Articles on Public policy

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Quarries and quandaries: Australia’s natural splendour is a major source of income, yet it sits uncomfortably with mining’s spread. AAP/Fantasea Adventure Cruising

Mining and the environment: the future of Australia’s brand

Australia has built a strong global brand based on its iconic natural beauty. For example, the new Australia Tourism campaign, “There’s nothing like Australia”, features icons like the Kimberley, Uluru…
To know how to ease the damage we do, we must first take stock of the natural world. New Zealand does; Australia does not. Flickr/borkazoid

Seeing the wood for the trees: Kiwi lead in biodiversity conservation

In 1992-93, 168 countries including Australia and New Zealand signed the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) acknowledging an urgent need to halt ongoing decline in the planet’s biodiversity. In its…
Lost generations: if Australians now cycled at the same rates as in the mid 1980s, up to a million more people would be riding. Flickr/taisau

Australian cycling boom? Nope - it’s a myth

Cycling industry reports of significant bicycles sales in Australia suggest a growth in cycling participation. As the Tour de France re-excites interest in cycling around the world, a new analysis published…
Sanctuary: marine parks can create new ways to prevent illegal fishing. Mia Hoogenboom, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University

Marine parks could help cut down on illegal fishing

Environment Minister Tony Burke announced the final proposed Commonwealth marine protected area (MPA) network last month. The network would be the largest in the world, covering more than a third of Commonwealth…
Climate change is only one of many pressures farmers will have to adapt to. Pete Hill

The three Ps of climate change and agriculture

Opinions on anthropogenic climate change vary greatly across society, and it appears that Australia’s farmers remain largely sceptical about the causes of climate change. Recent surveys show that only…
Sometimes even the clearest signs of change are ignored. Flickr/baldeaglebluff

Adapting to climate change: more questions than answers!

With increasing global greenhouse gas emissions, and no clear internationally-agreed path for emission reductions, we are faced with a global climate that will be at least two degrees warmer than today…
State of dependency: Australia imports the majority of its oil for the first time since 1970. Flickr/Sr. Samolo

Australia’s growing oil imports are an energy security issue

For all the talk about Australia’s resource and energy riches and the country’s economy riding the waves of a resource boom, one facet of the country’s energy situation has largely been under the radar…
Do you see the light? Solar costs are comparable to fossil fuels, and are falling 45% annually. Flickr/MyEye85

Newsflash: solar power costs are falling below fossil fuels

Recent postings to The Conversation have enlivened the debate over the “Great Transition” that is underway all around the world from the fossil-fuelled energy systems of the 20th century to the renewably…
Hard numbers: less than 1% of the world’s oceans are protected but marine scientists think 20% should be off-limits to fishing. AAP/Lloyd Jones

Marine parks: cause for optimism, but devilish details

As a marine scientist, I welcome Senator Burke’s brave decision today to roll out Australia’s marine park system. This puts us on a par with other leading nations like the US and UK who have established…
Networks of nature: a potato cod with striped cleaner wrasse at Osprey Reef, an area in the expanded marine reservations announced today. Flickr/richard ling

Big splash: welcome back to top-shelf marine conservation

Today’s announcement of a national network of marine parks is really a memorable day for Australian nature conservation. The political rhetoric and self-congratulation associated with major events is often…
Julia Gillard espouses “evidence-based” policy and Bob Hawke set up a Future Commission, but policy-making is necessarily subject to all manner of short-term pressures. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Challenge 5: The trouble with policy-makers thinking ahead

In part five of our multi-disciplinary Millennium Project series, Scott Prasser questions easy sloganeering about the importance of “long-term” policy-making. Global challenge 5: How can policymaking be…
Back, sperm, back: a human egg on the tip of a pin. Flickr/wellcome images

Squaring up to difficult truths: how to reduce the population

Elephants in the room, part two For all our schemes and mantras about making our lives environmentally “sustainable”, humanity’s assault on the planet not only continues but expands. What are the deep…
How far are you from the treatment you need? Having a heart attack puts the patient in a race against time. Flickr/alexkess

Heart attack by postcode: how fast and close is due treatment?

Australians considering where to have a heart attack can now do a postcode check on the speed and quality of medical treatment…
Payday lenders can seem a necessity for many Australians. Flickr/taberandrew

Almost 3 million adult Aussies lack basic financial services

Almost 3 million adult Australians are entirely or severely excluded from mainstream financial services including bank loans…
Tug of water: the Murray-Darling Basin is fraught with competing interests. AAP/Lukas Coch

Murray-Darling authority’s revised plan: expert reactions

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) today released a revised plan that recommends cutting the volume of groundwater…
In today’s world, businesses have to find new ways to tackle wicked problems. luxamart

Wicked problems and business strategy: is design thinking an answer?

Obesity. Climate change. Brain drain. Tax havens. War in Afghanistan. All have been described as “wicked problems”. UC Berkeley scholars, Rittel and Webber, coined the term in 1973 when they were reacting…
Given our neo-Platonic visions of universal ecologies, when it comes to restoring waterways we’re up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Flickr/Annadriel

Science’s stagnant thinking: our rivers need a revolution

I’ve been away in the UK for a few years – and what do I find when I come back? In the Murray Darling we are still arguing over inputs (the amount of water to be returned to the river) instead of focusing…
Facing tough questions: NSW’s planning review must grapple with competing visions of development. Flickr/Askew One

Under review: rival visions for people and communities

Later this year Brad Hazzard, NSW Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, faces a difficult decision. Will he prepare new state planning legislation that prioritises a desired outcome: healthy, functional…

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