All posts by Noel Turnbull


While we worry about social media misinformation we overlook that one of the main sources of misinformation about politics is mainstream media.

Take the recent Federal election and the Victorian election.

The media consensus about the first was initially about gotcha moments and then it moved on to whether or not the miracle marketer would pull it off again against a Labor leader allegedly fatally damaged by gaffes. read more

What the media coverage of the Finnish PM says about us

There is nothing which agitates much of the ‘Anglosphere’ media more than a young attractive woman in power. The latest example of the phenomenon is the treatment of 37-year-old Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

In New Zealand Jacinda Ardern got asked whether she and Marin were meeting because they were young and female. Ardern called the questioner out. In Australia the same sort of coverage followed when Marin arrived here shortly after. read more

How Voice opponents will try to derail the referendum

One of the most difficult tasks facing politicians – particularly conservative ones – is how to derail a policy which is popular and principled but which you oppose.

You can’t be seen as opposed for your real reasons so you need to come up with other tactics. The only problem is that the tactics have been used so often that what you are really trying to achieve is transparent. read more

Mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the most unethical of them all?

There is a broadly inverse relationship between how unethical the public think an occupation is and how much those within it get paid.

The Governance Institute of Australia Ethics Index 2022 survey finds that the occupations considered more unethical than ethical are, in descending order, directors of Australian companies, mortgage brokers, fund managers, lawyers, senior executives, directors of foreign companies operating in Australia, local politicians, real estate agents, Federal politicians and State politicians. read more

Privatisations and sewage

Just a few hours after our last post on the 1873 City of Birmingham decision to take its gas and water companies into public ownership the Victorian Liberal Leader, Matthew Guy, announced he was going to privatise Victoria’s water and sewerage operations.

More than a century after Birmingham’s decision later UK Governments  privatised them again. read more

It could – and is – happening here

A new book about Birmingham and its role in shaping modern Britain illuminates how the UK moved from the world’s first industrialised nation to financialization and deindustrialisation to many of the characteristics of a failed society.

The book, Second City: Birmingham and the Forging of Modern Britain by Richard Vinen, is about the history of a place often considered the epitome of the UK’s 19th and 20th Centuries’. read more

Media dead last in ethics stakes

The seventh Governance Institute of Australia’s Ethics Index scores the media dead last in its survey of perceptions of ethical behaviour in various sectors of the economy.

21% rank the media as very unethical and 25% rank it as somewhat unethical. Only 12% rank it as very ethical and 23% say it is neither unethical nor ethical. read more

Behavioural science and its complications

Nudge theory offered a wonderful alternative future – governments could nudge people to do the right thing and thereby avoid pesky legislative interventions which irritated voters, industries and campaign donors.

But new research suggests it may not be as effective as imagined, that poor implementation can be counterproductive and that it’s all a bit more complicated than proponents think – just as we have discovered with the over-simplification of the implications of heuristics. read more

The 2022 Alan Whittaker commemoration

If you get invited to speak at an event that also features Thomas Mayor, the MUA official who is campaigning full-time for the Voice referendum, the author’s advice is – just decline.

A charismatic speaker, tall, imposing and the person you would probably choose if you thought about who you most wanted as our first Indigenous Prime Minister. read more