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Analysis and Comment (131)

Volte face for Mario Draghi. Volte face for Mario Draghi. Boris Roessler/EPA

Draghi’s plea for Europe is an admission the US got it right

Mario Draghi almost single-handedly rescued the Eurozone from disaster two years ago, by pledging to do “whatever it takes to preserve the euro”, so the appeal from the European Central Bank (ECB) chief…
A challenge for EU and Ukraine relations. A challenge for EU and Ukraine relations. Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA

After MH17, the EU must act against Putin and stop importing Russian gas

Writing from Kiev, the city is boiling with rage. And now all Europeans too may boil with rage as 189 Dutch and smaller numbers of Belgians, British, French and Germans perished, when their Malaysian Airlines…
Power broker. Vladimir Putin. Power broker. Vladimir Putin. Fernando Bizerra Jr/EPA

MH17 was a victim of the new cold war’s first proxy conflict

It remains to be seen precisely how and why the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed over the territory of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. But whatever…
A lucrative immigration problem: international students at the ISC. A lucrative immigration problem: international students at the ISC. Jirka Matousek

Immigration rhetoric is a threat to Britain’s long-term growth

Immigration has risen to the top of the political agenda in the UK. And the popular press has been propelling the bandwagon. “We must stop the immigrant invasion” according to the Daily Express and “enough…
An IEA legacy on the stairs at 10 Downing Street? An IEA legacy on the stairs at 10 Downing Street? The Prime Minister's Office

How the free-market ideology of IEA has gained political ground

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is enjoying another moment in the sun. Australian politics is starting to move to the beat of its drum as Treasurer Joe Hockey talks about an “end to the age of…
Federal MP Clive Palmer vowed to block the budget’s ‘horrific cuts’ in his Queensland Media Club address this week. Federal MP Clive Palmer vowed to block the budget’s ‘horrific cuts’ in his Queensland Media Club address this week. AAP/Dan Peled

Populist Palmer drops his jester act to appeal to middle Australia

It looks like there’s a new Clive Palmer in town. At Monday’s Queensland Media Club lunch in Brisbane, where the Palmer United Party (PUP) leader talked down the federal budget and spruiked his own ideas…
Not all that he seems. Modi supporters in Vadodara, India. Not all that he seems. Modi supporters in Vadodara, India. Divyakant Solanki/EPA

Modi’s reputation for governance miracles is built on shaky ground

It seems highly likely that Narendra Modi will be the next elected prime minister of India. One reason for that has been a well-orchestrated campaign to represent Modi as some kind of legislative miracle…
Power games unmasked. Pro-Russian protesters gather outside the seized City Hall in in Mariupol, Ukraine. Power games unmasked. Pro-Russian protesters gather outside the seized City Hall in in Mariupol, Ukraine. Anastasia Vlasova

Ukraine clashes raise stakes in struggle to control the Donbas

It is the most serious conflagration since armed pro-Russian forces began taking control of official buildings in the Donbas. At least one anti-government protester is believed to have been shot dead by…
On the edge. Pro-Russian protesters clash with police in Donetsk. On the edge. Pro-Russian protesters clash with police in Donetsk. EPA?Roman Pilipey

Ukrainian troops fight to fill east’s dangerous power vacuum

Kiev is fighting to regain control over the eastern region of Ukraine, with troops acting to take back occupied buildings across the Donetsk region. The occupation of government buildings in cities over…
Wheels in motion. EU seeks out sanctions in response to Ukraine crisis. Wheels in motion. EU seeks out sanctions in response to Ukraine crisis. Robert Ghement

Soak the oligarchs – a robust alternative for EU sanctions against Russia

The current stand-off between Russia and Ukraine has left the European Union looking perhaps flatfooted and ineffectual. It is an unfair reflection of reality. The EU is not a military alliance and so…
Standing guard. Police at the Regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine. Standing guard. Police at the Regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine. PHOTOMIG/EPA

Crimea is lost, now Ukraine’s future depends on a delicate power game in the East

Now that Ukraine has lost Crimea, which seems certain to be reunited with the Russian Federation, the future of the remainder of the country depends on what happens in the urban, industrial and populous…
Mental block: Osborne has conflicting motives over housing. Mental block: Osborne has conflicting motives over housing. κύριαsity

Budget 2014: will Osborne cool or fuel the housing market?

Britain is home to an increasingly dysfunctional housing market. The risk is that a chancellor trying to lay the foundations for a 2015 election victory will struggle to find the balance between the short…
For the future of Crimea: pro-Russia supporters rally. For the future of Crimea: pro-Russia supporters rally. EPA/Artur Shvarts

Explainer: how can Crimea legally secede from Ukraine?

We believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow…
Youth Club? Youth Club? EPA/Andy Rain

Handle with care: Europe’s fragile jobs growth

Unemployment in the euro area finally seems to be showing signs of a timid recovery, according to the winter forecasts from the EU, but that doesn’t mean that we can rest on our laurels. A bumpy ride lies…
Demonstrators in downtown Donetsk. Demonstrators in downtown Donetsk. EPA/Photomig

Eyewitness: Russia and Ukraine supporters face off in Donetsk

A tense evening in Donetsk. Around 1,000 pro-Russian supporters gathered in front of the building which houses both the regional state administration and the regional council late on Wednesday afternoon…
A protester plays the piano atop a burned-out bus in Kiev. A protester plays the piano atop a burned-out bus in Kiev. Ввласенко

How could the EU do more for Ukraine?

When in Kiev recently I asked many Ukrainians how they thought the raging political and now violent conflict would end. All said they had no idea, but one of them said he had eight scenarios, which included…
1919-2014. 1919-2014. www.shutterstock.com

Pete Seeger: a life of broadening minds through music

The death of Pete Seeger marks the end of an astonishing career. His music, political activism and teaching gave him an extraordinary influence that shows no sign of abating. Although the American folk…
UKIP if you want. Farage is not kipping. UKIP if you want. Farage is not kipping. AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

Euro success for UKIP unlikely to translate to domestic arena

The election to the EU Parliament in May looks likely to be nothing short of a car-crash for Britain’s main political parties. The most recent poll by YouGov suggests UKIP is well-placed to poll in second…
Can President Museveni be persuaded to veto the bill? Can President Museveni be persuaded to veto the bill? UK department of International Development

Homophobic bill a festive gift for Uganda’s Pentecostal churches

The passing of the anti-homosexuality bill (AHB) has been dubbed a surprise Christmas present to Uganda’s large and powerful Pentecostal-charismatic community, but last week’s law banning homosexuality…
Looking the other way: India’s LGBT community campaigned for privacy. Looking the other way: India’s LGBT community campaigned for privacy. sound_of_sight

Vulnerability of gay and transgender Indians goes way beyond Section 377

Prompting international outrage, the Supreme Court of India has overturned a “reading-down” of the notorious Section 377 of the India Penal Code. This, in effect, reinstated a law that is widely understood…
Surly: Zuma’s presidency has been marked by scandal and mismanagement. Surly: Zuma’s presidency has been marked by scandal and mismanagement. WEF

Zuma is just the face of South Africa’s democratic malaise

South Africa is mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, a founding father like no other. His legacy includes a still-lauded constitution, four peaceful, free and fair democratic elections (five if 2014 follows…
If successful, electronic voting poses a serious threat to the great British queue. If successful, electronic voting poses a serious threat to the great British queue. Ruth W

Digital voting is a game changer but we have to get it right

The UK may be taking its first, tentative steps towards introducing online voting with the establishment of a Commission on Digital Democracy. As so many of our routine tasks are going digital, the shift…
Mandela’s long walk to freedom - his release from prison in 1990. Mandela’s long walk to freedom - his release from prison in 1990. Greg English/AP

Mandela death: saying goodbye to a global icon

How do you say goodbye to a global icon? The answer must be: with dignity and by being true to the values that he fought for. By these standards, we all have done Nelson Mandela a disservice. The international…
Modern diplomacy requires a more delicate touch. Modern diplomacy requires a more delicate touch. Haydn West/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Parlez-vous diplomacy? English won’t serve the UK abroad

A report from the British Academy has warned that a lack of foreign language skills could undermine the UK’s future security and capacity for global influence. The report warns of an apathy towards language…
George W Bush: a man not to be misunderestimated. George W Bush: a man not to be misunderestimated. John Giles/PA Archive

Dangerous link between power and hubris in politics

Most people agree on the qualities that a leader should have: we prefer to follow people who are confident, decisive, ambitious and persuasive rather than the insecure, dithering, apathetic and weak. So…
Scott Morrison has defended his directive for asylum seekers to be called ‘illegal maritime arrivals’. Scott Morrison has defended his directive for asylum seekers to be called ‘illegal maritime arrivals’. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Calling a boat person a spade: Australia’s asylum seeker rhetoric

Immigration minister Scott Morrison is new to government, but he is a seasoned campaigner on Australia’s response to boat people. He knows how to get attention on this issue and he knows how to use the…
On a level playing field? On a level playing field? Lynne Cameron/PA

An independent Scotland may turn to Sweden for inspiration

What sort of political system could Scottish independence produce? The debate in the referendum of 2014 shares with debate on the devolution referendum in 1997 a focus on the Nordic experience. In both…
Appearance matters in the impressions we form, and the face perhaps most of all. Appearance matters in the impressions we form, and the face perhaps most of all. Lukas Coch/AAP

A face for politics: do our leaders' looks influence our votes?

The idea a politician’s face would influence our vote one way or another seems preposterous: who would be swayed by something so seemingly trivial, so manifestly beside the point? But looks, alongside…
A still from an ALP advertisement. Which party is spending more to get the message across? A still from an ALP advertisement. Which party is spending more to get the message across?

FactCheck: does Labor massively outspend the Coalition during election campaigns?

“In every recent election, state and federal, the Labor Party has massively outspent the Coalition and this election is going to be no exception.” - Opposition leader Tony Abbott, press conference, 21…
Frosty: Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin at the G8 summit this year. Frosty: Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin at the G8 summit this year. Wikimedia Commons

Now is not the time to play at Cold War politics with Putin

Barack Obama has so far held firm against a growing chorus demanding that the US should boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi after Russia’s introduction of discriminatory laws banning gay “propaganda…
We take a closer look at the claim the prime minister has made on the Murdoch press in Australia. We take a closer look at the claim the prime minister has made on the Murdoch press in Australia.

FactCheck: does Murdoch own 70% of newspapers in Australia?

“Mr Murdoch is entitled to his own view… he owns 70% of the newspapers in this country.” – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, press conference, 6 August. One of the more spirited discussions of the first week…
Hard hats at the ready: a Johnson-Osborne clash over transport funding may be a dress rehearsal for a much bigger fight ahead. Hard hats at the ready: a Johnson-Osborne clash over transport funding may be a dress rehearsal for a much bigger fight ahead. Matt Dunham/PA Wire

Only one winner in the battle between Boris and Osborne

The clash between Boris Johnson and George Osborne over cuts to Transport for London’s budget, which would scupper the mayor’s 2020 vision for a cycling city, represents far more than an argument over…
While reporters' political biases are always hotly debated, other biases remain - including too few voices from diverse backgrounds. While reporters' political biases are always hotly debated, other biases remain - including too few voices from diverse backgrounds. AAP/Alan Porritt

Whose views skew the news? Media chiefs ready to vote out Labor, while reporters lean left

Most Australian journalists describe themselves as left-wing, yet amongst those who wield the real power in the country’s newsrooms, the Coalition holds a winning lead. But while the media’s political…
There’s a strong financial case to selling Medibank Private, but politics has made privatisation an unpopular choice. There’s a strong financial case to selling Medibank Private, but politics has made privatisation an unpopular choice. AAP/ Joel Carrett

Privatising Medibank: good business hamstrung by bad politics

At first sight it is surprising that neither the government nor the opposition, both seeking budgetary savings, is proposing to sell Medibank Private. When retiring Medibank Private chairman Paul McClintock…
Japanese voters are set to cast their votes next week – but will anything change? Japanese voters are set to cast their votes next week – but will anything change? EPA/Franck Robichon

Economic gloom and political chaos: Japan’s election to bring more uncertainty

It used to be said that Japan had a first-rate economy with third-rate politics. Ahead of the hastily announced general election later this month, it’s clear that the second half of this saying is still…
Malcolm Turnbull calls time on Question Time. Malcolm Turnbull calls time on Question Time. (AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Question Time: don’t change the contest we want to watch

Malcolm Turnbull’s call to change Question Time is admirable. He has proposed looking to the British system, where the Prime Minister is only required to answer questions one day a week, giving other ministers…
Leave “wicked” to the witches and let’s get on with the job of policy research. Leave “wicked” to the witches and let’s get on with the job of policy research. Witches image from www.shutterstock.com

Too many ‘wicked problems’: how science, policy and politics can work together

Wicked problems, so we are told, are everywhere. Climate change, conflict, an ageing population, obesity… the list goes on. The debate over asylum seekers, difficult and important and politically charged…
We’ve had the big announcement on schools funding, but now comes the political reality. We’ve had the big announcement on schools funding, but now comes the political reality. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

State stoush: the Gonski reforms and the political battle ahead

The battle over the future of Australia’s school funding arrangements has started in earnest. Outlining the government’s response to the landmark Gonski Review, Prime Minister Gillard spoke of a national…
The Gillard response to the Gonski review was a disappointment and could have been much more. The Gillard response to the Gonski review was a disappointment and could have been much more. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

No detail, all strategy and an opportunity lost on Gonski reforms

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced the government will introduce some of the recommendations of the Gonski Review, including a new model for funding schools. Many commentators criticised the announcement…
Revolution and war: is it all just a little bit of history repeating? Revolution and war: is it all just a little bit of history repeating? blprnt_van

Cliodynamics: can science decode the laws of history?

They say history always repeats itself - empires rise and fall, economies boom and bust - but is there a way to map and predict the dynamical processes of history? The new and highly controversial discipline…
Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne’s recent comments show his misunderstanding of curriculum. Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne’s recent comments show his misunderstanding of curriculum. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

A history of misinformation: Pyne spreads curriculum myths

On the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, Shadow Minister for Education Christopher Pyne was asked what the Liberal Party would do about the national (history) curriculum if they came to power. Pyne’s…
Is next week’s Melbourne state byelection a test for federal Labor? Is next week’s Melbourne state byelection a test for federal Labor? AAP Image/Joe Castro

Melbourne byelection: has a Labor stronghold gone Green?

The looming byelection in the state seat of Melbourne is set to have a national impact. With Greens candidate Cathy Oke strongly tipped to beat Labor’s Jennifer Kanis on 21 July - the first time the ALP…
Politics is more than just the daily tussle of the news cycle and soundbites. Politics is more than just the daily tussle of the news cycle and soundbites. AAP/Lukas Coch

Politics: it is everything you do and more

The term political junkie gets bandied about a great deal, but this addict has no problem in admitting his habit. It’s been a pure joy to be able to read, think and write about politics and government…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott is looking to the politics of the United Kingdom for policy inspiration. Opposition leader Tony Abbott is looking to the politics of the United Kingdom for policy inspiration. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

The influence of ‘Big Society’: Abbott borrows from UK conservatives

Earlier this month, opposition leader Tony Abbott presented the second instalment of the Liberal and National parties’ “Plan for Stronger Communities”, having already outlined elements of the plan at the…
We’ve had a glimpse into the world of Craig Thomson, but he’s trying to justify a view that no one outside the political game can understand. We’ve had a glimpse into the world of Craig Thomson, but he’s trying to justify a view that no one outside the political game can understand. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

All in the game: shining a light into the weird world of Craig Thomson

The ALP and the union movement have never liked scabs. But yesterday we witnessed a labour scab of a different sort as The Wound Formally Known As Craig Thomson continued to be bleed rather than heal…
Indoctrination is one of the key forces at play in any society. Indoctrination is one of the key forces at play in any society. flickr/lets.book

You have been indoctrinated (oh yes you have)

Despite its association with totalitarian societies of the left and right, indoctrination is also a common feature of societies that describe themselves as free: those where the coercive powers of the…
Clive Palmer should probably stick to what he’s good at. Clive Palmer should probably stick to what he’s good at. AAP Image/Dan Peled

Forget contesting Lilley, Clive Palmer should stick to his day job

Mining magnate Clive Palmer has put his name forward to run for the Liberal National Party (LNP) against Treasurer Wayne Swan in the Queensland seat of Lilley at the next election. Palmer has been a vocal…
Jose Maria Vasconcelos (or Taur Matan Ruak) is the new president of East Timor, but will he do more for the women in his country? Jose Maria Vasconcelos (or Taur Matan Ruak) is the new president of East Timor, but will he do more for the women in his country? AAP/Antonio Dasiparu

East Timor: new President, same problems for women

The recent election of José Maria de Vasconcelos, or Taur Matan Ruak as he is known, to the Presidency of Timor-Leste is not good news for women in that country. Adding yet another member of the male military…
Gunter Grass caused a stir with his anti-Israel poem, but political poetry often misses the mark. Gunter Grass caused a stir with his anti-Israel poem, but political poetry often misses the mark. AAP/Marcus Brandt

Political poetry took down Günter Grass … but is it any good?

The world of political poetry has suffered some significant losses in recent months. Václav Havel, a poet long before he was the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic…
WA premier Colin Barnett visits the scene of a bushfire in Margaret River. WA premier Colin Barnett visits the scene of a bushfire in Margaret River. AAP/Tony McDonaugh

Labor in Western Australia: improving, but still a long way to go

Punishing opinion poll results have become a depressingly regular event for Labor in recent times, at federal level as well as in most states. It was thus something of a surprise when a Newspoll result…
Bob Brown’s resignation seemed to even surprise members of his own party. Bob Brown’s resignation seemed to even surprise members of his own party. ABC News24

Bob Brown resigns: what next for the Greens?

In a surprise move, Senator Bob Brown has resigned as leader of the Australian Greens and has been replaced by his former deputy Christine Milne. Brown will step down from his Senate seat in June. He has…
The union scandal surrounding Labor MP Craig Thompson shows just why the Labor party should re-consider its relationship with the unions. The union scandal surrounding Labor MP Craig Thompson shows just why the Labor party should re-consider its relationship with the unions. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

The Health Services Union scandal and Labor’s unhappy political marriage

The Health Services Union’s scandal continues with calls for its national president to resign and moves to remove Kathy Jackson, the whistleblower who first revealed claims of credit card misuse, from…
The ins and outs of the parliamentary day are often nothing more than a distraction. The ins and outs of the parliamentary day are often nothing more than a distraction. AAP/Alan Porritt

Why I’m giving up daily politics for a grander vision

Some people worry that we are, collectively, indifferent to politics. I am beginning to worry that I have not been indifferent enough. It’s a frightening idea: maybe politics matters far less than I thought…
Censorship has now caught up with new social media and technology in China. Censorship has now caught up with new social media and technology in China. Flickr/bfishadow

Weibo and Tencent suspensions show government still in control of social media in China

This week’s temporary suspension of comments on China’s two largest micro-blogging services Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo highlight the ruling party’s discomfort with social media’s growing popularity…
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman congratulates Health and Community Services Minister Tracy Davis as she is sworn in. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman congratulates Health and Community Services Minister Tracy Davis as she is sworn in. AAP Image/John Pryke

Campbell’s cabinet and the curious case of the career politicians

During the much-anticipated announcement of his new cabinet line-up in Brisbane last Friday, incoming Queensland Premier Campbell Newman emphasised his new team’s diversity, both geographically and in…
Aung San Suu Kyi has called her party’s landslide victory in Burma’s recent elections, a “triumph of the people.” Aung San Suu Kyi has called her party’s landslide victory in Burma’s recent elections, a “triumph of the people.” EPA/Barbara Walton

Burma after Aung San Suu Kyi’s election victory

The by-elections held throughout Burma/Myanmar on 1 April initially look to have produced a stunning result for the National League for Democracy (NLD) and its leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It was stunning…
Tomorrow’s Burmese elections will likely finally see Aung San Suu Kyi get into parliament. Tomorrow’s Burmese elections will likely finally see Aung San Suu Kyi get into parliament. AAP Image/Angela Brkic

Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s small steps towards change

Only two years after general elections in 2010, the world will be watching Burma’s by-elections to be held tomorrow. Although the results cannot change the overall political balance of power with only…
The Australian government faces a difficult task in balancing relationships with China and the US. The Australian government faces a difficult task in balancing relationships with China and the US. EPA/Minoru Iwasaki/Pool

What the Huawei case tells us about the Australia, US, China nexus

The recommendation by intelligence agency ASIO that Chinese telecommunications company Huawei be banned from tendering in the National Broadband Network because of cyber security concerns, raises serious…
As Hugo Chávez’s health deteriorates, how will he guarantee his political future? As Hugo Chávez’s health deteriorates, how will he guarantee his political future? EPA/Marcelo Garcia

Venezuela: taking stock of Chavez’s physical and political health

Just eight months after being treated in Cuba for cancer, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was back in Cuba again last month to have another tumor removed from the same area. Despite his illness, Chávez…
After vote rigging in Russia’s elections, Putin’s authority has been called into question. After vote rigging in Russia’s elections, Putin’s authority has been called into question. EPA/Alexey Nikolsky/Ria Novosti/Government Press Service Pool

Is Putin’s leadership legitimate? A closer look at Russia’s elections

The Russian presidential elections, held on 4 March, gave a solid electoral win to the President-elect Vladimir Putin. But much of the Western press saw it as a tainted victory. With allegations of election…
Burma’s military junta has held on to power through violence and intimidation for 50 years. Burma’s military junta has held on to power through violence and intimidation for 50 years. EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

The Burma question: is reform possible after 50 years of military control?

Today marks the 50th anniversary of military control over the Burmese state, marking half a century of the Junta’s tight, often brutal grip on power. But within the last year, there have been shifts towards…
The level of political discourse is descending to new lows … but why? The level of political discourse is descending to new lows … but why? Garrettc

Doctor, doctor: why so few scientists in top government jobs?

Given the importance of science and technology to modern life, particularly in developed nations, why don’t we see more scientists in leading governmental positions? This dearth is particularly stark in…
The leadership spill could lead to constitutional confusion if Rudd wins next week’s ballot. The leadership spill could lead to constitutional confusion if Rudd wins next week’s ballot. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

What happens if Kevin Rudd wins the leadership spill?

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced this morning that she will hold a leadership ballot at 10am on Monday, to “settle once and for all” Labor’s escalating leadership crisis. Kevin Rudd has not formally…
Kevin Rudd has announced he will stand down as Foreign Minister. Kevin Rudd has announced he will stand down as Foreign Minister. AAP

‘Ambitions to lead Labor’ as Kevin Rudd quits as Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has announced he will step down from his post, sparking immediate speculation about his next move and whether he will challenge Julia Gillard as Prime Minister. In a press conference…
Individuals can give thousands of dollars to political parties in NSW, but corporations can’t. Individuals can give thousands of dollars to political parties in NSW, but corporations can’t. Rgs_

New South Wales puts the screws on political funding … but who benefits?

Since 2010, New South Wales has had the most regulated political finance system in Australian history. This includes caps on expenditure in the six month period before an election and low annual limits…
Unimpressive: should our polticians be educated before they represent us? Unimpressive: should our polticians be educated before they represent us? AAP

If our underwhelming politicians don’t pass the test, perhaps its time to make them sit one

If the current leadership tussle in the labor party has demonstrated anything, it’s that politics in Australia is not the most impressive affair. And if we needed any further confirmation, we need only…
Mining magnate, Gina Rinehart is trying to buy more influence by becoming Fairfax media group’s largest shareholder. Mining magnate, Gina Rinehart is trying to buy more influence by becoming Fairfax media group’s largest shareholder. AAP Image/Tony McDonough

Does Gina Rinehart’s move on Fairfax make her an oligarch? Not yet …

Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart has moved to increase her stake in Fairfax Media, owner of The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and a number of radio stations. Rinehart has already shown her desire…
Queenslanders will get a chance to vote for either Premier Anna Bligh or leader of the LNP, Campbell Newman on March 24. Queenslanders will get a chance to vote for either Premier Anna Bligh or leader of the LNP, Campbell Newman on March 24. AAP image/John Pryke

Queensland election 2012: a likely win for Newman and the LNP

After much speculation, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has today announced the date of the up-coming state elections. The poll, now to be held on March 24, comes after a difficult year for the Bligh government…
Most Australians want to see a transparent, fair political system, but they’re not getting one. Most Australians want to see a transparent, fair political system, but they’re not getting one. Flickr/Michael Dawes

Follow the money: better rules on political funding needed

Whether you’re a cynic or an idealist, most of us believe there should be rules restraining big money in politics. But after a decade of stop-start debate on the issue, a Commonwealth parliamentary report…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has reshuffled her cabinet to try and refresh her image, but it won’t work. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has reshuffled her cabinet to try and refresh her image, but it won’t work. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Gillard’s reshuffle will not fool the voters

It might seem that the days before Christmas would be an odd time to announce a cabinet reshuffle, but for the Prime Minister it was the latest in a series of manoeuvres designed to help the government…
British Prime Minister David Cameron can’t escape domestic politics when it comes to Europe. British Prime Minister David Cameron can’t escape domestic politics when it comes to Europe. EPA/Olivier Hoslet

Euroscepticism at home ties Cameron’s hands in Europe

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to veto the new European Union agreement for greater financial stability in the Eurozone reminds us that despite the talk of greater European integration…
Senator for South Australia Cory Bernardi has attracted controversy with some of his right wing views. Senator for South Australia Cory Bernardi has attracted controversy with some of his right wing views. www.corybernardi.com

In Conversation: Senator Cory Bernardi

Welcome to our In Conversation between Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi and Dr Timothy Lynch, lecturer in American politics at Melbourne University. Since being appointed to the Senate in 2006, the Senator…
Despite President Barack Obama’s charms, Australia must focus on China. Despite President Barack Obama’s charms, Australia must focus on China. AAP Image/ Scott Barbour

The US or China? Australia can’t afford to make mistakes

Australia’s recent fleeting love affair with President Barack Obama notwithstanding, Australia’s future lies with China and the North, not the Pacific and the East. This is not simply a matter of economics…
Egypt takes its first steps towards democracy but it’s not in the way many were hoping for. Egypt takes its first steps towards democracy but it’s not in the way many were hoping for. EPA/Amel Pain

The rise of Islamist parties in Egypt’s elections

After the overthrowing of dictator Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has had its first round of parliamentary elections, with two parties dominating the vote – the moderate Muslim Brotherhood and the religious conservative…
President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s close association with ruling party United Russia could be problematic. President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s close association with ruling party United Russia could be problematic. EPA/EKaterina Shtukina/Ria Novosti/Kremlin Pool Mandatory Credit

Russian Elections 2011: United Russia to hold on to power but could be slipping

This weekend nation-wide elections will select 450 deputies to the lower house of the Russian bicameral parliament, the State Duma. Although a win is likely for the ruling party, United Russia, lead by…
Prime minister Julia Gillard faces challenges from all sides at this weekend’s ALP conference. Prime minister Julia Gillard faces challenges from all sides at this weekend’s ALP conference. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

ALP National Conference: Talking about the issues that really matter

After surviving a brutal political winter that many thought would be her last, Prime Minister Julia Gillard can be forgiven to looking forward to the summer holidays. But she shouldn’t let her guard down…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott has had a good political year but is the political wind shifting against him? Opposition leader Tony Abbott has had a good political year but is the political wind shifting against him? AAP/Lukas Koch

Blue skies ahead? How Julia Gillard has enjoyed the change of political seasons

At the start of the year Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised that 2011 would be a year of “decision and delivery”. Despite such a grand vision, the majority of the year was a shocker for the government…
Current Prime Minister John Key is set to have an easy victory at today’s election. Current Prime Minister John Key is set to have an easy victory at today’s election. AAP/NZN Image/SNPA, David Rowland

John Key on brink of historic victory in New Zealand elections

New Zealand goes to the polls today to elect both a government and conduct a referendum on the nation’s electoral system. It will cap off fifteen tumultuous months in the country. Christchurch has endured…
Mass social movements, like the one in East Germany in 1989-91, don’t usually start out with clear goals. Mass social movements, like the one in East Germany in 1989-91, don’t usually start out with clear goals. AAP

You think Occupy is incoherent? It takes time to change history

Those who call for the Occupy movement to have a coherent set of demands at its birth ignore the history of social and protest movements. Often, the coherence to the programs of protest movements is only…
French President Nicolas Sarkozy should be worried about the upcoming elections. French President Nicolas Sarkozy should be worried about the upcoming elections. EPA/Yoan Valat

France 2012: Sarkozy’s tough road ahead

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has a tight fight on his hands. He’ll be taking on the Socialist Party’s Francois Hollande in the elections next year. And he could struggle to get a second term. Four…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott are not doing Australian politics any favours. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott are not doing Australian politics any favours. AAP

How can Australia’s politics be improved?

Imagine a country in which politics is not a struggle among ambitious individuals for power, but the community’s way of resolving conflicts and advancing its common interests. Voters are well-educated…
Argument has raged outside parliament - is there anything left to say inside? Argument has raged outside parliament - is there anything left to say inside? AAP

What’s the point of debating the carbon tax?

It all started in February when Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced her government would seek to introduce a carbon tax. This signalled the start of a policy debate marathon that still shows no sign…
The State premiers and Prime Minister, Julia Gillard meet at the Council of Australian Governments (AAP/Alan Porritt) The State premiers and Prime Minister, Julia Gillard meet at the Council of Australian Governments (AAP/Alan Porritt)

Who is responsible for the elephant in the room? An argument for federalism

There is an old joke in Canada, one that every university student is told early in the Introduction to Politics class. It goes like this: three students - one British, one French, and a Canadian - are…
Party activists may be passionate, but they’re dwindling in number. Party activists may be passionate, but they’re dwindling in number. AAP/Dean Lewins

Losing the faith: Can political parties recapture the public imagination?

Around the western world, political parties have lost their appeal. Membership of major parties has declined dramatically, while our willingness to vote for one party throughout our adult lives has collapsed…
There should be more regulation of third parties to help preserve Australian democracy. AAP/Alan Porritt. There should be more regulation of third parties to help preserve Australian democracy. AAP/Alan Porritt.

Big money politics: why we need third party regulation

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: In the latest instalment of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our representatives develop policy, Marian Sawer examines the need to regulate…
Too much regulation of third parties like GetUp! will hurt democracy. Too much regulation of third parties like GetUp! will hurt democracy. Paul Miller AAP

Power imbalance: why we don’t need more third party regulation

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: In the latest instalment of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our representatives develop policy, Andrew Norton says there’s no need to regulate…
New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda faces major challanges. New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda faces major challanges. AAP

Japanese PM: is Yoshihiko Noda a new beginning or just more of the same?

Former Finance minister Yoshihiko Noda has become Japan’s sixth prime minister in five years after winning a leadership vote in the parliamentary wing of his Democratic Party of Japan. Noda replaces Naoto…
Cate Blanchett is among the celebrities pressed into service to persuade us on political issues. Cate Blanchett is among the celebrities pressed into service to persuade us on political issues. AAP/WWF

Selling the political message: What makes a good advert?

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: This afternoon, Andrew Hughes examines which recent political adverts have been a success, as part of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our…
Kevin Rudd used to manage his brand well, but was toppled after an advertising campaign against him. Kevin Rudd used to manage his brand well, but was toppled after an advertising campaign against him. AAP/YouTube

Democracy is dead, long live political marketing

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: Today, Andrew Hughes looks at how voters have become consumers of political marketing, as part of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our representatives…
Embattled Labor MP Craig Thomson may lose his seat, but this doesn’t necessarily mean Labor will lose government. Embattled Labor MP Craig Thomson may lose his seat, but this doesn’t necessarily mean Labor will lose government. AAP

Why Labor can’t afford to lose Craig Thomson … or any MP

The Gillard Government relies on a wafer thin majority in the House of Representatives in order to pass legislation. The Coalition opposition has already said it will not provide “pairs” for government…
Rob Oakeshott MP tells Professor John Warhurst why he decided to free himself from party constraints. Rob Oakeshott MP tells Professor John Warhurst why he decided to free himself from party constraints. AAP

Oakeshott on the treason of party discipline

For the latest in our In Conversation series, Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University, John Warhurst spoke with the Independent member for the NSW seat of Lyne, Rob…
National Party federal leader Warren Truss leads a party with new momentum. National Party federal leader Warren Truss leads a party with new momentum. AAP

The revival of the National Party in NSW - and beyond

Coverage of NSW state politics in the metropolitan media understandably focused on the devastating losses suffered in the 2011 election by Labor in its heartland areas, of Western and Southern Sydney…
Are organisations like GetUp the future of Australian policy development? Are organisations like GetUp the future of Australian policy development? AAP

The rise of think tanks in Australian politics

Over the previous two decades, a plethora of advocacy organisations have emerged seeking to engage and inform the public on political issues. Some of these entities, such as Get-Up, are self-funded bodies…
Norwegians respond with love, not war, to Anders Breivik’s murderous actions. Norwegians respond with love, not war, to Anders Breivik’s murderous actions. marcinlachowicz.com

The most dangerous 1,500 pages: inside the mind of Anders Breivik

The Conversation asked Professor James Jupp to read through the infamous 1,500 page manifesto of Anders Breivik. This is his analysis of the document, giving an insight into the mind of the mass murderer…
The deal has a narrower focus than the original but still delivers $20 billion of extra funds. The deal has a narrower focus than the original but still delivers $20 billion of extra funds.

Health agreement diagnosis: ‘watered down but not a total cave in’

Health professionals and patients alike breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced she had struck a final deal with the states to reform the nation’s hospital system…
Right-wing extremism is threatening multiculturalism in Europe EPA/JON ARE BERG JACOBSEN/AFTENPOSTE Right-wing extremism is threatening multiculturalism in Europe EPA/JON ARE BERG JACOBSEN/AFTENPOSTE

What do the Norway attacks mean for multiculturalism?

The recent massacres by Anders Breivik in Norway drew the attention of the world to a growing reactionary element in Europe who resent the three Ms – Muslims, multiculturalism and Marxism. So how do these…
The suspected killer, Anders Behring Breivik’s extreme views motivated his twin attacks on Norway AFP/Facebook. The suspected killer, Anders Behring Breivik’s extreme views motivated his twin attacks on Norway AFP/Facebook.

Norway killings a sign of extremism on the rise in Europe

As the self-confessed perpetrator of the Norway attacks, Anders Behring Breivik is due to face court today, The Conversation spoke with Dr Binoy Kampmark, lecturer in Global Studies at RMIT about whether…
Tony Abbott learnt the hard way that retro chic doesn’t extend to a 1970s sense of humour. Tony Abbott learnt the hard way that retro chic doesn’t extend to a 1970s sense of humour. AAP

The problem with jokes about Irishmen

Q: How do you confuse an Irishman? A: Put him in front of two shovels and ask him to take his pick Q: How do you get an Irishman on the roof? A: Tell him drinks are on the house. Q: Why did the Irishman…
Brown talking up the Green’s role in the new Senate AAP/Alan Porritt. Brown talking up the Green’s role in the new Senate AAP/Alan Porritt.

Face off: is the Senate the new governing house of our parliament?

One hundred and ten years after Federation, the Senate today helps to ensure that the Australian Parliament more closely reflects the will of the people. But despite assurances by Bob Brown in his speech…
Tony Abbott changed allegiance to Alan Stockdale just before the vote. Tony Abbott changed allegiance to Alan Stockdale just before the vote. AAP/Alan Porritt

Don’t go changing: Stockdale still president as Liberals go for status quo

Former Howard Government minister Peter Reith took a gamble when running a reform agenda for the Liberal federal president not long from an election. He lost the punt but only just. The race raised larger…
During a leadership vacuum on environmental policy, Cate Blanchett was heavily criticised for supporting a carbon tax. During a leadership vacuum on environmental policy, Cate Blanchett was heavily criticised for supporting a carbon tax. AFP/Say Yes Australia

We shouldn’t blame Carbon Cate for politicians' failure to lead on the environment

As the International Energy Agency says the world faces a bleak future as emissions fail to fall at a fast enough rate to combat climate change, the challenge is on for governments to act globally, but…
An Arakwal man performs the welcome to country ceremony in Byron Bay. It’s a sight which will be less common now in Victoria. An Arakwal man performs the welcome to country ceremony in Byron Bay. It’s a sight which will be less common now in Victoria. AAP/Torsten Blackwood

Welcome to country. Please show some respect

The recent decision by Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu to drop the protocol for government ministers to “acknowledge country” and thereby recognise Indigenous Australian custodianship does not sit well…
The successful anti-mining tax campaign may cement Rinehart’s rich-list position. The successful anti-mining tax campaign may cement Rinehart’s rich-list position. AAP

Spooking Labor was Rinehart’s smartest investment

Now that Gina Rinehart has more than doubled her fortune in one year to top the 2011 BRW Rich 200 list, she will no doubt see her contribution to last year’s $22 million campaign to stop Labor’s resources…
Karl Bitar should be open about his contacts with government in his new role. Karl Bitar should be open about his contacts with government in his new role. AAP/Danny Rose

Fair game? Why Karl Bitar lobbying for Crown is undemocratic

The former National Secretary of the Australian Labor Party, Karl Bitar, has been appointed Head of Government Affairs for Crown Ltd, operators of Melbourne’s Crown Casino and Perth’s Burswood. It’s a…
Australia’s foreign aid commitment falls far short of the level promised in 1970. Australia’s foreign aid commitment falls far short of the level promised in 1970. AAP

Australia’s aid funding: does our performance match our promises?

In the foreword to the international development assistance component of this year’s Federal Budget, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd gives cogent reasons for Australia’s position on foreign aid funding. He…
Ambassador Geoff Raby and Kevin Rudd need to build a resilient relationship with China. Ambassador Geoff Raby and Kevin Rudd need to build a resilient relationship with China. AAP/Dan Peled

Has Kevin Rudd failed us on China?

“To speak Chinese is not to know China,” our man in Beijing announced this week. “Many examples can be found of people who speak Mandarin to a high level but who do not understand how China works. They…
Turnbull made his position clear on the ABC’s Lateline. Turnbull made his position clear on the ABC’s Lateline.

Party line or Lateline? Turnbull’s Tory temptation

Malcolm Turnbull created a stir on Lateline last night by criticising opposition climate policy. The opposition spokesman for communications and former leader of the party implied that Tony Abbott’s “direct…
Julia Gillard needs a ‘circuit breaker’ to turn the polls around. Julia Gillard needs a ‘circuit breaker’ to turn the polls around. AAP/Andrew Taylor

A party in search of a story: why so few are listening to Labor

The Gillard Government just can’t sell its message. That was the view of independent MP Andrew Wilkie speaking on ABC Radio National this week. Recent opinion polls confirm the government has communication…
Tony Abbott presented an alternate vision instead of an alternative budget. Tony Abbott presented an alternate vision instead of an alternative budget. AAP/Alan Porritt

Abbott’s budget reply: alternate vision with just a hint of hit man

Tony Abbott has arguably outlined the most important public policy agenda for the next decade (no matter which side of politics forms government over that period). The major questions will now be: who…
Revolutions encourage people to see the world through different eyes. Revolutions encourage people to see the world through different eyes. AFP/STR

The Arab World: a new model for civilised revolution

The lives of millions of people in the Arab-speaking world are changing. Often for the first time, women and men have jumped, danced, kissed strangers and sung in the streets. There is talk of dignity…

Research and News (6)

Expert reactions to Gaddafi’s killing

Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year-rule of Libya has come to an violent end in a manner reminiscent of the dispatch of Fascist Italy’s…

Research Briefs (8)

Power helps long-term planning

Decision makers who feels powerful are more likely to consider their future selves, rather than immediate or short-term gains…

Some news leaves people knowing less

Some news sources make us less likely to know what’s going on in the world, according to the latest results from Fairleigh…