The Brisbane Line / 29.04.2012

My article ‘Lazy Journalism’ was published today, to which this is the link:


One of George Orwell’s many admirable qualities as a writer was his willingness to delcare his self-interest when expressing his opinions. I consider this a key to his legendary reputation for honesty and a test for anyone who expresses their opinions in writing,  whether in an opinion piece or in an article or book supported by exhaustive research.  I write this article as someone who is on the political left and shares the view that Tony Abbott is arguably the most right wing leader of a major party in Australia, ever.

The lazy journalism which I have in mind is closely, but not solely linked to Tony Abbott’s potent one-liners which have characterised his leadership of the coalition and refers more to the broadcast than to the print media. Abbott is a master of the gibe, the verbal equivalent of the pugilist’s stinging short arm jab. He  formulates his ceaseless criticism of the federal government in easy to understand and damaging phrases which have proved irresistible to news reporters, broadcasters and presenters. Rather than thinking for themselves by using their own… Read Complete Text


The Brisbane Line / 19.03.2012

In seeking to submit my latest article for the Brisbane Line, I contacted Martin Leet only for him to tell me that he is no longer the editor. He referred me to Karyn Brinkley, the CEO of the Brisbane Institute, who has taken over from him. I phoned Karyn and we had a cordial conversation, of which the upshot is that I today submitted the article.


The Brisbane Line / 31.10.2011

Martin Leet emailed me confirming that my article ‘Biodiversity as Art’ was up on the Brisbane Institue site. I thank Martin for giving me the opportunity, which I greatly appreciate, of sharing my reflections on my 13 year biodiversity artwork and what it means to me.


It was my extreme good fortune to come straight from London to Tamborine Mountain in late February 1987. I was bowled over by the natural abundance and exuberance of the place – by the brilliant colours of the birds, the size and profuse growth of the vegetation, the exotic presence of bougainvillea and hibiscus and above all, by my first walk in the jungle, which is what rainforest used to be called. Then, after many years of environmental activism on land use issues, in 1998 I bought a Canon XL 1 digital video camera and started creating a video archive devoted to the mountain’s species rich biodiversity. I just did not want to run the risk of it succumbing without fitting trace, to the threat posed by development and population increase in Australia’s fastest growing and second most biodiverse region.

My preoccupation with biodiversity is informed by art,… Read Complete Text


The Brisbane Line / 22.05.2011

I was surprised by an email from Martin Leet confirming that he had published my article on racism, over which we had had a sustained difference of opinion. I was willing to agree to differ and leave it at that, feeling that it would have been better for someone more knowledgeable than I to address the point which was behind my article; namely that Australia is a much more racist country than its self-image is willing to accept. A trait which I suspect is true of other liberal democracies.


Published in an amended form from the version below.

I am moved to write about racism because I am troubled by my feeling that Australia is a more racist country than its prevailing self-image is willing to concede. I am not claiming that Australia is a racist country in the way apartheid South Africa was, rather that I feel it is at best  mildly and at worst, moderately racist.  I should emphasise that I do not think Australia necessarily has a worse record than other comparable countries in this regard. My quarrel is with every country whose citizens kid themselves  on this issue, by claiming to… Read Complete Text


The Brisbane Line / 22.02.2011

Martin Leet emailed me the link to my first Brisbane Line article of 2011 about the decline of the West. It was written before the Arab spring, but appeared after the overthrow of the despotic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and, inter alia, reflected my concern that the Arab people showed no sign of rising up against their rulers. You can read the article here.


Nothing lasts. Intellectually I knew that the centuries long global dominance of the west, which is the context for much of my life experience and from which I have derived immense benefit, was bound to decline. For decades I never imagined I would see it begin in my life time. Over the years, I recognised the record of capricious voting patterns on human rights issues in the UN as a tell-tale sign of a dent in western influence. At first glance, the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup with its dubious voting procedure and Qatar’s puzzling victory, could be regarded as a further instance. A fundamentalist led, revitalised Islam, presents a challenge, though not only to the west. But it is the… Read Complete Text


The Brisbane Line / 03.07.2010

I failed to mention in this Blog my contribution to The Brisbane Line last November:


Amongst leading liberal democratic nations, the US and Australia are now swimming against the electoral tide which has seen conservative governments assume or about to assume power. A majority of voters in both countries wanted change in their national politics. They chose a more liberal, compassionate government after having to contend with 8 and more than 11 years respectively, of two of the most hard-nosed conservative governments since World War 2. The newly elected leaders, Barack Obama and Kevin Rudd promptly obliged with commitments on the environment and social justice. The relief and euphoria was such that it led their more ardent supporters to hope that what they regarded as the extreme and uncaring politics of George W Bush and John Howard had become history. However, as with the flagged and hoped for measures to curb excessive corporate pay in the grimmest days of the global financial crisis, it did not take long for the old ways to reappear because in the minds of the perpetrators, mere moral outrage was never going to stop business as usual.  Thus… Read Complete Text


The Brisbane Line / 07.06.2010

Creating and upkeeping my Facebook page, and producing eleven new YouTube clips and the documentary for Greenscreen, has pushed writing articles for The Brisbane Institute to one side. My first article this year for The Brisbane Line is titled Ignorance. I want to write a piece called My First Two Hours in Portugal before I travel overseas. You can read Ignorance here.


Where to begin? On the face of it, my profound ignorance should amply qualify me to write this article. Boy, do I know about being ignorant, although ironically, it requires a person far less ignorant than me to get to grips with the subject. Confronting one’s ignorance is rather dispiriting; much better not to dwell on it. My Concise Webster’s does not define ignorance. It merely lists the word as the noun for ignorant, which is defined as – without knowledge; uninformed; resulting from want of knowledge.

I consider myself reasonably well educated. But I was forced to face my own ignorance while reading Jenny Uglow’s superb book, ‘The Lunar Men’ about an inspiring group of friends who lived in and around Birmingham during the second half of the 18th century and who visited… Read Complete Text


The Brisbane Line / 06.09.2009

My latest article is titled The Immature Mature, as flagged in my June 1 blog entry.


On April 16 2009 an explosion killed five people and injured many more on an asylum seeker boat carrying 49 Afghans being escorted to Christmas Island by an Australian navy vessel.  The reaction among journalists was a childish impatience in their demand to be told immediately and as of right, exactly what occurred when the news of this complex event far out to sea, broke. However, within hours, the Premier of Western Australia, pandering to the journalists and perhaps also to highlight the lack of information from the Federal Government, claimed to know, when he stated that asylum seekers had doused their boat with petrol. At the time the Federal Government had other priorities, such as evacuating the injured, announcing defence force and police enquiries into the incident, and adopting the position that in the interim, to drip-feed news would do more harm than good. In the ensuing days, journalists and the government’s political opponents, blinded by the fact that their attitude of righteous indignation reflected nothing other than their own unrealistic expectations, had… Read Complete Text


The Brisbane Line / 01.06.2009

I wonder how many people have asked themselves the question: is life sacred? and why. The basic premise of the sanctity of life is that life is God given. The question why is as revealing as the original question. In other words, why does someone having grown up with the notion that life is sacred, change the position of the word ‘is’. The notion aspires to be universal, yet one’s questioning of it is inevitably personal. For me the notion harks back to my childhood recollection of religious instruction and observance and, once encountered, was something I wanted to believe in. It is a question predicated on a potentially inexhaustible sequence of compelling questions.

In those far off, pre dictionary-consulting days, I associated the word sacred insofar as it was known to me, with the ineffable aura of religious virtue and divine dispensation which I sensed in the services I occasionally attended. The word represented a reality both private and secret.  In western culture the proposition that life is sacred is intimately linked to the 6th commandment: you shall not murder.  I was probably quite young when I first heard it and young when I first understood the… Read Complete Text


The Brisbane Line / 03.11.2008

Received an email from the editor, Martin Leet, with the link to my article.


I opposed the war in Iraq because I was lied to about the reasons for waging it. Bush, Blair and Howard peddled the tale that Saddam Hussein was a danger to the people of their respective countries. This was palpable nonsense. On the contrary, I consider the war-mongering Bush to be a far greater danger to the world than the late Saddam, whose scope to extend his murderous actions beyond Iraq’s borders had been severely curtailed by the no-fly zone maintained by the US and Britain since the 1990-91 Gulf War.

Having opposed the war, I had to accept the fact that I was willing to consign the people of Iraq to their fate at the hands of the planet’s most monstrous tyrant and that did not sit well with me.

Early in the 21st century and after many decades of growth of mature liberal democracy, the world has no mechanism for getting rid of tyrants, other than relying on their victims to rise up and overthrow them. This is… Read Complete Text