Australian Outlook

Issues Brief

02 Jun 2014
Colin Chapman

Travellers to Thailand would be well advised to keep an eye on DFAT’s latest updates. There is a curfew between midnight and 4.00 am but it does not apply to journeys to and from the international airport. At present DFAT is urging Australians visiting the country to “exercise a high degree of caution”.

This coming Wednesday marks 25 years since the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing but, as noted by the Washington Post, although China has tried to erase the memory through the work of dissident artists it lives on.

Australian Outlook posted commentary ahead of the South African election. On the outcome, we came across ‘Between a Rock and a Better Place’ in that outstanding publication by The Economist; if you missed it, I recommend it. Meanwhile figures show South Africa’s economy has contracted for the first time since the 2008/9 recession, and Business Day says that Zuma and Co face a tough task ahead.

A top Chinese general has accused the US and Japan of staging ‘provocative actions’ against China as maritime tensions spilled over into an Asian regional defence forum in Singapore. A full report of US defense secretary Chuck Hagel’s criticism of Beijing was given front page treatment in the South China Morning Post.

Unconventional gas is loathed by the Greens and their pals in the media. It is true that the shale revolution carries real environmental dangers, especially the release of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. So how can fracking be made safer? According to Fred Krupp in the current Foreign Affairs magazine shale still has the potential to benefit the environment as well as the economy, but only if industry and government work together to deal with the problems.

France’s prime minister described the results of the European elections as an “earthquake”. But, says Bloomberg’s Ramesh Ponnura, the continent’s elites have only themselves to blame.

Britain’s Labor leader Ed Milliband is facing a working class revolt over immigration policy, reports The Observer. The unrestricted entry of workers from the EU is the problem.

Finally, I strongly recommend you read Bloomberg founder and former New York mayor, Mike Bloomberg’s essay on tolerance in universities, based on a talk at Harvard. He had in mind US universities, but a variety of incidents in the past year shows there is a need for tolerance on Australia’s campuses.