France As Perfect Laboratory- More’s The Pity For Its People

Today I had the misfortune to read the French business daily, Les Echos. It was a stretch for my French, but oddly enough, the higher the language level, the easier it is. The misfortune was to discover, in detail, the first steps of the Hollande government. If you thought that the Rudd government’s hardening of […]

Will Permanent Ink Drive Permanent Adolescence?

The emergence of a mainstream tattoo culture since the 1990s – one that has gone ballistic in the past decade – raises interesting questions about maturity and changing identity. Tattoos were originally more about visible membership of a group rather than establishing individual identity. They displayed the subculture to which you belonged. Once they were the province […]

Giving Back Is The New Black

If I hear one more high-earner talk about “giving back” I’ll punch them in their self-obsessed mouth. One of the joys of being involved in politics is the opportunity to see, and work with, great NGOs operating on the frontline of social service delivery. It also exposes people like me to the eternally unnoticed who […]

MPs as Lobbyists and the Mendicant Society

Local MPs do just as much lobbying for vested interests as all those industry associations, NGOs and Hawker-esque consulting firms.  It’s just that they’re lobbyists for a geographic vested interest group – their electorate. I used to see lobbying as an unwelcome attempt to influence ‘independent’ policy professionals and MPs when they try to create […]

Religious Subsidy? Try Handout to National Airlines

Passing through the United Arab Emirates and I picked up an interesting story on India’s Supreme Court ordering an end to subsidies for India’s Haj pilgrims. On the face, it is surprising the Indian Muslim community supported the order. Until you read that under regulations  the air route has been shared by national carriers Air […]

Departing on Budget Night is a Blessed Relief

Like watching Q&A, experiencing a Swannie budget night is necessary but painful beyond belief. But this time things are different. I have the good fortune to flying out of the country early tomorrow morning. I can tell myself that I’m not being slack for avoiding the speech and Budget Papers till after I take off; […]

The Speech You’ll Never Hear

It is distressing that this speech extract will only ever be hypothetical. What Australian political leader will utter even the first sentence? To be fair, I know a few politicians who would if they were given free reign. On both sides of politics.   This government commits to delivering cheap energy to our citizens and […]

10 Year Use-By On Journalists As Well

Political leaders start to lose it a bit after a decade. The hunger, energy, capacity to build rapport with the electorate starts to fail. Think Hawke, Howard, Blair, the last years of most two-term US Presidencies. Leading journalists have similar issues. They get metaphorically (in some cases, literally) fat and complacent. They slip into the […]

Hume of the Week

Faced with climate catastrophism and all it has spawned, I am led to Hume’s concern with religion of his period: In all ages of the world, priests have been enemies to liberty; and it is certain, that this steady conduct of theirs must have been founded on fixed reasons of interest and ambition.  Liberty of […]

Political Class Gets It Wrong Again

The members of the political class control communications and campaigns on both sides of politics. Unless they reform to minimise their isolation and arrogance, they will drive further voter disillusion. The NY Times’ David Brooks  raised this recently. He suggested four metaphors for political campaigns: seduction, talent contest, tradesman’s pitch, and warfare. The hard, negative […]

The Rising Tide of Calling the Green-Left What It Is

Good to see Andrew Bolt and that thoughtful conservative Victor Davis Hanson on the same page as me (hubris much?). That it is so obvious to anyone who thinks about politics that the Green-Left has become that which it once fought – reactionary, quasi-aristocratic, opportunity-denying – is a real indictment of the diminishing number of […]

What More Can They Do In 18 Months?

Seriously, what more can this lot do while they cling to perks for the tribe? We’re really only half way through the celebration of competence that is the Gillard government, and whatever they do for the next 18 months won’t have much to do with governing. Any scenario I imagine probably won’t be half as […]

The Thoughts of Chairman Bill

From our Dear Leader of the Workplace: I support everything I haven’t heard Tuesday is the same as Monday and first week of the month is the same as second week I meant what I said, until I didn’t. It was a Slip of the tongue. If you want to look like Prime Ministerial material, […]

More Regulation to Make Less Regulation

A quick post today before a seminar. Apologies for lack of links. I will add later today. Judith Sloan gets it right on regulatory overload for businesses – and on the tokenism of de-regulation and anti-red tape talk from our elected officials. Sadly, that seems to be true on both sides of politics. What is […]

The Problem Is Austerity For Thee, Not For Me

Much as David Uren talks sense, in his Anzac Day Oz piece I can’t help but feel there is a core point he doesn’t see. The thrust of his article is that the electorate won’t wear cutbacks, especially when the case for it is abstract and distant from their lives. Across the world, governments are […]