As nearly everybody now understands, the changes that have occurred in public policy in the last few weeks are without precedent, at least since the Second World War. They tell us in the most straightforward possible way that only government finance and organisation can support the people in a national emergency.
They tell us that the extreme free market, small government model propounded by a ‘think tank’ like the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) doesn’t work when it matters most.
They show us that independent institutions with a public purpose like the ABC and CSIRO truly are part of the bedrock of Australian society. And they remind us, as we endlessly discuss issues of public health, that good government policy just cannot be based on the perverse denial of scientific understanding.
I think there are three things we can learn from Frank Walker’s life and legacy. First, his willingness to make personal sacrifices for fairness and justice. Second, his pragmatism – to know the best possible outcome when you see it, and to not let it go. Third, to be able to provide a calm and sensible voice in the midst of emotion and hysteria. These lessons are no more relevant than to the current national discussion about the Uluru Statement, constitutional recognition and an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
When cattle and sheep are dying in vast numbers across Eastern Australia, how sane is it for the driest inhabited continent in the world not to capture and redirect wastewater and stormwater from our cities and towns into food and beverage production? Energy is a major component of the cost of treating and moving water. Renewable energy sources can become an essential component of responding to the effects of climate change and climbing temperatures.
Fortunately, there are some very bright and committed minds working on this issue, especially in our state and territory water supply agencies.
Power does reveal substance. It tells us quite quickly about the values that drive political parties and political leaders. Scare tactics are always a sure sign that the values and policy cupboard is bare.
We can accept that our leaders must make some compromises from time to time, but we need to know ‘what they stand for’. We look for leaders who have conviction. Hypocrisy and double standards become very obvious.
Australians are sick and tired of politicians. The community is deserting the major political parties in droves. Most recently we have seen it in Longman and Wagga. We have lost trust in our major political parties and most particularly the Liberal and National Parties in recent months.
In the 1980’s we embraced economic change and reform. It was necessary but painful for some. Today we need democratic reform and renewal. Like the 1980s, it is necessary but it will be painful for some.
For those of you following the review of auDA – the company managing our Internet domain names. auDA’s Chair, Chris Leptos, has released the following statement.
“Dear Members and Stakeholders
It is now 130 days since the Minister for Communications and the Arts (Senator Mitch Fifield) wrote to auDA outlining the 29 recommendations of the review into the .au namespace (the Review). In this time we have published auDA’s Implementation Plan, which details the steps we are taking to meet the new ‘Terms of Endorsement’, in addition to conducting an extensive consultative process through the Consultation Model Working Group (CMWG) on the proposed governance framework and membership model.
Earlier this year the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council commissioned a report on the ‘innovation economy’ by The Business of Cities advisory group – to provide a contemporary picture of the innovation economy, to understand the current trends, learn from leading innovation regions and guide the Council’s forward work program.
The innovation economy describes what happens when new generations of technologies and business models emerge at unprecedented speeds and scales to disrupt existing sectors, create new products and processes, and foster advanced and high-growth industries.
The Coles plastic bag bungle has a lot to teach us about the importance of community engagement, including how to get it right and the costs of getting it wrong.
We can assume the supermarket chain had good intentions when they started charging for plastic bags, but from the outside it looked as if they were approaching the issue as just a public relations exercise. Surprised by the customer backlash, the company reacted to the reaction and dropped the charge. Then, in the face of broader public criticism, they announced they would reimpose it after all.
Turnbull was always going to do it. It was a matter of language and timing. Fears his government has allowed to spread about Chinese money in Australia’s democracy and China’s growing influence in the region had little substance, and have done Australia more harm than good.