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AQ: Australian Quarterly

AQ: Australian Quarterly

92.2 Apr-June 2021
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For over 90 years AQ: Australian Quarterly has been packing its pages with the debates that have shaped Australia and the world, tackling the big topics in science, politics and society. Grounded in evidence, yet written in a style accessible to everyone, AQ is unique in Australia’s publishing landscape, pushing back against the trends of subjective truth and media spin. If it matters to Australia then it matters to AQ.

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Australian Institute of Policy and Science
4 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
a word

The power and agency that a person wields is intimately tied to the value they possess in our cultural consciousness. And our politicians and politics have a disproportionate influence on deciding what (or who) is afforded that value. It is they that decide which debates are legitimised with legislation; their privileged positions furnish them with tremendous weight in setting the tenor of the national discussion. In principle, all people are equal; except that some are more equal than others. The current firestorm of allegations regarding the treatment of women in politics and in Parliament House are a painful illustration of the low value that women still possess across society and the halls of power. Likewise, the unceasing cruelty towards asylum seekers – who possess greater value as political currency than as human beings. By…

1 min.
notes for contributors

AQ welcomes submissions of articles and manuscripts on contemporary economic, political, social and philosophical issues, especially where scientific insights have a bearing and where the issues impact on Australian and global public life. All contributions are unpaid. Manuscripts should be original and have not been submitted or published elsewhere, although in negotiation with the Editor, revised prior publications or presentations may be included. Submissions may be subject to peer review. Word length is between 1000 and 3000 words. Longer and shorter lengths may be considered. Articles should be written and argued clearly so they can be easily read by an informed, but non-specialist, readership. A short biographical note of up to 50 words should accompany the work. The Editor welcomes accompanying images. Authors of published articles are required to assign…

14 min.
no advantage: australia’s legacy caseload

I was one of the 100 million people in the past decade to experience forced displacement. My journey to become an Australian citizen involved a series of unfortunate events culminating in a decade of civil war in my parents’ home country of Sierra Leone. The result of the civil war was a mass exodus into neighbouring West African countries. My family escaped to Ghana where I was born in the chaotic process of resettlement, survival, and adaptation in a foreign country. Their fate, like the fate of many refugees, lies in the hands of invisible people who have the power to make decisions that redirect the course of their lives. After years of waiting in a refugee camp hoping desperately for a chance to restart a life with dignity and purpose, finally…

13 min.
as bad as it looks: australia’s medici cycle

Perusing the data is accompanied by a building sense of sleaze. Sorting through it is only marginally easier than putting back together documents that have been through a shredder. Any of the totals you can easily calculate are meaningless. Donations are mixed in with normal income and expenses. Donors’ names are inconsistent making it hard to tally multiple payments. How can the Australian Electoral Commission make it so difficult? And then there are the obvious games. The split payments made just below the $14,000 disclosure thresholds. The giving on different days, or to multiple entities. Giving to affiliated entities which give to affiliated entities, a daisy-chain of deniability, before the money makes it into the central coffers. Or the fundraising dinner where they just declare the total and not who bought…

18 min.
health expertise and covid-19 managing the fear factor

“No amount of expert evidence will [as a rule] point logically and unambiguously to a given conclusion.”Peter Self, 1977, p. 2051 As Covid-19 raced across the globe, the leaders of almost every country were forced to rely on their health experts to advise them on the sudden threat. Of course, the degree of that reliance and the nature of the leader’s relationship with their advisers varied. US President Donald Trump notoriously fought with the health professionals, as he sought to downplay the virus. In contrast, both Australia’s federal and state governments were at pains from the start to stress that policy prescriptions were evidence-based, driven by the expert advice. Scientific Expertise, Policy Expertise, Public Health Professional Expertise and Instrument Expertise Prime Minister Scott Morrison adopted the mantra of protecting “lives and livelihoods”, and wanted…

12 min.
the ‘new world’ is old: journeying through deep time

The following essay is a revised excerpt from Samuel Alexander and Brendan Gleeson’s new book, Urban Awakenings: Disturbance and Enchantment in the Industrial City (Palgrave, 2021). In this, the authors’ practise a method they call ‘urban tramping’, as they walk their home city of Melbourne in search of disturbance and enchantment. They set out, in other words, to sojourn through urban landscapes with the same sense of wonder and critical observation that a nature-walker embodies as they saunter through a rainforest. The book reports on their various perambulations, with 22 short chapters and more than 70 colour images, to document and enrich their urban tramps. Tramping through the bustling urban landscape, we pass by the sometimes endearing but often tacky Queen Victoria Market, as the sun moves lower in the hazy…