• The hazard of heedless politicians
    No ‘heedless’ is not a misprint; nor should it have been ‘headless’,
    although some might prefer that descriptor with poultry overtones!
    ‘Heedless’ signifies an alarming propensity so many politicians exhibit
    – the capacity to ignore evidence that does not align with their
    entrenched beliefs, their unshakable ideological position.
  • The yoke of inequality burdens us all
    It was in 2012 that The Price of Inequality by Nobel Prize winner
    Joseh Stiglitz was published in America and the United Kingdom.
    In 2013 it was distributed worldwide by Penguin Books. This
    seminal work, tellingly subtitled: 'How Today's Divided Society
    Endangers Our Future', was widely acknowledged.
  • The politics of religious freedom
    The dictum is not to talk about religion and politics in polite company.
    If you share that belief, read no further. Religious freedom is an
    interesting concept. A quick search came up with no current law
    in Australia that makes a belief in any faith tradition illegal...
  • Cancer sucks
    It seems that most Australians have been affected in some way by cancer.
    The chances are you know a cancer survivor, remember someone who didn’t
    survive, have sympathy with someone undergoing treatment or have a
    friend or relative that knows someone who has been affected in some way.
  • Democracy via three-word slogans
    Another title might have been Democracy according to Justice Kenneth Madison Hayne,
    who in his address to The Melbourne Law School on 26 July 2019, contrasted the
    features of a Royal Commission: independence, neutrality, publicity and provision of
    a reasoned report, all characteristics of the judicial processes, to the very different
    features of everyday political discourse.
  • The ruthless heart of the Liberal Party
    Dedicated observers of the political scene in Australia owe much
    to Niki Savva who made her mark as a significant author when
    she penned two critical exposés in which she fearlessly uncovered
    the labyrinthine machinery of the Liberal Party for all to see.

The Political Sword

Get the inside track on the media and government.

Letter to Bill Shorten: Part 1

There must be many ardent Labor supporters who would wish to transmit their thoughts to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten about how Labor ought to proceed over the coming months. Ad Astra is one such supporter. Here is a letter he sent to Mr Shorten. The Hon Bill Shorten, MP Leader of the Federal Opp...

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The wonderful world of economic rationalists

The world of the economic rationalists took hold in politics in the 1980s. Their approach, which was discussed in ‘The rise and fall of a shibboleth’, has moulded the world for the past 30 years. Government decisions regarding national economies have been guided by it. International bodi...

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The rise and fall of a shibboleth

Firstly I must acknowledge that the title of this article was inspired by the words of the 1994 song ‘Shibboleth’ by Melbourne band, The Killjoys. In this case, the shibboleth I am referring to is ‘economic rationalism’, an expression that distinguishes the Right from the L...

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Red red wine

It’s not news to anyone that Barry O’Farrell resigned as New South Wales Premier after giving ICAC (the New South Wales anti-corruption body) misleading information over a bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange he received as a gift from Nick Di Girolamo, a person associated with a Sydney Water...

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Lords and Ladies, a morality tale …

The spruiker Lords and Ladies, I invite you on a journey into a world that is imaginable to only a few. A frightening world where nothing is what it seems. Your guide will be our jester Tiny-er-er O’penmouth. He will make you laugh. He will make you cry. You will find ecstasy in his grovellin...

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Truth with partisan on the side, but hold the bias, please: Part 2

The impartially partisan political journalist Part 1 of ‘Truth with partisan on the side’ ended with the suggestion that we might be in a muddle in political journalism in Australia, a muddle about ‘partisan, but not biased, journalism versus impartial or objective or “neutr...

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Truth with partisan on the side, but hold the bias, please: Part 1

Quite in love with Jonathan Green I love Jonathan Green. Indeed, I’ve been quite in love with Jonathan Green for yonks. And that, in media-land, is called ‘disclosure’ (or ‘the big reveal’? Whatever.) Disclosure is important because this piece is partisan. Whether pro...

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Bringing Gross National Happiness into play

In my series of articles about where the Left should be heading in our new world, I suggested that adopting Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a measure of economic progress should be one element of a new approach for the Left. In this piece I will examine why that is important, what it means, and h...

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Number 982

Michael Gawenda was the editor of The Age newspaper in Melbourne from 1997 until 2004. He is currently a Fellow of University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism, after serving as the inaugural Director of the Centre in 2009. After finishing school, he studied economics and politic...

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In a galaxy far, far away … Australia

At Davos in Switzerland in January this year the 44th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) took place. About 2,600 representatives of government, business, civil society and academia took part, from over a hundred countries. Australian businesses that attended included Leighton Holdings...

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Is Australia becoming a guided democracy?

On 8 February 2014, there was a by-election for the federal seat of Griffith due to the resignation from politics of the former member Kevin Rudd. Terri Butler, representing the ALP, won the seat. This comment was posted on the Fairfax Media’s on-line coverage of the event: I think I'd prefe...

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Whither the Left: Part 3

Gross National Happiness, people power and Labor In Part 2 of these articles I discussed the Left’s approach to the new world in which we now live and suggested that adopting a measure such as Gross National Happiness (GNH) could help create a new approach to economics. I intend discussing th...

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Whither the Left: Part 2

A new world for the Left The break-up of the Soviet Union, the Velvet and Orange Revolutions and the Arab Spring show that mass movements can still achieve social and political change, with or without violence. But the capacity of the State is a key factor in such circumstances — whether it h...

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Whither the Left: Part 1

A History Lesson: the revolutionary period My politics was moulded in the late 1960s, a great time in my view for the Left. The ’60s (into the ’70s) was dominated by revolutionary and liberation movements around the world — an era when Africa was completing its decolonisation. For...

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The Xmas attack on climate change

Human-caused global warming is the single biggest threat facing humanity today. Solving it requires a rapid worldwide transition to renewable energy economies, leaving the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground. Preserving a habitable climate depends on decisions made in this decade. At less th...

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Green parasols

'You have come down here to see an election - eh? Spirited contest, my dear sir, very much so indeed. We have opened all the public-houses in the place. It has left our opponent nothing but the beer-shops — masterly policy, my dear sir, eh?' The little man smiled complacently, and took a lar...

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The thought thief

Two events occurred in January that have alarming parallels. The Book Thief was released in cinemas across the country and Education Minister Christopher Pyne announced yet another review of the school curriculum. The movie is based on the book by Australian author Markus Zusak. A synopsis of the ...

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Do you not remember the Twentieth Century?

Dear Mr Abbott, You promised to take us back to the halcyon days of your Liberal Prime Ministerial predecessor John Howard and, like him, hoped to put sport rather than politics back on the front pages. I fear, however, your time machine has overshot the mark and we are heading rapidly towards the ...

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Who killed Cock Robin?

I read that opening stanza of the old rhyme as a metaphor of the continued and repeatedly frustrated human progress toward social advancement. It is the most disappointing certainty that as soon as the human collective gets its act together and starts to achieve really useful advances in all things ...

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So that was … 2013

Welcome to 2014! And we welcome you to your next ‘open thread’, which will run until the 2nd February, when our conversation starters, and Casablanca’s Cache, will return. It seems to be traditional at this time of the year to reflect on what has been, and to look forward to what...

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