d e a n   f o r b e S                                                        knowledge economy - universities - cities

BLOG 2015                                                           scroll down to see more 2015 blogs


Malcolm Turnbull’s Innovation Statement for a ‘creative and imaginative nation’ was released on Monday. $1.1 billion has been committed over four years, beginning in July 2016. ‘Welcome to the ideas boom’.

Initiatives include: tax incentives for investors in startups, aiming to increase the funds available from private investors; a Global Innovation Strategy to assist innovators to establish overseas in hotspots such as Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv; support for Year 5 and 7 students to learn coding; a STEM literacy program; and $200 million for CSIRO to co-invest in innovation.

My impression was the community response was favourable; it had an entirely different flavour to anything the Abbott government had attempted. However, the comments posted on Chris Uhlmann’s basically factual report on the announcement seemed particularly negative, and mostly unhelpful.

I have two main concerns: in part, the funding committed is largely offsetting the cutbacks over the last two years to funding for research related activities in the universities and CSIRO; and the Government’s - ie Malcolm Turnbull, as the responsible Minister - less than convincing approach to the National Broadband Network really seems to undermine the whole thrust of the Statement. When are we going to hear when the patchy performance of the NBN rollout is going to be addressed?

The National Innovation and Science Agenda Report contains the details (13/12/15)


The Australian Population Association’s ‘Graeme Hugo Colloquium’ was held at the Australian National University yesterday. Graeme’s passing is a great loss to population studies. Here is my presentation. (3/12/15)


The Intensive English Language Institute, or IELI as it is widely known, was established on the campus of Flinders University in 1995. This year marked its 20th anniversary; celebrations were held in February. It also marks a significant expansion of IELI with a second campus in the centre of Adelaide.

IELI is the trading name of the non-profit entity Community for Global Communication Inc, which trades as IELI. The Director and driving force is Bonnie Cothren. She was involved in establishing IELI, and has been its sole leader since. I should declare that I have chaired the Board of IELI since 2002.

IELI was established on Flinders University’s campus with strong support from Ian Chubb soon after he became Vice Chancellor. It currently enrols 255 students in nine core five week modules. In addition, there are programs in general English, study tours, and online study. Students come from 30 different countries and IELI has a turnover around $4-5 million each year. It is a member of English Australia.

The new initiative is the IELI City Campus – Torrens University located in Angas St in the city centre, a short distance from Torrens University and not far from Flinders Victoria Square campus. In addition to providing a city space for students from both universities, it will enable IELI to offer more community programs, particularly in the evening.

The City Campus is an exciting, but challenging, expansion for IELI. International student numbers in Australia have been increasing over the last couple of years, helped by the softening of the Australian dollar. For several years Australia had been, incredible as it seems, a more expensive destination than the major competitors, the UK and the US.

International education is a major export for Australia, and international students genuine contributors to the vibrancy of inner cities and the educational institutions they attend. I’m proud to have the connection with IELI. (30/10/15)


Monday 5th October. Unusually hot weekend in Sydney. No longer eligible for Qantas first class lounge, but the business lounge was fine, albeit without restaurant service. Managed four movies in a row on the way to Dubai; a record for me. Couldn’t sleep at all.

Tuesday 6th. Long midnight to 8.00am wait in the Dubai terminal’s very large Emirates Business Lounge. M had some sleep in a chair; no sleep for me. Lounge workers busy all night. Very few are Emirati. Thought sadly about the exploitation of foreign workers in the Emirates. Train into Amsterdam, then an over-priced taxi to Hotel Alexander. Very small room on the second floor, but located in Vondelstraat, a great area close to museums, shops, canals and parks. Pedestrians, bicycles, trams and an occasional car thrown together in a pulsating mix in the inner city. Perfect. Exhilirating. Amsterdam’s vibrant inner city defies the grey skies and an early touch of winter’s cold. Ate mediocre pizza at Il Primo in Reguliersdwarstraat, but we both were zonked.

Wednesday 7th. Bought ov-chipkaart for train, tram and bus travel and a SIM for M’s phone. Walked the northwest quadrant of the inner city. Rain is part of urban life. Busy street life continued, people sheltering under awnings or in cafes, unperturbed. The grey is intrinsic to the landscape. Amsterdam in the autumn; probably didn’t need to bring my sunglasses. Bicycle traffic is ubiqitous in Amsterdam. It is fast and loose. Riders have a sense of entitlement and take risks with pedestrians, trams and vehicles. Anarchic, but a flowing, fluid part of the city. Dinner at HAP-HMM restaurant in Helmerstraat. Said to serve authentic Dutch food, but plain. We loved it. Restaurant was full of character and very popular with the local community. M said the food was authentic Dutch, just as she remembered it as a child. 

Thursday 8th. Pancakes for breakfast at De Vier Pilaren in Stadhouderskade. New for me. It looked like a pizza with cheese and ham on a thin pancake. Delicious. Whole day at the Rijksmuseum. Enormous, spectacular. Strength is the old Dutch work, with Rembrandt the superstar. The Dutch have a significant legacy of art from their wealthy, working past. It reached its pinnacle in Rembrandt, Vermeer, Bosch and Brueghal, M says. Van Gogh and Mondrian are more recent classical figures. Dinner at Café Toussaint for a taste of French cuisine, followed by an amble around Leidseplein. 

Friday 9th. Slept well last night, so feeling much refreshed. Over the jet lag. The Stedelijk Museum is sensational. Spent the whole day absorbed by the work of the Dutch moderns. M photographed me in front of Sol Lewitt’s ‘Wall Drawing #1084’ 2003, and posted it on facebook. I was really taken by Peter Shine’s ‘Armchair Bel Air 1982’ and also posted it on facebook. Would love to have it at Pyrmont. On the streets, noticed that aggressive motorbike riders bully the bicycle riders and pedestrians, swerving from bike lanes onto the footpath to pass cyclists and scattering walkers. Dangerous. Ate at an Indian restaurant that had one cook and one front of house person. Over an hour before the food arrived. Not impressed.

Saturday 10th. The day in the beautiful nine streets area of Amsterdam The sun was out, and so were a large slice of Amsterdam’s population. At coffee shops, restaurants and markets. The streets were busy, the bicycle and motorbike riders manic. Residents have a high quality of life. Affluent and safe in a country with a great deal of charm. Amsterdam has a great feel, especially on a sunny day. Thought we would have a final Dutch meal at HAP-HMM restaurant. It was closed! On a Saturday night. Instead ate at Zorba de Griek in Leidsekruisstraat. A banquet with a half litre of red wine. The food was OK, but the service was poor and the restaurant didn’t have much ambience. Last full day in Amsterdam. (18/10/15)


Sunday 11th October. Plenty of time for a last amble around Amsterdam’s canals, including a simple breakfast at a small family run café overlooking Prinsengracht canal. The sun beaming in through the café window made up for the chilly temperature outside. We dragged our luggage to the tram stop and headed for Central Station. The tram was packed, so I stood, swaying wildly as the floor in the middle section between two carriages closed and opened. The passengers watched me blankly.

The train to Rotterdam was quick; on arrival at the impressively modernist railway station we were given a map and instructions for a 10 minute walk to Urban Residences. We were allocated a pristine pure white apartment on the 5th floor, with a balcony overlooking an intersection of two of Rotterdam’s major shopping malls. The apartment caught the best of the afternoon sun. It was perfect after our tiny room in Amsterdam. Though tempted to relax in the sunshine we instead opted to walk along the extended shopping precincts running beside our building. There were large numbers of people walking or sitting in cafes and restaurants along kilometres of mall. The standout buildings were the Cube Houses and the stunning Markthall, a recently finished dome-like building with market stalls and restaurants inside, and apartments in the horseshoe shaped block stretched over the markets. Hard to describe, but brilliant. M had read about it a few months back and was desperate to see it. We dined in the Istanbul Restaurant Grand Café, over-ordering and ending up with a huge quantity of food.

Monday 12th. We stayed in Urban Residences in the morning while I wrote a short report for a consultancy task in Sydney. We both enjoyed the opportunity to spread out in the apartment. In the afternoon we ambled through the modernist neighbourhoods on the western edge of central Rotterdam. It was cold and there were few people on the streets, unlike the previous day. Walking down inner Middellandstraat we noticed the large number of Surinamese shops, along with a strong Indian and Chinese presence. Back in the CBD the sophisticated designs of the tall buildings were impressive. Dinner was at Dionysos in Schouwburgplein.

Tuesday 13th. Took the train to Dordrecht where we were to be picked up by M’s cousin. It was freezing – 6 degrees! We heroically walked the streets, ending where the ferry leaves for Rotterdam. Dordrecht was interesting to see, but the cold blunted our experience. We had Ethiopian coffee and apple spice cake in Zusjes Biologische Delicatessan. It was a haven. I noticed it is recommended in Lonely Planet. M’s cousin, Jaap, collected us from the station and drove us to his parent’s house in Almkerk. Family members gathered for an afternoon of catchup stories and reminiscing. The family ties struck me as very strong. In the evening we were treated to tapas dishes at the Cuban themed restaurant La Cubanita. Two late evening trains got us from Almkerk to Gorinchem and back to Rotterdam.

Wednesday 14th. After waking later than usual we spent most of the day at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. The building is architecturally unimpressive, and very difficult to navigate. The signage is poor, and the structure of displays defies logic. However it has a superb collection of the Dutch greats, and some impressive contemporary pieces. The Dutch contribution to art has been exceptional. Was their trading history an important factor? It meant that artists were not dependent on commissions, and hence could be more innovative. The confident, lucid, yet spikey commentaries in the English language wall information accompanying each display was brilliant. So unlike the boring, pretentious writing that frequently accompanies gallery art works.

Thursday 15th. I ignored a phone call around 4.00am, then later M’s phone made a strange sound which we also ignored. In revenge we slept until 10.00am. It was gray and damp as we walked south towards the Erasmus Bridge, then south west towards Delfshaven. Had lunch of ‘a bread plate’ and a cappuccino in a delightful café attached to the Wereld Museum. The Wereld is very impressive and was running a sensational exhibition on ‘The Persians: Warriors and Poets’. However, seeing another museum was too much for us, so after lunch and some time in the Museum shop we walked on to Delfshaven. Its name derives, I understand, from the port services it once provided to the merchants from Delft. Delfshaven was interesting, but less than expected, and it started to drizzle so we walked back along Nieuwe Binnenweg. Initially the street had a strong ethnic flavor but as we got closer to central Rotterdam the more upmarket the shops became. A black BMW tooted its horn furiously at us as we crossed the road on a green light and in a drizzle. Thus is the occasional hostility shown to the mere pedestrian. Since Tuesday the 6th we have walked 105 kilometres at an average of 10.5 kilometres per day. The maximum was 15 kilometres on our last day in Amsterdam.

Friday 16th. M had decided moths ago she wanted to see the Moses Bridge. To get there we had to get the metro from Rotterdam Central to Rotterdam Zuidplein, then a bus to Molenplein, a suburb of Halsteren (in turn connected to Bergen Op Zoom), a considerable distance from Rotterdam, and then walk a kilometer or so to the Bridge. We missed the Molenplein stop, so then disembarked at the next. We then walked in the cool damp air, guided by M’s trusty mobile phone, through the settled areas and out into the countryside. After one or two mistakes we eventually reached the site of the former Fort De Roovre. Only some old cannons and the piled up earth that provided the defensive walls remained, plus the recent addition of the Moses Bridge, which sits in and crosses the fort’s moat. The Bridge had fascinated M since she first heard about it. A few locals passed by; most either exercising or training their dogs. The bus trip back to Zuidplein was again interesting. We were both impressed by the many modern windmills producing electricity, and couldn’t help feeling dismay about the Abbott government’s contempt for renewable energy.

Saturday 17th. Another day out. Took a train to Den Haag HS, and another into Den Haag Centrum. We walked around a very impressive central business district. Yes, there are some modern buildings, but in general there is an excellent and extended shopping precinct, along with stylish old buildings, parks and gardens. Not what I imagined at all. I was expecting something a little more sterile, Canberra-like. Not at all. We walked down Noordfinde which was full of private art galleries. After lunch we caught the tram that snaked its way through the narrow walking streets of the CBD to the Gemeent Museum, near the coast. It was a cream brick, nondescript building from the outside. The architecture initially reminded me of a men’s urinal. Inside it was sensational. The major exhibition was on ‘Mondrian and De Stij’, the latter being the name of the early 20th Century group of artists who advocated ‘neo-plasticism’. We were also impressed with an exhibition on ‘Colour Unleashed – Low Countries 1885-1914’. (20/10/15)


Sunday 18th. It had been so comfortable in our all-white modern apartment that we were sad to leave Rotterdam. The sun was out when we awoke around 10.00am; we had adapted to the late rising that is de rigueur in the city. At Rotterdam Centrum station we struggled with the signage. It is difficult to tell where the trains are stopping, as the information flashes by too quickly for foreigners to comprehend. However we found the intercity ‘Sprinter’ and 40 minutes later we arrived in Utrecht.

Leaving the station leads into a large shopping centre. The signage was poor, and the shopping centre a dog’s breakfast. We eventually found a place for a light lunch. M had croquettes and I had a cross-cultural sate burger! It was school holidays and the ‘Alles Kids’ was on. Some 58 flash performances by young kids were held throughout the city. After lunch by trial and error we eventually found a way out of the centre and dragged our cases a few hundred metres to the Grand Hotel Karel V. It was as grand as its name implies. Except the Nespresso in our room didn’t work. A mid-afternoon walk helped us get our bearings. We passed more flash mob performances, and the city centre was buzzing with kids, parents and tourists. We went out looking for a restaurant in the evening and found most of them full. However we found a seat at Taj Mahal in Zadelstraat and had some rather nice Indian dishes and a half litre of red wine.

Monday 19th. The Grand Hotel V is posh. It has a very tall, rather sophisticated busboy who showed us to our room and later came to fix the Nespresso. It was enormously interesting wandering through the streets of Utrecht – we followed a recommended ‘city walk’. Many people were working at home. Bicycles were by far the most significant form of transport around the inner city. Men don’t wear hats to keep their head warm: I have done, but went hat-less today. The bespoke economy is very evident in Utrecht, as it was in other cities. Artisans advertise their home made niche products by placing them in the windows of their inner city apartments. Strollers and cyclists can see the greeting cards, jewelry or art works as they walk or ride by.  Dinner was at Se7en in Mariaplaats. The waiter tried to explain the menu to us but left us confused. We think he was saying you can have an entrée as two half dishes, and a main as two half dishes, giving you four different taste experiences. Whatever. We each ordered an entrée and a main, along with wine, to help us through. The food proved very good.

Tuesday 20th. Well, I did it. Despite a lifelong dislike of heights I climbed 112 metres to the top of the Dontorem. M loves climbing and was eager to get an aerial view of Utrecht. My honour was at stake. It was 465 steps to the top, the equivalent of climbing the stairs in a 22-storey building. The last 100 or so steps were testing because the stairwell was narrow with a very tight spiral. It was a sensational view of Utrecht, even though I clutched the nearest solid railing I could as the tower swayed in the wind. Not surprising for a structure built in the 14th Century. We celebrated with a Dutch lunch in Loof, a tidy little café nearby. M had her usual order of croquets; I took the Dutch-Parisian option of flat bread filled with something gooey with an egg on the top. We spent the afternoon finishing off our city walk, with a little shopping and searching out of restaurants for dinner. There was a little sunshine, and the streets were busy. We were both struck by how fit, tall and well-dressed the Dutch strolling around central Utrecht were. We noticed it also in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. With many fewer vehicles in the inner city, Utrecht’s bikeways are busy but the riders are more forgiving than in the bigger cities.

Wednesday 21st. Awaking around 10.00 I looked through the window to see some small patches of sunshine. The forecast had been for rain. We were expecting to meet M’s cousin and his wife for dinner, but they cancelled due to illness. Instead we caught the train to Bodegraven, where M’s father was born and her mother lived for many years. It’s a neat, well-maintained small town of about 20,000, just 20 minutes from Utrecht. We walked through the quiet streets impressed by the immaculately clean, tidy front gardens and interiors. Autumn leaves were falling, and a large leisure power cruiser navigated through the city centre, entering the lock in the middle of Bodegraven and causing traffic to stop as the bridge opened for the cruiser. We saw the Karenmolen De Eendracht windmill and lunched in the Grand Café (Buren van de Raad - Neighbours of the Council). Both of us opted for croquettes, fries and salad, followed by a ridiculously sweet, creamy caramel custard slice. Our ordering Dutch cuisine was aided and abetted by the waitress. She seldom encounters foreigners in Bodegraven and was very chatty, saying that she thought about living in Australia because of the better climate, but she understood it was dangerous. We ended the day back in Utrecht with a superb lobster and steak dinner at Het Zuiden in Mariastraat. Walking back to Karel V in the light rain we agreed the dinner was an excellent marker of our final night in the Netherlands.

Thursday 22nd. Our last day in the Netherlands gave a last chance to walk the dampish streets of Utrecht. We hunted for a post office, and had a last bread lunch in a Café La Journal in Neude overlooking a central city square. The presence of the University of Utrecht is scattered throughout, with some old and fine buildings near the Dontorem. It was an opportunity to walk through more streets and soak up the vibes of a very lively and pleasant city.

Friday/Saturday 23rd/24th. The two long flights back to Sydney were a grind, but it was nice to have a couple of hours break in Dubai. We landed early in the morning on a beautiful spring day in Sydney. The electronic processing of our passports speeded up movement through the airport. It was the least congested and quickest I have known it in over 40 years of travel through Sydney’s international terminal.

M’s phone calculated that we walked 187.5 kilometers in the Netherlands, averaging between 10 and 12 kilometers each day. We both got immense pleasure and satisfaction from walking and exploring inner cities that have great character and are designed for walking (and not for motor vehicles). We were deeply impressed by Holland’s superb train system backed up by trams and buses. And we especially liked the free, fast internet in hotels and often in public places; Roomboter Amandel stroopwaffel and speculaas (biscuits); the Urban Residences in Rotterdam; and the vibrancy of the bespoke economy.

And yes, there were a few things we grumbled about: the cappucinos served in many cafes; a lack of public toilets (and paying 50 cents to use the toilet in a restaurant that we were eating in); the autumn drizzle; a Dutch dish I ate in a mall in Rotterdam.

I remember really liking Amsterdam in 1975. M and I both thought every one of the cities we visited this trip was fabulous. Her preference was Rotterdam and mine Den Haag (or maybe Amsterdam, or Rotterdam, or Utrecht). It was three very beautiful weeks of discovery. (25/10/15)


The prospect of participating in an informed discussion on the future of work was a winner. I knew what half-formed thoughts percolate through my brain, but what do others really think about what jobs will be around in 20 years time?

I was invited to The Royal Society and Four  Academies Forum on ‘The Future of Work’ at Government House in Sydney. It was an initiative of the New South Wales Governor, David Hurley, who explained that he could not create a clear vision about what was happening in NSW, and hence what he as Governor could do. He asked the question: how will current 5 year olds acquire the skills to join the future labour force? Assuming there is an all-encompassing labour force, of course. 

A stellar cast of speakers included Alan Finkel, Mary O’Kane, Thomas Maschmeyer, Andrew Holmes, Hugh Durrant-Whyte, Julianne Schultz, Bettina Cass, Armarjit Kaun and John Fitzgerald.

Alan Finkel pointed out that 44% of current jobs will not exist in 15 years. He warned that in a future where work is more flexible and constantly changing people will need to be helped to identify and define their own self worth, independent of their job.

The Australian Government has tended to provide support to innovators by reducing taxation, rather than through more direct action as is the case in the US. The result, Finkel explained, is that venture backed companies in America account for 7% of GDP, but only 0.2% in Australia. Israel leads, with venture backed companies producing 12% of GDP.

Academics should do less publishing and focus more on active engagement in innovation, Thomas Maschmeyer told us. Success requires a new commitment by Government to be more stable and predictable in its approach to innovation. He reminded us that in Australia small investors take risks, but those in the big end of town are generally risk averse. Hence the tendency to list new companies in Singapore instead of Sydney.

Science discoveries, Andrew Holmes explained, have entirely unexpected outcomes. We are simply not good at predicting what they might be. He added that experts always make mistakes, but that chance favours the prepared mind.

Hugh Durrant-Whyte spoke with passion and at speed. Australia is advanced in automation he reassured us, adding that technology will create as many jobs as will be lost. But it is the middle range graduate jobs that are most likely to shrink, along with an ongoing decline of work in regional Australia. Everybody will need to be a technology generalist and to be more entrepreneurial. We must rebuild cities to attract the people who can create jobs.

Stepping back, three big ideas stood out and reflected a strikingly contrasting mix of perspectives. Agreement about much of the specifics, but not the overall vision. Which is a good thing.

First, there will be a loss of many jobs as a result of technological change. But the evidence suggests the hardest hit will be employment in the middle income range. Accountants and financial experts, for instance. There will be continuing needs for low-end jobs  in complex high human touch things such as elder care, and also a need for high end, technologically skilled, and highly flexible workers.

Second was the overwhelming belief in the ability of enterprise start ups and innovative technology to deliver new jobs and a sustainable future economy. It was a recurring theme encompassing a new vision for university education through to a re-focusing of government policy in the area of innovation support.

The third was about the precariat; the people who currently eke out an existence on the margins, surviving on irregular part time work and benefits, or those hustling a living on the street. Concerns featured in the presentations by Julianne Schultz and Armajit Khan. Bettina Cass fixed her attention on unpaid workers in elder and disability care. Around 2.7 million people, or 12% of the Australian population. 1.5 million are women. Collectively they reminded us that the startup culture may not have much impact on this work.

A note I scribbled late in the day captured my underlying concerns about where the social sciences might fit: ‘The social sciences can be slow and lumbering, primarily descriptive, and without an agenda of action or intervention, or any positive, imaginative interventions for a better future.’ Perhaps a little harsh, but I cannot really see these new agendas yet engaging the bulk of the social sciences. (18/9/15)


Papua New Guinea celebrated 40 years of independence today.

The response in Australia was muted. The inevitable exit of an unpopular Prime Minister attracted all the media attention. Apart from being a major beneficiary of Australian foreign aid, and the location of a troubled transit prison for Australia’s unwanted would-be refugee immigrants, PNG rarely gets much political or media  attention in Australia.

The ABC ran a moving story on Doctor Dim Dim, an Australian doctor who provides medical support to women in PNG’s villagers living on the islands off the eastern tip of Papua. It was a heart-wrenching account which underlined the ongoing very basic health needs of people in rural PNG.

The truth is that most PNG people remain in poverty, violence is rife, and corruption in government common-place. Australia can’t claim much of a legacy, apart from the fact that, however imperfect it may be, PNG still upholds many of the conventions of a democracy.

What could we do to help? (16/9/15)


Does posting on social media entitle me to call myself a writer? LOL.

Social media is principally about connectivity and communication. Messaging is part of this, but it is not a particularly large part. Users generate short messages or send photographs and other images. In a sense, the media is the message (thanks Marshall McLuhan). The message is fast changing and can be ephemeral.

A small proportion of social media addicts take seriously the act of writing. What is published is more often a ragged version of short-hand employing symbols and without punctuation. IMHO it should be better. An even smaller proportion of social media enthusiasts bother with trying to express well-crafted and meaningful messages that are stylish and hit the target.

Putting social media into context, it provides a platform to engage with news media, ranging from traditional print, through television, radio (to a lesser extent), and online newspapers. It is excellent in distributing eye-witness accounts of significant events.

Social media has transformed the information landscape, and is driving print media to the brink of extinction. It is interesting to speculate about the impact the eventual demise of most print media would have on social media. For instance, it would shrink social media users major targets such as the Murdoch press, across three continents, no less. This may not be a bad outcome. But, of course, worse could follow. Hard to believe, yes.

My print media needs have shrunk to purchasing one newspaper a week. For the rest it is electronic: social media, radio, television. And subscription magazines, book purchases (paper and online), and borrowings from libraries.

Social media is evolving rapidly, but not always in the way I would hope. Like other areas of the sharing economy, remuneration patterns are disrupted. In short, writers don’t get paid.

HuffPost Australia has been launched. Ariana Huffington has already made it clear that they don’t intend to pay contributors. This has created concerns among journalists. For others its nothing new. I have never been paid for op-eds or interviews in newspapers. When I contributed significant essays to Microsoft’s Encarta encyclopedia the remuneration was a few dollars an hour, well below the minimum wage in Australia at the time. The financial rewards delivered by writers often primarily benefit the media owners. Supply and demand, they would say.

Social media is disruptive, changing the way we create and communicate ideas and information. It’s hastening the decline in newspaper sales and its fiddling with the way we consumers consume. Would it be correct to say we read less, or is it that we read differently? I suspect the former, but I have no hard evidence.

I have been active on social media since 2008 when I set up this current web page, started a Blog, and joined Facebook. I joined LinkedIn and Twitter in 2009, and later Hootsuite (to distribute posts to other sites) and Facebook Pages. I have occasionally toyed with Google+, Flipboard, Pinterest, Klout, and a few others.

Each of the sites I use have a different function. Twitter is focused on my professional life; Facebook is for communicating with family and friends. I relay my Tweeter pieces selectively to LinkedIn, Facebook Page, and occasionally Facebook. Announcements of blogs and events are published on each.

My audience is small, but quality. LQTM. Most of my posts are distributing content I judge to be important and broadly within my area of expertise. Occasionally I express an opinion. I use my full name at each site. Why not? I stand by the opinions that I express, and I am self-employed, so I don’t need a pseudonym. I don’t believe in trolling.

The original question I started out addressing was should I call myself a writer? Having written three blogs on this the answer is yes; but it doesn’t matter all that much.

Notes: LOL Laugh Out Loud; IMHO In My Honest Opinion; LQTM Laughing Quietly To Myself. (1/9/15)


I wanted to re-invigorate my nonfiction writing so I sought help from the pro’s. I joined the New South Wales Writers’ Centre.

It was an advantage to have already published regularly; I had no allusions about how difficult it is to craft a thousand original words that might be sought out and devoured to the final full stop. It slowly became apparent that it would require detonating, then re-assembling, the way I write and what I write about. Some form of re-invention was required.

A reinvigorated approach would enable me to reach a larger audience; one more closely aligned with the (declining) numbers of informed readers who consume what journalists write for sane newspapers, books, magazines and online forums.

In mid 2014 Townske was launched. It’s an online site for sharing images and text on cities and places. The tagline is ‘Uncover cities through people you like’. I have published seven ‘guides’ and have plans for more. Most contributors put prime emphasis on photographs. For me photographs are functional; the accompanying short texts are the challenge. It is difficult to balance informative content and engaging style.

On a second front I plan on sharing an extensive backlog of unpublished memoir (or life stories as it is often called). I started with a new memoir of Port Moresby in the early 1970s that will combine a series of collected and original images combined with a reflective narrative. The writing is difficult, but it is the accompanying artwork that has tested me.

Together the urban memoirs and Townske are the core elements of a project that I call ‘Cities of Memory and Meaning’. The memoirs will be indie nonfiction. Indie because I will self publish; I have no track record in art, nor as a ‘popular’ writer. I will need not just to refine my writing skills but also become a book designer and indie publisher.

There are useful articles in the NSW Writers’ Centre’s Newswrite that explore some of the issues that I confront, though I haven’t yet attended any of the numerous courses or meetings offered to the members.

I found helpful insights. Hannah Kent advised to ‘cultivate empathy’ and ‘write from the soul’. Benjamin Law urged to never stop being a bowerbird because that is what writers’ do. Krissy Keen recommended reading books written by writers who are better than you. She added that under no circumstances look at Goodreads’ reviews of your books. I learned from Bruce McCabe that a book-store owner wouldn’t stock a book if the cover wasn’t right. Graeme Gibson explained that fiction or nonfiction about real people and real places is ‘locative literature‘.

It’s a work in progress. I am increasingly comfortable that it’s OK to identify as a writer. But before I reach any conclusions I need to think about how social media fits into the discourse in the third (and final) blog of the sequence. (28/8/15)


Writing has been central to my working life, yet I have avoided calling myself a ‘writer’ because it sounds pretentious. It’s time to think this through.

During four decades in university trenches I wrote a reasonable number of academic articles, books and reports, along with newspaper op-eds, magazine articles and conference presentations.

It began in 1974 when a paper on Port Moresby’s squatter settlements co-authored with Richard Jackson (who did most of the work, and was a role model for me) was published in South Pacific Bulletin. My first solo piece tackled market trading in Port Moresby and appeared in South Pacific Bulletin the following year. They set a pattern for the next four decades.

As an academic I pitched largely to university colleagues, researchers, a few related policy professionals, and students. If more than three and a half people read my work I imagined I was on the verge of becoming popular. It never happened.

Whereas in the past academic output was judged on quantity and reputation, now more metrics are used to track the impact of formal academic publications, especially refereed journals. Google Scholar counts citations to academic publications, and has a h-Index and an i 70 Index to assess the significance of scholarly output. My current scores are 1,072 citations, a h-Index of 19, and an i10 Index of 34. Not great, but it keeps me happy.

The measures vary according to discipline and the language of publication. In the social sciences it helps to have a North American or, less significantly, a British/European, focus. Scores can also be gamed by repeating arguments, colleagues citing each other, and names being added to the list of authors. Nevertheless, they are an improvement on a quick eye-balling of a CV.

I only contribute to hard-core academic journals or edited books if I receive an invitation. It doesn’t happen often, but it accounts for a book chapter on China’s cities in 2013 and a journal paper on Adelaide as a ‘university city’ last year. Who knows what comes next?

Now I’m in search of a larger and more diverse readership and more impact. Not that I, or anyone else, can measure impact with any rigour or finesse.

A couple of years ago I was approached to write occasional pieces for Oxford Analytica Daily Brief, which provided subscription briefings online to companies across the globe. Although there is considerable editorial reorganisation of my draft and no author attribution, I enjoy the writing as there is demand for the confidential briefings.

I have recently published two pieces in the Asia Pacific Policy Society’s Policy Forum. It’s an online publication of the Curtin School of Public Policy at The Australian National University. I’m not sure of its reach, but it feels like the right forum for me to continue as a contributor.

I signed up with the intention of writing for The Conversation when it launched. It has done extremely well in catering to academic writers and has a significant readership. Other online outlets for short policy-related postings that I browse include the Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter, University World News, and the UK based Global Policy’s Opinion & Analysis. Something for the future, I think.

The writings mentioned above originated in my ‘Universities and the Creation of the Modern Knowledge City’ project and can continue to be channeled into short online pieces in the outlets above. But does this justify calling myself a writer? (26/8/15)


The Mayors’ of the two NSW Central Coast Councils want a Central Coast University. It is not difficult to understand why education is a concern. But is a university the answer?

Wyong Shire Council and Gosford City Council are the two local governments that comprise the Central Coast. The Mayor of Wyong Shire, Doug Eaton, appears to be taking the lead on the initiative.

Wyong Shire had a population of 155,767 in 2012, projected to grow to 203,448 in 2031. Gross Regional Product is an estimated $4.7billion, according to the Wyong Economic Development Strategy adopted in July 2014.

Education performance in Wyong is lagging the state. School retention is 53%, well below the NSW average of 69%. Some 2.3% attend university, whereas the NSW average is 4.4%, almost double. TAFE participation is 2.3%, close to the NSW figure of 2.4%. Overall, just 14.7% of Wyong residents have tertiary qualifications, compared to 28.2% across NSW.

The figures are dismal for a Shire with an outstanding climate, beaches, national parks and good road and rail access to both Sydney and Newcastle.

A Shire survey found that 71% of 2,300 residents and 76% of businesses want a university in the Central Coast. The University of Newcastle has a campus at Ourimbah catering to 4,000 students, according to the Mayor. He wants numbers around the 14,000 mark and a much wider spread of courses than is now offered.

Wyong has invited Expressions of Interest for an Education and Business Precinct in Warnervale, a few kilometres along the Pacific Highway to the north of Wyong. Warnervale is also the preferred site for another ambitious plan to build an Australia Chinese Theme Park which was recently knocked back by the NSW Department of Planning.

Gosford City Council Mayor Lawrie McKinna has supported the idea of a Central Coast University, but also supports the University of Newcastle’s plans for a student hub in the centre of Gosford, and an expansion of medical education and research facilities at Gosford Hospital, and also wants a University of Newcastle Business School in Gosford.

A proposal for a university was put to the two Councils earlier in June, but was knocked back. It is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Discussions with the University of Newcastle is in the hands of the Council General Manager, Michael Whittaker.

Addressing the low levels of higher education and school performance in the region is of fundamental importance. Calling for the establishment of a new university may have some brief political resonance, but a more mature debate is needed to think through how the Central Coast might more effectively address its’ glaring needs.

The rapid changes in Australian higher education provide other innovative ways of addressing needs. A discussion about opportunities this offers seems almost entirely absent in the Central Coast. It is time for that to change. (19/6/15)


The Magna Carta is 800 years old today. A great Magna Carta web page explaining how it came about and why it is significant has been commissioned by the Australian Human Rights Council, though you wouldn’t know it because there is no mention on their home page (10.57am 15 June).  Congratulations to Katrina Clark, the page designer. (15/6/15)


Townske will be officially launched today in a favourite local coffee and lunch venue, the Two Chaps Café in Chapel St Marrickville. Townske is the invention of Daniel Clark and Joe Vuong and it has taken over a year to get to this point.

They are co-owners of Rushfaster, the online bag and goods retailer and the ‘men’s lifestyle publisher’ site, Hey Gents, which focuses on quality consumer products.

Townske is a social media start-up built around the theme of travel and discovery through the creation of City Guides: ‘Uncover Cities Through People You Like’. The site has evolved significantly since the early days when the website was being shaped and accessed through the working name of Lovesheet. 

Site metrics commenced in March 2015. By the end of May the site contained 1,300 user-generated guides and 2,000 registered users.

A short piece in Startup Daily titled ‘Sydney startup Townske wants to help travellers explore cities like locals’ by Gina Baldassarre is worth a read.

My first post to the trial site was in July 2014. I used my 2013 photographs of Washington DC, and centred the page on Woodrow Wilson Plaza and the ease of walking to many DC landmarks. I now have seven pages which had received 6,669 views at 1 June. Singapore Arts and Heritage District has the most views (1,265), followed by Coffee and Café on the Central Coast with 1,047 views, then the Museum of Old and New Arts (MONA) at 1,035.

Townske, Rushfaster and Hey Gents are located in Buckley St, Marrickville. It is one of the suburbs that arc around the southern edge of the Sydney CBD, from Paddington to Surrey Hills, Darlington, Newtown and Marrickville, the most substantial concentration of new tech-connected startups in Australia. (10/6/15)

Postscript: The morning after a very successful launch. Two Chaps was packed, the drink flowed and the food kept coming. The sticky chai ice-cream was sensational. Daniel mentioned in his speech that there were now about 1500 city guides and another 1500 soon to be published, and that there have been more than 1 million hits on the existing guides. Good signs for the future of Townske  (11/6/15)


My latest piece ‘Knowledge is Power: How International Education Can Enhance Australia’s International Influence’ is now published on APPS Policy Forum. (18/5/15)


PNG will celebrate 40 years of independence on the 16th of September. The Wire radio program is on to it. I had an interview with Kayla Dickeson this afternoon about how PNG was going, and the significance of the election underway in Bougainville. The 40 members to be elected from a field of 342 candidates, 10 of whom are women, will be charged with running a promised referendum on Bougainville’s independence. The interview can be heard on digital radio station 2SER’s The Wire program and on stations in Adelaide and Brisbane at 5.04pm Sydney time today. (14/5/15)


Just posted on Reading Sydney for Townske. Five books that have interesting  insights into Sydney. (7/5/15)


Another day another report on Australia’s international education. This time it’s the Productivity Commission Research Paper titled International Education Services.

There is a one page summary which says:

  1. Bullet There are 450,000 international students in Australia

  2. Bullet Global competition is increasing

  3. Bullet Australia’s future success depends on the ‘value proposition’

  4. Bullet The Government’s regulatory settings are critical

  5. Bullet The student visa strategy has had mixed success; any broadening of the strategy requires good risk mitigation

  6. Bullet The teaching standards should be replaced by a stronger focus on learning standards

  7. Bullet More public information is needed on the quality and ranking of providers

  8. Bullet Reliance on recruitment agents needs to be reduced

Fair enough. On the surface, there is little to quibble about. (1/5/15)


Four Corners program on ‘Degrees of Deception’ followed on from the release of the ICAC Report. It revealed little that was new to those familiar with the problem or had read the ICAC document, but it managed to create some drama. Two Vice Chancellors may well feel a little wobbly today after opting not to respond to demands to appear on camera.

Footage on Beijing education agents recorded through hidden cameras revealed their willingness to arrange alternative English language tests for students whose official scores were too low for the Australian universities they wanted to attend.

Soft marking was the other focus, with nursing students the target. Claims were made about their unsuitability to enter into the profession, sparking fears about their ability to read or understand instructions in English.

An attempt to find the people behind schemes to sell essays to students seemed to go nowhere.

Not surprisingly, Brett Blacker and Phil Honeywood from the International Education Association of Australia expressed their disappointment with the program, claiming it showed bias, failed to speak with experts in international education, and ignored quality assurance mechanisms in place, or being developed. (21/4/15)


The New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has published a report titled Learning the Hard Way: Managing Corruption Risks Associated with International Students at Universities in NSW.

Corruption in higher education is not always easy to pin down, let alone prove. ICAC focuses on a few key areas including language skills, academic standards, and recruitment agents.

The ICAC report is critical but balanced, and includes a series of recommendations for improvement. These include greater separation of functions within universities, especially market development and student admissions, and strengthening the connection with quality assurance and internal audit.  

Inevitably much of the critical information is based on anecdotes and individual cases. ICAC implies these problems are widespread, without being able to provide systematic evidence that this is the case. There are 250,000 international university students in Australia, and 600,000 international students in total. Just how many students benefit from corrupt activities? No-one knows.

It is also unhelpful to imply that this is a problem only due to international students and those that prey on them.

Australia’s higher education system has expanded dramatically in the last few decades, driven by far higher expectations about the numbers of local students expected to acquire a university education and the growth among immigrants and their offspring in pursuing university education. That, along with the recalibration of teaching and learning brought about by the rise of social media,, add a complexity to the situation not touched by ICAC.

ICAC takes the view that there are ‘corrupt markets’ by which it means countries and markets where corruption is rife and from where students should not be accepted. I get the point, of course, but doesn’t that rule out accepting students from most of East, South and Southeast Asia? Not a good look.     

It also urges universities to have a full cost profile of university activities so that marketing can focus on high yield countries. I agree with the need for a full cost profile, and universities are making headway, but it’s taking time. And what if the high yield countries are also ‘corrupt’? I get the impression ICAC doesn’t approve of too much diversity in the student population.

I could be more critical but I won’t because the key point is that this is a document worth reading and thinking about, and taking onboard some of the key corruption prevention initiatives ICAC formulated.

Reaction to the report thus far has been supportive. Universities Australia issued a glowing response, and Julie Hare’s article in The Australian on ‘Education’s double bind’ (in which I was quoted) picked up on the key issue of academic standards and soft marking.

Tonight on free-to-air television a Four Corners program on Degrees of Deception is also dealing with the matter of corruption in higher ed and is likely to cause a storm, based on the advance information. (20/4/15)


Julie Hare published a piece titled ‘Education’s double bind’ in The Australian this morning. It quotes me on a couple of matters concerning international students that follow the release of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s report on Learning the Hard Way: Managing Corruption Risks Associated with International Students at Universities in NSW. (20/4/15)


The draft National Strategy for International Education was released on 1 April. No joke. Two days before Easter. Was the embattled Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, trying to bury it?

If he was, I can’t think why. It’s a good strategic document, as these things go. The foundations are solid, the Strategy resting on the Labor Government’s Chaney Report, published in February 2013 (Australia – Educating Globally. Advice from the International Education Advisory Council). The Chaney Report’s first recommendation was a five-year strategy for international education. This is it.

The Strategy is very broad, encompassing all levels of education, though with the most substantial focus being on higher education. It defines three pillars: getting the fundamentals right; reaching out to the world; staying competitive.

International educators in universities have frequently called for more Government engagement. Often it has been without always making clear what they realistically expected Government to contribute. Nor did they always factor in the competitive nature of many aspects of international education.

The Strategy has generally avoided the patronising tone sometimes associated with this kind of document. It recognises that Government has responsibility for the funding of public education and regulating the whole sector, but that many activities, such as international student recruitment, are mainly managed by the institutions themselves.

In most situations the Government is restricted to an enabling role. That’s why the document includes many...the Government encourages..., the Government acknowledges..., the Government recognises..., and occasionally, the Government will...

Pyne’s broader higher education reform package underpins the first of the three pillars of the strategy; getting the fundamentals right (Goal 1). Whether the higher education elements pass through the Senate remains problematic, of course. It is reassuring to see a clear concern for the importance of the quality of education to success in international education.

The strategy also includes a line about more focus in research investment. That is often code for increasing funding for the health sciences and STEM; the logical consequence is reduced research funding for the humanities and social sciences. The UK and USA have pushed in this direction. The HASS disciplines know this, but the defensive responses are sporadic at best.

Pillar two is reaching out to the world (Goals 2, 3 and 4). The New Colombo Plan which provides support for Australians going abroad is repeatedly referred to as the Government’s ‘signature initiative’. Rejuvenating language study in Australia is also addressed. This is a turnaround from the Coalition’s last period in Government when then Foreign Minister Alexander Downer expressed the view that he did not think foreign language study was important for Australians.

Pillar three is staying competitive (Goals 5 and 6). Here the Government’s enabling functions are important in addressing concerns over visa matters and student housing.

Online education gets an airing, with a response to the June 2013 report on Higher Education in the Digital Age. The report was never released to the public, the Minister fobbing off the curious by saying ‘I’m not going to tell the university sector how to do it [online education]’.

What didn’t I like about the draft Strategy? In his introduction Christopher Pyne suggest that the growth in international students is somehow due to the current Government. It’s not. International student numbers have been steadily growing since 2013, and it took several years hard work to get this happening. I know politicians can’t help it, but it is irritating when they claim credit for things to which they contributed very little. (4/4/15)


Underlying masochistic inclinations inevitably draw me to the political biographies of prominent national politicians. On that count, Julia Gillard’s My Story (Knopf, Sydney, 2014) is a must read.

The first five chapters are a powerful, revealing narrative about Gillard’s three years as PM, especially the destruction created by recalcitrant former PM, Kevin Rudd, and the relentless negativism of attack-dog Tony Abbott.

Chapter 6 gets to the heart of the issue: the demeaning attitude to Australia’s first female Prime Minister. It reflects badly on Australians in politics, the media, and beyond. I would hope the rest of us are not as evil, but I suspect we are. Gillard’s public reply was a tour de force: her misogyny speech has 2.5 million hits on YouTube.

The second half of the book is less engaging, recording Gillard’s reflections about her major political achievements. I was, though, particularly interested in her views on foreign policy and intrigued by her comments on Bob Carr. Gillard concluded that Carr did not cope well with his time as Foreign Minister; in his own account of the role, Carr clearly thought he was brilliant at the job. Gillard reminds us of Mark Latham’s comment that ‘politics is Hollywood for ugly people’. 

I followed up by reading Mary Delahunty’s Gravity. Inside the PM’s Office During Her Last Year and Final Days (Hardie Grant Books, Melbourne, 2014). Delahunty had good access to Gillard during her period as PM. She skillfully manages to articulate some of the emotional ups and downs of Gillard’s last year in power. There is some padding in the text but overall it is a good read, and adds a layer of emotion not always found in Gillard’s book. (30/3/15)


In the Central Coast and in need of brunch and/or coffee? Try one of these: Coffee & Cafe: Shelly Beach, Toowoon Bay, Long Jetty. On Townske (26/3/15)


The higher education funding reforms failed to get through the Senate last night. It was no surprise; the rag-tag group of senators the Government needed were all emphatically opposed. That’s democracy.

So where does that leave the future of universities? Despite all his bombast, Christopher Pyne didn’t deliver. Yet another disappointment from a Government that is struggling to either explain or achieve its’ agenda. At the other end of the political spectrum, the NTEU is delighted and Labor is smug.

So where does that leave the universities?

  1. Bullet Wondering from what direction the next hit is coming. It will be business as usual for the moment, because the threat to stop funding researchers if the legislation was not passed has been withdrawn.

  2. Bullet Knowing that the Government, Labor and, most critically, a bunch of Senators, have entrenched positions.

  3. Bullet Knowing that C Pyne is tenacious and will be back with more modifications to the legislation and some lucrative rewards for the electorates of the independents.

The budget is expected to be announced on the 12th of May, eight weeks away. Perhaps that is when we will see the next version of the higher education package. (18/3/15)


The fading of a ‘university city’ vision’ was published today. It is my first piece for APPS Policy Forum. It was prompted by the announcement that University College London would close its Adelaide campus in three years.

I drew on a longer paper that came out in November 2014 titled ‘International University Campuses and the Knowledge Economy: The University City Project in Adelaide’. It’s accessible on the Global Policy site or via the Wiley Online Library. (10/3/15)


Congratulations Daniel Clark and Joe Vuong on the success of Townske. Uncover Cities Through People You Like. As of today there are 88 contributors and getting on towards 180 guides. 

My page on the Townske site is under my nom de plume llonach. I have put together five Guides, initially during the set-up and testing stage of the site, and now during its operational, but still being improved, stage. The pages are:

  1. Bullet A Coffee at Glenelg

  2. Bullet Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart

  3. Bullet Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Washington DC

  4. Bullet U Street, Washington DC

  5. Bullet Singapore Arts and Heritage District

It’s easy to create a guide: try it! (17/2/15)


I recently accepted an invitation to draft a short piece for APPS Policy Forum and signed up to the Asia and the Pacific Policy Society (APPS). Both are initiatives from the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University. I’m impressed by the Policy Forum, which was established in November 2014 and publishes 600-800 word pieces.

To put this in context, I have subscribed to a similar publication, Asia Pacific Memo, since about the time of its launch in mid 2010. It focuses on shorter pieces of about 350 words, emphasising that content should be ‘rooted in research’. It claims 2,700 subscribers, and is located within the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia.

It is pleasing to see that the APPS group have established a platform to give us a local alternative for short, focused writings on public policy issues in Asia and the Pacific.  My first piece will be a short account of changes to what was once called Adelaide’s ‘university city’ strategy. (8/2/15)


Graeme Hugo AO passed away this morning. He was an outstanding and highly accomplished demographer/geographer, with a glittering international reputation. Graeme was also a very generous and decent person. Along with a small group of lecturers at Flinders University, Graeme helped shape my interest in Southeast Asia and guide me into a professional career. Our lives and careers intersected on numerous occasions over the following decades. He is a great loss for all of us. (20/1/15)


Good piece by David Donaldson titled ‘Foreign aid goals: reduce poverty or feed the ‘fads’’, in The Mandarin today. He cites my view about the primacy of a poverty focus for Australia’s aid program. (19/1/15)


Bob Carr’s Diary of a Foreign Minister (New South Publishing, Sydney, 2014) was my favourite book of 2014.

When it first appeared it was criticized. Tweets sniped at Carr’s preciousness, citing his preference for first class air travel and fine cuisine. Having a contrarian bent, it stimulated my interest in reading the book. It didn’t let me down. I wallowed in it.

Being Foreign Minister was Carr’s dream job, although it lasted fewer than two years, and in a minority government struggling to cope with internal issues and a particularly destructive News Corp backed opposition. Carr writes fluently and revels in, even amplifies, his quirkiness, bolstered by the belief that this was an unexpected and short-term return to a high profile public role. He is a hypochondriac and obsessive about diet and exercise. He regularly takes Normiston to get to sleep and melatonin to overcome jet lag.

Carr name-drops at every opportunity. No one is missed. He’s proud of his ability to get press coverage and values his skills as a performer with the ability to entertain. I’m the best chairman I know, he says. And he is good at flattery, particularly of Americans. He fantasises about how cool and accomplished he is; or is this irony?

He is patronising in references to Julia Gillard and opposed to Kevin Rudd’s focus on new international relations architecture. He frequently criticises the quality of his DFAT briefing notes, and he worries about ‘American judgement’ and its ‘record of walking into wars’.

Current Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has asked whether world leaders would ever again trust the confidentiality of discussions with a future Australian foreign Minister. It’s a political point, but takes no account of the fact that Carr was a short-term replacement in a government that no longer exists. More, he is so obviously out to entertain and occasionally dazzle, unlike his leaden predecessors. Carr’s diary is witty, frank, iconoclastic, revealing and informative. I’m thinking of reading it again.

Two books with South Australian surfing connections caught my eye in 2014. Christo Reid’s Daly Head. A National Surfing Reserve (Christo Reid, 2014) follows on from his Cactus, Surfing Journals from Solitude (Strangelove Press, 2010). Daly Heads is at the southern end of Yorke Peninsula, and open to the swells rolling in from the southern ocean. Sharks like the area too. The book is a memoir of sorts, produced in recognition of the declaration of Daly’s as a National Surfing Reserve, and designed to raise money to help maintain the area.

The other book with a surfing link is Mark Thomson’s Gerry Wedd. Thong Cycle (Wakefield Press, 2008). Wedd is a ceramicist, sculptor and artist. He is also a surfer, a winner of South Australian championships, and a member of the Seaview Road Board Riders, a club to which I belonged in its formative years in the late 1960s. It is still going: in November this year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the club at a pub event in Adelaide.

Wedd’s work includes extensive use of the willow pattern, including for thongs and surfboards. He does T-shirts (eg, for Mambo) and a range of pottery, many with ocean and surfing themes. Thomson’s book is a small hardcover, but nicely laid-out and produced.  

Finally, I have already blogged about two books on Papua New Guinea. Drussilla Modjeska’s fine novel The Mountain in a Blog posted on 20/1/14, and the edited collection of essays written by women in PNG in the 1970s and 1980s, titled Our Time But Not Our Place in a Blog on 2/2/14. (2/1/15)


What better way to start 2015 than by citing a blog on why blogs are, or should be, an essential part of an academic’s tool kit.

Patrick Dunleavy’s ‘Shorter, better, faster, free: Blogging changes the nature of academic research, not just how it is communicated’ is on the excellent LSE Impact of Social Science blog. As Mollie would say, do yourself a favour and have a look. (2/1/15)

Making a Difference: Australian International Education

Edited by Dorothy Davis and Bruce Mackintosh (UNSW Press, Sydney, 2011)

BLOGS 2015

  1. Bullet PM’s innovation statement

  2. Bullet Graeme Hugo

  3. Bullet IELI

  4. Bullet Amsterdam

  5. Bullet Rotterdam

  6. Bullet Utrecht

  7. Bullet The future of work

  8. Bullet PNG’s independence

  9. Bullet Writing Nonfiction 3

  10. Bullet Writing Nonfiction 2

  11. Bullet Writing Nonfiction 1

  12. Bullet Central Coast U

  13. Bullet Magna Carta

  14. Bullet Townske launches

  15. Bullet Knowledge is power

  16. Bullet PNG approaches 40

  17. Bullet Reading Sydney

  18. Bullet International education services

  19. Bullet Corruption risks in higher ed 3

  20. Bullet Corruption risks in higher ed 2

  21. Bullet Corruption risks in higher ed 1

  22. Bullet Nat strat for int ed

  23. Bullet Political autobiography of a PM

  24. Bullet Coffee & brunch

  25. Bullet Higher ed reform

  26. Bullet Adelaide’s fading ‘university city’

  27. Bullet Townske

  28. Bullet APPS Policy Forum

  29. Bullet Vale Graeme Hugo

  30. Bullet Australia’s foreign aid goals

  31. Bullet Books in 2014

  32. Bullet Why blog?

MEDIA commentary 2015

Interviewed by Kayla Dickeson on PNG approaching 40 and the Bougainville issue on The Wire on Sydney digital radio station 2SER. The program was also broadcast on stations in Adelaide and Brisbane (14/5/15).

Interviewed by Julie Hare for her piece titled ‘Education’s double bind’ in The Australian. It follows the report on Learning the Hard Way: Managing Corruption Risks Associated with International Students at Universities in NSW (20/4/15).

Interviewed by Jonathan Pearlman for an article in Singapore’s The Straits Times on impact of Australia’s refugee strategy on Southeast Asian neighbours (21/1/15).

Cited by David Donaldson in his piece on ‘Foreign aid goals: reduce poverty or feed the ‘fads’’, in The Mandarin (19/1/15).

Planning Asian Cities: Risks and Resilience

Edited by Stephen Hamnett and Dean Forbes (Routledge, London,  2011)


eBook version

Sustainable Development in China edited by Curtis Andressen, Mubarak A.R., and Wang Xiaoyi (Routledge, London,  2013)



2013 and  DC Blog








2013 and  DC Blog








2013 and  DC Blog              








2013 and  DC Blog