Governor Allan Bird’s narrative of success
Can Albanese end the great regression?

How Albanese could rewrite the script

Parliament House, Canberra


NOOSA – Throughout April and May, John Menadue’s blog, Pearls & Irritations, published a series of expert essays on policies a new Australian government should adopt to improve its performance and effectivendess.

Here are synopses of each of these articles. Follow this link to read them in full.

If I were Minister for Health and Ageing

I would progressively wind back and eliminate the $14 billion a year taxpayer subsidy for private health insurance and use that very large sum to fund the inclusion of dental care within Medicare and increase the funding to the states for expanded specialist services in outpatient clinics at public hospitals. The Coalition has for years been undermining Medicare. That the Coalition was aiming to privatise Medicare was not a scare tactic as some unthinking journalists keep saying. The Coalition has been privatising our universal health care system by stealth for years – John Menadue AO (Australian businessman and public commentator. Formerly senior public servant and diplomat)

I would introduce a new way of paying health providers, address the Commonwealth/State blame game and reform the health workforce - Mary Chiarella AM (Professor Emerita, School of Nursing, University of Sydney)

Unfortunately, outgoing health minister Greg Hunt leaves behind a huge mess. He was the most political of ministers: politicising announcements for listing decisions on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and prioritising the political in decisions about vaccine procurement and rollout. He also sidelined the Department of Health and spent millions on expensive consultants – Dr Stephen Duckett (Director, Health Program, Grattan Institute, Melbourne)

Restoring value to Medicare, reforming primary care – the bedrock of the health system and fixing dental health: the massive cavity in Australia’s system of social health insurance - Charles Maskell-Knight PSM (former senior public servant in the Department of Health)

How would it be to have a health system which delivered timely high quality care to everyone, with such a system emphasising that prevention of illness and promotion of health at every level to improve health, as well as potentially increasing productivity? How would it be to have a society which recognised that poor health is frequently a result of structural inequalities in that society? Dr Tim Woodruff (Chair, Australian Health Care Reform Alliance)

Evidence based strategies to tackle heightened demands and stresses on hospitals and aged care - John Dwyer (Emeritus Professor of Medicine, UNSW. Founder, Australian Healthcare Reform Alliance)

If I were Minister for Immigration

First and foremost, a new government needs to develop a long-term rationale for Australia’s immigration policy rather than just reacting to short-term circumstances. Address gridlock in the visa system so that visa applications are processed efficiently, quickly and with a high degree of integrity. Attend to wage theft and the exploitation of migrant workers. Reduce the number of people caught in immigration limbo. Return to a stand-alone immigration department – Dr Abul Rizvi, former Deputy Secretary, Department of Immigration)

Labor has a big job ahead of it in fixing the immigration shambles that the Coalition has created in nearly nine years of office. Restore capability to develop good policy and deliver it. Deliver coherence in immigration policy. Restore integrity to the immigration system. Restore immigration as a key tool for economic growth. Restore humanity to the immigration system - Peter Hughes PSM (Fellow, Centre for Policy Development. Former deputy secretary, Department of Immigration)

If I were Minister for Defence

The primary requirement is the courage to tell the nation that it can and should stand up on its own two feet and shed its ‘fear of abandonment’ once and for all - Nick Deane (member, coordinating committee, Independent and Peaceful Australia Network)

If I were Minister for Human Rights

Human rights experts have welcomed Labor’s plan to restore merit appointments to the Australian Human Rights Commission and to appoint a global ambassador for human rights. Nine years of partisan ‘captain’s picks’ by the Coalition government have shredded the Commission’s impartiality and subdued its voice as a champion of the vulnerable. Its funding has also been decimated – Prof Ben Saul (Challis Chair of International Law, University of Sydney)

If I were Minister for Foreign Affairs

Three priority areas – (1) climate change; (2) a strategy for the Asia-Pacific, including relations between China, the US and ourselves; (3) greater attention to the region around us, including in particular South-East Asia and the South Pacific, where we should work closely with New Zealand - Geoff Miller (former diplomat and Director-General, Office of National Assessments)

We should cultivate a good relationship with the USA and with China but not be a deputy sheriff of either. Our neighbours should be a priority and collective security with them be sought. We can learn from countries that keep their options open. We might keep in mind the words of Samuel Huntington in his book The Clash of Civilisations: “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion … but rather by its superiority in applying organised violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do” - Cavan Hogue (former Australian Ambassador to USSR and Russia)

If I were Minister for Climate Change and Energy

For too long, the nine Australian governments have been pursuing inconsistent agendas on emissions and energy. Usually, the states and territories have led (in some notable cases under Coalition governments), while the Commonwealth has lagged badly. First, create a serious Department of Climate. Speed the uptake of electric vehicles.  Mandate that major new projects must take account of long-term harm to the planet. Audit carbon sequestration schemes under the Emissions Reduction Fund. Accelerate big new export industries based on Australia’s renewable energy resources. Cancel $600 million gas-fired power station Morrison government proposed for Kurri Kurri. Stop direct grants to companies involved in fossil fuel projects - Ralph Evans (former head, Austrade. Co-founder Australian arm of the Boston Consulting Group)

Whether you focus on climate policy, energy market transition, social justice, health or business competitiveness and innovation, improving energy productivity and efficiency is a winner - Alan Pears AM (Senior Industry Fellow, RMIT University; Fellow, University of Melbourne’s Climate and Energy College)

Climate decisions taken here and globally within the next three years, the term of the new government, will determine the future of humanity. Climate is not a single issue. It is going to change every aspect of our society, so we cannot allow a continuation of the lies and deception around climate policy which the two-party system perpetuates - Admiral Chris Barrie (executive committee member, Australian Security Leaders Climate Group), Ian Dunlop (member, Club of Rome; chair, Advisory Board, Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration)

If I were Minister for Education

If any serious policy issues are aired during this election, it’s unlikely school education will feature. Yet our framework of schools is an evolving disaster. And while there are critical differences between the parties, none of the policy offerings address the root causes of our educational malaise - Chris Bonnor (co-author, Waiting for Gonski: How Australia failed its schools)

If I were Minister for Higher Education

Reversal of the Morrison Government’s changes to university fees in 2020 and a national summit on higher education - Dr Adam Lucas (University of Wollongong), Emeritus Professor James Guthrie AM (Macquarie Business School), Dr Alessandro Pelizzon (Southern Cross University)

If I were Minister for Childcare

Childcare, especially long daycare, has become highly lucrative for big business. About 80% of revenue comes from the Australian taxpayers. This corporate model means that 100s of millions are distributed to shareholders each year and a number of the largest companies pay no tax - Berenice Nyland (adjunct professor, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)

If I were Minister for Housing

Housing is a major concern. Given the rising cost of putting a roof over your head in today’s Australia, that’s hardly surprising. Buying a home will now set you back 30% more than at the start of the Morrison government’s current term in office. Meanwhile, rent increases have escalated to their highest levels for more than a decade - Hal Pawson (Professor, Housing Research and Policy, and Associate Director of the City Futures Research Centre, UNSW)

If I were Minister for Employment

The institutions that regulate the labour market are no longer properly functional. Despite the high quality and impartial behaviour of some key people in the Fair Work Commission, it has (like other bodies such as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal) been damaged through a slew of partisan appointments. Interpretations of the Fair Work Act become more favourable to employers, making it barely legal for workers to undertake legal strike action. A significant number of workers are now outside the coverage of labour law and its associated institutions. The labour inspectorate fails to adequately enforce the minimum standards that should govern all employees’ work - David Peetz (Professor Emeritus, Employment Relations, Griffith University)

If I were Attorney General

Is it too much to hope that we see an Attorney General who energetically pursues a treaty with Indigenous Australia, a republic, a human rights charter and a substantial reduction in the cost of justice - Greg Barns SC (barrister and National Criminal Justice Spokesman, Australian Lawyers Alliance)

If I were Minister for Women

A federal election always creates feminist optimistic hopes that long-term inequities will be addressed. Gender equality policy making in 2022 isn’t working - Eva Cox AO (Australian writer, feminist, sociologist, social commentator and activist)

If I were Minister for the Public Service

Improving the capability of the APS, and making best use of it. First, issue an Administrative Arrangements Order to align ministerial and bureaucratic responsibilities. Demonstrate appreciation of the role of the APS and its values, including merit, in the appointments made to secretary positions and the processes used. Sets the standards expected of ministers and their staff - Andrew Podger AO (Professor of Public Policy, Australian National University)

If I were Minister for Arts and Culture

Australia is at a tipping point. Our democracy is at stake, and cultural policy (or lack thereof) is an integral part of the crisis. Forty years of hollowing out the public sector, degrading the public service, and a winner-takes-all attitude to the electoral process fuelled it. The result is Australia’s embrace of authoritarian ‘managed democracy’, and the disappearance of the line between the needs of the public good and the demands of big donors, especially, but not limited to, the fossil fuel industries - Justin O’Connor (Professor of Cultural Economy, University of South Australia), Emma Webb (member, executive committee of the Arts Industry Council of South Australia), Dr Tully Barnett (Senior Lecturer in Creative Industries, Flinders University) and Julian Meyrick (Professor of Creative Arts, Griffith University)

If I were Minister without Portfolio

With the loss of trust in our political institutions and politicians, we need a political summit to build consensus on democratic reform and the restoration of trust. Such a proposal, if carefully explained and implemented, could produce real political and policy dividends for its advocates and more importantly, for Australia - Our democracy is decaying from within - John Menadue.


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Lindsay F Bond

And the winner is one who trains and reigns, the Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus:

"The Olympic champion has unleashed the mightiest of swims to take down the 400m world record of her great American rival Katie Ledecky."

So why is it that democracy is at risk to those who have insufficient training or knowledge?

Chris Overland

The demise of the Morrison government hopefully spells the end of 9 long years of inertia, incompetence and corruption.

The incoming Albanese government will, unfortunately, inherit a sea of troubles: unprecedented levels of public cynicism about politics, a degraded Federal public service, an economy about to be smitten by rampant inflation, mountainous debt, fragile asset bubbles, an incredibly destructive war in one of the world's food bowls and a Chinese economy teetering on the edge of disaster.

This is grim outlook indeed.

Despite this, there is a clear public expectation that an Albanese government will restore something resembling competent and honest government, notably through creating a powerful, independent ICAC which can help ensure that chancers like Morrison can never again raid the public purse with impunity for entirely party political purposes.

Also, Albanese has committed his government to implementing the Uluru Statement whereby an indigenous voice to parliament will become part of the constitution. This has huge symbolic and practical significance for indigenous Australians and would represent a belated acknowledgement of the country's first nations people.

In relation to our Pacific neighbours, especially PNG, incoming Foreign Minister Penny Wong will have the task of resetting relationships by massively increasing our diplomatic and aid efforts to engage productively in building the democratic resilience of these small but strategically important countries.

Overall, an Albanese government will be hard pressed on many fronts. It will take an immense amount of hard work to both overcome the legacy of nearly a decade of conservative ineptitude and simultaneously manage the fall out of the many international problems now confronting us all.

Bernard Corden

The dulcet discourse from our former Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations will be sadly missed. It was often reminiscent of a Scottie Road fishwife snorting shabu at the adjacent Great Homer Street markets.

PS. Scottie Road was a low-provenance thoroughfare running through the notorious Vauxhall district of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

The late Aneurin Bevan believed the UK National Health Service was a radical endeavour, and an effort to decommodify healthcare and make it not only public but free and universal:,its%20co-editor%20with%20Jon%20Kimche%20in%20the%201940s.

The Dirty War on the NHS was first broadcast in Britain on the ITV Network on 17 December, 2019. It was shown following the general election that saw Boris Johnson become prime minister - even though the future of the NHS was a major issue in the campaign:

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