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Analysis and Comment (43)

“Who do you trust?” has become a common mantra in Australian politics. Our political leaders should do much more to stop the answer being “no one”. “Who do you trust?” has become a common mantra in Australian politics. Our political leaders should do much more to stop the answer being “no one”. AAP Image/Julian Smith

How to restore trust in politics after the Victorian election

A fundamental lack of trust is at the heart of Australian politicians’ extremely poor reputation. It is the main reason why people’s opinions about their elected representatives have mutated from healthy…
The blaze was eventually extinguished 45 days after it was sparked by a grassfire. The blaze was eventually extinguished 45 days after it was sparked by a grassfire. Country Fire Authority/AAP

The Hazelwood mine disaster could easily have been avoided

The Hazelwood coalmine fire, which burned for 45 days earlier this year, was a catastrophe for the town of Morwell in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. Homes were blanketed in smoke and ash, many residents were…
Sunrise over Queenstown in New Zealand in July 2012. This year’s ski season is just beginning in Australia and New Zealand. Sunrise over Queenstown in New Zealand in July 2012. This year’s ski season is just beginning in Australia and New Zealand. Trey Ratcliff/Flickr

Winter is here, but will there be snow in Australia and NZ?

Australia’s ski season is finally getting underway, with the first resort, Perisher, opening its ski lifts after some weekend snow fall. But snow lovers are still watching and waiting for good falls elsewhere…
A recent Ombudsman’s report is damning of the Victorian criminal justice sector, particularly around issues of accountability and transparency. A recent Ombudsman’s report is damning of the Victorian criminal justice sector, particularly around issues of accountability and transparency. shutterstock

Lifting the veil on the crisis in Victoria’s prisons

Victorian Ombudsman George Brouwer’s report on deaths and harm in Victorian prisons may have largely sailed under the public radar, but it shines a rare spotlight on the levels of systemic harm in custody…
Are archaic laws getting in the way of Australians enjoying the beach? Are archaic laws getting in the way of Australians enjoying the beach? Tim J Keegan/Flickr

Who owns the beach when the sea is rising?

We commonly assume that Australians have a fundamental right to access the vast array of beautiful beaches that fringe our continent. But as sea levels rise, these assumptions are being put into question…
Patient investors are needed for Australia’s farm sector. Patient investors are needed for Australia’s farm sector. taylr/Flickr

Who will be the next round of investors in Australian farming?

The Victorian Government has a goal of doubling the state’s agricultural production over 20 years. Achieving that will require substantial new investment. A recent report, for example, estimates that Australian…
Alcoa is to close its Point Henry smelter in Geelong. Alcoa is to close its Point Henry smelter in Geelong. AAP

Australian aluminium outgunned by cheap, coal-free global rivals

Alcoa’s decision to close the Point Henry smelter, at a cost of almost 1000 jobs in Geelong and elsewhere, comes amid a perfect storm buffeting Australia’s aluminium industry. Point Henry will be the second…
Fire zone: bushland ablaze in the Perth Hills. Fire zone: bushland ablaze in the Perth Hills. AAP

Bushfires: rural residents are the solution, not the problem

The return of heatwaves and bushfires to the news pages has brought fresh warnings that Australians who live in fire-prone zones still don’t fully understand the risk they are running. Deadly fires in…
Monday’s heatwave forecast - with even worse heat predicted for the south-east this week. Monday’s heatwave forecast - with even worse heat predicted for the south-east this week. http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/heatwave/

What’s cranking up the heat across south-eastern Australia?

Across south-eastern Australia this morning, people are waking up to forecasts of scorching heat for the week ahead. Players and spectators heading to the Australian Open should prepare for some baking…
Losing access to public housing has emerged as a major concern for Aboriginal Victorians. Losing access to public housing has emerged as a major concern for Aboriginal Victorians. www.panoramio.com/photo/55450813 - taken by densil

How fear and funding undercut a fair go for Indigenous Victorians

Imagine being the mother of a young autistic boy, whose violent outbursts had caused $30,000 of damage to your rented home - but being too afraid to ask anyone for help for fear of having your son taken…
A dead dingo in 2013 (left) and a Tasmanian tiger, last seen in the wild in 1932. A dead dingo in 2013 (left) and a Tasmanian tiger, last seen in the wild in 1932. Dingo photography by Aaron Greenville; a hunted thylacine in 1869, photographer unknown.

Will we hunt dingoes to the brink like the Tasmanian tiger?

The last Tasmanian tiger died a lonely death in the Hobart Zoo in 1936, just 59 days after new state laws aimed at protecting it from extinction were passed in parliament. But the warning bells about its…
Unlike Queensland, it’s very unlikely there will be fracking for coal seam gas in Victoria. Unlike Queensland, it’s very unlikely there will be fracking for coal seam gas in Victoria. Simon Townsley, QGC AUSTRALIA

Unconventional gas in Victoria: proceed with care

While New South Wales and Queensland have moved to exploit unconventional gas resources, Victoria maintains a ban on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for onshore shale gas and coal seam gas (CSG). Those…
The estimate that there have been several thousands of victims is conservative, at best. The estimate that there have been several thousands of victims is conservative, at best. shutterstock

Child sex abuse inquiry uncovers generations of cruelty and moral corruption

Twelve months ago, I wrote an article encouraging inquiries into child sex abuse to treat the church like a corrupt police force. Today, the first of the nation’s inquiries to child sex abuse, run by the…
Harsh measures of social control do nothing to solve the underlying problems. Harsh measures of social control do nothing to solve the underlying problems. shutterstock

As Victoria’s prisons overflow, it’s time to stop criminalising disadvantage

Reports have emerged today that police officers in Victoria are being forced to “babysit” prisoners who cannot fit into the state’s crowded prisons, leading to renewed criticism of the Denis Napthine-led…
Firefighters have plenty of ideas about disaster management - so why don’t we listen? Firefighters have plenty of ideas about disaster management - so why don’t we listen? AAP/Dan Himbrechts

What firefighters say about climate change

You do not find many climate change sceptics on the end of [fire] hoses anymore… They are dealing with increasing numbers of fires, increasing rainfall events, increasing storm events. – A senior Victorian…
Eileen Creamer is one of just three women to be convicted of defensive homicide in Victoria. A Victorian government report has proposed abolishing the controversial law. Eileen Creamer is one of just three women to be convicted of defensive homicide in Victoria. A Victorian government report has proposed abolishing the controversial law. AAP/Julian Smith

Abolishing defensive homicide will benefit female victims and offenders

The Victorian Department of Justice has released its long-awaited review into operation of the controversial offence of defensive homicide. The Consultation Paper proposes the offence’s abolition on the…
Will new Victorian land clearing rules clear up confusion, or just create more? Will new Victorian land clearing rules clear up confusion, or just create more? www.shutterstock.com/123250027

Hidden flaws in Victoria’s new native vegetation clearing rules

The Victorian government is overhauling its rules on native vegetation clearing, the first major change in this area for more than a decade. Vegetation management policy rarely makes it into the news…
One reason why: Leadbeater’s Possum will become extinct unless further action is taken to protect their Mountain Ash habitat. One reason why: Leadbeater’s Possum will become extinct unless further action is taken to protect their Mountain Ash habitat. Flcirk/Greens MPs

Why Victoria needs a Giant Forest National Park

The Central Highlands of Victoria are home to the world’s tallest flowering plants, the Mountain Ash, and one of Australia’s most endangered mammals, the Leadbeater’s Possum. Both are threatened by ongoing…
Labor MP Darren Cheeseman faces an uphill battle to retain Corangamite. The Victorian electorate is Australia’s most marginal seat. Labor MP Darren Cheeseman faces an uphill battle to retain Corangamite. The Victorian electorate is Australia’s most marginal seat. AAP/David Crosling

Ultra-marginal Corangamite is a mirror of the nation

In 2013, the Victorian electorate of Corangamite is a mirror of the nation’s electoral allegiance and social composition. At the 2010 federal election, Labor’s Darren Cheeseman narrowly won on the back…
In terms of a two-party contest, Victoria has just three ultra-marginal seats. In terms of a two-party contest, Victoria has just three ultra-marginal seats. Image from shutterstock.com

State of the states: Victoria

STATE OF THE STATES: a snapshot of the key issues affecting each state and territory in the lead up to Saturday’s election. With a total of 37 seats, the state of Victoria should figure as a major battleground…
After winning it in 2010, Labor MP Rob Mitchell is looking to hang on to his Victorian seat of McEwen despite an expected swing against the ALP. After winning it in 2010, Labor MP Rob Mitchell is looking to hang on to his Victorian seat of McEwen despite an expected swing against the ALP. AAP/Alan Porritt

Redistributions will make McEwen a safer Labor prospect

The Victorian federal electorate of McEwen was a hard seat for Labor to win during the Howard years thanks to the popularity of the then-incumbent Liberal MP, Fran Bailey. But this year, due to major changes…
Victorian premier Denis Napthine may need to expedite reform to the state’s anti-corruption practices if a recent ombudsman’s report is any guide. Victorian premier Denis Napthine may need to expedite reform to the state’s anti-corruption practices if a recent ombudsman’s report is any guide. AAP/Joe Castro

Footy, coffee and corruption: the Victorian disease

To steal a line, there’s something rotten in the state of Victoria. It has a serious problem with corruption, and may find itself ill-equipped to fight it. This might come as a surprise to Victorians…
Retiring Labor MP Simon Crean has survived factional feuding and demographic changes in his seat Hotham. Retiring Labor MP Simon Crean has survived factional feuding and demographic changes in his seat Hotham. AAP/David Crosling

The Labor times are changing in Hotham

In the shadow of Monash University’s Clayton campus landmark Menzies Building to its north and with the affluent bayside Melbourne suburbs to its south and west lie the flat lands of the federal seat of…
Nutty, comforting, wintery parsnips: good luck growing them without a Tenosol. Nutty, comforting, wintery parsnips: good luck growing them without a Tenosol. di.wineanddine/Flickr

The good earth: Boneo Leptic Tenosol and parsnips

Australia has some of the world’s most ancient soils, many of which grow delicious produce. In this series, “The good earth”, soil scientist Robert Edis profiles some of those soils and the flavours they…
Glorious green lentils from a grim grey soil. Glorious green lentils from a grim grey soil. Jørgen Schyberg

The good earth: Green lentils and the Wimmera self-mulching Grey Vertosol

Australia has some of the world’s most ancient soils, many of which grow delicious produce. In this series, “The good earth”, soil scientist Robert Edis profiles iconic soils and the flavours they bring…
The Barmah-Milewa forest is an ephemeral landscape of unique biodiversity. The Barmah-Milewa forest is an ephemeral landscape of unique biodiversity. Flickr/Parks Victoria.

Unknown wonders: Barmah-Millewa forest

Australia is famous for its natural beauty: the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Kakadu, the Kimberley. But what about the places almost no one goes? We asked ecologists, biologists and wildlife researchers…
Victorian Treasuer Michael O'Brien has delivered an action budget for Victoria, but is it too late? Victorian Treasuer Michael O'Brien has delivered an action budget for Victoria, but is it too late?

Victorian budget delivers surplus, but will it be a road to reelection?

The Napthine government kicked up the political tempo in Victoria yesterday, courtesy of the latest state budget. Delivered confidently by the new Treasurer, Michael O’Brien, the budget has let loose a…
The announcement this week of funding for Victorian TAFEs won’t make up for previous cuts. The announcement this week of funding for Victorian TAFEs won’t make up for previous cuts. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Napthine falls short: TAFE needs more than a bandaid

There might be a new premier in Victoria, but it seems there’s still no good news for TAFEs. The $200 million in structural adjustment funding announced this week is certainly welcome, but it is simply…
Former Victoria Premier Steve Bracks was one of Australia’s most successful and longest serving premiers. Former Victoria Premier Steve Bracks was one of Australia’s most successful and longest serving premiers. Alan Porritt/AAP

In Conversation: Steve Bracks full transcript

Stephanie Brookes: We’re here for The Conversation, I’m from the University of Melbourne Media and Communications program and I’m here in Conversation with former Victoria premier Steve Bracks. Thanks…
Last time around, the Victorian Government made too many decisions predicated on a stereotyped idea of Australian drought. Last time around, the Victorian Government made too many decisions predicated on a stereotyped idea of Australian drought. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Victoria needs flexibility to get through the next drought

The notion that Australia is the driest inhabited continent on the planet has created a persistent stereotype. Recent weather shows it to be misguided. It suits embarrassed planners, myopic politicians…
Melbourne MP Greens Adam Bandt is up for re-election at this year’s federal election. Melbourne MP Greens Adam Bandt is up for re-election at this year’s federal election. Lukas Coch/AAP

The Melbourne microcosm: how one seat may define the Green v Labor fight

The battle for the seat of Melbourne at this year’s federal election will be nothing short of a bruising affair. Melbourne is of enormous symbolic importance to both Labor and the Green Party. For Labor…
Jeff Kennett has long been an advocate of joining Tasmania and Victoria. Jeff Kennett has long been an advocate of joining Tasmania and Victoria. AAP/Joe Castro

South Vicmania? North Tastoria? Why merging three Australian states is a bad idea

Is Tasmania at a tipping point? Over the next two weeks The Conversation, in conjunction with Griffith REVIEW and the University of Tasmania, is publishing a series of provocations. Our authors ask where…
If Victoria keeps logging the way it is, the Leadbeater’s Possum is doomed. If Victoria keeps logging the way it is, the Leadbeater’s Possum is doomed. ccdoh1/flickr

Sending Leadbeater’s Possum down the road to extinction

We have studied the effects of current widespread clear-felling in Victoria’s Mountain ash forests for almost three decades. Clear-felling now loses large amounts of money for the state of Victoria, degrades…
When it comes to fighting corruption, there’s plenty Victoria can learn from other states. When it comes to fighting corruption, there’s plenty Victoria can learn from other states. AAP/Joe Castro

Watchdogs with teeth: what Victoria can learn about fighting corruption

2012 has been a big year for anti-corruption in Australia. High profile cases came before the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Callinan review of Queensland’s Crime…
When shot and injured but not killed, ducks will be left to fend for themselves under new Victorian laws. When shot and injured but not killed, ducks will be left to fend for themselves under new Victorian laws. oblivion9999/Flickr

The problem with Victoria’s ban on duck rescuers

Just before dawn on the third Saturday in March, the first shots will be fired, and the 2013 Victorian duck hunting session will commence. But 2013 will be unlike previous years. You are probably unaware…
Israeli chocolatier Max Brenner in Sydney in 2009. A Victorian court has ruled people do have a right to protest his support for the Israel armed forces. Israeli chocolatier Max Brenner in Sydney in 2009. A Victorian court has ruled people do have a right to protest his support for the Israel armed forces. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Is the Max Brenner protestors' court victory an Australian legal watershed?

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is controversial on at least two levels. First, it targets businesses, which some (including the Victorian Government) see as an illegitimate…
Sign of things to come: a depleted Lake Hume in 2007, when the big dry still had a couple years to run. Sign of things to come: a depleted Lake Hume in 2007, when the big dry still had a couple years to run. Flickr/Tim J Keegan

Climate change and Victoria: high time to innovate, adapt, and cope

Victoria has entered a critical decade in the race to adapt for the stresses of climate change, according to a new report from the Climate Commission. Following the release of Victorian climate impacts…
Greens candidate Cathy Oke and deputy leader Adam Bandt will be hoping for a win this Saturday. Greens candidate Cathy Oke and deputy leader Adam Bandt will be hoping for a win this Saturday. AAP Image/Juolian Smith

Bronwyn piked on Melbourne, now the Greens are set to swoop

Thanks to the hubris of Bronwyn Pike, the Victorian Labor party is forced to contest a byelection this weekend it did not want or need. After years of opportunities provided by the Labor party to the former…
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…
Cutting TAFE funding effects the people that need education and training most. Cutting TAFE funding effects the people that need education and training most.

Victorian TAFE cuts: an attack on working people

The phrase “class warfare” has been thrown around a lot in the media and within political circles recently – usually without much basis. But in Victoria it is very real; the current Liberal Government…
The Victorian government’s TAFE cuts have shown other states exactly what not to do. The Victorian government’s TAFE cuts have shown other states exactly what not to do. Flickr/Takver

Victorian TAFE chaos: a lesson in how not to reform vocational education

For years, those concerned with vocational education and training have worried about how to lift the public profile of TAFEs. But what has taken many years for some – without much success – the Baillieu…
Campbell Newman says Queensland’s carbon-reduction policies aren’t needed under a carbon price, but what does he mean? Campbell Newman says Queensland’s carbon-reduction policies aren’t needed under a carbon price, but what does he mean? AAP

State climate schemes still worthwhile under a carbon price

In justifying their recent abandonment of state-based climate schemes, the governments of Queensland and Victoria have both claimed that the schemes will be redundant under the federal emissions trading…
State governments are walking away from emissions reduction, but it’s thanks to poor policy from the ALP. State governments are walking away from emissions reduction, but it’s thanks to poor policy from the ALP. Takver/Flickr

A flawed carbon pricing scheme lets states dump climate action

In the past few days we have seen two states, Victoria and Queensland, announce cut-backs on action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They have been able to justify this by pointing out, correctly, that…

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