• Culture

    A toast to Pyrrho’s Hog

    Matthew Sharpe |  July 15, 2024

    Montaigne was the first essayist, and perhaps the first modern philosopher, who used the different schools of post-platonic Greek thought to turn the lens of philosophy not on the world, but on himself.

  • China

    Facing China together

    Andrew Forrest |  July 15, 2024

    Australia’s leaders must be clear about the threat which an aggressive authoritarian China poses to the world, and the need for resolve in defending our freedom.

  • Society

    In praise of Stephen King

    Hannah Murray |  July 15, 2024

    Stephen King has been pumping out horror fiction for over half a century, but Carrie, Pennywise and The Stand endure because his stories are grounded in an authentic depiction of modern suburbia.

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  • 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.

  • Uncategorised

    They shoot girls, don’t they?*

    tamaraplakalo     |      October 21, 2007

    When survival of the fittest calls for infanticide, it is girls that get culled …

    “I have to marry off four daughters and I am not financially capable of taking care of another girl,” said an Indian man after the local police arrested him for an attempted murder of his two-day old granddaughter. The man buried the baby girl alive in a field near the Indian city of Hyderabad. It was the passers-by who spotted and saved the baby as her little hand was protruding from her intended grave.

    When a baby girl is born in countries such as India and China, friends are often reluctant to congratulate the newborn’s family. Some parents dread the possibility of having a daughter, as girls are seen as an unwelcome drain on family finances. In the patriarchal constellation of the Hindu tradition, male descendents are considered the rightful heirs to all family property, and only they can ignite a funeral pyre at the Holly River Ganges.

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    A wasted decade

    proberts     |      October 19, 2007

    In the innovation battle, Australia has lost at least a decade … 


    The federal government has been quick to trumpet a recovery in business spending on R&D – so called Berd. That Berd has risen above one per cent of gross domestic product for the first time is a great achievement, and follows an increasing recognition by business of the importance of innovation and investing for future growth.


    But positive business sentiment to innovation is only part of the story and perhaps not the most important part. There is evidence that business has been responding as much to a 175 per cent tax deduction being offered for certain types of business R&D.


  • Uncategorised

    Shaping Government policy: Online Survey update

    editor     |      October 15, 2007

    We are pleased to report that our 'Shaping Government Policy' Survey received a fantastic response from the Open Forum community, and would like to thank you all for your contribution and ideas, as well as for the wonderful show of support for our open democracy project. The survey results have been presented to the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), and will be used to inform the Australian Government Consultation Blog project.

    A summary of the findings will be reported in the next Open Forum newsletter.

  • Uncategorised

    Death has no appeal*

    tamaraplakalo     |      October 12, 2007

    Capital punishment is a difficult question that presents us with a great ethical dilemma – is the victim's right to justice greater than the perpetrator's right to life? And can the question be asked in such a way at all? 

    Anyone who has ever read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment has undoubtedly developed a greater understanding of at least one (in this instance fictional) perpetrator of the greatest crime – murder.

    Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov, arguably Dostoyevsky’s most famous character, is a desolate student living in St Petersburg. His nihilistic distaste for humanity and a belief that he belongs to a different kind (he thinks of himself as an extraordinary man who can transgress moral laws), leads him to — in his eyes justifiably — murder a hated pawn-broker.

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    The price of technology – manners anyone?

    alison gordon     |      October 4, 2007

     Aside from convenience and accessibility, new technologies have brought us the lack of us private space and a need for technology etiquette …

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    When transition pirates become ‘great achievers’

    tamaraplakalo     |      October 1, 2007

    Should the transition nouveau riche , who acquired their wealth almost overnight in the murky waters of marketisation, be unconditionally admitted to the ranks of great achievers?  

    Only five people on Forbes's list of the world's richest individuals beat Oleg Deripaska, the 39 year old Russian oligarch, who recently raided his US$30 billion kitty to acquire a 5 per cent stake in General Motors. That despite the fact that he can't enter the United States due to the suspicious origin of his wealth.

    For the record and just in case you wondered, Roman Abramovich, best known to Western audiences as the owner of the English Premier League football club Chelsea, is no longer the richest Eastern European. His ‘paltry' US$22 billion, the lack of love from the Putin regime, and a US$300 million divorce, have cost him the not-so-coveted position at the top of the Wprost list of the 100 richest Eastern Europeans (50 of whom are billionaires). Most of them have been accused of getting rich by privatising the national resources of their respective countries of origin. All of them are on the Forbes global billionaires list.

  • Uncategorised

    Furnishing innovation

    proberts     |      September 25, 2007

    Australian furniture design, more Moonee Ponds than Milan, could benefit from a little innovation …

    Like most men I rarely find much to look at in shopping brochures. But glancing through a Harvey Norman catalogue on the weekend brought me face to face with something new. Australian furniture designers appear to be discovering the power of design.

    Gerry Harvey does us all a great service by choosing to showcase Australian made furniture in his stores – he knows bulky fashion items like sofas can be made competitively here and there are no months-long supply chains to worry about.

    But until recently while competently designed, the Aussie product was more derivative than innovative or inspiring. This is a product of history – furniture makers in the past would visit Italy for furniture shows and then intepret what they saw.

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    Implementing a Rational E-Health System in Australia

    alison gordon     |      September 25, 2007

    On September 19 2007 a strategic workshop discussing the challenge of implementing a rational e-health system in Australia was held in Parliament House, Canberra. Convened by Global Access Partners, it featured a paper commissioned by the Australian Centre for Health Research and written by Professor Michael Georgeff, Director of E-health Research, Monash University.

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    Globally (dis)connected

    tamaraplakalo     |      September 24, 2007

     Digital divide is only one problem we’re facing in realising the promises of a unified, Internet-enabled virtual future …

    SARAJEVO – I had an interesting conversation with my boss the other day. As I am currently stationed in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a place where democratisation and transition experiments are mixing with the post-war recovery, he wanted to know if there are any interesting Internet-related projects happening here. He assumed that here, like everywhere else on the planet, social and economic activities are gravitating towards the virtual space.

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    Facilitating consultative democracy

    tamaraplakalo     |      September 11, 2007

     Political needs of a system (or a time), often determine what democratic political participation actually means.

    Democratisation is a term that is most often used to describe the process of increased political participation. In the past, political participation was described as voting, joining a political party, or in the case of some experimental social engineering projects of the 20th century, such as Yugoslavia's socialist self-management, as creating consultative bodies at all levels of social, economic and political activity, regardless of their success. In its less democratic forms, political participation has historically been facilitiated through rallies, rioting, lobbying, formation of nationalist movements, paramilitary or other pressure groups, in other words, by any means serving the human need to exercise political will.