Columns »

[15 Feb 2014 | 2 Comments | 53 views ]

WHAT is it about Australia that so little prominence is given to the first Aboriginal person to serve in the NSW parliament?
This is despite the fact she has been Labor MP for Canterbury since 2003 and is now deputy leader of the NSW opposition.
Born in 1957 to an Aboriginal man and an unmarried white woman in a small town in the Riverina, Linda Burney strongly identifies as a Wiradjuri woman.
After her mother abandoned her, fleeing the hospital, Burney was raised by an elderly aunt and an uncle who had worked …

Columns »

[8 Feb 2014 | 2 Comments | 61 views ]

APART from Tony Abbott, who is clearly the most influential member of federal parliament, for the remainder of this year there appear to be 10 other key parliamentary players.
Top of the list is Western Australia-based Julie Bishop.
Deputy leader of the Liberal Party, the most senior woman in the federal parliament, and our first female Foreign Minister, Bishop is responsible for managing relations with the US, China, and Indonesia, which arguably are the three nations most important to Australia.
In tandem with the ambitious Malcolm Turnbull, the influential Bishop will this year …

Columns »

[1 Feb 2014 | 5 Comments | 80 views ]

WHEN used with amphetamines, ice and steroids, and often on its own, alcohol is a very dangerous mood-altering drug. In a large section of the population, alcohol all too readily fuels violence, including public and domestic violence and sexual assaults.
Yes, most people drink responsibly. But, as the liquor industry knows, it’s the top 10 per cent of heavy drinkers who account for 50 per cent of total alcohol consumption, and the top 20 per cent who account for 70 per cent of alcohol consumed. These are the individuals whose alcohol …

Books »

[1 Feb 2014 | No Comment | 14 views ]
Pushed from the Wings

‘Pushed From the Wings : An Entertainment’ is the black comedy that introduced readers to Grafton Everest. Grafton is ten years sober, which is all for the good, but he’s overweight, indolent, indecisive and gets on badly with most of his fellow academics at tinpot Bowen University. Given his druthers, he’d spend most of his time in bed.
If things seem bad, they only get worse when Grafton discovers that his old high school teacher recruits graduates for National …

Columns »

[25 Jan 2014 | No Comment | 44 views ]

IN May 2012, Victorian Liberal powerbroker Michael Kroger revealed he was sick of going to lunch with Peter Costello and hearing that the former long-serving federal treasurer regarded Tony Abbott as a “DLP stooge and an economic illiterate.”
Unsurprisingly, Costello’s opinion of the Prime Minister’s supposed lack of economic skills and abilities seems to be shared by a number of federal Labor shadow ministers, including Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen. As it happens, one of the most critical assessments of Abbott came from former Labor prime minister …

Columns »

[18 Jan 2014 | One Comment | 38 views ]

AUSTRALIANS are travelling overseas in record numbers.
No longer considered a luxury, an overseas holiday is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Also the internet enables direct booking of international flights and accommodation without the necessity to seek advice from a travel agent or any other informed source. This means that many first-time travellers may arrive in another country without any advice or warnings about different laws, cultural sensitivities and the inherent risks of being in unfamiliar territory.
Considering the markedly different laws regarding social behaviour which apply in popular tourist …

Columns »

[11 Jan 2014 | One Comment | 38 views ]

ALTHOUGH I haven’t smoked a cigarette for decades, I know many people who still do.
These days, only about 16 per cent of Australians smoke cigarettes, which by any measure represents a great success. But that still leaves many more than three million Australian smokers.
Many are hard-core smokers who are addicted to nicotine. The likelihood that they will quit and stay cigarette-free is not at all high.
The health risks for them remain life-threatening and the burden they place on our already stretched hospital system is extreme. Also, as parents and grandparents, …

Columns »

[4 Jan 2014 | No Comment | 35 views ]

IN 2007, historian John Hirst argued that Australians had often felt the need to ask others what they think of our nation, in part because our European origins as a British penal colony conferred a sense of being second-class.
Hirst concluded that we had moved on from that sense of inferiority and had adopted an attitude of “this is who we are and the world can take us or leave it”.
Perhaps Hirst spoke too soon. While we may have experienced a growing sense of maturity in our foreign relations, in some …

Columns »

[28 Dec 2013 | One Comment | 60 views ]

BY this time next year 20 world leaders, their economic decision-makers and several thousand officials, journalists and hangers-on should have passed through Australia. It will have cost the nation about $400 million to house, feed, and secure them at the G20 for three meetings in Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns.
Large sums indeed, but for Australia and the Abbott government it is an important opportunity to provide leadership on the world stage. For Tony Abbott it will be an excellent chance to help lead the global agenda and for his many critics …