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Australian Review of Public Affairs

By Matthew Dornan. A lot of different actors support biofuels production for a lot of different reasons. Farmers in developed countries see increased demand for existing crops while those in developing countries see income from new markets. Environmentalists see a way to reduce GHG emissions while car manufacturers see a way to maintain demand for cars. But they have been blamed for the recent spike in food prices -- and called a "crime against humanity". How can we make sense of the possibilities and pitfalls of this technology? 2011/04/09 - 05:37

By Dennis Phillips. What is happening to the news? It is a timely and vexed question. News reporting, production and consumption are undergoing unprecedented change. Traditional forms of news distribution, such as the established and once revered daily newspaper, are in trouble. Welcome to the information explosion and the "new media". But are these the only threats to objective reporting on matters of substance? 2011/04/09 - 05:37

By Shaun Wilson. Reviewing books written about the 2010 election campaign might have been an impossible task in the final stretches of last year, after Julia Gillard formed her unlikely government. Events were too traumatic, too disappointing or too inconclusive to retrace so soon. The task is marginally easier in 2011 as the government settles into place even if its immediate, let alone long-term, future is hard to see ... 2011/03/18 - 10:52

By Rodney Tiffen. Outrageous revenge plots when love between astronauts or a puritanical judge and his siren-like sister-in-law went wrong. The public humiliation of a bit player in the Clinton impeachment circus. A lurid misery memoir exposed as fiction. Do we gain anything from reading narratives of these personal unravellings apart from (guilty) pleasure at the pain of others? We might, but not by reading this new book on scandals ... 2011/03/18 - 10:52

By Narelle Miragliotta. It's a familiar story: election coverage is being "dumbed down" by the risk-averse campaign styles of politicians and the over-sensationalising reporting practices of journalists. Meanwhile, the public has little appetite for hard political journalism anyway and newspapers are cutting journalist numbers to the very bare bones. How true is this account, and is it possible to tell? 2011/03/18 - 10:52

By Dick Bryan. Time Magazine named US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke 2009 Person of the Year -- wedged appropriately between cult political figure Barack Obama in 2008 and Facebook computer geek Mark Zuckerberg in 2010. Is this a sign of the re-emergence of strong central banking, or of the world creating a cult figure out of a geek who muddled through? 2011/02/11 - 17:06

By Jane Lloyd and Marilyn Wise. Health professionals shape and are shaped by the systems within which they have been educated, trained, and employed. We need to understand -- and influence -- how health professions work in these systems if we are going to improve the health of Aboriginal Australians. Aboriginal community controlled health services offer an under-recognised and under-utilised model. 2011/02/11 - 17:06

By Leanne Cutcher. Managers of not-for-profit organisations are faced with the unenviable task of meeting increasingly stringent reporting targets at the same time as seeking to meet the complex needs of a range of stakeholders, while very often under the governance of well meaning but inexperienced boards and with significant numbers of volunteer staff. Can management theory help them? 2011/02/11 - 17:06

By Elizabeth Hill. What is the role of women in economic and social transformation? What is the role of the state and public policy? What role should outsiders play? These questions have been debated over and over in the development literature and continue to be highly contested amongst development practitioners, policy makers and social scientists. A new bestseller claims to have the answers. 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Bruce Buchan. The past is only ever accessible to us by means of words. Historic deeds can only be explained, described, known, condemned, or justified through words -- words recorded on paper, in memory, or on tape. Even historic images must be rendered, evaluated and communicated in words. Words, of course, are never the neutral descriptors that positivists imagine. History that focuses on words helps us to understand how history's actors understood and constructed the worlds they were making. 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Frank Bongiorno. A common image of the "political class" running the Australian Labor Party is of a collection of daleks, without names or faces, and about whom it's possible to believe the worst. But can we be sure that many of the nameless, faceless wouldn't seem a bit less alike -- and a bit more attractive as human beings -- if they were allowed to tell us about themselves? 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Justin Oakley. Patient suspicion and distrust of doctors and the medical profession are rising. Defensive practices by doctors nervous about possible lawsuits, and the pervasive and often subtle influence of pharmaceutical marketing on doctors' prescribing, have undoubtedly contributed to greater public distrust. What happened to good old-fashioned trust in doctors, and how did the medical profession gain such a lofty reputation in the first place? 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Stephanie Short. Medical technology saves lives, relieves suffering and is enormously popular with the public. It is also profitable for doctors and a source of great wealth for the medical-industrial complex -- and it is driving up the costs of health care precipitously. It is increasingly clear that the benefits of medical technology are not increasing at the same rate. Something has to change ... 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Bess Nungarrayi Price. An Aboriginal woman speaks: "We want to keep our culture. We want to respect our ancestors and their Law but we also want to be equal citizens and we want human rights. We can't do that without changing our Law. But we need to change it ourselves, others can't do that for us. Only we can solve our own problems and we will do it in our own way. But we really need the support of governments and our fellow citizens." 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Marian Sawer. The 2010 federal election was the first in Australia in which a woman prime minister, Julia Gillard, was campaigning for the re-election of her government. Although there was little policy focus on gender issues, gender was a significant undercurrent in the election, as reflected in consistent gaps between women and men in public opinion and voting intention. Unusually, the management of gender turned out to be more of a problem for Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, than for Ms Gillard. 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Rodney Tiffen. The great American journalist and media critic Ben Bagdikian said that trying to be a good journalist on the average American newspaper was like trying to play Bach's St Matthew Passion on a ukulele. According to Ben Hills, Graham Perkin, the editor of The Age, made it possible to be a good journalist in Australia. How did he do it? And how do today's editors compare? 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Constance Lever-Tracy. If we continue to accumulate carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the climate system will almost certainly reach "tipping points" some time in the future. Unpredictable, unstoppable and irreversible changes are then likely to wreak destruction on generations yet unborn and on other species, for centuries and millennia. The long-term impact of such changes poses the primary challenge of the current crisis ... 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Alex Millmow. The GFC has led to an avalanche of books about how it all happened. One theme has been the challenge that the crisis poses for mainstream market-oriented economic ideology. An upbeat tome by Juliet Schor is one example among books on this theme. Schor is emphatic that economists who posit that preserving the environment compels an economic cost are redundant in the 21st century. 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Tony Aspromourgos. The Great Financial Crisis from 2007 seemed, at first glance, to have precipitated a rather dramatic shift in economic thinking: all of a sudden, the spirit of John Maynard Keynes appeared to spring to life again, after having been exorcised from policy thinking since the end of the 1970s. But almost just as suddenly this Keynesian turn has confronted something of a crisis itself: a supposed crisis of public debt non-sustainability. So what kind and how much of a problem is public debt? 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Fiona Kate Barlow. Bemoaning the lack of gratitude shown by previous colonies and racial minorities, and lampooning Left wing critics of colonisation, Pascal Bruckner calls for the end of multiculturalism and sees collective guilt as a canker on the European psyche. His new book is nothing less than a lament about the White man's suffering, a love letter to colonialism and a call for cultural homogeneity. 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Tony Smith. Much comment about the 2010 Australian election campaign deplored the absence of serious debate around vital issues. At a time when pragmatism seems to have suppressed principle, we should remember that broad ideas have played an important role in the development of Australian politics. 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Debra King. Coping with appalling conditions at work through the use of humour, developing friendships with co-workers or using resistance tactics might make work bearable for an individual, but it will not change work conditions. To truly understand work, we need to see it as both a social and an individual activity. 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Jeanette Kennett. Are drug addicts helpless in the face of their addiction, compelled by cravings too strong to resist? Or is drug taking voluntary activity that can be ceased at will? Ordinarily we think that if some action is voluntary then the person can be held responsible for it. If it can be shown that a person suffers a mental impairment which affects their decision making and control capacities, then we are more likely to think that the person may have some excuse for their actions ... 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Ben Spies-Butcher. Outside Australia the GFC has triggered enormous debate. Some contributions have focused on explaining the crisis, whose origins lie in complex financial markets. But the GFC was not only the most serious threat to market economies since World War Two -- it was also one of many recent financial collapses, including the East Asian and dot com crises. So some contributions argue that broader changes are necessary to prevent its repeat ... 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Paul 't Hart. The winds of change are once again blowing through Canberra. Every two decades or so, the federal bureaucracy is encouraged to take a good hard look at itself with a view to reforming how it is organised and operates. In the community of public sector stakeholders such big-ticket reform exercises are the stuff of excitement, even legend ... 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Kathy MacDermott. Over the course of the Howard Government, the Australian Public Service was accused with increasing frequency of failing to strike a balance between telling the government what it wants to know and telling the government what it needs to know. Is there a toolkit that can help public servants do their job better? And how, if at all, can academics help? 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Marion Maddox. The Texas Board of Education recently approved new curricula for the history, social sciences and economics in public schools, with standards that present the McCarthyist witch hunts as justified, downplay the civil rights movement and add study of the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association, among others. If the departure of President George W. Bush was expected to end the influence of the religious right in the American public sphere, these changes give pause for thought ... 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Helen Proctor. At the beginning of the 20th century, a parent might have considered themselves to have done a good job if their children were clean, housed, fed and healthy. At the beginning of the 21st, this had expanded to include the provision of advanced education in the "right" school, prolonged financial support, detailed psychological encouragement and personal fulfilment. With the bar set so high, is it any wonder that parenting advice has become such a wildly successful publishing phenomenon? 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Tony Smith. Australia has had 26 prime ministers and Australians have a natural tendency to find fault with the powerful. We have applied to prime ministers terms such as drunkard, playboy, traitor, narcissist, cynical opportunist and intellectual pygmy. Amongst such an unflattering range of traits, the idealism of Malcolm Fraser has much to recommend it. 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Hilary Charlesworth. Much research and writing on human rights in Australia has come from lawyers so a new book that seeks to examine the politics of this key field of theory, policy and practice is welcome. Yet human rights is an area where it is particularly difficult to disentangle law from politics, so what does a political, as opposed to a legal, analysis of human rights protection in Australia look like? 2011/02/01 - 01:11

By Rodney Tiffen. First we had the "Howard battlers": working and middle class Australians repelled by Keating's exotic pursuits and attracted to Howard's sound economic management. Then we had the "Howard haters", the term his supporters attached to those who criticised his government's actions, especially on asylum seekers or the Iraq war. Now we have the "Howard whingers" ... 2011/02/01 - 01:11