Taking a break part 2

As the blog had a huge file of things which it thought interesting its annual taking a break is in three parts. This is part two.

It’s an exciting time to be an innovative, agile Australian researcher

Well up to a point according to the OECD’s latest science and technology data reported on by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Needless to say they don’t spend a lot of time analysing the Australian situation (although they do provide links to the full OECD data) but they do show that Australia is a laggard in the energy and environment fields and only has a modest investment in defence R&D – a good thing on the face of it until you realise that much US defence R&D is actually industrial policy under a name more acceptable to US legislators. read more

Taking a break part one

The blog is taking a break for a while. In the meantime some odds and sods until it resumes.


Long before the blog became a PR person it read Daniel Boorstin’s 1961 book The Image. The blog hadn’t thought of it much lately until reading a review of Donald Trump’s campaign autobiography Crippled America by Mark Danner (NYRB 26 May 2016). read more

Bismarck’s apocrypha and the City of Port Phillip

Bismarck’s comment about sausages and legislation is probably apocryphal but it keeps being repeated because it is so apt.

How apt the blog discovered when it spent four and a bit hours at its local Council’s meeting to make a three minute submission which was misunderstood by one councillor; provoked a Kumbaya moment in another who was having palpitations about ‘negativity’ when obviously we should all be channelling ‘positivity’; and subjected to managerialist obfuscation by staff commenting on the subject. read more

What next?

Ten weeks ago the Canberra Press Gallery was swooning in appreciation of Malcolm Turnbull’s double dissolution strategy.

Last week the conventional wisdom was that the Government would be comfortably re-elected. The blog rated the probability of that at between 60 and 70% but expressed a niggling doubt (partly prompted by Tim Colebatch’s insightful piece in Inside Story) that it might be closer than we all thought.  Tim’s latest Inside Story piece is also very useful for analysing what might happen. For the blog this niggling doubt was reinforced initially by the close election eve polls and then the closeness of the exit polls. read more

The not the election post (well almost)

As the Federal Election has been largely a leadership-free zone the blog has been visiting, and re-visiting, some important new reports on leadership in other areas – particularly in the areas of technology and the public sector.

The blog has referred before to the rich resources to be found on Brian Donovan’s leadership website and the series of Big Kahuna leadership survey reports he has produced. The latest survey is on digital disruption as a leadership challenge. It’s based on in depth interviews with influential leaders about digital disruption and the need for “game-changing digital and technology strategies”. But, as the report says, the big question is whether organisations have the leadership capability to respond and turn digital and technology strategies into opportunities for business growth. read more

Another elephant in the room

While think tanks add many things to the political debate, activist groups rarely do. Worse we have to put up with the ‘Get Up illusion’ in which some activists believe that signing an online petition, or crowdfunding an ad, is effective political action or a way to deal with African war criminals. read more

The elephants in the room

The 2016 Federal election campaign will go down in history as one characterised by the exceptional depth and breadth of policy debate and analysis. Eh? Sorry, the blog was not referring to the political party campaigns but rather the contributions of various think tanks.

For those despairing of negativity, puerile slogans, scare campaigns and robotic responses turn off the TV, put the papers in the recycling and turn to the very impressive contributions made by think tanks such as the Grattan Institute, the Australia Institute, Australia21 and assorted others. read more

The emotional and the structural

In the next week we are going to see a disconnect between the emotional and the structural views of politics – and the media’s capacity to understand which is which – as the Brexit referendum result becomes known.

The blog has previously written about the paradox that the people most likely to vote Leave are older people, while those most likely to vote Remain are most likely to be young and less likely to vote of which more later. read more


The Netherlands holds the record for the longest continuous economic expansion in modern times – almost 26 years ending in 2008. Australia – despite what both political parties have been saying for decades about the damage they each do – might well break that record sometime early next year.

But who would you trust to predict whether it would happen and whether, if it did, how much longer it might last? The Reserve Bank is a possibility although in contrast the track record of academic, bank and other private sector economists is appalling. In most years they are lucky to get the trend, let alone the final numbers, right. read more

What, why and how to read The Shock of Recognition

A Nobel Prize winner; one of Australia’s leading composers; the Chancellor of one university and the Vice Chancellor of another; two former Victorian Premiers; several former Federal Ministers and ditto Victorian Ministers; assorted authors and journalists; a few lawyers and judges; and, assorted others attended a book launch at the Hill of Content bookshop in Melbourne a few months ago. read more