NBN and Mr Fluffy overreach remind us why governments should lead, not command

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, …

Labor’s light rail political brilliance should not be confused with good policymaking

There is no doubt that plebiscites are powerful indicators of public opinion. As the Brexit vote showed, when the people speak in this way, it is impossible to ignore. Paradoxically, the power of plebiscites to address highly charged issues, may also be an argument against them. Here in Australia, Labor …

On reading

In the year 2000, Colombian politician and academic Oscar Tulio Lizcano was kidnapped by the guerilla organisation known as the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and spent almost 3000 days in captivity in the jungle. Eventually, with the aid of one of his captors, he managed to escape, …

Home and away

  If you are a fan of British comedy, you will no doubt recall that memorable episode of Fawlty Towers, when Basil, the crazed Torquay hotel-keeper played by John Cleese, welcomes some German guests. The more Basil tries not to mention the war, the more obsessed with it he becomes, …

The glittering prizes

  The first time I missed out on promotion (a type of prize, I guess), a wise old academic said to me that it was always tempting to reject a system that had rejected you. It’s a fair point. Any committee that selects oneself, shows startling sagacity. One that does …