• Mutually assured destruction
    A few years ago, we were in Canada. One cool and wet day in
    St Jacobs, Ontario (a couple of hours west of Toronto), we walked
    into a building dedicated to The Mennonite Story because it
    looked dry and warm inside. Unsurprisingly, the building went someway
    towards explaining the history and beliefs of the Mennonite Church
  • Is adversarial politics damaging our democracy?
    It was twelve years ago that I wrote ‘Is adversarial politics
    damaging our democracy?’ Some of that piece is reproduced
    below because recent political events demonstrate that its
    messages are as relevant today as they were then.
  • Nationalism really isn't easy
    If you said that someone has money to burn, you mean that
    they have far more money than they need or that they simply
    spend their money on things that you think are unnecessary
    or not socially acceptable.
  • The Trump dilemma
    Don’t get me wrong. Trump is not the dilemma to which I’m referring. His
    behaviour is no longer a quandary. With every word he utters, with every
    tweet, he confirms that his mental state continues to deteriorate to the point
    where commentator after commentator expresses astonishment and alarm at his
    outlandish reactions to the social and political environment in which he finds himself.
  • Information and critical thinking do matter
    When Prime Minister Morrison was advised there was the risk of uncontrolled
    spread of a deadly pandemic on the horizon early this year, he was slightly
    wiser than at Christmas when he left a burning Australia in the ‘capable’
    hands of Deputy Prime Minister and National Party Leader Michael McCormack.
  • Morrison morphs into ‘Strict Father’ mode
    Back in 2013, I wrote a piece with the curious title:
    The myth of political sameness.
    Its purpose was to debunk the commonly held
    view that ‘politicians are all the same’.

The Political Sword

Get the inside track on the media and government.

Doin’ the GST-a-rosy rag

Got a PM, PM we can’t trust Said a higher GST is a must Doin’ the GST-a-rosy-rag Told the voters you must pay If you want to see a surgeon on another day He was doin’ the GST-a-rosy-rag Been around, and new is old Catch your cold and blow your gold and spend Doin’ the GST-a-rosy-rag ...

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Winter winds, wind farms and hot air

About this time of the year the all-year-round residents of Canberra enjoy a reprieve from the hot air produced on Capital Hill. Pity is that this usually combines with winds that come from the Antarctic via the Snowy Mountains to make Canberra shiver through another winter of sub-zero morning...

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How did we get a multi-party Westminster system? Part 2

[The opening of Australia’s first parliament by Tom Roberts] Last week I gave a brief outline of how the Westminster parliamentary system evolved in England. Then came Australia which largely adopted the British parliamentary system and recognised the British monarch as head of state. I ...

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How did we get a multi-party Westminster system? Part 1

[Charles I in parliament: ‘Attempted arrest of the five members’ by Charles West Cope] Earlier this year we had a couple of pieces that raised issues about the parliamentary and party system in Australia (‘President Abbott’ and ‘Instant Experts’) and in June we had the 800th anniversary of Ma...

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Where will we be in 50 years?

In the next few months, most Australians will be considering their financial affairs and the preparation of their annual tax return. It is usually a time for some questioning around how you did manage to spend all that money in the past year and what changes you can make to become thriftier in...

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A failure of the Left

This is a piece about politics but not the politics we normally discuss on TPS. It is a tale of two radical youth: one from the late1960s (me) and one from the 2010s (Jake Bilardi). You probably know the story of Jake Bilardi, the young Australian who early in March became a suicide bomber...

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Where does Abbott really stand on national security?

The idea of ‘national security’ arises from the ‘social contract’ referred to by political philosophers. The concept is that the people gave the power to enforce rules and punishments to their leaders, whether monarchs or elected governments, in return for ‘protection’. Otherwise, in going abo...

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The politics of marriage

While Australia had a uniform Marriage Act from 1961 until 2004, there was nothing specific (except for common law) that prohibited marriage of two people of the same gender. The requirement that marriage was between a man and woman was only inserted into the act by the Howard Government. The ...

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The $19,990 special

The amount of ink spilled in the analysis of the 2015 Australian budget would probably fill Sydney Harbour. The number of electrons expended in the same way would probably light up a small town for a week. There is no need to add to the consumption of electrons here. Instead, let’s look at the sales...

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The unhappy marriage of democracy and capitalism

Most Western countries, including Greece and Australia, have a system of democratic-capitalism. It marries a democratic political system with a capitalist economic system and they are perceived as being well-matched because both are founded on philosophies about individual freedom. It is, howe...

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NAPLAN — a guide or a competition

Most educational institutions in Australia have a ‘tag line’ — a statement that is supposed to be a pithy description of what the entire school community believes in. It isn’t surprising that a lot of the ‘tag lines’ have something to do with recognising the individual talents of each student and ...

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Government budget trickery

I would like to state upfront that I already had the word ‘trickery’ in this title before Bill Shorten used it in his Budget Reply speech. I could say he stole it from me but I suspect he thought of it himself. It is such an appropriate word for this budget. One thing Bill Shorten didn’t m...

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Hope for the homeless

Throughout the world there are people who ’sleep rough’ every night. For a few, that is the way they choose to spend their lives; for the majority, however, the habit is not one of choice or desire — the choice is made for them due to circumstances relating to employment or their personal live...

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Are budgets worth the paper they’re written on?

In this little exercise I have gone through commonwealth government budgets from 1999‒2000 to 2013‒14 to study changes in the figures. The figures for each budget can vary quite significantly. For quite a few years now we have had the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) which up...

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The saga of Billy Gordon

On January 31 this year, Billy Gordon joined a very select group — indigenous members of parliament in Australia. He won the seat of Cook in far north Queensland from the LNP and joined the Queensland parliament as part of the minority ALP government. Late in March, the State parliament sat for ...

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Beware, there is a plan

There is much talk about the ‘chaos’ of the Abbott government but take a close look at what has been done, what it is talking about, and the reports it is gathering together. We need to look beyond the political catch-cries of the ‘debt and deficit disaster’ and ‘Labor’s mess’ and examine what is d...

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Instant Experts

To be in public life you need to have a sense of self-belief. How else would you cope with those that feel they can criticise your actions, private life, as well as decisions you have made in the past? ‘Stars’ such as elite sports professionals, actors, performers and so on can demonstrate that th...

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How the economic rationalists tried to steal our hearts and minds

At the start of the year in my piece ‘Proud to be a bigot’ I mentioned that, before Abbott, Australian governments tended to look after those who were ‘down on their luck’. It was a phrase with which I grew up. People who were unemployed were not ‘dole bludgers’ ...

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The ‘trickle-down’ effect

Next time a conservative politician or acquaintance tells you that tax cuts for the better off will help the state or nation’s economy, you might want to have ‘the discussion’. Tax cuts for the better off is part of a theory of economics known as ‘trickle-down’ that se...

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Intergenerational Reports: what are they on about?

There have now been four Intergenerational Reports (IGR) from 2002  to 2015, issued by three treasurers: Costello (2),  Swan  and Hockey.  They were meant to come out at five-yearly intervals but Swan (and Rudd, although officially they are the Treasurer’s report) brought f...

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