Don’t let democracy die

It may sound too obvious to need stating, but in this time of crisis some of Australia’s leaders are ignoring it: without Parliament, parliamentary democracy cannot function.

It is Parliament that scrutinises and evaluates the actions of the executive government, holding the Government to account and protecting the liberties of citizens.

That is why the Senate’s Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation committee, which reviews all laws made by regulation – i.e. by action of the executive government – has resolved to continue its work during this time when sittings of Parliament may be suspended for an extended period of time.

Throughout the history of the Commonwealth – until now – Parliament continued to sit, no matter what crisis confronted the nation, whether war, natural disaster or social and economic calamity.

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NO FUTURE IN TALKING DOWN TO THOSE WHO LACK A VOICE

The findings of Labor's inquiry into its federal election defeat will be handed to the ALP National Executive tomorrow, but we already know several things that help explain the result and the challenges ahead for the party.

Those challenges run much deeper than the explanations favoured by commentators who attribute Labor's loss to supposedly unpopular tax policies or the failings of individuals.

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An Academic Iron Curtain?

The Balkanisation of international research is not in Australia’s interest, argues Kim Carr

In these times of heightened anxiety about China’s global influence, Australia’s scientists and researchers all too often endure the smear that they are collaborating with a foreign power. The accusation, made by hawks within the defence and security establishments, conflates several things that are not the same: concern at the activity of international students on Australian campuses; the need to uphold quality assurance standards in higher education institutions; the need to protect our cybersecurity; and the importance of genuine international research collaboration. The hawks – and those in the media who uncritically report their remarks – ought to know that these are all different things. 

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BOOSTING SCIENCE AND RESEARCH IS A NO-BRAINER

The Liberal government is out of touch with modern Australia — and nothing shows it more than the government's relentless war on science.

The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government has slashed funding for research in universities and public agencies such as CSIRO, shedding more than 1300 science jobs since 2013.

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Politics wrecked the car industry

Now the Australian Coalition Government must decide if it will protect the high-skill high-wage jobs in advance manufacturing that it generated, writes shadow Industry Minister Kim Carr.

When General Motor’s Australian subsidiary, Holden, shut down its assembly plant last month, Australia’s 100-year-old tradition of producing passenger cars came to a halt.

The other automotive manufacturer with an Australian production facility, Toyota, had ceased operations several weeks earlier.

The closures provoked a spate of commentary, locally and around the world, much of it intended to demonstrate that the decisions made by Holden and Toyota were inevitable.

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TOTAL END TO OUR CAR INDUSTRY DOESN’T HAVE TO HAPPEN

 

Today the last Australian-built Camry will roll off the production line at Toyota’s assembly plant in Altona.

Some Australians who might not instinctively describe General Motors Holden as an American firm still think of Toyota as a Japanese car maker.

Yet the company has been making cars here for more than half a century, since 1963, and has shaped Australia’s automotive industry and its culture as much as Holden and Ford have.
 

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WHAT WE COULD LEARN FROM OBAMA'S APPROACH TO SCIENCE

At this watershed moment in American political history, it is timely to consider the legacy of outgoing President Barack Obama in science and innovation.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is the chief source of advice to the President on science matters. The OSTP published its Cabinet Exit Memo on 5 January, manifesting a vibrant, ambitious and optimistic vision – in stark contrast to the unimaginative, stale and duplicitous approach of our own Government.

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WHAT WE COULD LEARN FROM OBAMA'S APPROACH TO SCIENCE

At this watershed moment in American political history, it is timely to consider the legacy of outgoing President Barack Obama in science and innovation.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is the chief source of advice to the President on science matters. The OSTP published its Cabinet Exit Memo on 5 January, manifesting a vibrant, ambitious and optimistic vision – in stark contrast to the unimaginative, stale and duplicitous approach of our own Government.

Building on President Obama's 2009 pledge to restore science to its rightful place, the Administration sought to improve scientific talent within government, strengthen scientific integrity, enacted a historic increase in research and development funding, prioritised broad participation in STEM education, launched new science initiatives in health, expanded broadband access, fostered a space industry sector and supported manufacturing innovation and jobs. 

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Birmingham, Morrison show hostility to humanities research

The terms of reference of the Watt review into research policy clearly articulate the government’s narrow intent and reveal its impoverished understanding of research.

 

It is an approach that is already manifest with regard to CSIRO.

 

Put simply, the Liberals’ preference is for publicly funded research that turns a quick private dollar.

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A Political Way Forward, Without Bowing To The Bigotry

Sometimes the significance of political events eludes many whose daily duty it is to report them, however accurate their accounts may be in detail. We are living at such a time.

The federal election resulted in the discomfiting of the Turnbull Government as its majority shrank to the barest of margins, and in the return of One Nation to the electoral limelight.

The first of these things has mostly been analysed in terms of the diminished personal authority of the Prime Minister, and the second as an unwelcome accident of the double dissolution – the revival of a circus that is both nasty and diverting but probably won’t be around for long.

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