• Security

    Water is a national security priority

    James Mortensen |  February 27, 2021

    It’s time for water management to receive scrutiny and oversight befitting our most pressing national security challenges. We need to catch the moment while the rain is falling, rather than face a hangover when our taps run dry.

  • Space

    Successful engine test brings Australian space launch capability a step closer

    Open Forum |  February 27, 2021

    An Australian research consortium has successfully tested a next generation propulsion system that could enable high-speed flight and space launch services. The team’s rotating detonation engine, or RDE, is a major technical achievement and an Australian first.

  • Politics and Policy

    Nurturing the deep roots of democracy

    Hilary Gopnik |  February 27, 2021

    The widely accepted story that democracy was a brilliant, even miraculous, invention of 5th-century BCE Athens, and that the West is the heir to that moment in time, has obscured the universal hard work that’s required to make democracy work well.

Latest Story

  • Uncategorised

    Croatians get cranky with diaspora vote

    tamaraplakalo     |      November 26, 2007

    Last weekend, Australians voted in another election — the Croatian one, causing some serious electoral crankiness abroad.


    As Australia strode into its first post-ALP-win Sunday, my eyes and ears opened to another election day, this one some 18,000 kilometres away – in Croatia.


    The said election was, in fact, not as far away as it may seem, given that Saturday was the day all dual citizens of Croatia in Australia could vote to keep the incumbent conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)-led government in power, or give the new mandate to its archrivals – the Social Democratic Party (SDP). For anyone who knows anything about the Croatian political environment, the previous sentence was a moment in a TV skit where audience should have been prompted to laugh.


    Let me explain. The eleventh electoral unit, also known as the diaspora vote, is what in Australian political terms would be described as a “safe seat”, no matter where its boundaries begin (Bosnia and Herzegovina), or where they end (New Zealand). Almost as one, they vote HDZ (the current election count has the HDZ diaspora vote at 76,53 per cent), with other conservatives and a few independents picking up the rest of the vote.


  • Uncategorised

    Win an annual subscription to BRW!

    olgabodrova     |      November 23, 2007

    Open Forum would like to hear your thoughts on the recently proposed National Innovation Policy (NIP), the national agenda for a more innovative Australia.

    Have your say at our Topic of the Month, take part in our Innovation Survey or set your own agenda by writing a blog on an issue of interest to you – and you could win an annual subscription to BRW, Australia’s No 1 business magazine. We look forward to growing our informed debate project with your help!

  • Uncategorised

    Salvation through Innovation? Some thoughts on the Australian future under Rudd PM

    editor     |      November 22, 2007

    Steve Blume

    By Steve Blume 



    Throughout his leadership and in the election campaign Kevin Rudd has painted Labor as the Party of innovation and has asked that we contemplate a government that would encourage ‘fresh ideas’ under his ‘new leadership.


    Laudable notions these certainly are and admirable goals too, but at the overview level raised in the campaign they are motherhoods – who would ever disagree. 


    What sorts of actions might be taken by a Labor Government to ensure that Australia is positioned to move beyond our reliance on the current mining boom? How does a national government produce a substantive attitude change in all tiers of government to work co-operatively with the private sector and academia so that innovation is truly encouraged?


  • Uncategorised

    Innovation and climate change

    proberts     |      November 19, 2007

    Australia's innovative capacity can be turned to the problems of climate change.

    The really surprising thing about the latest report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is its optimism. After years of focusing on the negatives such as the terrible drought obvious to all Australians, the focus has moved to what can be done.

    And, it turns out, a lot can be done to delay or avoid the impacts of climate change.

    Australia’s participation in new market signals to encourage the development of a less carbon intensive economy through a successor to Kyoto is vital. It is vital from the purely selfish point of view that we will be excluded from world trade if we fail to take action and to reduce the effects of change on agriculture.

  • Uncategorised

    Economics of renewable energy (not)

    StephenWilson     |      November 16, 2007

    It's not for nothing that they call economics the "dismal science".  It seems to me that the world's attention to macro economics is what stops renewable energy.  I don't know if the following analysis is really new or not, but if it's accurate, then as things stand, no renewable energy scheme stands a chance, regardless of the greenhouse effect.

    When you procure and install a renewable energy source, like a wind turbine or hot rocks plant, the financial transactions are simple, limited and rather local: 

    – build the power plant

    – operate the plant (pay a few staff, buy some occasional maintenance).

    But our globally favorite energy schemes — coal, gas, nuclear — all involve mining and massive ongoing exchanges of finance and resources, both human and physical…

  • Uncategorised

    Carbon neutrality – what a con!

    StephenWilson     |      November 16, 2007

    Households shouldn't waste energy but the carbon neutrality fad is just blame shifting.

    I should probably aver right up front that like any sensible person, I am all for energy efficiency. We shouldn't waste the stuff. But surely the fad for "carbon neutrality" in the home is a huge con. It's blame shifting.

    If we transitioned to renewable energy, then (within reason) we could all run air conditioners and clothes dryers, guilt free. The cynic in me suggests that the carbon neutrality craze is driven by complacent or weak willed governments, and the fossil fuel industry. It's almost a smokescreen. We have reality TV shows (even on the ABC for godsake!) that put the onus on humble householders to save the planet.

    Households don't emit greenhouse gasses — power stations do!

  • Uncategorised

    What to make of the stay-at-home Dad?

    alison gordon     |      November 14, 2007

    Though many of us like to consider ourselves modern individuals of the 21st century, it will always be difficult to remove the traditional idea of "family roles" from the public eye …

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    Aussie ingenuity

    proberts     |      November 6, 2007

    Australians are innovative – you hear people say that all the time. But the reality is far less palatable.

    I am often told ‘Australians are innovative’ but in reality we are not, or rather not particularly.


    We are innovative in the sense that people are innovative, and Australians are people. So it follows that Australians are innovative.

    But how could we be particularly innovative – we are not even that well educated. A third of Australians aged 25 to 34 are tertiary educated compared to 53 per cent of Canadians, for example.


    Science isn’t the problem as we perform well in academic research. The problem is turning ideas into profitable businesses. Patents are one of the most important indicators of that process and with two per cent of the global economy, we account for only 0.82 per cent of global patents.


    We don’t need to be particularly innovative as most of our industries are classified as ‘medium-technology’ and almost none are ‘high technology’. And the situation is not getting relatively better – our high technology exports are growing at 4.4 per cent a year compared to the OECD average of 7.2 per cent.


  • Uncategorised

    A standards strategy measures up to global trade challenges

    Open Forum     |      November 2, 2007

    Mark BezzinaWith the recent explosion of ground-breaking standardised ICT protocols we are witnessing the ever increasing development of wealth-producing technologies and business models.  These business models exploit easily accessible and interoperable global networks, information and knowledge.   

    Underlying most technologies and business models is the ubiquitous and somewhat ephemeral world of standards.  Standards support wealth creation by enabling the development of global production networks characterized by outsourcing, the de-verticalization of corporate structure, and new forms of “technological fusion” in which disparate technologies are brought together to achieve new products that exhibit novel performance characteristics and functionality. 

    The nature of this global techno-economic system places a premium on interoperability and creates a new level of demand for acceptable standards.  Standards have also become increasingly important for the international economy and according to the World Trade Organisation underlie 80% of world trade in the exchange of goods and services. They form a fundamental part of bi-lateral and multi-lateral trade agreements.

  • Plurality of Identities, and trouble ahead with biometrics

    StephenWilson     |      November 1, 2007

    The idea of biometric authentication plays straight into the view that each user has one "true" identity underpinning multiple authorisations.  

     I recently noted in the thread on identities and keys that: [We need] identity frameworks (like the Microsoft developed Identity Metasystem aka Cardspace) that permit as many "identities" as there are contexts in which we assert ourselves.

    We are in the midst (I hope!) of a shift to a new paradigm based on a plurality of identities. And I think I'm using the over-wrought "p word" here in its proper context. The current "singular identity" paradigm has had a deep and unhelpful influence over the way we think about all sorts of things, including smartcards, PKI, biometrics, the semantic debate over "authentication" versus "authorisation", and therefore the underlying architecture of many approaches to federation.

  • Uncategorised

    Super innovation

    proberts     |      October 31, 2007

    The superannuation industry is maturing and taking its place in the national innovation system.

    Long, long ago, in the distant past before Australia had a venture capital sector, there were at least three big things to be done. Financiers had to become experienced in handling risk in new ways, investors had to be comfortable investing in new ventures, and above all the country needed a track record of successful investments to show it could be done.

    It all seemed just too difficult.

    One of the things often talked about was the need for the then nascent superannuation sector to earmark a few per cent of their funds for earlier stage venture capital and other new investment classes. The logic went that if the money was there the opportunities would come to the fore.

  • Uncategorised

    Top companies

    proberts     |      October 22, 2007

    Look at the stockmarket to find out whether Australian companies value innovation.

    Australia’s top 20 listed companies reflect something about what might be a maturing Australian attitude to innovation. Wheras mining companies once dominated the list, today fully nine of the S&P top 20 are financial institutions.


    While four big banks are protected by government policy and are not exactly known for their nimbleness, others such as Macquarie Bank carved their position based on relationships and innovative products and practises.


    Then there are three resources companies, all innovative in their own right, but not big spenders on R&D on a global scale. One could argue their local activities remain competitive against low-cost rivals precisely because of innovation.

    And there are three retailers, of which Woolworths is known for its logistics innovation and two industrial companies including the sole manufacturer and consumer product innovator, Foster’s Group.