Keating, Michael & John Menadue, ed.: Fairness, opportunity and security

Keating, Michael & John Menadue, ed.

Fairness, opportunity and security: a policy series‘, Pearls and Irritations, 11 May 2015 (updated)

Update 27 May 2015: There have been 20 or so papers already on democratic renewal, the role of government, foreign policy, the economy and retirement incomes, and we counted five former heads of Australian government departments among the contributors. To come are papers on population/migration/refugees, communications and the arts, security, health, environment, indigenous affairs, welfare, inequality and human capital.

Update 17 May 2015: new articles have appeared on democratic renewal (two from John Menadue and a second one from Ian Marsh), the role of government (Menadue, Ian McAuley, Michael Keating), and foreign policy (Cavan Hogue, Richard Butler, John McCarthy).

As foreshadowed, this series has commenced. This article introduces the series and lists forthcoming articles. (There is to be a book later.) First out of the blocks are Ken Henry introducing the series, Ian Marsh on democratic renewal and Stephen FitzGerald on security in the region.

Honest History will flag particular pieces from the series from time to time; readers can follow the series at Pearls and Irritations. John Menadue is one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters.

The confusion in public debate seems to me to be a lot worse than at any other time over the past 25 years or so. Indeed, I can’t recall a poorer quality public debate, on almost any issue, than what we have had in Australia in recent times. Today, it is almost certain that, in almost any area, what people generally understand to be the case is, in fact, a myth. (Henry)

The Australian community is now pluralised and differentiated and, in some contexts, increasingly regionalised. The best image is a kaleidoscope. This reflects not only the diverse values that are held by Australians, but also the challenge in framing persuasive political narratives. The assumption that basic partisan values are widely shared no longer holds. Rather leaders need to craft appeals that can reach out to majority coalitions. (Marsh)

And a big danger about the US and China, to which Australian politicians on both sides seem oblivious, is that their contest is not simply that of the re-emerging world power challenging the existing one, already volatile enough. It’s that each is driven by an idea of itself as exceptional. We’ve long lived with American exceptionalism, although we don’t always recognise it or raise the awkward question of just how completely that idea puts American interests above all others including its allies. But China too is a similarly exceptionalist power, and the contest between these two is not just about power and influence relative to each other, it’s also about who has the exceptional “right” to determine the rules by which the world is run.  (FitzGerald)



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