Eventful, but not unexpected: a royal life in modern times 

This piece is also published on The Spectator’s Flat White blog Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s announcement to step back as “senior royals” has predictably drawn fierce speculation – former palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter has called it “unprecedented” and a “breakdown in the royal family”, while another source notes the Queen is supposedly “upset” and “incandescent with rage.” While speculation brews, however, it’s hard to deny the past 12 months haven’t been a more than eventful at the intersection of royal life and relentless media pressure – Westminster log jam around Brexit, Prince Andrew, Phillip’s car crash and, of […]

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Interview with ABC’s Kelly Higgins-Devine

My take on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to take a step back as ‘senior royals’. The Queen says it’ll “take time to work through” and I couldn’t agree more. Did I get it right? Have a listen and let me know your thoughts.   Want to know more about the monarchy vs republic debate? Here’s a recent post I wrote, which I hope provides some much needed context to this important discussion. Image source: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images

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Australian republicans have misread Brexit

A recent opinion piece by Glen Norris (‘Brexit likely to revive republican movement’) underlines how elastic republican claims are becoming. According to Norris, Brexit will now trigger Scottish independence and the unification between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  But closer to home Brexit has supposedly re-animated the republican cause – Britain is “a shadow of its former self”, he notes, while Australia’s future is exclusively in Asia and we are not truly independent until we un-tether ourselves from a shaky and unstable Crown. “Britain’s Brexit debacle has put an end to the only good argument Australian monarchists used […]

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Why all the populism? A fair take on the political currents of 2019

I was slightly stumped when recently asked by a close friend, who’s definitely not a conservative, why so many centre-right governments were winning elections across the Western world. Trump, Boris, ScoMo and even Trudeau’s razor-thin Canadian victory reveal that centre-left politics is, to say the least, failing to connect at the ballot box. But surely, I thought, the reasons for this are obvious? Progressive politics, once the domain of the working class, is losing badly because of a commitment to identity politics, stifling correctness and a detachment from bread and butter issues like jobs, sound borders and economic growth. ‘Get […]

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Episode 38 – Year in review and thoughts for 2020

Wrapping up 2019 and looking ahead to next year, I recorded this episode from Brisbane’s Happy Boy Restaurant. Amid ambient café noise, we touch on what it takes to be a genius, socialism versus capitalism, the ascendance of China, man’s search for meaning, LBJ and, of course, our big reads in 2019 and thoughts for 2020. Show highlights Building specialisation – the Federer approach (try lots of things first) versus the Woods approach (specialise early) Temperament and grit are more important than IQ – Buffett has outperformed Singleton, despite not being as ‘smart’ Our summer reading lists Michael Crichton’s journey […]

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Episode 37 – Fundamental Truths on the Present (Part 2)

In part two Will and I, continuing our ‘enduring’ theme, allude to John Howard – the seminal political figure in Australian politics of the last 20 years – and his capacity to provide stability with change. And, at least by the temporary standards of modern prime ministers, deliver a solid dose of political endurance. We also talk about Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams’ advice on when to give in or keep ‘enduring’, and discuss how generalists can triumph in an age of specialisation. Show highlights John Howard – a social conservative and economic liberal Our favourite and standout bits from Howard’s […]

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Episode 36 – Fundamental Truths on the Present (Part 1)

What endures? Clearly things that have been around for a while will tend to go on persisting, from Broadway musicals to timeless virtues. Economist Will Witheridge and I talk about how important principles are, why they appeal and why they’re making a comeback, from author Ryan Holiday’s commitment to stoicism to Jordan Peterson’s philosophy of self-help. This show is split in two so please tune in next week for Part II. Show highlights The universalism of Catcher in the Rye – losing innocence and maturing in the world Good packaging (i.e. good writing or a creative format) helps to make […]

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A Liberal Party in the 21st Century

LEARNING FROM VICTORY A Liberal Party in the 21st Century Principles, politics and the big issues of our time   “Unless we have ideas to offer we cannot develop a real sense of conviction, a real instinct of political faith, and this election will be just one more election on top of those which have gone. Just one more election will never do.”  Robert Menzies, Founder of the Australian Liberal Party, 1894-1978     The battle for ideas A sensible political party should be as contemplative in victory as in defeat. The 2019 expectation-defying coalition victory offers optimism for a party that […]

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Improving your performance under pressure

Ceri Evans, Perform Under Pressure, HarperCollins, Auckland, 2019   With the 2019 Japan Rugby World Cup underway all eyes are, as expected, on the New Zealand All Blacks – winner of the previous two tournaments and, according to some, the most successful sporting team of all time.  It’s with these expectations that I turned to their team shrink – Dr Ceri Evans – for some thoughts and perspective on performance and self-improvement. Evans, a psychiatrist and former New Zealand soccer captain, has just released Perform Under Pressure, which draws on his guidance to teams and individuals across a range of disciplines.  The first point that emerges is what is meant by ‘performance’ – an accessible activity not […]

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