Equality demands all or nothing on marriage question

by Crispin Hull on September 15, 2017

MARRIAGE is like bankruptcy, childhood, insanity or being under sentence, and that is why I will be answering Yes in the absurd, unnecessary and costly statistical survey asking people whether they think people of the same sex should be able to marry. It is also why people of religious convictions whose religion holds that marriage is to be only between a man and a woman should do the same. [click to continue…]


Nationality challenge: expect unexpected

by Crispin Hull on September 8, 2017

THERE’S one thing you can expect from the High Court when it interprets the Constitution: the unexpected. For example, it has permitted the same-sex plebiscite despite some of Australia’s best legal brains saying that that was unlikely. [click to continue…]

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No way to keep the lights on

by Crispin Hull on September 1, 2017

YOU can’t stop progress, the saying goes. But former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has turned that on its head this weekend, arguing that, “You can’t stop regress.” He argues Australia should build a new coal-fired power station to “keep the lights on”. [click to continue…]

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Quadrella of Republican folly

by Crispin Hull on August 25, 2017

UNTIL this week President Donald Trump had not fully signed up to the losing quadrella of folly marked by all Republican Presidents since Eisenhower: tax cuts for the rich; less regulation of markets; austerity for middle- and lower-income people; and indefinite war. [click to continue…]

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Plebiscite’s statistical time-bomb

by Crispin Hull on August 18, 2017

(Edited and corrected 23 August 2017.)

THERE is a strong possibility of a major debacle over the result of the marriage-equality plebiscite in November. [click to continue…]


REMEMBER the good old days when politicians were accused of being poll-driven or focus-group-driven. These were also the days when political leaders who were behind in the polls said, there’s only one poll that counts, imagining that in the time left before the next election they could turn things around. [click to continue…]


Frank Hurley’s photo in the Ypres salient towards the end of the Battle of Passchendaele. Australian War Memorial Collection.

THIS week marks the centenary of the beginning of the Battle of Passchendaele in which my grandfather, Hartley Stenning, a British soldier, “won” the Military Medal. I was reminded of this by our family historian, my sister Cordelia. Tens of thousands of men died in the ensuing three months, for virtually no gain other than the greater glory of God, King and Country. The Military Medal was created in World War I for “other ranks” – the cannon fodder. [click to continue…]


The Constitution: It is broke; let’s fix it

by Crispin Hull on July 28, 2017

THE idea of four-year fixed terms has been around a fair while, and is not especially Bill Shorten’s. That is perhaps why Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull agreed to discuss it. More importantly, the fact the two leaders are talking about constitutional change is a response to growing disquiet that the system is not working as well as it should and a growing yearning for a bit more cooperation in politics. But the fixed four-year term is a bit like a loose thread on a machine-sewn garment: if you give it a tug a whole lot more thread comes away. [click to continue…]

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Without dog whistles, Abbott is right on two scores

by Crispin Hull on July 21, 2017

Tony Abbott’s conservative manifesto correctly questioned Australia’s high immigration and the build-in-Australia conventional submarine program, but there was some dog-whistling in the arguments. On immigration, the dog whistle was a xenophobic call for a slow down so present immigrants could get time to settle in and assimilate. On the submarines, he wanted an off-the-shelf one, but he thought it should be a nuclear one, which would be the thin edge of the wedge for a nuclear power industry that would in turn undermine renewables. [click to continue…]

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Turnbull should stare down the reactionaries

by Crispin Hull on July 14, 2017

The Peter Corlett 2012 sculpture of Menzies on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin.

ONE morning this week I did an agile, exciting and even innovative traverse of the R. G. Menzies Walk on the northern side of Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin. What a progressive Menzies was. [click to continue…]