All posts by Noel Turnbull

Commemoration is the second casualty of war

The Australian Government is very, very slow to address veterans’ problems – witness the tardiness on the veterans’ suicide problem – but it’s always quick off the mark to dream up some new commemoration.

The latest is to be a commemoration of our participation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ostensibly it is to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of Australians but between the Defence Department and Peter Dutton one can expect an awful lot of forgetting, not much remembrance and lots of glorification of things military. read more

Happiness in a time of COVID

It may be surprising but a lot of people in the world are happier in the midst of COVID and lockdowns than they were – although Australia is a slight exception.

The World Happiness Report 2021, published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, compares happiness in various countries and its latest report tracks changes from 2017-2019 and compares them with 2020. read more

We have to have a COVID ad

There is one thing almost everybody commenting about Australia’s poor vaccine roll out agrees with – the need for an advertising campaign.

There is less agreement on what sort of ad and how it fits into any broader social marketing campaign. Ads without the benefit of being part of a wider campaign combining best practice social marketing principles, behavioural disciplines and government initiatives just make ad agencies, research companies and media proprietors richer. read more

The death of Ministerial responsibility

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away there was a concept called the Westminster principle of Ministerial responsibility – if you failed in your responsibility you resigned or got sacked.

It no longer applies much in Westminster and almost never ever applies in Scott Morrison’s Australia.

While Whitlam, Fraser and Howard all sacked Ministers (Howard regretted it after an initial deluge) Morrison is a different sort of creature. read more

Making rationalists and doubters count

While fundamentalist Christians are busy infiltrating the Liberal Party the Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) and other groups have launched a campaign – the Census 21 Campaign – to encourage people to tick the no religion box in the August 10 2021 Australian Census.

The ABS says that: “The 2016 Census of Population and Housing found that three-fifths of the Australian population (61 per cent, or 14 million people) are affiliated with a religion or spiritual belief. Christianity is once again the dominant religion in Australia, with 12 million people, and 86 per cent of religious Australians, identifying as Christians.” read more

The difference between faux and genuine apologies

These days there are frequent apologies, non-apologies, refusals to apologise and extended qualifications of apologies with weasel phrases such as “this is not who we are” – despite the behaviour of the organisation uttering the words obviously being exactly who and what they are.

It’s instructive to view these faux and sincere variations of apologies within the context of the work of two Canadian-American sociologists, the late Nicholas Tavuchis and the late Erving Goffman. read more

AICD outflanks Morrison on the left

The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) doesn’t immediately spring to mind as one of the major progressive voices – except perhaps in contrast with Scott Morrison.

The June issue of their magazine, Company Director, is a good example.

Start with the magazine cover which has a red background; a few pointers to articles inside; some identifying stuff; and a stark headline, ENOUGH, centred in the design. read more

Libelles in revolutionary France and Victoria in 2021

The Victorian Liberal Opposition is inept – witness their landslide loss at the last election – but now they are sinking into desperate and despicable measures.

Premier Daniel Andrews has, as everyone knows, been off work after damaging his spine in an accident at a holiday home.

As with much politics these days the accident has unleashed a barrage of grossly defamatory conspiracy theories and rumours disseminated by word of mouth and social media. read more