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[19 May 2017 | No Comment | 13 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 | No Comment | 15 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 …

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[30 Apr 2017 | 2 Comments | 28 views ]

Despite a long career as a professor of history and politics, I am still fascinated by the spread of, and resistance to, evidence-based policies that work to reduce crime.
In the Western world, pills have been tested at youth music dance events for almost 20 years, improving public safety and saving scarce resources. Yet Australia has been slow to accept such testing, while rushing to adopt expensive, tough, anti-crime policies not backed by evidence. Having accepted these expensive ways of making a bad problem worse, our governments often persist with such …

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[20 Apr 2017 | Comments Off on We’ve lost faith in pollies. Only Abbott can stop the back-stabbing. | 21 views ]

IN the recent NSW by-elections, 23 per cent of the electorate ­either failed to vote at all or voted informal. At last year’s federal election, 23 per cent voted for minor parties or independents, 5 per cent voted informal and 9 per cent didn’t turn up. That’s well over a third of the electorate that ­declined to vote for the two big parties that have governed Australia, in one form or another, since Federation.
It’s hard to recall a time when people have been so disillusioned with politicians. This matters because …

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[7 Apr 2017 | Comments Off on Judging Turnbull | 15 views ]

Recently, Malcolm Turnbull has from time to time tried to act like the centre-right leader of a centre-right government, which is what is needed if the Coalition is to have any chance of being reelected.
After rejecting any change during the last election campaign, last week the Turnbull government had a good go at reforming section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. In this, the PM had the public support from Tony Abbott that Abbott never had from him last time round. Then last Friday, Turnbull achieved success in passing significant …

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[7 Apr 2017 | Comments Off on Ross Fitzgerald: Time to let the Pies’ go, Eddie McGuire | 12 views ]

TONIGHT, with both sides yet to register a win, Collingwood and Sydney play a crucial game of Aussie rules at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The Sydney/Collingwood contest under lights has all the hallmarks of a blockbuster, especially as it will see Sydney’s superstar Lance (‘Buddy’) Franklin celebrate his 250th senior AFL game.
And yet something doesn’t feel quite right.
Perhaps it’s the oddly quiet build-up to the match from two teams usually all too happy to trade barbs across the border. Or perhaps it’s just the calm before the storm?
Collingwood’s president has …

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[23 Mar 2017 | Comments Off on Tarnished Crown Jewel | 25 views ]

By ROSS FITZGERALD
With Malcolm Turnbull hanging on by a one-seat majority federally, the devastating result in the Western Australian state election leaves the Liberal/National Party coalition in power in only one mainland state in Australia.
The party jewel that the conservatives retain is a significant one, the government of the biggest, wealthiest and most powerful state, New South Wales.
Media reporting of the Liberal/National government there generally has been benign; memories of the debacle that characterised the previous Labor governments in NSW still represent fresh wounds in the memories of many …

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[2 Mar 2017 | Comments Off on One Nation’s chief recruiter | 57 views ]

The Prime Minister is driving away Liberals and conservatives in droves
ROSS FITZGERALD
Most of the media just don’t ‘get’ Tony Abbott. They think he’s critical of Malcolm Turnbull because he wants his old job back. But after all Abbott’s been through, why would he want, for a second, to have to again work closely with the likes of Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison?
Actually, Abbott is thinking of the future of the Liberal Party and the fate of the government in trying to alert his colleagues to their peril while it may …

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[4 Feb 2017 | Comments Off on ‘Last Words’ : Barry Dickins’ account of the hanging of Ronald Ryan | 32 views ]

HISTORY
‘Last Words: The Hanging of Ronald Ryan’
Barry Dickins
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 …

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[26 Jan 2017 | One Comment | 108 views ]

If Malcolm Turnbull had a plan, we would have seen it by now
ROSS FITZGERALD
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 …

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[16 Jan 2017 | One Comment | 76 views ]

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 …