Notes on the proposed Australian republic model

Back in high school days, at a model United Nations conference, a group of fellow students once rankled conference organisers by suggesting – through mock UN security council resolution – that the long-running Kashmir conflict be resolved by a winner-take-all One Day International between India and Pakistan. While partly facetious (some of our mob were serious), it appears the Australian Republic Movement has put forward a similarly cricket-inspired theme in its proposed Australian XI or ‘Australia Choice’ model. Under the model unveiled this week, Australian republicans are proposing that, to select a head of state, the states and territories nominate […]

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A recap on books I read in 2021

At the very start of 2021, while still in New Zealand, I took a moment to read Geoffrey Robertson’s autobiography ‘Rather His Own Man’. Robertson’s politics are very different to mine. But he is one of Australia’s most well-known legal figures, living a cosmopolitan life applying practical liberal legal doctrines on a global scale. “Commonwealth courts that have one thing in common,” he writes, “they are bound by constitutions that direct them to respect the rule of law.” This observation isn’t simply academic for Robertson, who has made a career out of taking down war criminals, packaging complex legal arguments […]

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Vale Colin Powell

In my book Winners Don’t Cheat I caution against finding role models that only look like you. Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell — who passed away aged 84 — was my rare exception. Powell, of West Indian heritage, cast a unique figure on his road to becoming a four-star general, chairman of the joint chiefs (1989-93), national security adviser (1987-89) and his nation’s chief diplomat (2001-05). His image with US President Ronald Reagan, inset with this article, is a favourite of mine. It shows Powell — then as national security adviser — briefing Reagan, whose counsel Reagan clearly […]

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Avoiding a return to history: Lessons for the ‘post’ post-911 world

It has become something of a cliché tagging historical events to personal experience.  ‘Where were you when Kennedy was shot?’ offered an entire generation sombre reflection and a point in time.  ‘Where were you on 911?’ is the catch cry for mine – or at least for some of us taking stock to ponder, reflect or ‘think hard’ about the trade-offs and competing interests of the past two decades in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I’ll never forget arriving to school – Australian-time – the following day, buzzing from an early morning paper delivery round, entering the school gates and revealing the […]

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A Statesman in Australia’s Council of Elders

Published at The Menzies Research Centre This month marks 50 years since the first Indigenous Australian – the late Senator for Queensland Neville Bonner – sat in the nation’s parliament. This was a triumphant achievement from Bonner, serving as a Liberal Senator from 1971 to 1983. Yet most Australians won’t quite be able to pinpoint what makes Bonner a truly ground-breaking Australian – his centre-right disposition at a time of overbearing radical politics, a denial of cynicism despite a tough life, the unique blend of Indigenous culture with character. Indeed, his story reveals not just a great Indigenous Australian but […]

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