchcraft/sorcery beliefs and egalitarianism in native and peasant communities around the world. Given discussion earlier this year about inequality, I believe it has a relevance. Its...

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The perils of Self Regulation

A month or so ago, The Political Sword posed the question ‘What have the unions ever done for us?’ The piece closed with a question: . . .if there was nothing for the political right and employers to fear from the unions, why are the same groups still trying to neuter the unions’...

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Not quite behind the throne

The IPA (Institute of Public Affairs) has had many words written about it, including that it may be the power behind the throne in the Abbott government. The problem is that ‘behind the throne’ usually means a shadowy or lesser known presence but the IPA is making itself anything but th...

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Can the World be a Better Place?

‘Pay it forward’ is a concept where the beneficiary of a good deed repays the ‘debt’ by assisting others, who need some help and support into the future, rather than the initial benefactor. Wikipedia credits the terminology to a book written in 1916 by Lily Hardy Hammond ent...

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Lords and ladies: a second morality tale

The Spruiker Lords and Ladies, before we begin, may I humbly beg your indulgence to refresh your memory of the first morality tale, of the matches rustling in ragged coat pockets, of the fires and rising waters, of the tree monks and the paper castle.Done? Excellent! Now we may proceed.Lords a...

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Darkening times

The Australian Parliament recently passed legislation giving ‘law enforcement’ agencies considerably greater powers that are claimed to be necessary to combat the ‘Islamic State’ terrorism threat. Prime Minister Abbott also addressed the United Nations General Assembly late ...

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Whose responsibility?

Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore...

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What have the unions ever done for us?

Monty Python’s Life of Brian was recently shown on free to air TV. For those that haven’t seen it, the story revolves around Brian, who lives in Palestine during the Roman occupation and somehow is involved with a group of people that want to overthrow the Roman occupation. The movie en...

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Where have all the public services gone?

Where have all the services gone? Gone to corporates every one. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? A year or two back, where I live, the local water provider received approval to increase the price of water. It had been involved in major infrastructure spending to enhance th...

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We are all victims of short term expediency

In Australia, politicians are elected for either three or four year terms. The conventional wisdom is that the first year of their term is working out what they want to change — usually masquerading as ‘fixing up the mess’ left to them by their predecessors. The second year (and t...

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Is the free market free?

On 2 September when the Senate passed the repeal of the mining tax, the legislation included a considerable slowing of the process to increase superannuation for workers. Senator Lazarus for PUP, and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, both emphasised that this gave individuals more money in their ow...

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Jesus was a refugee

I regularly drive past a Christian church in a suburb of Brisbane that has a reputation for being a ‘nice’ area. When I drive past as a service is concluding, the attendees are going to their newish model cars to return to their homes that, if they live in the same area, are worth more ...

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Words, words, words

Lenore Taylor reported in August that Tony Abbott had told a ministerial meeting that the party had not broken any election promises, not one. My first reaction was that this was the sign of a narcissistic personality, someone who cannot bear to be wrong. On second thought, I pondered that perhaps ...

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Middle Australia: a new narrative for Labor?

Tucked away in one of the last Fairfax-Nielsen public opinion polls in mid-July is the intriguing fact that although the ALP was leading on a two party preferred basis, and Bill Shorten was preferred as Prime Minister to Tony Abbott, Abbott was ‘way ahead of Mr Shorten on the issue of “...

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There is no ‘I’ in Team

Welcome to ‘Team Australia’. The usual connotation of the word ‘team’ is a group of people that pull together for the common good. Business these days seems to encourage people to form teams, whether the purpose is the development or implementation of a new product, or to a...

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A year in Abbottland

Twelve months into the Abbott government, its misdeeds could fill an entire book. But here I’ll attempt to summarize them, as it’s important we remember them all to maintain the rage. If you think this article is too long, blame Tony Abbott. For 28 months, they promised to reveal all...

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Whose freedom?

Many years ago, I think during the Reagan years, the US was on one of its regular attacks on China’s human rights record and the lack of freedom for its citizens, and I recall someone from the Chinese side replying to the effect that Chinese citizens could walk their city streets at night wit...

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What is the Hockey budget all about?

Does anyone out there know? Does Hockey know? Does Cormann? Does Abbott know? Do his Cabinet and his backbench know? The commentators and the voters have their ideas, but do they really know what is behind the Hockey Budget? Readers will not find a definitive answer here; I don’t know more th...

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Debt crisis — what debt crisis?

Let’s face it; the Australian public has been bashed around the ears for years by the LNP about the level of government debt. Some economists would contend that Australia doesn’t have any debt — and certainly not a debt problem. Unfortunately, this piece has to contain some histo...

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The government doesn’t understand

For those who have followed my comments on TPS, you will probably know by now that my working life was spent in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs — and I still prefer that nomenclature even though the government changed it to indigenous affairs some time ago. This piece is about a...

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