Is this one of Australia’s biggest porkies?

In the history of Australian politics there have been many examples of mendacity, outrageous exaggeration, outright lies and half-truths.

In Victoria, at this time of the year, one example always leaps to mind.

It occurred when the grand prix was moved from Adelaide to Melbourne 22 years ago and the Premier Jeff Kennett promised that it would only be for ‘four days a year’ and that “it wouldn’t cost taxpayers a cent”. read more

Apprehension, enthusiasm, remorse

For decades Australians were gung ho about going to war – almost any war. Today – despite the best efforts of the Nine Media (Peter Hartcher in particular) and other media – they are now far more apprehensive.

Indeed, an analysis of community opinion from the start of the Vietnam war to the likelihood of war over Taiwan, shows apprehension translates into opposition the longer the war lasts. read more

A great Australian still campaigning at 81

A couple of decades ago our firm finally established an office in Perth. We had offices in every other State and Territory capital but not WA.

There were many reasons – couldn’t find the right partner, reluctant to work in a State notoriously suspicious of people from the ‘Eastern states’, long way away – but we finally did and celebrated with a function at the Kings Park reception centre. read more

Bad habits and societal failures – not bias – drive misinformation

One of the greatest challenges to modern democracies is the spread of misinformation. Yet conventional explanations of how it spreads and why may not be right.

In a new paper – Sharing of misinformation is habitual, not just lazy or biased – by Gizem Ceylan, Ian Anderson and Wendy Wood (PNAS 17 January 2023) argue that while misinformation is a worldwide concern carrying socioeconomic and political consequences we are not so sure about what drives its spread. read more

Murdoch – out of clout and luck?

Rupert Murdoch may be running out of political clout and financial luck.

For decades Murdoch has been a pernicious influence on journalism, politics, climate policy, progressive ideas and whether nations go to war or not.

Murdoch is now 91. His father died young and his mother lived until 103 mourned by all who knew her and benefited from her generosity. So, what the genetic lottery means for his longevity is moot although when the inevitable comes he is unlikely to be mourned by all. read more

Whither Israel

Writing in John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations newsletter (2 March 2023) Dr Helen McCue addressed the current Israeli settler violence in the context of what Israel’s media and many Israelis were saying about the violence.

Dr McCue previously worked with the United Nations with refugees and the displaced in the Middle East – many of them displaced as a result of US and Australian military interventions.  She has been a strong advocate for Palestinian human rights including the rights of Palestinian refugees for more than 40 years. read more

Could do better

A couple of decades ago the phrase international best practice seemed to be on the lips of just about every business leader, business and economics journalists and the odd politician.

In fact, much of it was a justification for various overseas study tours and traditional employer attempts to reduce wages and worsen working conditions. read more

Which voices will they listen to?

If you follow the mainstream media the campaign for the Voice is being overwhelmed by controversy, lack of detail and conflict.

Even progressive parts of the media – for instance crikey – feature pieces like a recent one by Dennis Aitkin which said: “There’s no doubt most Australians want First Nations peoples to have constitutional recognition, but are the numbers there to guarantee that? read more

We’ll always have enemy – even if we have to invent them

The British refrain for many, many decades was: ‘There’ll always be an England’.

For the US, from when Europeans first invaded, the refrain might as well have been ‘There’ll always be an enemy’.

Of course, the British empire always had an enemy too: the French, the Zulus, the Boers, the Germans, the Kenyans, the rebellious Indians, the Irish, the Russians and assorted tribal and national groups who needed to be civilised at the point of a gun. read more

Another objection to gutting Port Phillip’s arts support

Bill Garner – academic, author, actor and activist – attended the City of Port Phillip Council meeting discussing the Cost Review Report. (see last blog for the blog’s view of the matter).

He was cut off after two minutes and what he wasn’t allowed to say is in italics. It is a compelling defence of the role of the arts and culture. He has given his permission to reproduce what he said. His comments follow. read more