About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic at Charles Darwin University, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law) and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 12 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in he early 1990s.

Cut the waste! Stop the boondoggles!

Junction Oval

Junction Oval

Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine announces a “plan” to spend $20 million upgrading Junction Oval at St Kilda to accommodate the AFL team named after the suburb, even though it hasn’t played or trained there for decades. The plan appears not to have been checked with the local council or the AFL, and would apparently need another $37 million in infrastructure funding from the Abbott government.  At first glance it looks to be a complete waste of money with few if any redeeming features.

The Melbourne East West Link tunnel is a vastly more expensive but equally dubious project in cost-benefit terms that Napthine has rammed through despite very widespread opposition, including from the ALP which has said it won’t build it under any circumstances if elected.

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Calmly considering ABC cuts

abcThe announcement by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull that the ABC’s budget will be cut by $50 million per year for the next five years has generated predictable kerfuffle in mainstream and social media circles. Whether it will have any real effect on the broader voting public is much more questionable, but it’s still worth talking about in policy terms.

The predictable line by left-leaning commentators is that Tony Abbott has broken a promise, or even “lied” when he said before the election that ABC and SBS funding (along with health, education etc) would not be cut. In a tit-for-tat sense I guess that’s fair enough, because it’s exactly the same accusation that Abbott successfully prosecuted against Julia Gillard in relation to her backflip on carbon pricing.

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The Climate Emperor has no clothes …

CreationofObama

But maybe it doesn’t matter …

Hardly anyone seemed to notice at last weekend’s G20 meeting in Brisbane that the Climate Emperor had no clothes. Nor did I hear anyone remark on the obvious contradiction involved in issuing a communiqué which simultaneously committed participant nations, at least in principle, to taking effective action on climate change while also committing to achieving an additional 2.1% in world economic growth over the next few years. That sort of extra growth would make it more rather than less difficult to achieve any useful global carbon emissions reduction target in the near future.

Some commentators (although not many in the left-leaning sectors of the Australian media) did at least note that Friday’s climate change agreement between the United States and China had some elements of a “smoke and mirrors” or “pea and thimble” trick. China isn’t agreeing to cap its carbon emissions for another 16 years and in that time aims at explosive economic growth which will continue to spew more and more CO2 into the atmosphere, even if they do gradually move from building coal-fired power stations to less polluting energy sources. By that stage there is a high probability that the world will have already passed a tipping point where catastrophic atmospheric temperature increases will be unavoidable.

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Neutralising NIMBYs

St_Kilda_Triangle_SurroundsThe NIMBY Brigade is a blight on urban civil society. These people have never seen a new development that they don’t oppose, unless it’s a community vegetable garden or possibly a Montessori preschool built from mud bricks (although only if they’re very quiet middle class kiddies whose mothers parents drop them off on foot).

Their opposition to any new development is always couched in impressive-sounding terms: residential amenity, excessive noise and traffic density, streetscapes and shadowing. But the real unspoken reason is always that they have an irrational fear that the development will damage their property values.

In fact, most studies of urban consolidation/densification have shown that it’s a positive for property values, as long as the new buildings are not complete slums and attention is paid by planning authorities to transport, social and environmental factors.

I had all this in mind a few days ago when I penned a brief but indignant letter to the local Northern Territory News. It was published today:

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Rough justice for refugees

For some time I have been posting specifically legal articles/posts over at the bloggy part of the Parish McCulloch, Barristers & Solicitors website. I cross-post some of them here at Club Troppo.

I have just posted quite a long article there which discusses yesterday’s High Court decision Minister for Immigration and Border Protection v SZSCA in the context of current moves by the Abbott government to reshape radically the Migration Act provisions concerning asylum seekers and refugees. I don’t think I’ll cross-post it here because it’s fairly technical. Nevertheless some Troppo readers may well find it interesting.

Embracing a mature tax debate?

abbott hockeyTony Abbott might well be the last bloke on earth who could plausibly demand a “mature debate” on tax reform. But that doesn’t deny the crying need for such a debate in Australia.

Nor does the fact that it’s the antithesis of what Abbott did in Opposition mean that Bill Shorten should necessarily emulate Tony’s tactics himself.  What won the last war won’t necessarily win this one.  Abbott didn’t win the 2013 election only because he relentlessly opposed everything Labor tried to do. That tactic worked because Julia Gillard had mortally wounded herself by the manner in which she seized the prime ministership, because that inevitably resulted in ongoing destructive disunity orchestrated by an embittered Kevin Rudd, and because her government consistently exhibited appalling administrative and policy implementation skills despite some excellent policy ideas. Without those self-inflicted wounds, Abbott’s “one trick pony” knee-jerk obstructionism might have failed.

Despite the fact that opinion polls have looked quite respectable for Shorten for some time, Abbott in government isn’t burdened by any of the handicaps that ensured Gillard/Rudd’s doom. Moreover, he now has the additional benefit of wrapping himself in khaki, which John Howard exploited with such great success in 2001 and 2004.

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A tribute to my dad

My father died early this year at the age of 90, after a long but slow slide into dementia. The discussion on another thread about euthanasia and mental capacity has led me to decide to post the eulogy I delivered at his funeral.

My dad was still relatively compos mentis at the time of his death (at least a fair part of the time), but he also had almost no blood circulation in his lower legs. That resulted relatively frequently in bits of his feet becoming gangrenous and needing to be chopped off. It was that which eventually killed him; moreover his life wasn’t very pleasant for a couple of years before that. Often his legs were too painful to let him sleep, and he would just sit up all night in his recliner chair covered by a blanket.

Although he had been a highly intelligent, well-read and curious man throughout his life, my dad was unable to muster the concentration either to read or even watch TV for any significant period of time. His world had shrunk to the dimensions of a disabled recliner chair.. He was just waiting … Hence my own interest in euthanasia options.  Anyway, the eulogy is over the page. I apologise if you find it self-indulgent. I hope some of you might find it worth reading.

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Wishing Phil well …

950002-nitschke-to-fight-medical-board-suspensionThe Northern Territory News reports that veteran euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke faces a five-day hearing before the Medical Board starting today. Nitschke’s arguments will include:

Mr Nitschke says suicide is a lawful activity and the appeal was a question of whether rational adults should have access to information to help them proceed.

I wrote quite a long article a couple of weeks ago about euthanasia and Phil Nitschke. Someone on that thread remarked that Nitschke gave them the creeps.

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