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[14 Sep 2017 | No Comment | 17 views ]

Our energy farce
by ROSS FITZGERALD
What a mess! Australia has the world’s largest readily available supplies of coal, gas and uranium yet our power prices are among the world’s highest. Moreover it looks like the lights are likely to go out this summer, especially in Victoria and South Australia. This is what happens when our energy policy is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions rather than to produce the most affordable and reliable power.
The absurdity of our position and its implications for our future as an industrial economy seem …

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[31 Aug 2017 | No Comment | 12 views ]

When Communists Invaded Cold War Canberra
by ROSS FITZGERALD
The seemingly endless second prime ministerial stint of Liberal Party stalwart Robert Gordon Menzies from 1949 to 1966 was not, as it is now often portrayed, a period of unbroken certainty, somnolence and solidity. The first years of the Menzies restoration in particular were quite rocky.
For a start, when Menzies won the 1949 federal election, his incoming government faced a hostile Senate. Sixteen months later a double-dissolution defeat for Labor ended the impasse. But success on this front was shortly …

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[25 Aug 2017 | No Comment | 24 views ]

Why safe drug-consumption rooms make more sense than drug-testing welfare recipients
BY ROSS FITZGERALD
Sparked by a spate of overdose deaths of young people, there is currently a debate about establishing a ‘Drug Consumption Room’ (DCR) in Richmond, in Melbourne.
This follows MP Fiona Patten introducing a bill in February in the Victorian Parliament for an Australian trial of such a facility.
But it is not only in Melbourne that debate is raging. It is now occurring nationally, and especially in western Sydney where, at Canterbury-Bankstown, the federal government is planning to drug-test welfare …

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[24 Aug 2017 | No Comment | 65 views ]

SPECTATOR AUSTRALIA: Australian Notes
Stopping Shorten
by Ross Fitzgerald
For once, Malcolm Turnbull’s current travails are not all his own fault. The Prime Minister could hardly be blamed for questions over the Deputy Prime Minister’s eligibility to sit in federal parliament. Indeed, it’s hard to see Barnaby Joyce’s culpability either: he could not be expected to know what his father – who had left New Zealand as a youth and never held a Kiwi passport – also didn’t know and had no reason to suspect.
The dual citizenship crisis is the kind of bolt-from-the-blue …

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[27 Jul 2017 | Comments Off on Abbott’s mission | 43 views ]

Abbott’s mission
The Liberal party now needs saving from itself
ROSS FITZGERALD
As Adam Smith once observed, in most nations there’s often a lot of ruin. His point was that it takes much more than a short period of bad government to inflict major damage on a strong country.
In a well-developed civil society, very little requires the express say-so of government. People are always trying to improve their lot, and largely succeeding, even when the government of the day is consistently getting it wrong. That said, government matters because it …

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[6 Jul 2017 | Comments Off on Point of no returnbull | 38 views ]

It’s over
by ROSS FITZGERALD
The first duty of a leader is to keep the team together. This is Malcolm Turnbull’s biggest failure. The federal parliamentary party is split, some of its strongest talent is banished to the backbench, party members are resigning in droves and the government is pursuing policies it would condemn coming from Labor.
Turnbull has never understood that loyalty is a two way street. You’ve got to give loyalty in order to get it. This involves fidelity to principles as well as loyalty to people. As leader of the …

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[28 Jun 2017 | Comments Off on Manning Clark and the Vanishing Archaeologist | 19 views ]

by Ross Fitzgerald
Students of Australian prehistory were once thin on the ground and interest in the field was equally limited. But that all began to change in the 1960s when work opportunities in the field began opening up. The search for archaeological traces of Australia’s ever more remote inhabited past was at last taking off as a discipline in the nation’s expanding universities.
Importantly, the subject already had acquired a dynamic exponent and champion in the person of John Mulvaney from Melbourne University. Mulvaney had completed …

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[23 Jun 2017 | Comments Off on Trouble in Libland | 46 views ]

by ROSS FITZGERALD
The clock is now ticking on Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership. He currently faces active resistance from more than a score of Coalition MPs who didn’t enter public life to mimic the Labor Party. To them, the current PM’s not just leading a ‘Labor-lite’ government; he’s in the process of undermining fundamental Liberal Party values.
Edmund Burke defined a political party as a group of people working to advance the national interest according to a set of principles upon which they all agree. As John …

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[1 Jun 2017 | Comments Off on A Vainglorious PM’s Bankrupt Budget | 22 views ]

By capitulating as dramatically as he has, Malcolm Turnbull further highlighted the question of his character while simultaneously trashing his party’s brand. Is there any principle he stands for or would fight for, other than personal ambition, blind vanity and his current position?
A Vainglorious PM’s Bankrupt Budget
by ROSS FITZGERALD
For the past few weeks in Canberra, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been congratulating himself on how well the budget has been received. No one in the Coalition party room has yet chosen to contradict him, but that doesn’t mean he’s right.
In …

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[19 May 2017 | Comments Off on Identity politics | 26 views ]

Liberal? Labor? Is there any visible difference between our two major parties?
ROSS FITZGERALD
The budget week just gone has marked the moment when both sides of politics officially gave up on budget repair and economic reform. Barring a change of leadership on the Coalition side or a change of heart from Labor, Australia now faces budget deficits as far as the eye can see and is set on an indefinite period of ever higher spending chased by ever higher taxes.
Going down the European path is likely to give us the European …

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[4 May 2017 | Comments Off on Dance of the budget veils | 27 views ]

Conventional wisdom holds that an elected government’s first budget should be its bravest. Albeit with a micro-majority, Malcolm Turnbull is an elected prime minister, rather than merely a coup leader. So next week’s budget should be an opportunity to place his economic stamp on the country.
It’s becoming clearer what the budget is likely to contain: there’ll be ‘good’ borrowing to fund more infrastructure, especially railways; there’ll be some superannuation concessions for seniors who downsize the family home; there’ll be some savings that will annoy the hell out of the impacted …