Tuesday, May 19, 2015


This piece begins anchored in the current domestic debate about the Budget, but that's not what it's about.

This man doesn't even know what's coming
courtesy SMH

It's about this.

outback australia image

The new wave of computerisation of work will change everything,

As I wrote in the Canberra Times, not even journos are safe . . .

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


When one is never enough.

This column, written first, appeared today in the Canberra Times . . .

Monday, May 11, 2015


There's an inevitable tendency to regard elections as immutable; a "decision of the people's will"; something that will "change everything".

Maybe that's true.

Outside No 10 for another 5 years
Courtesy The Telegraph

This piece for the Strategist considered the two significant ways in which the UK has changed . . .

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


I'd been tempted to headline this yarn as "split over ISIL", or "Andrews and Abbott disagree about why we're in Iraq". 

Unfortunately, although possibly justified neither of these assertions are quite true. 

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews at the RUSI

When we went into Iraq Tony Abbott insisted Daesh was a "death cult".

The key point is that Andrews specifically rejected this as a reason to deploy forces. 

He drew a more logical picture of why we're involved, by distinguishing between nation-states (which, implicitly, one can deal with) and other forces (operating outside the Westphalian system), as this column for the Canberra Times details . . . 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Name Of the Rose . . .

There's a brilliant short passage at the beginning (p15) of Umberto Eco's book, the Name of the Rose, where the ageing Benedictine narrator puts down his feelings about the declining state of the world:

"the young no longer want to study anything, learning is in decline, the whole world walks on its head, blind men lead others equally blind and cause them to plunge into the abyss, birds leave the nest before they can fly, the jackass plays the lyre, oxen dance. Mary no longer loves the contemplative life and Martha no longer loves the active life, Leah is sterile, Rachel has a carnal eye, Cato visits brothels, Lucretius becomes a woman. Everything is on the wrong path . . ."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I've been terrible in not keeping the blog up-to-date, I'm afraid. 

This is Tuesday's piece for the Canberra Times. 

Reuters image

This is about Gallipoli - or today. 

Or this column is about today - and the past . . . 

Saturday, February 14, 2015


It's possible to justify choosing any of the new submarine bids. 
The Swedish/Australian one? We did that last time and it worked. 
The French? Has the potential to go nuclear. 
The German? Worth pursuing. 
The Japanese? Possibly, but not if it locks us into an alliance with Tokyo; will be built in Japan; and if the Japanese won't explain any of the advantages publicly. 
How many hulls in this picture?
We'd be better off without one, as I suggest in this piece for the Canberra Times . . .

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


I can examine my heart and say I wish Tony Abbott no harm.

But I don't think that he'll be prime minister come July.

There's no recovery once you're on the ropes

The ineluctable drumbeat of history tells us once authority is lost it can never be recovered.

I laid out the prognosis in this piece for the Canberra Times . . .

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Tony Abbott claims he should remain PM because he's strong on defence, security and foreign affairs issues.

Strong, maybe, but effective?

Personally, I don't believe so.

As this article for todays Canberra Times suggests . . .

(PS They gave it the headline)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Norman Abjorensen kicks off his latest piece for Inside Story with a great quote: 

"In his 2011 book, Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, Owen Jones describes how, in his final year at Oxford a decade ago, he heard a senior member of the party (widely believed to be David Cameron) speak with blunt candour at an informal gathering: “What you have to realise about the Conservative Party is that it is a coalition of privileged interests. Its main purpose is to defend that privilege. And the way it wins elections is by giving just enough to just enough other people.”

  • 1.Alexander Wendt40.76%
  • 2.R
  • 32.73%
  • 4.James Fearon24.82%
  • 5.Kenneth Waltz23.23%
  • 6.Joseph Nye Jr.17.32%
  • 7.Bruce Bueno de Mesquita13.20%
  • 8.Samuel Huntington11.51%
  • 9.Martha Finnemore11.19%
  • 10.Robert Jervis11.09%
  • 11.Stephen Walt10.77%
  • 12.Kathryn Sikkink8.76%
  • 13.Peter Katzenstein7.92%
  • 14.Beth Simmons7.18%
  • 15.David Lake6.76%

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Journalists are paid to make stories. We write new ones every day.

Danger -journalist at work

But sometimes people don't want the stuff that we serve up daily - they just want to skip to the punch-line at the end.

You instinctively 'know' what this is when you pause to think about it for a second or two. You 'know' how things will work out in the long run.

I harnessed that knowledge to write about this year in politics.

We'll hear a lot, this year, about Tony Abbott, but you know how it will end up.


As I wrote in today's Canberra Times . . .

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


End of the holidays.

Time to sit down and start working again. How better to begin than by thinking about thinking?

A slightly younger looking Melissa at the AIIA

The Lander Institute kicks the new year off with its annual survey of think-tanks, and so this column begins there.

But what about other organisations? Unfortunately, the government has slashed funding for them over the past year.

As I wrote in the Canberra Times, It makes one wonder if we really are a knowledge nation . . .

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Very often there are no easy answers, but perhaps the worst response of all is a hashtag "like". 

I believe in free speech, but I don't believe in insulting people intentionally. 

This was an attempt to explain my feelings in the Canberra Times . . .