The population trap: why we need a new demographic transition

As humans, we are prisoners of the frames we use for bounding and understanding reality. Despite abundant evidence that we need to reconsider, the world’s obsession with economic growth continues. If our economies do not grow we are convinced they must, by definition, be declining. Even climate change has not …

Two years on

I wish I could write more about grieving, but as others have found, by the time you are conscious of having moved through a stage, another has come upon you – or memories you thought had passed, re-invent themselves, over and over again.

Royal Commission into Aged Care shows the difficulty of systemic change must be overcome

I am almost (although not quite) beginning to feel sorry for Scott Morrison.

Since his unlikely victory at the polls in 2019, his prime ministership has been one damn thing after another – bushfires, Covid, predatory ministerial staffers and compromised ministers, vaccine issues – and underlying it all, and exacerbated by the pandemic, the continuing problems in aged care. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which reported in March this year, did not tell us much that was new, but it gave his government plenty to work with.

Public Sector Informant: Failure is an orphan when pandemic response goes awry

Overall, from the vantage point of April 2021, Australians are in a self-congratulatory mood about the national response to COVID-19.

Are we being realistic, or a touch hubristic? Infection rates have been kept very low, but then, we had a lot going for us – Australia is an island, our settlement pattern is relatively low-density, and the population is younger and healthier than in many European countries.

Public Sector Informant: Disconnect with industries shows there’s not a strategic bone in the nation’s body

As a nation with interests but not much power, Australia has produced many strategic assessments, both official and unofficial, over the years. Until relatively recently, the working assumption behind these analyses was that Australia faced no direct threat to its interests, at least none that could not be handled through our alliance with the United States.

The good old days

It’s said that every generation has misgivings about the next. I know I do. It’s probably a natural part of growing older. Not only do the young seem younger than ever before, but those in charge, those now in their forties and fifties, seem, in ways both mysterious and self-evident, …

Is it time for Australia to have a population policy?

At about the same time, in 1992, the government’s inquiry into ecologically sustainable development (ESD) released its final reports. The ESD inquiry, while wide-ranging, was focused on specific economic sectors. Despite the previous work of the National Population Council, population rated only a brief overview as one of a number of ‘inter-sectoral’ issues

Who is Christianity for?

Christianity is for believers, right? This is certainly the message that Christians send to those outside the church. Christians of all denominations project their faith through liturgy, song and prayer. The message, whether stated through the recitation of creedal liturgies or not, is unmistakable: ‘I believe, I believe, I believe’. …

Spirit Level: confessions of a religious battler

You can be an atheist, or a believer. But what if you are neither? What if you want spiritual growth, but jib at the idea of organised religion? What if, like so many, you are a religious battler? (A battler, for those who do not know the term, refers to someone who persists doggedly at a task, or in a role, for which they feel total commitment, but have no real talent).
This little book is Jenny’s attempt at both, from the perspective of an aspiring Christian. Seeking a spiritual home that so many others have left is in some ways the hardest path of all to tread. We are told we should be casting Christianity to the past, yet how can we? Our yearning might just be weakness in the face of the big questions, or it might be a kind of strength. All that is needed is to suspend disbelief, put our fear aside, and take the first steps.
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Divine right to discriminate

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 …