• 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’.
  • Double standards
    There has been general praise for the Australian Governments
    (at all levels) and their management of the COVID19 pandemic.
    While the politicians signed off on the decisions, they listened to
    and generally acted on the advice of the state and federal CMOs.

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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