Articles in the Columns Category
‘Last Words: The Hanging of Ronald Ryan’
Hardie Grant, $24.99
On Friday we marked one of our grimmest anniversaries – because it is 50 years since the last person in Australia was hanged. Ronald Ryan was the final victim of capital punishment in Australia and while some will say he was no victim, public opinion remains divided.
Ryan’s hanging has entered the bloodstream of literature. Who can forget Bruce Dawe’s chilling poem ‘A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love.’ In 1995 Barry Dickins’ play ‘Remember Ronald Ryan’ won the Louis Esson Prize for …
If Malcolm Turnbull had a plan, we would have seen it by now
Most people are bemused when I predict that Malcolm Turnbull won’t be prime minister by the end of the year. There’s no obvious alternative, they say; the Libs wouldn’t want to emulate Labor by yet again failing to allow a PM to complete a term, they mutter; a revolving door prime ministership is really bad for the country, they claim. And all of this is true. Still, it is likely that there will be a new prime …
It’s getting more expensive by the minute but is tertiary education worth the money?
It was actually in a better state when it was free. Secondary education in Australia is not doing well either but the situation with tertiary education is even worse and threatens the future standing and prosperity of the country.
With the exception of a few high-quality Australian universities, what often amounts to the criminal irrelevance of our massively expensive tertiary sector is something that urgently needs to be brought to light and, more importantly, remedied.
The parlous state of …
Recent education results should be ringing alarm bells throughout Australia.
Every three years the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conducts standardised testing of the skills of 15-year-old school students from more than 70 countries. The tests – the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) – focus on three areas: knowledge of and ability to use basics of science; maths; and what the program calls “reading”, formally known as comprehension in the days when Australian students received direct instruction in ability to use their own language.
The results of the …
As prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull knows he’s in trouble. Why else would he have said that polls don’t matter, when losing 30 polls in a row was his justification for knifing Tony Abbott? With the regicide genie well and truly out of the bottle, and with no polls won since the all-but-lost federal election, his colleagues won’t need another 24 bad polls to conclude that leadership change is needed.
What’s becoming blindingly obvious is that there’s no politically palatable way to cut spending – which is what Australia urgently needs.
Yet even …
The business of politics is a matter of the utmost seriousness for many Australians. As Paul Keating famously used to say, if you change the government you change the country. Yet, for the dedicated follower, the political game also provides experiences and entertainment akin to theatre.
A great source of fun is the observation of the speeches of leaders when an election result is known. Traditionally the winners promise to govern “for all Australians”. But what the ordinary punters receive is often something else again!
Occasionally, election night speeches provide unforgettable rhetoric. …
Sometimes fiction is much more illuminating than fact. A case in point is a new novel by Michael Wilding, one of the stalwarts of Australian contemporary fiction. The Sydney writer’s ‘In the Valley of the Weed’, released this week, examines some key issues and implications of the move to decriminalise marijuana, a hot topic nowadays.
One of the leading characters of Wilding’s deeply subversive novel is Tim Vicars – an academic suspended because of his politically incorrect emails, who disappears. Then there’s Plant, the private detective hired to find him. Vicars’ …
The stark, unpalatable reality is that the numbers of prisoners in Australia grew 8 per cent from 36,134 in 2015 to 38,845 in 2016. This is nothing short of scandalous.
The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world – with fewer than 5 per cent of the world population but about 25 per cent of its prisoners. Yet the US has started reducing the size of its prison population – quite significantly in some states, including Texas. This is because it is evident that there are cheaper, more effective …
There is probably no other issue in Australian public life that can claim such increasing levels of support over the past decade. On the most recent polls, 84 per cent of ALP voters and 82 per cent of Coalition voters support it. Even 77 per cent of Catholics and 88 per cent of Anglicans want to see reform of the laws around it. These levels of support are also recorded in many modern European and Scandinavian democracies.
What we are talking about is dying with dignity, or voluntary euthanasia.
With such overwhelming …
A rebel union set up in opposition to the main shop assistants union is facing claims of deception for using a university lecturer posing as a shelf stacker in a promotional video on its website.
La Trobe University academic Lachlan Clohesy, an expert in Soviet infiltration and executive member of the hard-Left National Tertiary Education Union, appears in the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union video posing as a retail worker claiming he is owed thousands in unpaid salary from stacking shelves at Coles.
The video from the union, which has …
Recent opinion polls on intended voting patterns relative to federal politics in Australia have been at once fascinating and deeply uncertain.
It is clear that a significant percentage of former Liberal/National voters have departed to support Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. Such a move was entirely predictable. Many Australian voters hold deeply conservative views. There were sufficient of them at the Federal election before last to give Tony Abbott victory with a large majority.
Yet within the first term of that government Abbott was deposed, not by voters but by members of his …