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Articles in the Columns Category

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[30 Aug 2014 | One Comment | 21 views ]

LAST year an independent, feature-length documentary, ‘The Anonymous People’, focused on the more than 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from alcohol and other drug addictions.
For decades, deeply entrenched social stigma has kept the voices of recovery largely silent in the US and elsewhere in the Western world.
However, in this groundbreaking film, a cross-section of sportspeople, politicians, film stars and others came out publicly as recovered or recovering addicts. They explained how, through Alcoholics Anonymous and its offspring — including Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and other 12-step …

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[16 Aug 2014 | One Comment | 88 views ]

IN a remarkable and largely overlooked statement on Radio 3AW with Neil Mitchell on April 29, Tony Abbott admitted the war on drugs is “not a war we will ever finally win”.
“The war on drugs is a war you can lose,” the Prime Minister said. “You may not ever win it, but you’ve always got to fight it.”
This game-changing statement followed a press conference about the release of an Australian Crime Commission report on illicit drugs, which admitted that “despite record seizures and arrests we are still only detecting the …

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[2 Aug 2014 | No Comment | 34 views ]

IN Australia, Labor has been much better than the Liberals at remembering its history and, in the process, denigrating its opponents. Witness the sustained historical work of leading leftist historians, the prolific Professor Stuart Macintyre and Dr David Day — which in part at least has effectively undermined previous conservative governments, especially those of Robert Menzies and John Howard.
This is despite the fact that since the formation of the Liberal Party in 1944 the Coalition has been in power for two-thirds of the time — in particular, Menzies from 1949 …

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[21 Jul 2014 | No Comment | 22 views ]

Campbell Newman’s iron grip on Queensland government is now looking decidedly limp-wristed following the disastrous Stafford byelection result.
The Premier’s Liberal National Party suffered an 18.6 per cent swing in the Brisbane bayside electorate, Labor’s victory giving it a ninth MP in the Queensland Parliament.
Historian Ross Fitzgerald predicted Mr Newman would definitely lose his own seat of Ashgrove at the Queensland election, expected within 11 months.
”‘When they say the swing is on in Queensland, it goes bananas. And historically, it is most certainly is on,’’ Professor Fitzgerald said.
‘‘The Premier won the …

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[19 Jul 2014 | One Comment | 39 views ]

AS many Australians, including federal Attorney-General George Brandis, are now fully starting to realise, protecting free speech and freedom of expression is an uphill struggle that needs to be fought over and over again.
These days in this country, as in much of the West, fewer and fewer people actually believe in freedom of speech. They may believe in freedom of speech for themselves, but they tend not to believe in freedom of speech and expression of opinion that contravenes their own deeply held beliefs, be they religious, political, racial or …

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[5 Jul 2014 | 2 Comments | 29 views ]

THE democratic process in Australia is driven by two competing, often conflicting, imperatives. Governments are often faced with critical decisions for the long-term good that are potentially unpopular in the short term.
For politicians it would seem there is little point in making decisions for the long-term national good if it results in an election loss, with an incoming government reversing any gains. In recent history two federal governments have managed the competing demands of the short-term electoral cycle and the longer-term national interest.
The Hawke-Keating government floated the Australian dollar to …

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[21 Jun 2014 | No Comment | 16 views ]

THIS afternoon, in a do-or-die struggle at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, my beloved Collingwood battles against the injury-wracked Hawthorn — who last year won the AFL grand final.
The task of the Hawks today will be made more difficult by the prolonged absence of their senior coach, Alastair Clarkson, who is suffering from a rare auto-immune condition, called Guillain-Barre syndrome.
From as long as I can remember I was taught that Aussie Rules was of the utmost importance to our family life and to life in general.
Indeed, although I couldn’t have …

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[9 Jun 2014 | No Comment | 72 views ]

PROBABLY Australia’s most celebrated teetotaller will toast his Order of Australia in the same style he has his long list of other achievements in the past 44 years.
“I’ll be going to an AA meeting at 8pm, to give thanks from whence it all has come,” academic and author Ross Fitzgerald laughs as he tells ‘The Australian’.
“Had I not stopped drinking and using all other drugs from Australia Day 1970, I wouldn’t have been around to do the work that the award’s about.
“I stopped at 24, if I hadn’t, I probably …

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[7 Jun 2014 | One Comment | 31 views ]

WITH a new federal upper house due to convene on July 1, minor parties will be in the spotlight. Five minor parties, plus Nick Xenophon, will be represented in the new Senate and will hold the balance of power between them. The voting blocks that form out of these parties will not only determine the fate of Tony Abbott’s first budget but they could give us an insight into just how far the Senate may change in future years.
The days of the Senate being a house of review where senators …