News & Politics
AQ: Australian Quarterly

AQ: Australian Quarterly 90.1 Jan-Mar 2019

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

If there is a nobility within the capitalist project, it is that the whole edifice is built on aspiration. It teaches that the aspirations of the individual will benefit the majority; the greatest benefit arises from everyone striving for themselves. Yet it teaches us nothing about hope. In fact, hope seems incompatible with this model – it is a pale flicker on its own. Hope is not aspiration, nor is it optimism. Optimism deals with possible realities; it is the light of our everyday. Hope, by contrast, exceeds all rationale, it is buoyant in the face of history or circumstance, it enables us to see into the future and to envision the impossible. Other than this loss of long-term vision, there is another problem with aspiration being the underpinning human driver of our…

15 min.
follow the desire lines remaking australia

The key to our future will lie in our capacity to envision this shared future. Visionary thinking – the imagination and expression of the possible – provides a vehicle to engage, explore, critique and discover. These visions help us create new stories about who we want to be. This article canvases some of the barriers that have held back this conversation in Australia but also highlights two new visions coming from within our civic core that seek to rewrite that story. Desire Lines discovered It’s Friday night The crowd tumbles out of Sydney’s football stadium Friends and strangers rub shoulders Soft murmurs permeate the night air – goals re-lived, near misses critiqued To the left of the Exit sits a lonely folly – an aesthetically beautiful but empty pedestrian bridge Testament to a planned environment devoid of common…

16 min.
the distortion of the australian public sphere: media ownership concentration in australia

This article will not resort to News Corp bashing, because the problem is far greater than just one company. But there are a few useful case studies emanating from News Corp that I’ll return to. The wider problem is a structural and regulatory issue where Australian politicians, from both major parties, have yet again failed to play the role of the honest broker between market forces and the public interest. Australia is not alone in having a concentrated media market. We can see similar patterns emerging both in the US and in some parts of Europe. But Australia stands out as one of the most concentrated media markets in the world and this increasing concentration has been happening for some time. Then there is the question of why it also appears…

20 min.
gonski 2.0: a controlled flight into terrain

The release of the Gonski 2.0 report in early 2018 provoked a chorus of criticism, much of it derisive, itemising the reliance on platitudes and clichés and its failure to address the terms of reference in any meaningful way. Particularly baffling is that the Review was established with everything in working order. It had just one job, which was to provide advice on how funding should be used to improve student achievement. It was in the blissful position of not needing to argue the case for extra funding because $24.5 billion over ten years had already been committed by government. The ‘pilot’ enjoyed enviable public esteem. And, not least, there is now an extensive literature, drawing on evidence from high-performing countries, on the policies required for improved educational performance. What, as they…

3 min.
degrowth in the suburbs: a radical urban imaginary

a.mcleod@federation.edu.au www.historicalperspectives.com.au There is a sense of urgency within the pages of Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary – as well there should. Capitalism and its enthusiastic bedfellow, neoliberalism, have failed to deliver the good life. Global warming, climate change, global poverty and deforestation are not problems of future imaginings. They are here now and if we are to survive, let alone prosper, we must deal with them. At its tipping point, climate change becomes a ‘wicked problem’, a crisis that can no longer be mitigated but must be adapted to. This book provides a comprehensive blueprint for change. In their critique of the growth economy, the writers do not seek to move away from the city and its suburbs to live an idyllic life on the land. The solution to…

10 min.
technology at the crossroads

As our technologies change society, these dilemmas make us consider our values, ethical frameworks, and the design methodologies that can genuinely decrease harm and increase wellbeing. The Good Life At Risk The board room was already full when I walked in. Someone walked out to get an extra chair while I heard the round of introductions. I knew most of the academics in the room, but did not know much about their interest in the fourth industrial revolution or in engineering ethics, the theme of our meeting. Technologies were reshaping the concept of what constitutes a good life. They were redefining work, basic emotions, and even volition. The specific goal of the meeting was to prepare a response to Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner, who was seeking comments on their human rights and technology issues…