The relationship between church and state has always been uneasy. In the policy world, there are many points of intersection and, often, friction between secular and religious values. As Western societies become progressively more liberal, we can expect this friction to increase, as we see in the current conflict between anti-discrimination law and religious freedom. […]
While many have questioned her leadership skills, few can doubt Theresa May’s Prime Ministerial fortitude. In the strange schemozzle that is Britain’s exit from the European Union, she, at least, is determined to ‘make a success of it’ – if her party lets her stay the course.
Not really, but we do need think carefully about how to harness, and regulate, machine intelligence.
Despite greatly increased effort in recent years, the policies of Australian governments towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders continue to fail on many levels. According to the latestClosing the Gap report, while there have been advances that promise much, particularly in early-childhood education, there has been little progress in other areas. School attendance, life expectancy, literacy and […]
On the face of it, the Murray-Darling basin plan has all the hallmarks of a “good policy”. It has a clear objective: to cap extractions from the river system, so as to ensure the basin’s long-term ecological, social and economic sustainability. It’s backed by scientific evidence and has considerable public support, both in cities and […]
One of my most esteemed teachers, the late L. J. “Len” Hume, said to me once that he enjoyed his job, “provided they leave me alone”. He was referring to the freedom academics then had (in the 1980s) to develop their own style of teaching, scholarship and research, free of managerial or administrative oversight. Hume […]
A friend was telling me how her neighbour had proposed that a group of home owners in their street should sell up together, so a developer could put high-density housing on the land. Luckily, in this case, the zoning did not permit it. But the pressure to go after the dollar is constant and unremitting. […]
My neighbour on the plane was an Indonesian, going home to Jakarta, after having spent many years living and working in Australia. “What takes you back?” I enquired. Like most Australians, I tend to assume that anyone from a developing country who gets the chance would prefer to live and work in Australia. “Job opportunities,” […]
The world is a more complex place than it used to be, and it’s generally accepted that governments need to work more flexibly than in the past. It’s all the more surprising, then, that, in the case of the national broadband network, Australian governments have opted for an old-fashioned, top-down, high-cost solution to the problem […]
I was coming home from Sydney in the bus and, as we rolled down Northbourne Avenue, a conversation broke out about light rail. As most people are either still asleep, on their smartphones or plugged into one device or another, any sort of conversation at this point of the trip is unusual. But the choice […]
It’s often said that in order to manage something, you need to be able to measure it. When it comes to making public policy though, even measurement is rarely straightforward. Far from being clean, crisp and unambiguous, the numbers become political. Take climate change, for example. Like most people, I am inclined to think there […]
My dad was an engineer, in the electronics business. He despaired of what we would now call the political class – the politicians and their advisers who periodically blew the ‘high tech’ trumpet and then did nothing to follow through. The politicians expected the businesses to be there when the country needed them, but the […]
Given its importance to our economy and society, there is surprisingly little discussion of the pros and cons of immigration. The one exception, of course, is boat people. For the number of people involved, or even likely to be involved, we were, until the flow stopped, obsessed by the threat of people arriving on our […]
One of the first people I met when I came to Canberra, more than 30 years ago now, was a public housing tenant. Let’s call her Patricia. Patricia was a formidable lady from Cooma (a source of many formidable people). She was a widow and she worked full-time. She didn’t earn much but it was […]
Managers are advised to be decisive. But, sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing.
Policy agendas are curious beasts. There are always more ideas running around than most political systems can process, so some “get up” while others are overlooked or ignored. When it comes to implementation, the channelling process can be even more selective. Take climate change, for example. Scientists have been raising the alarm about it for […]
On the western fringes of Belconnen, a new development project, Ginninderry, is taking shape. The development will see more than 5000 houses built within the ACT and (ultimately) a similar number across the border in NSW. While the developers have consulted extensively with residents of the adjoining Belconnen suburbs, few Canberrans will be familiar with […]