Home » Archive

Articles Archive for January 2016

Reviews »

[30 Jan 2016 | No Comment | 107 views ]

‘Mind Beyond Matter
By Gavin Rowland
Burdock Books, 349pp, $30
As a devout atheist I’ve always been puzzled about why people believe in God. At the same time many of my God-believing friends are equally puzzled that I don’t believe in a deity that influences personal lives and world events.
I’ve never been at all clear about the notion of God, and in ‘Mind Beyond Matter’ clarity is not Gavin Rowland’s strong point either, with his writing style tending towards the opaque. But perhaps this lack of clear expression is not all that surprising …

Columns »

[25 Jan 2016 | One Comment | 124 views ]

There were only six heroin overdose deaths in Australia in 1964. But by 1997, heroin overdose deaths in Australia had climbed to 1116. Just imagine the number of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters who had suddenly lost a young loved one.
Australia’s first supervised injecting facility began operating in Sydney’s Kings Cross in 2001 in response to the epidemic of heroin overdose deaths in the 1990s.
One in 10 of all heroin overdose deaths in Australia occurred within a couple of kilometres of Kings Cross. So reducing the number of heroin …

Columns »

[23 Jan 2016 | One Comment | 178 views ]

Much has been said and written recently about Tony Abbott’s ­alleged failures of leadership as prime minister. Yes, there were mistakes but the commentariat’s obsession with them obscures a ­record of solid achievement.
In securing our borders, finalising free trade agreements with our major economic partners and ­repealing harmful taxes, he achieved what many thought was impossible.
He was mocked for promising to “shirt-front Vladimir Putin, but no one else had really taken on the Russian despot — and, short of going to war, a robust dressing down is the strongest response …

Columns »

[21 Jan 2016 | No Comment | 73 views ]

Alcohol industry reliant on problem drinkers, say critics.
“PM”, ABC Radio National and ABC Local Radio, 20 January, 2016
TIM PALMER: The message to drink responsibly tags nearly every alcohol commercial. But research published today suggests that’s a fairly pointless message.
It shows that the majority of drinkers, as the liquor industry likes to point out, already do drink responsibly.
But that 20 per cent of Australian drinkers don’t, and they seem inured to the message – they consume three-quarters of all alcohol bought in Australia and that’s going up.
The heaviest drinkers of …

Columns »

[9 Jan 2016 | No Comment | 128 views ]

Last year my favourite Australian book was Michael Wilding’s ‘Wild Bleak Bohemia’, which shared the Non-Fiction Prize for the 2015 Prime Ministers Literary Awards — of which I was a judge.
Wilding’s finely written and scrupulously researched book deals with the life and work of the three most important writers in colonial Australia — Marcus Clarke, Adam Lindsay Gordon and Henry Kendall. As it happens, they are my favourite nineteenth century novelists and poets — and in that order.
C.T. Clarke, who worked for the publisher George Robertson, wrote about “The Sorrows …

Reviews »

[2 Jan 2016 | No Comment | 78 views ]

POLITICS
Review of ‘Australia’s Second Chance: What Our History Tells Us about Our Future.’
GEORGE MEGALOGENIS
HAMISH HAMILTON, $34.99
Australian politics can be confusing. We’d probably all agree on that. But it has been this way for a long time. In fact in 1913 even the Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin found it so. After federal Labor’s narrow defeat by the Liberal Party’s Joseph Cook, Lenin, watching from afar, was baffled.
“What sort of peculiar capitalist country is this, in which the workers’ representatives predominate in the Upper House and, till recently, did so …

Columns »

[2 Jan 2016 | 3 Comments | 227 views ]

For many years, even though it was a huge problem, Australia managed to ignore the epidemic of domestic violence. But since Rosie Batty was named 2015 Australian of the Year for placing domestic violence on the national agenda, it has been increasingly difficult to keep on ignoring this issue.
Yet in some areas, ignoring the pivotal role of alcohol in domestic violence remains a national blind spot. This is despite the fact that alcohol is to violence as water is to fish.
Admittedly, we would still experience some violence even if alcohol …