Three unknown knowns: Vale Donald Rumsfeld

Like many of my era, I came of age politically in the shadow of 911. Donald Rumsfeld was a key figure in this period. To ‘get a grip’ on things, I read as much as I could from someone who, as twice-US Secretary of Defense, and a former Congressman, could impart a great deal. Remembered exclusively by some as the sole ‘architect’ of the Iraq War, or the puzzled source of ‘unknown knowns’ – an easily dismissed but highly philosophical point – I found Rumsfeld offered a great deal more. There are three things that stood out to me, which […]

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A sad farewell to the Duke of Edinburgh

Prince Philip once said that his job – first, second and last – was ‘to never let the Queen down’. The Duke of Edinburgh passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Born on 10 June 1921, in Corfu, Greece, it was likely that a life of perennial devotion to the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith – wasn’t the ‘job description’ a young Philip had aspired to. Evacuated from Greece, literally, in a fruit box, Philip was educated in France, England and Scotland, before taking […]

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Renewing the fusion: How Australia’s conservatives and liberals can remain a united and potent force 

Tim Wilson, The New Social Contract: Renewing the Liberal Vision for Australia (Connor Court, 2020) Small ‘l’ liberals can be as clear on the things they do say as they don’t say. Federal Liberal MP Tim Wilson, in The New Social Contract: Renewing the Liberal Vision for Australia (Connor Court, 2020), offers readers a keen example of this, while also casting light on the policy and philosophical tensions within the modern Liberal Party. Wilson does well to highlight the traditions of Australian liberalism. He is entirely accurate on the need for reducing concentrations of power, a framework for individuals to […]

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Support for republic among Australians takes major hit

A recent Ipsos poll showing Australia’s support for a republic has ‘steadily declined’ to its lowest levels will no doubt alarm republican lobbyists. In response to the question ‘Should Australia become a republic?’ only 34 percent of respondents said ‘yes’ with 40 percent against – the lowest support recorded by both the Ipsos and Nielsen polls. Most troubling for republicans is that support among 18- to 24-year-old Australians is now the lowest supporting cohort. Only 26 per cent are in favour compared to 34 per cent in all other age groups. Republican claims The Australian Republic Movement (ARM) has always […]

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A fresh call for inspirational political leadership 

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more,” said the sixth US President John Quincy Adams, “you are a leader.”  It is not typical that we look to politics – especially now, nor as Australians – for ‘inspirational leaders’.  “Politicians aren’t fashionable in Australia,” declared Julia Gillard when stepping down as prime minister in 2013.  As Australians we tend to look to sports stars, philanthropists, great inventors, pioneers and others as providing the inspirational leadership we both understand and respect.  And I sense this is fair enough.  We don’t expect politics – the […]

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Five quick notes for school leavers – and for the rest of us too

Leaving school can be a great time for many young people. Some will go into trades, others to university, while others will go straight into jobs or even the defence force. As I reflect on my time leaving school, and taking thirteen attempts to get into university, I didn’t have an exceptional start – at least not to the same level as many of my peers at the time. But on reflection I noticed the patterns that enabled me to stay dreaming, continue to straighten myself out and literally, a decade on, reach every single goal – personal and professional […]

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Aussie winds, republican sales  

This Friday 6 November marks the 21st anniversary of the 1999 republic referendum. Two decades on, republican lobbyists are on the rebound, arguing that ‘it’s time’ and devising fresh attempts to ‘ditch the monarchy’. Since 1999, they claim, four million new voters on the electoral roll are not only budding republicans but eager to exchange an Australian president for an ‘out of touch’ Governor-General. Indeed, on face value, the currents may appear to be turning as republicans ‘gear up’ for another round. A different kind of evolution But what, really, has changed since 1999? Here are some brief observations. The centennial urgency of the […]

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Part II Dead and alive: The greatest mentors I’ve never met

Last week I put together some books that have had a ‘mentoring’ effect on me. Here’s a very brief list of shorter pieces, and a podcast, that also contain elements of wisdom from which I’ve benefited. David Kemp’s A Leader and a Philosophy I came across this piece, published back in 1973, while doing some research for a writing project. At a time when many outside of formal party politics puzzle over the importance of ‘rallying the base’, and trimming this against electoral appeal, Kemp builds a coherent picture for a modern political leader, the need for a philosophy, and […]

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Our reform moment?

Many Australians rightly look back on the Hawke-Keating-Howard-Costello era of the 1980s and 1990s as Australia’s golden era of reform. From the floating of the dollar to balanced budgets, and from low tariffs to wage bargaining, reform used to be the result of mixing good leadership with all-out necessity. Modern legacies But ‘reform’ in modern times has been a muddled journey, leaving many Australians increasingly dismayed at politics. Rudd, post-GFC, promised revolutions that only collapsed people’s trust in government. The Gillard government’s legacy, amid much internal Labor squabbling, has been reduced to a misogyny speech on the floor of federal […]

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Dead and alive: The greatest mentors I’ve never met

One of the best things about reading – and reading widely – is that you can effectively be mentored by people you’ve never met. As I wrote in my book, I had a slow start out of high school. It took me multiple attempts to get into university and, from there, to build the right skills and experience to be able to get a decent job and be helpful in the workplace. Learning from books is the key lesson in all of this, and the journey to building knowledge, removing ignorance, steady improvement and appreciating failure. From a long list […]

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