Featured articles

I’ve created a categorised featured posts list to highlight the rich diversity of material posted here at Troppo. I intended to have it here on the front page but it takes up too much room. Please check it out over the fold.
Continue reading

Posted in Miscellaneous | 1 Comment

Northern Territory Statehood Push Offers Opportunity for Community Reflection

statehoodThis article was published at UNSW’s Gilbert & Tobin Centre for Public Law site Australian Public Law. However they seem to be having some virus/accessibility issues so I am parking the article here for the moment.

Statehood for the Northern Territory is on the national political agenda again, with the Council of Australian Governments having voted unanimously in July to support a renewed statehood process (albeit with no assurances as to the outcome).  Although more recent signals from the new Turnbull administration are more equivocal, for constitutional lawyers this is a development worth following closely. No new State has been admitted or established since Federation in 1901. For others, it is an issue that produces almost universal guffaws whenever anyone mentions it, not only in the rest of Australia but among Territorians. ‘Down south’ the reaction is seemingly fuelled by a perception that the Territory is a sinkhole for taxpayers’ money inhabited by Aborigines, crocodiles, and a handful of eccentric redneck Caucasians behaving strangely in the tropical heat.

The constitutional position of the Northern Territory

However, the dismissive attitude towards statehood on the part of Territorians themselves is harder to explain. As a polity with State-like powers and functions, the Territory has significant constitutional and practical disabilities compared with the existing States.

Continue reading

Posted in Law, Politics - Northern Territory | 1 Comment

Adele Horin: RIP

Many Troppo readers will know of Adele Horin who died just a few days ago. When I went to write a message of condolence on her blog I was surprised not to find a long list of people who’d come before me. After I wrote what I wrote I discovered why. The blog appears to be set to pre-moderation, and there’s no-one in the back end who’s approving the comments. So I thought I’d reproduce her final blog post (I hope I’m as calm, lucid and good natured in my last hours) and my comment below – and invite others to offer their own comments should they wish.

Dear reader, my luck has run out

November 15, 2015 Continue reading
Posted in Personal | 3 Comments

Don’t mention the war causation (the thoughts of Annabel Crabb)

The Twittersphere was abuzz with pointless debate a couple of weeks ago when Annabel Crabb had a televisual meal with Coalition hardman Scott Morrison on her perniciously vacuous program Kitchen Cabinet.  My own views about that controversy are well encapsulated by Jennifer “No Place for Sheep” Wilson.

However I also acknowledged at least to myself that compering a vacuous TV program does not mean its host is equally intellectually shallow.  Plenty of deeply thoughtful journalists have found themselves assigned by their editors to writing Agony Aunt and gossip columns or even horoscopes.

Nevertheless, it’s reasonable to conclude that what a journalist writes about in a newspaper op-ed column does accurately reflect her real opinions and the quality of her intellectual and analytical powers.  By that standard Crabb’s column over the weekend doesn’t reflect well on her, suggesting that the shallow frippery of Kitchen Cabinet may be just about the right depth for her talents.  Here is what appears to be the sum total of Crabb’s understanding of the ISIS terrorism phenomenon:

Continue reading

Posted in Media, Politics - international, Uncategorized | 22 Comments

The Hunger Games: Some thoughts

When my niece Emma first told me the plot of the Hunger Games I was blown away. What a great story to reflect on our contemporary lives. A totalitarian state with media hype and reality TV at its cultural and political epicentre. A couple of kids – a boy and a girl – in the Hunger Games where one can only survive by killing all the others – who are trying to overthrow the bad guys and have a romance that cools off (if it ever heated up) but which they must keep going to improve their chances in the reality TV game. What a fantastic premise for adolescent and ‘young adult’ fiction! What a great melange of metaphors – another take on 1984 themes suffused by Roman bread and circuses (the country in which the action takes place is called Panem as in panem et circenses) and gladiatorial combat.

Anyway, I had a bit of a read of the book, but thought that I’d save some time by watching the movie. I’ve now finished watching the movies – with instalment four and enjoyed them immensely. The highlight is Jennifer Lawrence’s heroine Katniss Everdeen (Virtually all the characters have strange names, even if only slightly. One character is not Hamish but Haymitch). As this review says, in movies “women tend to be sidelined or trapped in the virgin-whore divide”.

If Katniss escaped that old binary it’s because Ms. Collins [the author of the books] created a character who exists outside the traditional confines of the feminine-masculine split, and because the movies have stayed true to that original conception. At once a hunter and a nurturer, Katniss is tough and teary, stoic and sentimental, which give her layers that reflect her changeable inner states as well as her public and private identities as daughter, sister, lover and leader. It’s instructive that she’s worn her most overtly glamour-girl outfits as part of the farcical role forced on her by the totalitarian government that rules Panem, having been dolled up with makeup and smiles for the televised sideshows that accompany the murderous games of the series title. She’s since graduated to basic battle black or unisex clothing that’s suggestive of a Dystopian Gap.

Quite. Continue reading

Posted in Films and TV | 3 Comments

A tragedy from beginning to end

Today marks the end of a 20 year saga that has indelibly scarred my life and those of my daughter Bec and former wife Jenny.  I’ve written partial accounts of it before here at Troppo.  I hope you’ll forgive another one, it’s catharsis.

Continue reading

Posted in Law, Life | 10 Comments

Natural gas, global warming and the NT

gas pipelinesI’ve written a few Northern Territory posts recently.  This is another one, but it has some significant national implications (I think). Tuesday’s announcement of Asian conglomerate Jemena as the preferred bidder to construct a gas pipeline connecting the Northern Territory to Queensland is a significant one for both the Territory and Australia.

Much of the talk since Tuesday’s announcement has emanated from opponents of shale gas fracking proposals in the Northern Territory.  However, although it’s fairly prospective, it isn’t even known at this stage how much if any shale gas is actually present or commercially recoverable.  Opponents paint the pipeline as an horrific prospect, providing the dastardly frackers a pathway to sell their evil products.  Clearly dangers exist, and I’m anything but an expert, but it appears that shale fracking is a lot less risky than coal seam gas.   Moreover, foreshadowed restrictions on areas for fracking appear reasonable and should reduce concerns except among hardline opponents:

Under measures announced by NT Chief Minister Adam Giles in Darwin on Wednesday, the government ruled out granting titles for oil and gas activities in residential areas and said it wouldn’t grant exploration permits or acreage in areas of intensive agriculture, or areas of high ecological or cultural significance.

In any event, you can see why the announcement has national implications from the above map.

Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Politics - Northern Territory | 12 Comments