Govt loses its way over navigation

National security is often cited as the No 1 priority of government. Without that, all else becomes meaningless. It is why we are spending billions on nuclear submarines and other defence hardware.

It is why the Government last week put forward a major initiative on cyber security. These days cyber-attacks can be as damaging as physical attacks and a great deal more difficult to find out their source and how to respond.

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Rule of law rings in the ears

The dangerous sonar pulsing by a Chinese naval vessel close to HMAS Toowoomba exercising (pictured) in international waters off Japan that injured some Navy divers this month tells us quite a bit about both Australia and China.

The incident happened seven days after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese ended his official visit to China during which relations were supposed to improve.

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Time to Reserve judgment

The other day a family member showed me his “man’s shed” in his new house. It has a wall with silhouettes where the tools should be: chisels, fret saws, blade screwdrivers, a tomahawk and the like. I think there was a VCR and vinyl records as well.

It reminded me of the Reserve Bank – last century’s tools. no longer fit for purpose for this century. Except the Reserve Bank has only one tool – interest rates.

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Behind zero tolerance

Over the past half decade or so, you must have noticed the proliferation of “zero-tolerance” signs at businesses and government services. They quite rightly point out that abusive language; threats of violence; and actual violence will not be tolerated and will result in a cessation of services.

But why the recent proliferation? Are Australians becoming more abusive and aggressive? Are governments and corporations just becoming more protective and concerned about their staff?

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Benefits of going underground

Overhead power lines are ugly, dangerous and costly. Yet here we go again. As part of Snowy Hydro 2.0, a 360km overhead powerline called Humelink is proposed to take the electricity from the mountains to the southern tablelands of NSW.

Like most big infrastructure projects – including Snowy Hydro itself – cost blow-outs seem inevitable. Risks and complications are either not imagined or ignored. Worse, it is usually someone else who carries the cost. In the case of overhead powerlines, it is farmers, bushfire victims, and the taxpayer generally.

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EVs suggest big tax rethink needed

So, Victoria can no longer demand that owners of electric vehicles take snap shots of their odometers each year and pay a tax according to the kilometres travelled. Two quixotic EV motorists appear to have won a victory for the environment in a High Court fight similar to that in the iconic movie “The Castle”.

But there is a deeper and much more important story here.

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Australia’s degraded volksgeist

The German jurist Friedrich Carl von Savigny (1779-1861) introduced the concept of “volksgeist” into legal and political thinking.

The “volksgeist” was the national spirit, or national character. Savigny argued that law and policy could not be seen in the abstract but as the product of people living in society and they are the outcome of a culture of a society – the “volksgeist”.

Saturday’s referendum revealed a lot about Australia’s”volksgeist”, or national character, as did the demonstrations over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You do not have to scratch very deeply to find racism.

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Corporations behaving badly

Behaving badly is literally in the DNA of large corporations, if you make the reasonable assumption that a corporation’s DNA is its articles of association.

This is because the articles of association put the maximising of shareholder value as the primary aim of the corporation. So, the directors and managers look after themselves and the shareholders whereas consumers, employees, and the environment can go to hell.

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Threat to good government

On 7 June, 2022, shortly after the election, I wrote in this space that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese ran a big risk if he went to the referendum too early because, since the 90 per cent pro-Indigenous vote in 1967, too many underlying myths had built up, namely that, since Mabo, Sorry, and massive government spending, Indigenous people had become privileged with special treatment, and did not deserve any more special treatment.

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