News & Politics
AQ: Australian Quarterly

AQ: Australian Quarterly 89.4 Oct-Dec 2018

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.

Australian Institute of Policy and Science
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4 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
a word

‘Have you tried to turn it off and on again?’ Since John Howard left office, no Australian Prime Minister has survived from one election to the next. After a decade of poisoned chalices, late-night knifings, parliamentary chaos, and increasing partisanship, it’s safe to say that treating our democracy like a paralysed computer has done nothing to relieve the paralysis in Canberra. Quite the opposite. Voters realised this years ago and have punished the major parties accordingly. Now, despite Tony Abbott’s continued insidious presence in parliament, it seems that the penny might have dropped for the Liberal Party, having spectacularly ceded the moral high ground they so righteously held over Labor’s Killing Season. Meanwhile, Australian science has been chugging along, continuing to turn out world-class scientists and research. With science so readily politicised in parliament…

18 min.
beautiful weather: the social politics of global warming

In one of the park’s corners still stand tall chocolate-coloured brick chimneys and domed kilns from the brick works that used to hold sway over this land, now as anachronistic as ancient plinths. The parkland itself is an open place where friends and strangers gather and bump along, remembering out how we do that thing called society, together, in practical terms. “Would you mind if I sat there?” “Is this your child? She fell over and was calling for you.” “Any chance I could borrow your bike pump?” There’s the lightest of breezes and the mid-winter sunshine feels glorious on my bare arms. Overhead, there is blue in every direction. Two early-thirties women walk past, one pushing a stroller, the other laden with basket and bag, which I imagine have been lightened…

2 min.
book review the coal truth

You can feel the heat coming off the pages. Opening in the steamy locales of a suburban Sydney summer, The Coal Truth’s first chapter is familiar and idyllic. Yet, like heat shimmers at the periphery of your vision, and uncomfortable realisation pervades, that the fast lives of humans have now begun to sense the tiny changes in the slow life of the planet. In this little Sydney microcosm is the story of our age – the erosion of trust; post-truth politics; the assault on civil society; the disconnect between public opinion and parliamentary action; a global threat we can’t hear, see, or touch – all neatly embodied in the battle for the Galilee Basin, against mining giant Adani. The story of Adani in Australia has not yet concluded, yet David Ritter, CEO…

10 min.
big challenges, micro solutions: closing the loop in australia’s waste crisis

This crisis has brought into sharp focus that Australia’s waste is Australia’s problem, at the very same time that consumers, more than ever, are seeking to reduce environmental impacts and create more sustainable outcomes across all areas of our society. In June, the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications Inquiry into Waste and Recycling, released its report. It is a sobering read. There are a number of commendable recommendations within the report, including its ‘headline’ recommendations to ban single use plastics by 2023 and a call for a national container deposit scheme. But it could have gone further, given that a solution is available right now to reduce waste stockpiles, encourage innovation, boost Australian manufacturing and create jobs. A solution is available right now to reduce waste stockpiles, encourage innovation, boost Australian…

2 min.
get smart > smart.unsw.edu.au

UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Centre is collaborating with various businesses and organisations to help translate our recycling and reformation technology into commercial reality. In one example, we are partnering with disruptive glasses manufacturer and retailer Dresden to design, build and test the manufacture of spectacles from waste plastic such as nylon from fishing nets, milk bottle lids, Lego pieces and other commonly discarded items. Dresden, its commercial partners, and UNSW recently successfully applied for a $2.7 million grant from the Federal Department of Business’s Cooperate Research Centre program to build a fully automated manufacturing centre where recycled waste plastics are transformed into high quality, stylish, low-cost spectacle frames of exceptional durability. The novel plastic recycling technology has the potential to be applied more widely to produce other high…

17 min.
why australia needs a magnitsky law

What could possibly have provoked a Russian President to single out an individual during such a high-level diplomatic meeting? The same President who has been accused of green-lighting the poisoning of a former Russian double agent on British sovereign soil, of ignoring international condemnation for his annexing of Crimea, and who has shown a blatant disregard for accepting any culpability for the shooting down of flight MH17? Magnitsky laws are national, not international, laws passed by sovereign parliaments to allow the government to apply targeted sanctions on any individual involved in a human rights violation. The answer lies in the global Magnitsky movement that has its genesis at the turn of the century in Putin’s Russia, at a time when Putin was cementing his power. The global Magnitsky movement – orchestrated by…