Nothing new under the sun: Marcus Aurelius, student-life and Meditations

During my first university tutorial, over a decade ago, I can still recall the gasps of horror as our Greek History lecturer first introduced us to the idea of ‘stoicism’. ‘It’s basically a preference for pain and hardship over nice things,’ I remember him explaining. ‘Ugh,’ cried one student. ‘Why the hell would you want that?’ complained another. Furrowed brows followed as he tried to explain this ancient philosophy to a room full of young restless minds, glued to the idea of instant gratification. But I suspect there were some in the room who, like myself, understood or ‘felt’ what […]

Continue reading

3.2 Lessons Learned On The Way To 32

Edging my way into my thirties I thought I’d reflect and share some of the lessons from my recent book Winners Don’t Cheat: Advice for young Australians from a young Australian (Connor Court Publishing, 2018). A slow start out of high school, and not being able to get into university after eleven attempts, certainly refined my appreciation for adversity. But I worked through my international relations degree and things began to turn around. I had gone from a very poor writer with virtually no skills or experience to working under three prime ministers at the Department of the Prime Minister […]

Continue reading

A margin of skill at the right time can be all you need

Listening to a recent chat between Russ Roberts – host of Econtalk – and Ryan Holiday – bestselling author and stoic expert – I noticed a great career message for young people, echoing messages in my new book Winners Don’t Cheat. While the discussion focuses on Holiday’s new book Conspiracy, documenting the billionaire Peter Thiel’s long-run campaign to take down the sensationalist publication Gawker, there’s a brief exchange on the anonymous 26-year old who first approached Thiel about the idea. The youngster’s daring approach – basically pitching to a billionaire co-backer of Facebook – opens up a wider discussion on […]

Continue reading

Is Australian conservatism in good hands? Maybe so

BOOK REVIEW: Damien Freeman, Abbott’s Right: The conservative tradition from Menzies to Abbott, Melbourne University Press, 28 August 2017 It is often said that conservatives are stuck in the past. But for over centuries many leading conservative thinkers and practitioners have made clear the necessity of change. ‘A state without the means of some change,’ the eighteenth century conservative Edmund Burke famously wrote, ‘is without the means of its own conservation.’ In 2002, amid the golden jubilee Queen Elizabeth II – perhaps no greater modern Western symbol of cascading tradition – noted that ‘if a jubilee becomes a moment to […]

Continue reading

Bigger citizens and smaller governments: Warren Mundine’s great Australian autobiography

“The first time I was called an ‘uptown nigger’,” writes Warren Mundine, “was thirty years ago when I wore a suit and tie, and attended university.” As a former Australian Labor Party president and advisor to conservative prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott, Mundine is not known for pulling his punches. And it is for two reasons that his candid reflection In Black and White is one of the great Australian autobiographies. First, Mundine does not invite guilt for past decisions regarding black Australia but, in a breath of fresh air, focuses on actually bringing Australians together and finding real, non-government […]

Continue reading

The Village Operator: 9 lessons learned from working at a local level

Here are my nine basic tips and observations I learned while working as a Community Liaison Specialist on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG). For those who don’t know, Manus is famous for the Regional Processing Centre (RPC), which until recently hosted up to a thousand transferees barred from entering Australia. My role, however, was away from the actual RPC and brought me into contact with the surrounding villages, community groups and businesses.  It challenged me by having to apply my previous roles in policy and decision-making to a complex local operating environment. For those interested in taking a similar plunge […]

Continue reading

Reflections on reflections: Australian public policy, history and institutions

It has been just over a year since Peter Varghese, outgoing Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), delivered his ‘graduate lecture’ to Australia’s next round of aspiring international civil servants. Titled ‘reflections on a most fortunate public life’, it appealed to me both as a former Canberra graduate at the Prime Minister’s Department, and as a young professional working closely with DFAT during my early years in the South Pacific. As someone with an instinctively conservative tilt, however, I found most appealing Varghese’s emphasis on Australia’s institutions – ‘the bedrock of our society’ – and his […]

Continue reading