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AQ: Australian Quarterly

AQ: Australian Quarterly 91.2 Apr-Sept 2020

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
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4 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
a word

It is quickly becoming a cliché to say that the world will be forever altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our systems of work, our relationship to government, and even our relationship with our ourselves and neighbours, are likely to be put under the kinds of stresses that require them to adapt or fracture. The outbreak has further underscored the fragility of the social, political and financial house of cards we live in. If anything positive is to come out of this crisis then it is not enough to be a victim of circumstance, we need to be the masters of our own destiny. Conscious and dramatic political reform will be necessary. Even looking beyond COVID, the world is changing at an incredible pace, from technology through to social norms. Yet one thing…

16 min.
our will, our way australia’s future

I am a proud Australian, born in Australia to parents born in Australia. All four of my grandparents, by contrast, were born British subjects in the colony of Victoria. They would not become ‘Australians’ until Federation in 1901. And then not citizens of their own country until 1949. It would have taken even longer to be recognised as citizens had they been indigenous people – despite tens of thousands of years of connection to the land. For the non-indigenous amongst us, our identity with this land as Australians remains young and malleable. It has in the past, and continues to be, profoundly guided by the leadership of those we choose to govern us, for better or worse. For my grandparents, their lives were influenced by one Henry Parkes, a man they never…

20 min.
agenda 2030: australia’s disappearing development goals

By 2015, then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon announced that “the MDGs helped to lift more than one billion people out of extreme poverty, to make inroads against hunger, to enable more girls to attend school than ever before and to protect our planet.” In short, they were hailed as “the most successful anti-poverty movement in history.” Even before they began, the MDGs were an historic achievement. Positioning global poverty in a human rights framework, and getting buy-in from 192 nations, was a consensus the likes of which had never been achieved before. William Easterly, aid critic and author of White Man’s Burden, wrote in 2015 that “the MDGs were so appealing because they were so precise and measurable.” Indeed, their initial success was in avoiding theoretical differences over the…

14 min.
on cobwebs and fine silk: nationhood for the 21st century

“It is to the people, rather than judges, that we should look in the future as we adjust the centenary Constitution to the rather different nation and circumstances it must serve in the century to come.”Justice Michael Kirby (1997)1 For a moment, imagine this: The supreme law of a nation lies covered in cobwebs, its words of wisdom interlaced with absurdities, irrelevances, anachronisms and fantasy. Clever counsellors in fine silk, debate before judges, who in turn decide whether the words mean what they say, or should be interpreted in a way more fitting to their moment in time. Yet it is not the business of any of these learned ladies and gentlemen to advocate for reform. They are bound to work with what they have been given. The responsibility for brushing away…

14 min.
the isolated political class

If you ever thought that politicians are out of touch, then you’re not alone. There is mounting evidence that Australia’s political class is increasingly isolated from the citizens it serves. This has occurred in an era of crisis management when combatting bushfires and Coronavirus requires sufficient levels of trust in politicians to establish a single source of truth that enables citizens to follow advice. The gap between how Australians perceive their politicians and political institutions and how they would like their democracy to be has widened to such a degree that we need to pause, and reflect on what our political system needs to do to adapt to the realities of 21st-century governance. Amongst Australians, trust in people in government (25 per cent), federal government (30 per cent), government ministers (23 per cent),…

4 min.

Our Will, Our Way – Australia’s Future 1 See BR Wise: The Making of The Australian Commonwealth, 1913. University of Sydney Library 2 See: Sir Henry Parkes, March 1891, Sydney. On Cobwebs and Fine Silk: Nationhood for the 21st Century 1 M.Kirby ‘Lucinda’s Handiwork - The Australian Constitution - A Centenary Assessment’: Monash University Law Review [Vol 23, No 2) 1997. 2 Andrew Probyn: ABC News; 31 July, 2019. 3 Sections 10, 26, 41, 65, 69, 70, 74, 85, 87, 88, 89, 93, 95, 101, 102 and 103 are spent, redundant or haven’t been used for more than 100 years. Sections 3, 5, 30, 83, 84, 90 and 92 are partly redundant, as is the critical section 128. 4 The principle resource for this analysis is The Australian Constitution (Annotated) 1996, Constitutional Centenary Foundation, produced for the…