Author: Simon Harrison

Abating climate change from the ground up

By 1983, Australian Tony Rinaudo had already spent 3 years in the southern fringes of the Sahara Desert helping poor and famine plagued communities develop sustainable agriculture. Tony was also, by his efforts and his voice, spreading the word of God.  During that time in Africa, this unassuming man of faith was facing suspicion and hostility in many quarters and, in addition, his ‘day job’ of replanting forestry had all too frequently ended in failure. Many of us, if we are honest, wouldn’t have made it past the first month. During that period however, something remarkable occurred as Tony experienced...

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The 2018 Australian investment transparency rules

In 2015 the European Union hailed its new Transparency Register and disclosure system as a major step forward in shedding greater light on lobbying activities across the European Union (EU). In support of the Register and its associated processes, European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly stated that transparency and related issues have “come right in from the margins and onto centre stage. In 2017 the Australian Foreign Influence Transparency Act followed the EU lead, and indeed the global trend towards greater transparency. However, whilst Australia followed suit it didn’t include any significant enforcement measures within the Act. This is about to change....

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Australia’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper: What about MENA?

As the sun set on 2017, the Australian Government issued its ‘2017 Foreign Policy White Paper’ setting out its current philosophy on global engagement and enunciating its forward postures.  The 124-page document was the first such reflection in 14 years during which time Australia has had six very different prime Ministers (PM Rudd version 2 included). Yet notwithstanding the frequent change of resident at The Lodge the general positioning of Australia’s foreign policy, engagements and priorities has been remarkably consistent over that decade and a half. The continued and overwhelming focus being on the ‘Asia Pacific’ but with a...

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The rush to Tunis

Tunisia’s motto of liberty justice and order were enhanced tenfold as Tunisia led the Arab spring across the Maghreb, and beyond in January 2011.  Tunisia quickly led the way for a regional population of 100 million souls as its Jasmine Revolution seeded in regional nations to varying degrees. Perhaps as importantly, Tunisia taught the world lessons about change and about human nature itself. At this stage I should say that I am slightly biased as an Honorary Consul for Tunisia but the facts do speak for themselves. Hospitality and friendship are in the very DNA of Tunisians and the...

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Australian Islamic legacy needs recognition

Australia quite rightly prides itself on its diversity of peoples, of lifestyles and of religions and indeed the Constitution itself protects the freedom of religion.   Australia’s founding fathers, unlike their mostly European and mostly Christian founders, enshrined that Australia would not adopt a State Religion nevertheless Australia is predominately a Christian country. Whilst the level of religious observance and uptake is not a competition nevertheless it does have great significance. How much Australia owes to Islam is less well understood, or appreciated. History always has lessons for the now and we perhaps should recalibrate our appreciation of this...

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july, 2018

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