McKinsey part 2 – from tobacco and opioids to health care

The blog has written about the PR campaigns to cast doubt on all sorts of things – from climate change to tobacco.

Hill & Knowlton were early advisers in the tobacco wars but McKinsey was at their side working with Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Brown and Williamson, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International. It also worked on campaigns to boost cigarette sales in Germany and Latin America. read more

A New Year’s epiphany

On New Year’s Eve I had an epiphany. It was at lunchtime by the way – not after a long evening – as it has been some years since I have stayed up to see the New Year in.

We had guests for lunch who have a similar attitude to waiting around until midnight. They had brought a bottle of Moet along. It’s also a long time since I’ve been allowed to drink much but Moet deserves two glasses so it was a bit of an exceptional day. read more

Odds and sods – part 4

An historic take on fusion

The enthusiasm about the latest news on nuclear fusion prompted the Weekend FT (17/18 December) to dig out a famous quote about the prospects of the technology.

“Many sceptics have questioned whether fusion can ever make business sense given the complexities and costs. As Sir Walter Marshall, the former chair of UL’s Atomic Energy Authority, used to say in the 1980s: ‘there will come a time when we get more energy from a fusion reactor as we put it. Then there will come a time when we get more energy out than we put in. However, there will never come a time when we get as much money out as we have put in’,” it said. read more

Odds and sods – Part 3

A belated recognition of an injustice

 It is hard to know what to think about addressing a grave injustice many years after it occurred. It does nothing for the individual although it may erase a blot which needs to be addressed.

Those thoughts came to mind with the announcement that the Biden administration had reversed the 1954 decision by the Atomic Energy Commission to revoke the security of Robert Oppenheimer who was known as ‘the atomic bomb’s father’ having headed the team of brilliant physicists and engineers who were involved in the Manhattan Project. read more

Odds and sods – part 2

Poor, old Britain

 While Tony Abbott and Alexander Downer yearn for us to be closer to Britain our societies are in fact getting further and further apart – at least according to performance data compiled by The Economist (17 December).

The Economist compiled data on a range of indicators comparing British performance between 2007 and 2022 with that of an average of the performances of the US, Canada and Australia and of France and Germany. read more

Odds and sods – part 1

An end of the year series of odds and sods

Treaties, treaties, treaties

Surprise, surprise – despite the high-flown claims of political leaders international treaties have mostly failed to produce their intended effects.

In a PNAS research article (1 August 2022) almost 30 researchers combined to evaluate what impact international treaties that aimed to foster global co-operation actually had. read more

War Powers Reform – Part 3

Following the original submission we made to the Joint Standing Committee examining war powers reform, and at the end of our opening statements (See Parts 1 and 2 on the blog), we tabled another statement as the process allows.

Perhaps the final paragraph of this submission sums up the crux of our argument. read more

War Powers reform – Part 2

Prior to appearing before the Committee (see the previous blog post) John Phillips and I had submitted a formal submission to the War Powers Joint Standing Committee inquiry. This submission was:


 This submission has been prepared by John Phillips and Noel Turnbull who are both veterans. John Phillips was a career Royal Australian Infantry Officer who served in Vietnam in 1971 with 3rd Battalion RAR. Noel Turnbull was a conscript who served in Vietnam as a Royal Australian Artillery Officer in 1968-1969 with 104 Field Battery. read more

War Powers Reform – Part 1

On Friday January 9 John Phillips (former Captain Royal Australian Regiment Vietnam 1971) and myself (2nd Lieutenant Royal Australian Artillery Vietnam 1968-69) gave evidence to the Joint Standing Committee inquiring into War Power reform – how we go to the war.

Currently, unlike a number of other countries, the decision to go to war is the Prime Minister’s and the Executive Government – as in the case with John Howard and the Iraq War. read more

An insider’s view of how public relations really works