Happy birthday, The Conversation.  It’s with some envy that I’ve watched you grow and I applaud your success to date.  Had you been conceived earlier, I’d be on your side of the fence – as a writer –  not just as a reader.  But I left academia just before you started and, try as I might, I can’t get an academic email address back so I can write for you.  So here I am, writing for me, to you.  You’ve done very well so far, especially for a 6yo.  But there’s much for you to learn.  Let me explain.Read More »

Pt Fairy ‘Folk’ Music Festival Has Changed Over 20 Years. Can It Survive?

I’ve been going to the Pt Fairy Folk Festival for 20 years now and enjoyed it every year.  After 40 years, the change of director this year (from Jamie McKew to Caroline Moore) resulted in quite a few incremental changes that generally seemed positive.  But it caused me to reflect on how the Festival has changed from the first one I attended some 20 years ago.  It shows how a good organisation can – and must – adapt over time to meet changing demands.  What have those changes been?  And are they enough for the festival to survive in an increasingly competitive festival market?Read More »

Who’s is Australia Post Anyway? A failure of Board Governance

So Ahmed Fahour, CEO of Australia Post, resigned yesterday, immediately after announcing a strong profit result and despite being supported by the board chair who said he had done a fantastic job of turning around the 100% government-owned Company.  Perhaps it was the disclosure of his $5.6m salary, perhaps the government enquiry into Australia Post’s salaries, perhaps the Prime Minister’s comment to the board (appointed by the current government) that salaries were too high, perhaps that Farhur had been there 7 years.  But what is clear is this:  it’s yet another failure of board governance that allowed this situation to arise.  Let me explain why the wrong people are being castigated.

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As a neo-liberal, I’m dismayed by the political events of 2016.  I cheer each ‘error’ the winners make, hoping that somehow reason – my reason – will prevail and all will be returned to right and good in just a few sleeps, or even a few years.  But we neo-liberals need to wake up.  We lost democratic elections and the right to democratic decisions and – hate it though we may – we don’t have a lock on righteousness.  There are other people, other views.  While Trump currently dominates our world (almost 50% of articles in the ‘World’ section of The Age online are Trump-related), Putin, Erdogan, Duterte, Wilders, Le Pen, Hanson and others have won or may win, all using the democratic election process that we hold so dear.  We need to wake up if ‘our’ righteousness is to triumph in the future.Read More »


I’ve never been a fan of Serena Williams.  I’ve hated the ugliness of her play, her grunting, her mental humiliation of her opponents, her parents’ behaviour, the gracelessness of her strokes, the outfits she wears, the superficiality of her post-match comments.  I’ve willed her to lose to pretty young things like Sharapova, Mandlikova, Kerber and co. who play pretty tennis.

But this year I’ve come to realise one truth:  she is – by far – the best women’s tennis player ever to play.  I’ve watched the grace of Margaret and Martina N, the determination of, Billie Jean, Chris, Steffi, Martina H and Monica.  I’ve seen each of them dominate their time periods.  But when I watch the power of Serena, her refusal to admit defeat, her utter humiliation of those just below her in the rankings, I’ve no doubt she is the best ever. Read More »

Is Life about ‘Me and My Family’…or ‘Me and Society’?

Over the Christmas-New Year period, you catch up with a lot of people.  Perhaps naturally, these conversations focus a lot on how families are doing.  When I mention that I spend a significant part of my week working with my environmental group and as a community bank director, there seems to be no interest.  Perhaps I’m a bad marketer of myself, a bad story teller!  But, as I reflect on this apparent lack of interest, it seems that people fall into two broad types:  those interested mainly in themselves and their families and those interested mainly in the wellbeing of society.  And the mix matters.  Here’s why.Read More »

Why Don’t People Give Thanks?

I have a very good friend, Sue, who gives and gives to other people.  Yet, so often, her efforts are not recognised by the recipients.  In most cases, all that she requires is a verbal sincere ‘thank you’, or a small personal or thoughtful gift, like a bunch of flowers or a jar of jam or a little help with a task she finds difficult.

Now I must confess that I am not the best at giving thanks myself… I don’t like presents and prefer not to receive presents unless I really want them.  But if I gave a large financial, material or time gift to friends, or a significant engagement, wedding or childbirth or housewarming present, I’d like it to be recognised and acknowledged.  And Sue just gets up after each lack of recognition and gives again – often to the same people!  I see her disappointment but, being so positive, she just carries on giving. So why don’t people give thanks?Read More »