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Image: Andrea Widburg

45 to 46

by Professor John Kane

“Dear Father,

Although I was at the wheel of your car last week, speeding down the highway in the wrong direction, I hereby deny any responsibility for the subsequent crash and unfortunate collateral casualties.

Your affectionate son,

Donald.”

Thus we might imagine, assuming present conduct mirrors past, a teenage Trump addressing his father Fred after wrecking his automobile. For surely no one was surprised when Donald, six days after his supporters violently assaulted the Capitol, emerged from a period of furious sulking to disclaim all responsibility. …


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Image: Donkey Hotey, CC BY 2.0

by Professor John Kane

Donald J. Trump has been many things to many people over the four years of his presidency. For members of his cult, who have remained astonishingly steadfast and seem even to have enlarged their numbers, he has been an object of adulation. For those unsusceptible to his peculiar charms, he has been variously and simultaneously a clown, a flagrant misogynist, a not-so-secret racist, an outrageous liar, a national embarrassment, a dangerous demagogue, an ignorant policy-maker, an irresponsible leader, an incipient autocrat, and ― above all ― a malignant narcissist.

But while he has always been a boor, it was not anticipated that he would ever become a bore. We may have watched his showman’s antics day by day, sometimes hour by hour, either with joy or horror depending on our political proclivities, but we did watch them with a certain fascination. Donald may have been fatiguing but he was never boring. …


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Image: Donkey Hotey, CC BY SA 2.0

A Tale of Two Bunkers

by Professor John Kane

Trump is said to have cancelled a planned move to Mar-a-Lago in favour of staying in Washington to fight on. He has developed, one aide said, “a bunker mentality.” And indeed it is amusing, and perhaps instructive, to note the parallel unrealities afflicting the current White House and a certain bunker in Berlin in April 1945.

Hitler, after the December failure of his Ardennes Offensive (the Battle of the Bulge) and with much of Germany lying in ruins, broadcast in January that:

“However grave the crisis may be at this moment, it will, despite everything, be mastered by our unalterable will.” …


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Image: Stefanie Seskin, CC BY SA 2.0

The role of anchor institutions

by Griffith University Yunus Centre

Anchor institutions are large organisations — businesses, universities and hospitals — that are based in, and have a long-term commitment to, a suburb, town, city or region. They also demonstrate that commitment by intentionally using their long-term, place-based economic power to strengthen their local community.

Anchor institutions are vital to their communities because they:

  • are often the largest local employers
  • own and/or manage important local infrastructure and assets
  • procure and invest locally
  • contribute to local development, revitalisation and economic growth
  • support local social, sporting, cultural and environmental activities.


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SHANE CAMERON/ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY

The answer isn’t so easy

by Professor Susan Harris Rimmer

In Australia the Commonwealth and state governments are responsible for keeping people safe, and the role of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is to protect the nation. But how these two roles fit together is not always so clear.

After a tumultuous year of bushfires and the ongoing pandemic, we need a more fundamental conversation about the role of the ADF in responding to domestic emergencies.

The Morrison government has introduced a new bill that would give the ADF more power to respond to emergencies. …


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Illustration by DonkeyHotey, CC BY 2.0

by Professor John Kane

On 7 November, it seemed all over. The US election was called for Biden and a major part of humanity breathed a huge, collective sigh of relief. There was dancing in American streets and in hearts around the world. True, there had been no ‘blue wave’ such as polls had indicated, but there had been a wave ― of eligible people voting at the highest rate in 100 years. If the win was not as overwhelming as many had hoped, it was nevertheless a win.

Or so Democrats assumed.

Fears inevitably persisted about the defeated incumbent’s behaviour during the residue of his presidency. Would he be the lamest of lame ducks or a wounded, destructively rampaging wild boar? His quixotic challenges to the legal validity of the Biden-Harris victory were bound to come to nothing, but there was a danger that his persistent ‘we wuz robbed’ mantra might provoke a virulent, maybe violent, response from gullible hard-core Trumpites. One gun-owning white supremacist echoing Trump’s specious claims was arrested by the FBI on Staten Island for social media posts advocating the ‘extermination of anyone that claims to be democrat… as well as their family members.’ …


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Photo by Jennifer Griffin on Unsplash

Caught Between Hope and Dread

by Professor John Kane

Both Democrats and Republicans know that turnout is almost the whole game in the present US election. Each have urged their followers to vote by calling it ‘the most important election of our lifetimes’. Their reasons for believing it so are, of course, very different. Democrats have cast it as an election for the very ‘soul of America’, for the survival of American democracy as such. For Republicans it is rather about the survival of the Republican Party itself after an abject four-year surrender to ‘the worst president in US history’.

For many lifelong Republicans of previously high standing, the Grand Old Party of treasured memory is already defunct, having become solely the Party of Trump. Former Republican strategist Stuart Stevens has claimed there is no alternative but to ‘burn it to the ground and start over’. …


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Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

A just urgent sustainable transition

by Professor Scott Baum

There is unlikely to be a clear winner when polls close on Saturday 31 October. But when the Queensland parliament regroups, those charged with governing the state have an opportunity to make a real difference. The difference being to make all Queenslanders a priority.

Coming into the election, 198,000 Queenslanders were unemployed. Will promised job packages mean all these people will have a job? Even before the current economic slowdown 15.3 per cent of Queenslanders (773,000 people) were living in poverty. …


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The New Bradfield Scheme

by Professor Emeritus Poh-Ling Tan

Water is critical to life and jobs, and large infrastructure projects tend to sway voters at the polling booth. Paired together, it’s easy to understand why the New Bradfield Scheme (the Scheme) is central to the Liberal National Party’s platform in the 2020 Queensland election. This article aims to provide a nuanced conversation over the Scheme. The major issues fall into two broad categories: policy considerations and regulatory controls to protect the environment. The article then considers the success or otherwise, of drought proofing projects in Australia

What is the Scheme?

A vast engineering project, estimated to cost about $15 billion, it aims to ‘drought proof’ parts of inland Queensland. Infrastructure is needed to draw water from four rivers along the coast (South Johnstone, Tully, Herbert and Burdekin) into a new large dam at Hells Gate. Then through series of other dams east of the Dividing Range, to feed that water into the Flinders River and tributaries of Kathi Thanda-Lake Eyre which lie west of the Range. The Hells Gate Dam itself would have a storage of 2,100 gigalitres (GL) and the Scheme will require bringing that water through hundreds of kilometres of pipes, tunnels and channels to create a new “food bowl”. …


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Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash

by Professor Scott Baum

When did hard hats and hi-vis become political haute couture? Everywhere you look at the moment Queensland politicians are donning a hard hat and a hi-vis vest to announce some infrastructure project in an attempt to win votes via the promise of jobs. But like the haute couture of a Paris fashion runway, hard hats and hi-vis don’t suit everyone, and when I say this, I am not talking about the fashion choices of politicians.

If there has been one omnipresent word in the Queensland election campaign, it has been jobs. The vernacular has revolved around ‘clawing back jobs’, ‘creating jobs for Queenslanders’, or ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ — the mantra of jobs is repeated here, apparently in case you don’t understand the first time or for the benefit of the hard of hearing. …

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Independent expert analysis and insights from Australia’s best political scientists and policy researchers.

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