A few problems with Dutton’s nuclear dream

In the unlikely event that Peter Dutton could manage the succession of problems with nuclear power stations – persistent massive cost overruns; State legislation banning nuclear; and NIMBY backlashes -he would still have a big problem – lack of staff to run the plants.

Currently there is an international shortage of engineers and other professionals and the nuclear power industry around the world, according to the Weekend Financial Times, is desperately trying to persuade thousands of retired staff to return to work. read more

Florida to teach Kindergarten children ‘the evils of communism’

The Murdoch media is about as renowned for irony as it is for balanced political coverage.

The Australian published an article (22/4) about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign to protect the state from dangerous influences. It was an article which could be read ironically but more likely it was something The Oz approved of and probably hoped would lead to a similar policy in Australia. read more

Women voters abandon God, churches and Liberals

When Robert Menzies made his Forgotten People speech on 22 May 1942 he set in train a process which, despite his many references throughout to men, resulted in the creation of a long coalition between Menzies’ Liberal Party and women.

This coalition of Liberals didn’t start to break down until the 1970s and 1980s with a Victorian Labor researcher, Angela Jurjevik, probably being among the first people to identify the trend. read more

What’s wrong with the media?

If you are in Melbourne and travel though the CBD along Collins Street on the 109 tram you pass a nondescript building called Collins House.

It looks a bit scruffy and nowadays it is dwarfed by high rise buildings. Yet once Collins House was the centre of a sprawling empire of mining, media and other companies linked through a maze of cross shareholdings. read more

Banned books, manifestos and a new approach to reading

At last weekend’s Victorian Writers Festival three authors – two of them also bookshop owners and one of them an author and enthusiastic supporter of bookshops – talked about books and the threat to reading.

Ann Patchett and her husband own Parnassus Books in Nashville Tennessee. Lauren Groff, another novelist and her husband Clay Kallman, own a Tampa Bay Florida bookshop, The Lynx, which proudly stocks all the books Florida’s Governor Ron De Santis and Florida schools and libraries have banned. read more

Let us learn to talk to each other

In 1946 in the aftermath of World War II the German philosopher Karl Jaspers undertook a series of lectures about questions of guilt and recovery.

He argued that the most effective cleansing of Germans must consist of a profound change in their attitude towards discussion. “Germany can only return to itself when we communicate with each other,” he said. read more

If only – sad tales of missed opportunities

Australia once thought of itself as a country of opportunity and innovation – economically and socially. Like most countries self-beliefs, the thought was not always matched by reality.

Indeed, it would arguably be better to see Australia as a land of lost opportunities with many of those losses being biggest and most damaging in recent decades. read more

UK problems much bigger than Thames Water

England’s sewage problems are not only much bigger than those of Thames Water (see the last blog) but they also characterise broader policy failure across the nation.

Private Eye cartoon

(cartoon copyright Private Eye)

Moreover, Thames Water’s financial and sewage troubles are shared by other UK water companies and are now even creating what some are dubbing a Truss-style borrowing crisis. read more

The great vampire kangaroo and Thames Water

The UK’s Thames Water – infamous for pumping raw sewage into waterways – parent company has now defaulted on its debt.

Why should the failure of a UK water company be of interest to Australia and Australians? First, because it illustrates the failure of many privatisations to improve service and performance. Second, because it is symptomatic of problems throughout the UK not only in the water industry but also other services – from railways to NHS supplies. read more

Some reflections on Anzac Day and military service

As Anzac Day is less than 24 hours away I wanted to reflect on the day – as I do each year.

By the way, the blog doesn’t usually use the perpendicular pronoun, as regular readers would know, but this post seemed to require it.

Having watched my father march a number of times, and once taken the children to see him marching, I’ve only ever participated in one Anzac Day service, and that was as the guest speaker. Although I did participate in the Sydney and Melbourne Welcome Home marches – and also in the anti-war Moratorium marches – as did many other veterans. read more