What do we do instead?

So it’s over; the Coalition has triumphed in the contest of ideas and will (eventually, one hopes) form a government.

Tony Abott has been described as the most effective opposition leader in a generation. This may or may not be accurate, but it cannot be argued that he has achieved his goals with a combination of balls-to-the-wall confrontation and maintaining a small target on his weakest points. The question now becomes what kind of a Prime Minister he will make, and what his collection of Howard-era ministers will do now they’ve reached power in 21st century.

The first thing we need to understand is that what the Coalition government will do, now it’s in power, is not what they said they would do while they were in opposition. Continue reading

NBN: Redefining Possible

There’s been a lot of noise in certain corners of the media about Rupert Morlock Murdoch and his opposition to the NBN in Australia, which translates to his pulling out all the stops to bury the Australian Labor Party’s chances of electoral victory. It is unknown whether he will be successful in this effort. It’s certainly possible; by the American model of politics, it is possible to buy elections, and he wouldn’t be using such prime broadsheet real estate if it wasn’t at least somewhat effective. It’s also unclear whether the sudden ramping up of hysterical anti-Labor rhetoric is specifically due, as Fairfax posits, to a fear of the NBN’s commercial impact upon Murdoch’s cash-cow, Foxtel, or simply because News Ltd papers have been steadfastly against Labor since day one and the announcement of an election was a bait they couldn’t resist. But let’s, for the moment, accept the former proposition: this is all about the NBN and Foxtel. What a great excuse to examine the potential benefits of the NBN under Labor’s FTTP model. Continue reading

The New Puritanism

As a research professional with a scientific background and a professional expertise in information technology, I keep coming across arguments and beliefs that make me cringe. Whether the topic be immunisation, or climate change policy, or the National Broadband network, the health risks of genetically modified foods, or the effect of genetics on personal capability and life prospects, you can be sure that some commenters will challenge the “orthodoxy”. Now I don’t have a problem with challenging orthodoxies. The very basis of modern scientific practice revolves around the concept of putting up hypotheses and then trying to shoot them down.  But when a challenge to the prevailing paradigm is made without a suitable basis in fact and understanding, it contributes to an ongoing sense that we live in a country that is actively hostile to the idea of expertise.

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