The ABC is like a victim trapped in an abusive relationship – with the government

2015 ended pretty much like every other year. On 21 December, the Liberal senator Eric Abetz heralded the appointment of Michelle Guthrie, the new ABC managing director, with an injunction to “stop the lefty love-in that has taken hold of the organisation” and restore “editorial balance”. In language eerily familiar to student politicians across the…

Take a bow, taxpayers of Australia

Sadly, the notion that paying tax is both necessary and desirable is modern-day heresy. If the American doctor, poet and academic Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-94) time-travelled to Australia in 2015, all hell might break loose. Why? Because Holmes would be regarded as an enemy of the state on the question of tax. Because he once famously…

The great Uber fairness fallacy: as a driver, how do you bargain with an app?

Businesses have been shedding their identity as employers for at least 30 years, profiting from the work performed by ‘independent contractors’ without the cost, risk or aggravation of actually dealing with employees. Whining about cab drivers transcends national boundaries. From New York to Sydney, the complaints are indistinguishable. Sitting among 450 of the world’s leading…

The Catholic church needn’t wait for a national redress scheme. It can act morally now.

By acting unilaterally to adequately compensate victims of sexual abuse, the Catholic church would send a powerful message that is has changed. At first glance, a national redress scheme for victims of childhood sexual abuse, jointly funded by government, churches, schools and other institutions, might seem like a sensible idea. A meaningful form of redress…

White supremacists stole my identity to spew hatred on the Times of Israel

In the early hours of Friday 10 April, as I slept in Melbourne, American author Naomi Wolf was posting on Facebook to condemn me as “deranged”, “genocidal” and “psychotic”. Wolf and I have never met or communicated before. Regrettably, she was not alone. In the course of that night, I was on the receiving end…

If Mugabe wouldn’t do it, why are we accepting this extraordinary attack on wages?

In 2011, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe enacted an extraordinary law preventing employees in that country from seeking wage rises above 2.5 per cent per annum. That last sentence is a lie. Mugabe did no such thing. Barry O’Farrell’s government did. Three years ago, the NSW government passed such a law. As a result, NSW public…

When will workers with disabilities get wage justice?

In October 2014, David Freud, the British welfare minister, gave a speech in which he argued that some workers with intellectual disabilities should not be paid the UK minimum wage. In the furore that followed, disability groups and the Labor opposition called for Freud to be sacked. David Cameron ordered him to apologise and within…

Super reform: the ultimate test

In a crowded and competitive field, surely it is Mark Latham’s 2013 essay Not Dead Yet; Labor’s Post Left Future that triumphs as the high point of destructive nostalgia for the Hawke-Keating era. With a tendency to mythologise, cherry-pick and whitewash much of that era, Latham’s exhortation for current and aspiring ALP politicians is not…

The politics of class warfare: from Sydney to Washington, the gulf is deepening

In Australia, the economic transformation wrought by 22 consecutive years of economic growth and an unprecedented mining boom has played a crucial part in these changes, generating enormous prosperity. Entrepreneurs have increasingly tiered their business offerings to target this wealth. Australia is now one of the wealthiest countries in the world, vying with Switzerland and…

The joy of tax: why payment should be a pleasure

If economics was sexy, life would be very different. Thomas Piketty, the French professor who has recently published an acclaimed book about growing inequality, is now described as a “rock star economist”. But the truth is that the book is a boring read, and it is most unlikely that Piketty will imminently destroy a suite…

An apology from Australia to the rest of the world is now warranted

In August 2014, the Australian parliament voted to repeal a scheme that placed a price on carbon emissions. The carbon price was working as intended: reducing carbon emissions while supporting continued economic growth. Australia was once a leader in dealing with climate change; seven years after ratifying the Kyoto protocol, it is now something approaching…