Japan’s right-wing nationalist government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, an enthusiastic ally of Tony Abbott, will go to an early election in mid-December. If you read the mainstream media and its business pages, “Abenomics” is a gleaming beacon of innovative policy to resuscitate the chronically sick capitalist economy. Ever since Abe announced a 10.3 trillion…

How many “mature debates” has Prime Minister Tony Abbott called for? The High Priest of Negative Destruction is suddenly desirous of steady, serious, sophisticated discussion. “That is my hope,” he told Parliament recently, “that just for once it might be possible for us in this Parliament, one side and the other, the national government and…

Israel is a sick society. Before anyone accuses me of being an anti-Semite or reports me to the Jewish Board of Deputies, the Anti-Defamation League, Sharri Markson of The Australian or Michael Danby, the Labor MP for Tel Aviv, I’d like to point that the words are not mine. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said publicly…

I rejected social democracy in the early 1960s when I worked on the Mount Isa Mail and saw the Labor Party and trade union leaders betray the miners who were struggling for a pay increase against US-owned Mount Isa Mines Limited. Jack Egerton, later Sir Jack, president of the Queensland Trades and Labor Council, and…

In the early 1990s I asked Gough Whitlam for the greatest crime that the Hawke-Keating government had committed against his legacy. “HECS,” he replied unhesitatingly. I said that the Treasury argument was that the cost was growing exponentially as more people sought higher education and university budgets ballooned. Gough then delivered a short, sharp utterly…

My union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, has denounced the Abbott Government’s National Security Legislation Amendment Bill No 1 as “an outrageous attack on press freedom in Australia”. It was passed with the full support of the Labor Opposition led by Bill Shorten. Only Greens MPs objected. MEAA federal secretary Chris Warren condemned the…

The legendary Canberra political correspondent Alan Ramsay was asked why he referred to Prime Minister John Howard as “toad” in his sulphurous columns. “Because the Herald won’t let me use turd,” he replied. Fair enough. However, I prefer “lying rodent”, the description given to him by a Liberal colleague, Senator George Brandis, in 2004. Charge…

Australia is at war again in the Middle East. This time in Iraq and Syria, two leading Arab nations with a century-long history of struggle for national independence. Both were ruled for almost half a century by rival branches of the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party, a bourgeois nationalist party which talked “socialism” but sponsored native…