Interview with Prof Judith Brett — ‘Fair Share: Country and City in Australia’

BY BEN HABIB. In this podcast I am joined in conversation with Professor Judith Brett, Head of School in the School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University, to discuss her Quarterly Essay entitled Fair Share: Country and City in Australia. In our discussion, Judy interprets some of my observations and experiences growing up and living in regional areas, in the context of the themes of her essay. Topics covered in our discussion include the brain drain from the country to the city, efforts to attract skilled personnel to regional centres, the urban-rural culture clash, intellectual capital and bigotry, along with politics, multiculturalism and environmental issues in country Australia.

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ANZAC Day: Poignant Remembrance or Mythologisation?

BY BEN HABIB. Australia has a complicated national story. We do no justice to any of the protagonists in this epic tale by leaving out portions of the story or inventing myths to obfuscate its darker moments. I feel sorry for the people who cannot ponder the Galipoli story in all of its complexity. On April 25th, I choose to remember the humanity of those who lost their lives at Galipoli, rather than the excesses of the politicised mythology that has become their unfortunate legacy.

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Observations on My Role in Commenting on the New Albury Anti-Carbon Tax Group

BY BEN HABIB. Last Saturday I provided comment in an article in the Border Mail—‘Doug takes up fight on carbon tax’—about a new group called Border Says NO to Carbon Tax being established by local trucking operator Doug McMillan. No-one wants to see hard working local businessmen like Doug McMillan lose their livelihoods. If people with climate-related expertise can work cooperatively with local businesses and other impacted members of the community, we can constructively adapt to the many challenges posed by climate change instead of further fracturing the community for the sake of argument. However for the cooperative approach to work, everyone has to begin from a position of informed empowerment.

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ALP Leadership Contest, Factional Divisions and the Spectre of International Crises

BY BEN HABIB. The current Gillard-Rudd confrontation highlights the problems that Australia’s 20th century political parties face in dealing with 21st century policy problems. The Gillard-Rudd rivalry is a story of ambition, bitterness and betrayal. Yet there is a broader dimension to the ALP leadership crisis that is more complicated.

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What is Australia Day really about?

BY BEN HABIB. What is Australia Day all about? Like many people, I am increasingly disturbed that our national holiday is becoming more of a drunken orgy for flag-waving rednecks than an opportunity for Australians to appreciate our national story in all its complexity. In raising a number of questions about Australia Day, I challenge you to think more deeply about the Australian national story and what it means to be an Australian.

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Initial Analysis of the Gillard government’s ‘Clean Energy Future’ Proposal

BY BEN HABIB. On Sunday 10th July, 2011, the Gillard government announced the details of its long-awaited carbon tax—the Clean Energy Future scheme. The hype surrounding the announcement was justified; for a number of reasons, this was one of the most important public policy announcements since Federation. I have a cautiously favourable view of the scheme, based on clear scientific evidence about the seriousness of the climate change threat and expert analysis indicating that a market-based carbon price is the cheapest and easiest way to achieve comprehensive nation-wide greenhouse gas emission reduction.

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The Media as a Venue for Political Contest

BY BEN HABIB. The media is usually the main public forum for political discourse. At its best, the media provides a venue for all sides of a debate to make their case, yet this does not always occur. At its worst, the media is openly biased toward one side of a debate, or narrows the focus of a debate to the exclusion of other mitigating factors, or even disseminates outright untruths. In short, the media is a venue for the contest of power and ideas. In short, the media is a venue for the contest of power and ideas.

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