Is there a prosperous future for the Australian Bush?

Have we killed the legacy of John Flynn?

Out where the sun goes down, the people of the bush call him “Flynn of the Inland”. He was the man who, in the first half of the Twentieth Century, made a valiant attempt to create a “Mantle of Safety” across the remoteness of the continent by building hospitals and hostels in places like Birdsville, Innamincka, Oodnadatta and Halls Creek, creating the Pedal Radio and establishing the Flying Doctor Service so that ordinary Australians could make a new life in the Outback and feel secure.

He also enlisted a team of Padres who ministered to people in areas covering countless square miles — marrying, baptising, counseling and burying them — no matter what their faith or lack of it. By any standards, his life’s work was a notable achievement which will be honoured by historians for generations to come.

Now, sixty years after his death, we should be honest enough to admit that we have not built on the solid foundation created by his extraordinary endeavours. Continue reading “Is there a prosperous future for the Australian Bush?”

Beware the Social Distortion of Money.

The world’s most favoured and heated topic of conversation is money. It dominates every facet of life, and it is true to say that most people handle it badly. Governments manage it particularly poorly, as I have mentioned often in other articles. This being so, I decided to do a bit more in-depth reading about money over the past few weeks.

My first port of call was a book called ‘What Money Can’t Buy’. It is an absolute classic, written by Michael Sandel. Its sub-title is ‘The Moral Limits of Markets’ and it vividly outlines the extremes to which people go in using their money to gain them privileges that others cannot aspire to. Continue reading “Beware the Social Distortion of Money.”

Is it time to embrace Community Capitalism?

Those grand times when some people made lots of money ceased forever when the Great Financial Crisis hit the world in 2008. It is a lie to promise people that it will happen again in its old freewheeling way.

Capitalism in the form that we once knew it actually died that year, and rigor mortis set in rapidly. It is beyond resurrection and will be replaced gradually by something more meaningful to the era in which we live. Continue reading “Is it time to embrace Community Capitalism?”

Good books about The Great Gatsby, Waltzing Matilda, coal mining and the ruins of European Empires.

I read somewhere that Baz Luhrmann is making a new movie based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book “The Great Gatsby”.  Having known for a long time that this novel is regarded by Americans as one of the great books of their nation’s literary history, I decided that the time had come to read it. I found it to be an odd book because of the authors strange style of writing, but it does paint a stark portrait of the decadent lifestyle of wealthy Americans during the Roaring Twenties when they were totally oblivious to the fact that they were speeding like an express train towards the Wall Street Crash of 1929.  Continue reading “Good books about The Great Gatsby, Waltzing Matilda, coal mining and the ruins of European Empires.”

Should Seniors embrace life-long learning?

From the moment they left school or university, too many people eliminated from their lives the thought of further education, and have not expanded their minds very much ever since.

Now, doctors tell us that mind exercise is fundamental to staying with it in our old age. Lots of reading is essential, but we are told that this is still not enough, as reading is really another form of relaxation. We should actually do a moderate amount of study to ensure that our brains are activated and our minds are expanding rather than declining. Continue reading “Should Seniors embrace life-long learning?”

Do we get value for money from the NBN?

Everyone on earth has to face the fact that we have entered an era of digital revolution which will change our lives irrevocably. Even the most primitive tribesman in the remotest part of the world will find that, if he wants to buy and sell goods or send money to relatives, it will be necessary to have a mobile phone as a minimum requirement of life. If fact, he will find that he actually wants to do it. Continue reading “Do we get value for money from the NBN?”

Can Indonesia become our most important ally?

The first step in answering this question will be for us to decide that we do want Indonesia to be an integral part of our world. Nothing in our national body language to date conveys a genuine desire for this to happen.

For example, we can take a look at the vexed issue of boat people. On every occasion that an Australian politician declares that he or she will ‘turn back’ the refugee boats and point them in the direction from which they came, we offend the Indonesian nation, as the refugees are not their citizens and the people smugglers are a criminal element of their population that they do not condone.

It is to our shame that the smugglers are often supported by the Australian underworld.

Continue reading “Can Indonesia become our most important ally?”

Good books about the brain changing itself, the Marmalade Files, the influence of Jewish people and how much wealth is enough.

In my humble view, the book of the month is one written about the human brain. Entitled The Brain That Changes Itself, and written by Norman Doidge, it was recommended to me by an old friend, John Herron, former Senator, Ambassador and Surgeon. Doidge says that most medical scientists have long held the belief that the brain is an intricate piece of machinery that cannot be changed — it can only be repaired in certain circumstances. He outlines the ground-breaking work of other scientists who have disproved this. Continue reading “Good books about the brain changing itself, the Marmalade Files, the influence of Jewish people and how much wealth is enough.”

Is the mining boom over?

Is the mining boom over? No!  BHP’s panic decision not to proceed with the expansion of their mine at Olympic Dam reflects bad management of what was once Australia’s greatest company.  Is there a softening of world demand for resources? Yes!  Mainly caused by the recession in Europe, but the resources market was overheated and needed to calm down.  Will the softening continue? Yes!

What harm will this do to the Australian economy? Continue reading “Is the mining boom over?”

The war over power prices.

The “war” over power prices reached a crescendo last month with the Prime Minister and Premiers blaming one another for the excessively high power prices from which we currently suffer.

However, we should all stop playing the blame game for a moment and agree that it is long overdue for us to acknowledge that price rises have little to do with the carbon tax, because our power stations are antiquated, inefficient, environmentally unfriendly and poorly managed. We need to spend billions replacing them with the world’s finest technology, including our first nuclear power plant.

Australia has a significant gambling problem.

Australia has a significant gambling problem, yet Channel 9 played hundreds of advertisements for online gambling during the prime time hours of its Olympic coverage. It was a disgraceful example of the media selling their soul (and that of the nation) to make a quick dollar. And their coverage of the Games was very ordinary. They spent too much time at all the boring events and were always late covering the best events. One can only hope that they do not get the contract to cover the Rio Games in 2016.

Wayne Swan’s admiration of Bruce Springsteen

Wayne Swan’s admiration of Bruce Springsteen got him plenty of headlines last month and caused Joe Hockey to make some self-righteous responses. It was a delightful way for Swan to turn the debate away from the monotony of the carbon tax saga and on to the many more important issues that we should discuss and implement. Continue reading “Wayne Swan’s admiration of Bruce Springsteen”

Who won the Games?

Australia went backwards at the London Olympics, but the Brits have enjoyed great success both in a sporting and organisational sense, except for their inability to sell tickets. There is no doubt that the Games did wonders for the morale of the British people. It has been at rock bottom for a long time for a wide range of political, economic and social reasons, a large measure of which is related to its fateful decision to join the fiasco known as the European Union half a century ago.

The Olympics have cost Britain a lot of money, and the debate about whether they have or will ever receive value for money will go on for a long time. Continue reading “Who won the Games?”

The pain of being like Spain

Premier Campbell Newman made headlines when he declared that Queensland’s economic position is similar to that of Spain. His remarks reminded some commentators of Paul Keating’s famous forecast that Australia could become a banana republic, a comment that caused him to suffer a fair bit of flak for years afterwards.

Of course, Newman knows, as we do, that Queensland’s position is nothing like that of Spain. His State has the backing of a strong Australian dollar, while Spain is tied to the Euro which is well on its way to being a terminal currency. Spain has 25 per cent of its population unemployed, whereas Queensland’s percentage is one quarter of that. Additionally, Queensland’s debt, and that of Australia, is miniscule compared with Spain’s.

So, why did Campbell Newman make such a dramatic statement? Continue reading “The pain of being like Spain”

Is it a sin to sell the farm?

The gossip around town is that a majority of Australians believe that, when foreigners invest in farming in Australia, they actually dig-up the land and take it back home, lamentably leaving us with a continent which is just a massive hole in the ground.

From what I hear, the same majority enthusiastically applaud Australians who invest overseas; this is seen as courageous entrepreneurial activity by fine Australians who want to help lesser beings to prosper from our benevolence. Naturally, we expect that they would not have the audacity to protest about our presence in their nation.

All of this means that the loud cries to stop foreign investment in any Australian business are sanctimonious hogwash. The reality is…. Continue reading “Is it a sin to sell the farm?”

Perils of a Colonial Heritage

Most of us leave home at some stage of our lives to find our feet in a brave new world, but Australia is unable to stop hanging on to the apron strings of dear old England.

At age 224, its time that we did, particularly as the majority of Australians are not of British descent and our continued fascination with Britain makes them feel as though they are house guests, not family. Continue reading “Perils of a Colonial Heritage”

The Problem with President Romney

If the polls are to be believed, there is an even money chance that Mitt Romney will become President of the United States around 20 January, 2013. Presuming that this becomes a reality, we need to consider what the world will be like under his presidency of the most powerful nation on the planet. Continue reading “The Problem with President Romney”

Join the debate on a Northern Food Bowl, a Referendum, Voter Intentions and Boat People

 I note with considerable interest that the creation of a food bowl in Northern Australia is now very much on the political and business agenda, particularly as there are persistent reports of interest from Chinese corporations in exploring the prospects of investment in our agricultural industries. Continue reading “Join the debate on a Northern Food Bowl, a Referendum, Voter Intentions and Boat People”

Good Books about Rupert Murdoch, Harry Belafonte,The Dead Sea Deception and Great Expectations of our Angry Nation

After penning my article regarding the decadence of entitlement, I received a number of emails suggesting that I buy the most recent edition of Quarterly Essay and read Laura Tingle’s thoughts on the same issue. It is entitled “Great Expectations – Government, Entitlement and an Angry Nation” and I am pleased that I took their advice as it is 64 pages of absorbing reading. She makes the compelling point Continue reading “Good Books about Rupert Murdoch, Harry Belafonte,The Dead Sea Deception and Great Expectations of our Angry Nation”

The Rise of Tasmania

At the Prime Minister’s Summit, I sat at a table which was hosted by Lara Giddings, Premier of Tasmania. During the dinner on the opening night, we had a good chance to discuss the future of Tasmania, which is an interesting subject given its small population of less than half a million, a high percentage of whom are Seniors, with a similar number of younger age groups on some type of welfare payments.

There is very little mining, and so the state faces the reality that it’s difficult to have a prosperous economy based on apples, wine and tourism, splendid as those are in Tasmania. Nevertheless, Lara Giddings was upbeat about Tasmania’s future. Continue reading “The Rise of Tasmania”