Bookmarked Why you should read Machiavelli by OPEN

Here are some specific lessons from The Prince that will help any new people manager:

  1. You lead for the benefit of the led and with their implicit consent. If you expect respect or compliance because of a new job title, you’re already on the wrong track. If you’re managing a person or a team you need to succeed by making them successful and not seek the credit for what they do.
  2. Be unusual. Reputations are built on what you do differently, on the big challenges that you overcome.
  3. Be alert to the need to adapt — and do it boldly when it is time to do so. Change will come, but we act as if it never will. Best to accept that it is coming and be ready when you see signs. The positive version of this is – change is good, and there are always opportunities if you look for them.
  4. If you’re going to make changes an organisation, best to do it quickly. Ever lived through a six-month re-org? If not, I hope you never do. Everything else stops, no one can think about anything other than the change that will come.
  5. Innovation requires power. To innovate you need to be in power, or as Thomas Cromwell puts it in Wolf Hall, “pick a prince”. In modern corporate parlance, find a senior sponsor for your brilliant project. Having a great idea and being passionate are not enough to get things to happen – you need support. That’s politics.
Antony Mayfield provides some reasons why Machiavelli’s The Prince is one of the books he recommends new people managers to read.
Bookmarked Government rejected major air-tanker expansion (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Calls for a national air-tanker fleet to fight fires were rejected four years ago because the Coalition government said it was up to the states to fund firefighting.

David Crowe reports on some of the contention around funding and the availability of the appropriate resources. A significant voice in this debate has been former NSW Fire and Rescue commissioner Greg Mullins who suggests that there is too much uncertainty.

“The Prime Minister keeps saying that whatever the fire chiefs request, they get, but that’s not true,” Mr Mullins said. “The business case has been on the desk for two years. Had the fire chiefs had certainty with the $25 million, we would have more aircraft in the sky.”

This reminds me of the debates over Gonski, especially with Labor arguing for more funds.

Labor went to the last federal election promising an $80 million policy to create a national firefighting fleet to make up for a long-term fall in federal assistance. Then Labor leader Bill Shorten said the money would go towards at least six very large air-tankers as well as helicopters.

In many respects this comes back to ideology and the belief about how the government should operate.

Listened Fresh Cambridge Analytica leak ‘shows global manipulation is out of control’ from the Guardian

Company’s work in 68 countries laid bare with release of more than 100,000 documents

Just when you think you have heard everything there was to know about Cambridge Analytica, someone goes and leaks over 100,000 documents.

The release of documents began on New Year’s Day on an anonymous Twitter account, @HindsightFiles, with links to material on elections in Malaysia, Kenya and Brazil. The documents were revealed to have come from Brittany Kaiser, an ex-Cambridge Analytica employee turned whistleblower, and to be the same ones subpoenaed by Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Bookmarked Scott Morrison’s bushfire ad is deceptive and raises serious integrity issues, expert says (the Guardian)

The Griffith University integrity expert Professor AJ Brown, also a board member of Transparency International, said this made the ad both misleading and divisive, making it an “own goal” for a prime minister trying belatedly to restore public trust.

Christopher Knaus speaks with AJ Brown from Griffith University about Scott Morrison’s bushfire ad.

The issue that Brown raises is that the video was published as a Liberal Party product, rather than from the Prime Minister of Australia.

Brown said if the ad was truly designed to provide public information, Morrison could simply have authorised it as “Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia” – not as a Liberal party product – and asked for it to be distributed it through government channels, not Liberal party ones.

Morrison defended the decision suggesting that following the usual process would have had problems.

Morrison has defended the ad, saying he chose to publish the ad from his own office because following normal government advertising processes would have meant ‘problems of its own’.

Replied to Yes, Prime Minister, it is a national disaster and we need a frank discussion (ABC News)

Having lost control of the discussion about bushfires and what to do about them, there is little sign that Scott Morrison knows how to correct his language, or his apparent grasp of a response back to something that is reassuring, rather than contentious.

That will require some serious reflections on the nature of leadership over the summer.

Laura, it is intriguing that this was written at the start of December before all the issues associated with Scott Morrison’s sojourn to Hawaii.
Bookmarked The university experience — then and now (The Conversation)

It has been my pleasure to have taught thousands of such students for almost forty years, and my conviction that I have stumbled over the past fifteen upon a way of offering them something closer to what I once experienced and have learned that they too hunger for.

As finishing at Latrobe in 2012, Robert Manne reflects on the changes to universities since he arrived. A part of this is the move to more vocational studies. In the process he shares a copy of the reading/watching list for his Politics Honours course:

I am writing this piece in the hope that our experience might be of interest to other university teachers in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics and natural sciences and even be seen as a template for a form of undergraduate teaching that others might think worth a try.

The subject introduces students to the history of politics in “the West” from the outbreak of the First World War to the present day. Students attend a three hour seminar each week. They are expected to read either a book or an interlinked set of articles in preparation for the weekly seminar.

The topics and authors covered are, in turn, the breakdown of European society from the beginning of the First to the end of the Second World War (Eric Hobsbawm’s Age of Extremes) ; the fate of the Russian Revolution by the 1930s (Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon) ; the Holocaust (Primo Levi’s If This is a Man); Left and Right in the 1930s and 1940s (selected essays of George Orwell); the Cold War (essays from George Kennan); second wave feminism (Virginia Woolf, Betty Friedan, bell hooks); the recognition of racism (Sven Lindqvist’s “Exterminate all the Brutes”); the rise of neo-liberalism (Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom); the collapse of communism (Vaclav Havel’s “The Power of the Powerless”); post-Cold War (Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington ); contemporary social democracy post-GFC ( Wilkinson and Pickett; Joseph Stiglitz; Tony Judt; Paul Krugman); environmentalism and climate change (Rachel Carson; Garrett Hardin; Al Gore).

Each week, in addition, the students watch and discuss a film loosely associated with the readings: for the First World War (All Quiet on the Western Front, Milestone, 1930); the British reaction to the rise of Nazism (The Lady Vanishes, Hitchcock, 1938); the Holocaust (Korczak, Wajda, 1990); the Cold War (Dr Strangelove, Kubrick, 1964); the recognition of racism (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Kramer, 1967); second wave feminism (Mad Men, series one); neo-liberalism (The Fountainhead, King Vidor, 1949); the collapse of communism (The Lives of Others, von Donnersmarck, 2006); post Cold War-Iraq invasion (Turtles Can Fly, Ghobadi, 2004); the case for social democracy (Wall Street, Stone, 1988); climate change (An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore, 2006).

Jordan Shanks (FriendlyJordies) pulls together a number of sources and clips to put forward the case for Scott Morrison to be sacked by the queen as the Prime Minister as Gough Whitlam was.

Shanks has also created videos associated with the issues around koalas:

And blame game around who is at fault:


Listened NATO’s nadir and how best to move forward from ABC Radio National

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO, has seen better days. Historian and military analyst, Andrew Bacevich, once described it as an organisation that privileges “nostalgia over self-awareness”.

But most critics, Bacevich included, want NATO refocused and retooled. So what needs to change in order to restore the alliance as an effective military force?

What role should the United States play in such a reshaping? And how can NATO be strengthened without increasing tensions with Russia?

Liked New Model Protest (

What’s uncanny about this, to me, is how much it echoes a model of distributed action imagined a few years ago by Adam Roberts in a novel called New Model Army — a novel I wrote about here. Roberts imagines a near-future world in which New Model Armies (NMAs) — collectivized and non-hierarchical organizations of mercenaries — have become major players on the European political scene. The novel’s protagonist associates himself with one of those NMAs, called Pantagral.

Bookmarked How YouTube Radicalized Brazil (

YouTube built its business on keeping users hooked. This has been a gift to extremist groups. An investigation in the company’s second-biggest market found serious consequences.

Max Fisher and Amanda Taub look at YouTube’s roll in subverting the traditional methods of political engagement in Brazil. This reminds me of what is happening in Italy and Hungry.
Bookmarked I live-tweeted the raids on the ABC — and it was a first for the AFP (ABC News)

John Lyons spent nine hours in a room with six AFP officers — who were unfailingly polite and respectful — but who were doing something he believed attacked the very essence of journalism.

John Lyons reports on his use of Twitter to broadcast the AFP’s raid on ABC. He explains that each day journalists receive tips, often anonymous. The choice to publish the two pieces which instigated the raid did not put anybody in danger. The raid signifies a particular challenge on journalism and truth.

In almost 40 years in journalism — and having myself been on an AFP warrant after I received and wrote stories based on leaked defence intelligence documents — I had never seen a warrant this all-encompassing.

The power to delete official documents reminded me of George Orwell’s book 1984.

Remember Winston Smith, who worked in the records department of the Ministry of Truth?

Part of his job was to delete documents or newspaper reports of wars which his government wanted to pretend never happened.

But this was Australia in 2019 — not George Orwell’s Oceania in 1984.

As Cory Doctorow argues in a separate piece:

The Australian authorities insist that the raids were not coordinated and that it’s all a coincidence. As Caitlin Johnson points out, that’s a hell of a coincidence, and if it’s true, it’s even scarier than the idea that the raids were coordinated — instead, it means that Australia’s cops and prosecutors have gotten the message that it’s open season on public interest journalism and are acting accordingly, with lots more to come.

Rebecca Ananian-Welsh argues that the raids are a threat to democracy:

One of the most disturbing outcomes is not prosecutions or even the raids themselves, but the chilling of public interest journalism. Sources are less likely to come forward, facing risk to themselves and a high likelihood of identification by government agencies. And journalists are less likely to run stories, knowing the risks posed to their sources and perhaps even to themselves.

In regards to 1984, Dorian Lynskey argues that we have gone beyond the vision painted by Orwell.

Liked Scott Morrison’s quiet Australians (The Monthly)

By the time Morrison entered a jubilant party room on May 28 to address his fellow MPs, his language was tinged with an undeniable evangelical fervour. He seemed to be falling into prayer as he promised to “govern humbly” and place Australians “at the centre of our thoughts, each and every day”. “We must burn for the Australian people,” he told them. At this point, I felt myself burning too. I was tired of Morrison’s paternalism and the utter banality of so many of his protestations in defence of the “quiet Australians”, the people he patronisingly described as “too busy” to take an interest in politics, those who either couldn’t be bothered or preferred to cling to their disdain for politics and bed down with the eternally disaffected. “But they turn up every three years at elections and they take a good, close look at what the options are.” And then, like sleepwalkers, they vote for the Coalition or the more extreme parties that send preferences its way. It’s an old recipe in a faintly new guise, but its dangers for our body politic and for Anthony Albanese’s Labor Party are clear.

Listened What oil companies knew: the great climate cover-up – podcast from the Guardian

Author Bill McKibben on how industry lobbying created 30-year barrier to tOil firms are said to have known for decades of the link between burning fossil fuels and climate breakdown. Author Bill McKibben describes how industry lobbying created a 30-year barrier to tackling the crisis.ackling crisis.