Policy Forum's pick of the posts

24 December 2018

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Quentin Grafton is Director of the Centre for Water Economics, Environment and Policy (CWEEP) at Crawford School of Public Policy. In April 2010 he was appointed the Chairholder, the UNESCO Chair in Water Economics and Transboundary Water Governance.

In 2018 Crawford’s blog Policy Forum published more than 300 articles covering a huge range of public policy issues from all around the world. Don’t have time to read them all over the Christmas break? No problem – here are some picks from the Policy Forum team about great articles they’ve enjoyed that you might too.

Losing our heads about compulsory helmets

“Making a point of how there have been no moves towards mandatory helmets when walking home from the pub at night, Craig Richards argues that biking shouldn’t be one of only two activities where the government says helmets are compulsory.

“Whether you agree with him or not, this humorous approach to the rather serious topic of Australia’s compulsory bike helmets makes for a punderful and informative read.”

Julia Ahrens

Don’t feed the fossil fuel elephant

“As we start turning our minds to hopes for the New Year, our global leaders are working on a set of far more large-scale resolutions. The Katowice climate conference took place this December. With it comes a level of urgency captured by this key line: “Our next actions will shape the future of the Earth and its inhabitants for centuries – potentially millennia.”

“It’s a jolting reminder that there will be no white Christmas to enjoy if we don’t make well-overdue changes not only for our own sake, but for anyone who might ever live after us.”

Cherry Zheng

Using children in border control and political brinkmanship

“Sharon’s article is powerful and poignant. Reflecting on World Refugee Day, she tells a tale of how public policy has the potential to perpetuate hate, foster injustice, and be cruel to those who are most vulnerable – our children. Sharon writes with passion and conviction about something she cares deeply about, and it truly strikes a chord.”

Maya Bhandari

The slow drip of poor water policy

“My pick is this terrific piece by Asit Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada. In it, the authors highlight the growing global water crisis and, in particular, in India. They document past trends, the current challenges and likely water futures. Importantly, they outline solutions and focus on how to improve water governance to deliver water security for the poor and vulnerable in the world’s cities. A timely contribution to a hugely important public policy issue.”

Quentin Grafton

Environmental policy with Chinese Characteristics

“Pessimist or not, the little progress we’ve made this year in establishing strong environmental policies has disappointed many – including myself. There’s no doubt that that it’s a shared responsibility between government, businesses, and individuals, but this year’s inaction seems to point especially towards the gross failings of our democracies.

“Professor Beeson’s article on the effectiveness of Xi’s authoritarian power has made me question our political systems more than ever. And while I don’t agree with many of Xi’s policies, I’m increasingly convinced that what we really need is more decisive government action. Maybe then we’ll stand an actual chance against the world’s greatest collective action problem.”

Lydia Kim

Women, peace and security in ASEAN

“This is an excellent piece by Hui Ying Lee that focuses on women’s rights – one of the most important issues facing the Asia-Pacific region. It makes the stark point that even in an age of #MeToo, there is slow progress in the ASEAN region. It’s a strong, readable piece that analyses what the regional body has done to protect women against violence, and what challenges it faces in achieving peace and security for the women of the region.”

Tessia Deng

Losing our heads about compulsory helmets 

“In his usual engaging and provocative style, Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards highlights some of the public backlash his organisation received after supporting a policy change on mandatory helmet laws in Australia. Agree or disagree with the decision, you can’t go past Craig’s spirited defence of evidence, nuance and perspective when it comes to making policy – qualities sorely lacking in Australia’s current political climate.”

Nicky Lovegrove

An open letter from concerned scholars of China and the Chinese diaspora / China’s influence: maintaining the debate / Chinese Communist Party influence: Why the critics are wrong

“Am I cheating by picking three? Probably. But these three are connected as one strong story telling a range of perspectives that were very influential on an issue of national importance in Australia in 2018. Honorable mentions, though, to some other pieces I’ve absolutely loved this year – Sally Tyler’s powerful piece on harassment at work, Melanie O’Brien on the tragedy of the Rohingya, Ian Chubb’s brilliant broadside against self-serving politicians, Gerry Georgatos’ heartfelt call for greater focus on suicide prevention – an issue that’s close to my heart, and my amazing podcast co-host Sharon Bessell’s angry and exasperated piece on Australia’s political leadership. So much goodness, and sorry for everyone else I forgot to mention.”

Martyn Pearce

Unsocial media

“The meteoric rise of social media platforms such as Facebook over the past 18 years has opened the door to global communication at an unprecedented level. Though these platforms serve as facilitators of free speech, an inevitable consequence is the spread of unfounded, conspiratorial-like ideas. With the anti-Vaxx movement at the fore, as one deadly example, Timothy Graham shines a light on an issue that will likely be exacerbated with the rise of ‘fake news’: the rights and responsibility of free speech on social media.”

Sophie Riedel

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