48 years on we need to do a lot better
Recent Notes 24: NZ ready to turn right

Recent Notes 23: Support for Oz aid falls


Every year the Development Policy Centre commissions a survey question asking a representative sample of Australians whether they think their government gives too much aid, too little, or about the right amount. Terence Wood analysed the 2023 results and found that, after several years of growing support for aid, in 2023 support for aid fell.

Yet, as Terence also notes, “it still doesn’t mean most Australians want aid cut. In 2023, a clear majority of Australians still think their government gives too little aid or about the right amount – only just over a third thinks it gives too much.” Still, as Terence concludes, it is worrying news for aid advocates.


A couple of weeks’ ago in Recent Notes I wrote of Ray Parer, the skilled and intuitive pilot whose outstanding meteorological knowledge and intrepid flying in PNG from 1927 to 1941 discovered new air routes through PNG’s challenging terrain, including the safest passage through the Owen Stanley mountains.


I also wrote of his celebrated flight, with co-pilot John McIntosh, from England to Australia as the laggards in an air race sponsored by PD Whisky. The Airco DH-9 was the first single-engine aircraft to make this epic journey which started at Hounslow near London and ended at Culcairn in south-eastern NSW, on 8 January 1920, 233 days later. The aircraft, G-EAQM, which had flipped over after touchdown in a Culcairn paddock, is now at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Recently, the entrepreneur and philanthropist Dick Smith visited Culcairn and found the exact site where G-EAQM made its final spectacular landing. Smith plans to build a monument to mark the end of this historic flight.


Jack Waterford

On both sides of politics, at both federal and state levels there is a professional political class of insiders, sometimes called the tree people. They work in ministerial offices, at party central and in a hundred lobbyist forms, advocacy groups and think tanks.

The government in power has the most of them – which is fair enough given that ministers need at least some of these helpers or minders to exercise power. But the other parties have minders, media officers and organisation people too.

A change of government sees a major turnover – people falling from the trees from other administrations, from academia, the lobbies, unions and industry. In each party there are insider insiders – from the various party royal families, linked by faction, experience and previous patronage.

In theory, these tree people live even more precarious lives than ministers, because they have no security of tenure, and can lose their job when the minister goes, even if the party stays in office. In fact, the minder class usually looks after its own. Complete article here


Allan Patience

Once an early experiment in democracy, Australia has declined into a quagmire of unrepresentative governments at state and federal levels. Power games are played obsessively by most members of a narrowly-recruited and self-serving political class whose only interest seems to be staying in power. Politics is not a vocation for these leeches on the Australian body politic, it has become their business.

It’s time to face the fact that the Australian political system has become an unholy mess. Our parliaments have become ring-fenced habitats for mostly egotistical male MPs and fewer women MPs most of whom seem determined to ape their male counterparts. These people exude a sense of entitlement beyond anything they have the right to expect. And all this is occurring as the country faces unprecedented challenges, at home and abroad. As many experts have been warning, citizens – especially younger citizens – are losing faith in our fragile democratic institutions. Complete article here


Chris Overland

While corporations have become increasingly able to influence governments to take decisions in the interests of corporations, a significant proportion of the public now realise that big business has its own agenda and the public good is not first and foremost amongst its objectives. A series of blunders such as Rio Tinto blowing up significant Aboriginal sites, AMP billing dead people for life insurance and Qantas selling fares for cancelled flights and other similar schemes have all reduced public confidence in the integrity and probity of big business.

My observation is that many people are able to penetrate the blizzards of bullshit to which they are subjected in media of all kinds and recognise the underlying disreputable commercial motivations involved. On the other side of the fence, there is a growing view among political operators in the USA and Australia that factors such as honesty, authenticity and clarity of thought are valuable political assets when it comes to influencing the thinking public (the 20% of voters who matter) at elections.


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