A stock-take on modern times: Whitlam, expectations, trust and Kevin07

This was my submission to the Spectator’s 2018 Thawley Essay Prize. The theme was ‘the next great hashtag’. I wasn’t successful this time but, perhaps like most, I feel an element of trust needs to be restored to government. Restoring prestige to government For all the discussion about distrust in government, or how polarised politics is becoming, it’s worth noting that Australian politics has never been an easy game. Governing is, regardless of the team you’re on, naturally difficult in our modern Westminster system – a realising experience the more one is exposed to government process, a sea of existing […]

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Conventions not rules: What the Governor-General-Turnbull-Porter debate can teach us

This article also appears on the Spectator’s Flat White blog. Personality in politics is like salt to a dish – a pinch here or there is not a bad thing.  It brings out the flavours, enlivens the meal and creates a nice healthy edge. But too much, of course, can ruin things beyond repair.  Malcolm Turnbull’s recent confirmation he had tried to sink Peter Dutton’s eligibility for the prime ministership, through the governor-general, shows personality of the wrong kind – one that, laced with other recent actions, points to an unhealthy retribution in our public affairs.  It is entirely fair, at least on face […]

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Julius Chan on Papua New Guinea

Julius Chan, Playing the Game: Life and Politics in Papua New Guinea, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Brisbane, 2016 This article was originally written for the Pacific Institute for Public Policy in 2016 With the United States presidential race heating up, and the ascension of candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, there’s an obvious buzz around frank and straight-talking leaders proposing remedies to their national challenges. And it’s with a similar but slightly more polished candour that Sir Julius Chan – twice Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG) – reflects on PNG’s shaky four decades of independence from […]

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What could have been: a monarchist’s primer on the republican debate

With the Labor loss the hovering threat of a republic has subsided. But I thought it important to share some background and personal thoughts on this issue – the debate in the 1990s, the arguments and, ultimately, where I think it is a bad idea.  My points below are based on a discussion I had on my podcast with Whig Capital’s Jordan Shopov.  What do you think? Did this issue have anything to do the election outcome? Please drop in a comment below. This would be the second referendum Australia’s had on the issue. Sean, can you give a brief […]

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Notes on Leadership

I thought it sensible to throw together some brief notes on leadership for two reasons. First, because of the Australian federal election, leadership is clearly in the public spotlight. But second, and for more long-term reasons, leadership is a trait that will never go out of fashion. We will always need more leadership, as many people lament, and more genuine leaders. All shapes and sizes The first thing I learnt about effective leaders is that they come in all shapes and sizes. By the time I hit 30 I had worked for the Australian aid program in Fiji, the UN […]

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12 Self-Leadership Lessons from a US Supreme Court Justice

As very much a non-lawyer, and non-American, I’ve always admired Clarence Thomas – the United States Supreme Court Associate – from afar. Thomas, now 70 years of age, has spent almost three decades in the Supreme Court. His ascension to this position, despite a bitter early-1990s confirmation hearing, reveals very little flamboyance but a strong commitment to humility, discipline and building skills. Indeed, there were many less public times, early in Thomas’s career, where things amounted to make or break. Rising from genuine poverty and segregation he committed to finishing a formal education, and shedding his enchantment with activism before […]

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Asia is hardly confused by Australia’s Monarchy

It’s often said that Australia needs to become a republic because of our lagging reputation in Asia. Many republicans lament that our institutional attachment to the British Monarchy puzzles northern neighbours, implying an old-world ‘Anglophile’ attachment that tugs on our standing in the region. “With the economic and political balance now shifting to our part of the world,” writes Wayne Swan in Project Republic, “the idea of an Australian head of state who resides in London seems anachronistic in the extreme”. Swan, to be fair, wrote these words in 2013 – a climactic time for the Gillard government’s Asian Century White Paper. […]

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What can international aid learn from sport?

With this year’s upcoming Australian federal election, the Australian Government’s recently released Sports Diplomacy Strategy – Sports Diplomacy 2030 – will no doubt very soon fade into the background. The Strategy, released in February 2019, received a modest but commendable amount of public attention, positively highlighting the contribution of sport to aid and diplomacy. It builds on a 2015 document – a “pioneer in the field” according to Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne – that used sport to maximise Australia’s linkages with the region, enhance economic opportunities and strengthen the communities of near neighbours. As a former Australian Youth Ambassador […]

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Political risk: what it is and how to deal with it

It’s reasonable to think that, with the ascendance of free market capitalism and growth in the number of democracies, political risks to cross-border business investments or exports would have abated. Indeed, since the early 1990s, many governments – even the undesirable ones – have worked hard to attract international investment, pursue pro-growth policies and seek workable environments for businesses to operate within their borders. But the reality is that firms of all sizes, whether exporting or setting up operations abroad, continue to face significant challenges from the political arenas they’re exposed to. Typically these ‘political risks’ fall into categories of […]

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