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In office, the late Gough Whitlam sought to fufil, rather than to end, the promise of capitalism. AAP/Alan Porritt

Political limits of today intensify rosy memory of Whitlamism

The popular response to Gough Whitlam’s death tells us more about the politics of the present than the past. Whitlam has been cast as a messiah; as Labor’s saviour; and as the slayer of what Paul Keating…
From Adam Smith to the Australian classroom: a leap too far? angus mcdiarmid/Flickr

How economics lost its identity in Australia, and how to get it back

I will never forget the late summer day on which Johnny Smith (not his real name) came to my office at UNSW full of excitement about his incipient undergraduate career. “I want to work as an investment…
When choosing which university to attend, price is not high on most Australians' list of priorities. Shutterstock

Does price matter when picking a university?

The proposed changes to higher education, including the removal of caps on student fees, have led many to question what drives students to pick a university. In a deregulated market will universities compete…
A green trade deal would encourage the development of renewable energy in big carbon emitters such as China. Kaj17/Flickr

Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens a green trade deal

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
Starting earlier, lasting longer: the challenge of managing the New South Wales bushfire season is getting harder. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Bushfire season in New South Wales grows longer and stronger

In New South Wales in 2013, bushfires in January and October collectively burned 768,000 hectares of bushland and destroyed 279 homes. Tragically, two people lost their lives and the damage was estimated…
The stripe is the mark of the ordinary seaman, never of the officer. Jean Paul Gaultier, Lascar dress, Les Indes galantes (Romantic India) collection, haute couture, spring-summer 2000. © Patrice Stable/Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier and the true history of the fashion stripe

The publicity material for The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition, which opened last week at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), unsurprisingly came decked in stripes. The blue and white…
The Ord River dam, completed in 1971, formed Australia’s largest artificial lake in the far north west. Graeme Churchard/Flickr

Dams are not the smart way to secure water for agriculture

Some 27 irrigation and dam projects are highlighted in the green paper for agricultural competitiveness released this week by agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce. Six of the projects – five in Tasmania…
Learning a musical instrument begins with the act of making music with our bodies. AAP/Yonhap

It takes more than singing to strike a chord in music education

Yesterday, Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Arts Minister George Brandis announced A$594,000 in funding for a new national music teachers mentorship program. The details have sent music…
Reduced access to generics drugs has contributed to the 80% rise in the cost of Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Diego Cervo/Shutterstock

It’s time to fix the free trade bungle on the cost of medicines

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
In Opus, circus and chamber music collide in an astounding fashion. Melbourne Festival

Orchestrating wonder: Opus at the Melbourne Festival

Rambunctious, athletic circus with elegant, controlled chamber music. Do opposites collide? Not in Opus, an intriguing collaboration between the chamber music Debussy String Quartet from Lyon, France and…
China needs to adopt a productivity reform agenda to avoid falling living standards. AAP

Look to China’s productivity gains, not headline growth figures

China’s economy grew by 7.3% during the third quarter of 2014, meeting market expectations. Polling by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal put the consensus forecast at 7.2-7.3%, the slowest pace in more…
2010’s Animal Kingdom – one of many films to benefit from the legacies of the Whitlam government. EPA/Simon Mein/Sony Pictures

Australia’s film industry owes a debt to Gough Whitlam

Filmmakers and audiences – indeed Australian arts and screen culture more broadly – owe a deep debt of gratitude to Gough Whitlam and the government he led. Although the foundations had been laid by Whitlam’s…
The Ottoman Chief Eunuch was an influential figure. In this and other caliphates, eunuchs supervised the harem, the princes, the financial affairs of the palace and the mosques, as well as controlling access to the ruler. Photo postcard 1912

Islamic State lacks key ingredient to make ‘caliphate’ work: eunuchs

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed Islamic State (IS) as a Muslim caliphate on June 29, 2014, with himself as caliph, a term reserved for a successor to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). His would be the newest…
Gough Whitlam, Labor prime minister from 1972 to 1975, has died aged 98. AAP/ Joe Hildebrand

Gough Whitlam, young people and public support for the arts

Gough Whitlam’s legacy in the arts first hit me as a little indie-music nerd in the 1990s. The inner-city Sydney band The Whitlams made a funny little music video about their namesake, a bloke who was…
Are teaching graduates well enough prepared to enter the classroom? AAP

A teaching degree can’t prepare you for absolutely everything

Two reports released this week highlight that many teaching graduates don’t feel their university studies are sufficient to get them work-ready. A report released by ACER (Australian Council for Educational…
Mining giant Rio Tinto, which has operated in Guinea for 50 years, has donated just US$100,000 to the UN Ebola fund. EPA/Ahmed Jallanzo

Mining companies must dig deep in the fight against Ebola

The current outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa shows no signs of halting. More than 4,500 people have died and many thousands more are infected. Despite the creation of a new United Nations mission…
With the progressive delegation of human decisions to machines we need to consider the impact on human autonomy. phloxii/shutterstock

Data mining the new black box of self-driving cars

Autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars, are likely to be seen more widely on roads in 2015. Already, legislation authorising the use of autonomous vehicles has been introduced in the US states of Nevada…
The Whitlam government’s legacy continues to be felt today, close to four decades since it lost office. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Gough Whitlam’s life and legacy: experts respond

Gough Whitlam, Labor prime minister from 1972 to 1975, has died aged 98. A giant of modern Australian politics, his passing triggered a flood of tributes on Tuesday morning. In a statement, current Labor…
As the new Indonesian president, Jokowi will need a hardworking and clean cabinet. EPA/Adi Weda

How will Indonesia’s president put together his new cabinet?

In his speech after being sworn into office, Indonesian President Joko Widodo yesterday called for Indonesians to “work, work and work”. Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, also has to work hard…
The Trans-Pacific Partnership agenda is again being driven by the US on behalf of its major export industries. EPA/How Hwee Young

Trans-Pacific Partnership piles up challenges for democracy

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…