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Byron Shire
September 23, 2023
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Political Comment

If not ‘Yes’ now, then when?

Being a Ten Pound Pom, I knew nothing of the history of massacres and dispossession of this continent’s first peoples when I arrived here in 1965.

A tale of two pressers

Last week, the National Press Club in Canberra hosted two major press conferences, one day apart. The first was a desperate plea for attention from Nick Kaldas, the Chair of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicides. The second was an all-out attack on the Voice to Parliament, via Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Weak politics prevents drug reform

When I first left the bench, I was approached by a group of enthusiastic, committed young medicinal cannabis entrepreneurs and activists to lead DriveChange – a lobby group for the driving rights of patients. I thought it was such a minimalist no-brainer...

Common wealth or shareholder wealth?

As Alan Joyce runs for cover, with the Australian public baying for blood, it's a good time to remember that the underlying problem goes well beyond Mr Joyce or indeed Qantas. For decades, thanks to privatisation, once-loved Australian institutions have been hollowed out by international profit-making entities, while still pretending to have national interests at heart. Now we're all paying for the consequences.

Medicali$ation of a nation

The Almighty Sometimes is a new Australian play about mental health, autonomy, and the medication of children. Without judgement, the play features the story of a teenage girl curious to explore life without her pills.

How to avoid setting your political pants on fire

While in opposition, Anthony Albanese was endlessly critical of Scott Morrison's inaction over the climate emergency, and his lack of meaningful support for Australians as they faced unprecedented bushfires and other calamities. So, does our current prime minister hold a hose, and if so, does it contain petrol or water?

Fear, lies and loathing in Australia

Most Australian households have now received their Voice referendum booklet in the mail. It looks quite official and is being distributed by the Australian Electoral Commission. Unfortunately the contents haven't been fact checked. Like most other forms of federal political advertising, lying and misinformation in this context is completely legal.

A glimpse of a smarter, fairer future 

After weeks of wrangling, following the Greens shock election win, Prime Minister Max Chandler-Mather announced today he had sealed a deal with Coalition partners, Labor and independents, to pass ground-breaking reforms to reshape Australia. 

A big weekend for conferences, if not solutions

The ALP has just held its national conference, in Brisbane, but most of the progressive ideas were discussed only on the fringes, and on the streets outside, with the official debate constrained. Down in Sydney, things pushed further into crazy-land at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an Australian version of the Trump-worshipping American event.

Revealing your personals in court

We should all be concerned about an underreported development in the Bruce Lehrmann rape trial fallout. 

The politics of sport

As the Matildas have advanced through the World Cup, it's been an unedifying spectacle to see one politician after another turning into an enthusiastic women's football supporter, even if most of them probably couldn't explain the offside rule or pick out Caitlin Foord in a lineup a few days ago.

Can we stop the theft from Gen F’d?

Gen F’d? is not a breath of fresh air. It’s a cyclone to blow away cynicism and despair. A celebration of collective action to stop the theft, and return the future, stolen from young Australians. 

Can Pocock break through on climate change?

After multiple postponements, independent ACT Senator David Pocock was finally able to introduce his bill seeking to bring intergenerational duty of care into the 2022 Climate Change Act yesterday.

Can AI solve the plastic problem?

Can you imagine a world without plastic waste? It could be coming sooner than we think, thanks to AI.

John Howard reminds us why he was such a disaster

It was former Prime Minister John Winston Howard's 84th birthday last week, for which he was exhumed by News Corp to remind us all what damage he did to Australia, and will continue to do, given half a chance.

Govt management? Try anger management 

With so many failures of government to be angry at this month, it is hard to know where to start. An anger management course? 

$2 billion more for what, exactly?

It's still another week until parliament in Canberra comes back from its long winter break, which makes this a great time to revisit something that was rushed through the Senate with very little scrutiny on the last day of the last session, back in June.

Cruelty of rental crisis now centre stage

The crisis of unaffordable and insecure rentals here is not news, but right now there’s a real opportunity to help fix it. 

Lowe on Lowe

The announcement of a new Reserve Bank governor last week will be cold comfort to the many Australians groaning under the pressure of twelve interest rate rises since May 2022, but the departure of Philip Lowe should take some political pressure off the Albanese Government, even if he's not actually gone yet.

Cost of living could be eased with surplus  

Treasurer Jim Chalmers tells us the budget surplus this financial year ballooned from an expected $4.2 billion out to $19 billion. Ordinary Australians, desperately trying to keep their budgets under control and cost cutting wherever they can, should expect some kind of relief from this surprise windfall.

Robodebt catastrophe unveiled in all its horror

The logical conclusion of a philosophy which views anyone on welfare as a bludger and anyone poor as fair game was on horrifying display as Robodebt Royal Commissioner Catherine Holmes AC SC revealed her 1,039 page report to the Australian public on Friday.

Unpacking the Gladys Trap

I met former NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, when we were working for NSW Liberal Opposition Leader, Peter Collins, in 1996. She was my friend, who referred to me for two decades as her mentor. 

Gambling politics

A parliamentary committee led by federal Labor MP Peta Murphy has recommended strong action against gambling advertising, throwing new light on the pernicious relationship of gambling to Australians and Australian politics.

Murdoch’s latest war – trans people

One of the weird side benefits of my job at Southern Cross University is a free subscription to all the Murdoch rags around the country. 

Noalition of the chilling

Last week Peter Dutton ramped up his rhetoric against the Voice in a freezing torrent of negativity that would have done Tony Abbott proud.

Giving hope through native restoration

Many readers will already know the joy of planting trees to help regenerate the region’s lost forests. Few will know that more and more local school students are being offered a chance to connect directly with this most positive of narratives. 

Into the red zone

The Australian Senate was the site of most of the action last week as parliament resumed. On Friday, the red chamber sat alone, going until after 4am on Saturday morning as Liberals and Nationals spun out the debate on whether there should be a Voice referendum, led by the pen-pointing cyborg-impersonator Michaelia Cash.

Why Philip Lowe needs to go

The shadow of Scott Morrison still hangs darkly over Canberra in the shape of his choice for Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Philip Lowe.

Students drowning in debt?

Parliament hasn't been sitting this week in Canberra, but the ramifications of recent federal budget decisions continue to ripple out, with the student debts of three million Australians rising 7.1 percent, in line with inflation.

Is a free press essential or a luxury?

The very first amendment made to the American Constitution protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press. 

Matey with Modi

Since becoming Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese has shown that he likes being publicly associated with popular figures, regardless of their negative associations for some Australians. Examples include Kyle Sandilands, Piers Morgan, and most recently the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.

When western medicine doesn’t work 

Once I finally admitted I needed help with vicarious trauma, I tried a few techniques to ease my troubled mind. 

International revolving doors

Corruption takes many forms, and has become more refined since the days of brown paper bags. In Australia, we have lobbyists, interests and politicians, with the traditional dividing lines between these three now all but invisible, and numerous examples of people moving from one position to another, and then back again, as they prioritise personal gain over what's best for the country.

One year in, and federal Labor lacks the ticker for big picture challenges

The budget didn’t cause a ripple of anxiety among well-heeled Australians, big business or Murdoch shock jocks, and that was the precise intention of Treasurer Jim Chalmers. It was basically business as usual

Much ado about housing

PM Anthony Albanese was back on the international stage this weekend, on the sidelines of the G7 in Hiroshima, but a housing minefield awaits him at home, with the government finding few friends for its proposed Housing Australia Future Fund.

Money money money!

Treasurer Jim Chalmers' second federal budget in seven months delivered a surprising surplus, some support for battlers, and the usual appalling devil in the detail.

Historical trauma, old men and suicide

Many years ago, I researched and prepared a descriptive and reflective analysis of Aboriginal youth suicide. 

The war on cats

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek marked National Threatened Species Day by 'declaring war on feral cats'. She wants to give councils the power to impose...

No more Hottentot

I have received a petition from Change.org to change the name of Hottentot Crescent, Mullumbimby to another South African word, ‘Khoisan’, also totally irrelevant...

Call to Jewish my brethren

I call upon my brethren and Jewish Australians and Israelis who have made their permanent home here and are eligible to vote in the...

Liberal councillors walk out during Tweed mayoral election

Yesterday Liberal councillors James Owen and Rhiannon Brinsmead walked out of the extraordinary Tweed Shire Council meeting in protest against the way the Mayor of Tweed Shire is elected.