Australian Outlook

Issues brief

13 Mar 2014
Colin Chapman

As Russia builds up troops and weaponry in three areas along Ukraine’s eastern border, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel warns the Kremlin to abandon the politics of the “19th and 20th centuries.” The New York Times reports that she told the Bundestag if Russia continued on its present course it would not only be a catastrophe for Ukraine but also change the EU’s relationship with Moscow. The United Nations  supremo, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović, has been denied access to Crimea.

Speaking of the 20th century, a spat has broken out in Britain over plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of  The Great War. Prominent BBC Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman called prime minister David Cameron an “idiot” and his education minister a “charlatan.” Makes accusations of bias against ABC presenters look mild!

Meanwhile Cameron, returning from a visit to Israel and Gaza, has given a very gloomy assessment of the prospects for Middle East peace, describing the plight of people in the latter as “unacceptable.”

Women are being punished for speaking out, and even when they are not being silenced, pay a high price for being heard, the World Economic Forum tells us.

The Diplomat’s Justin McDonnell speaks with essayist and novelist Pankaj Mishra about his latest book A Great Clamour: Encounters with China and Its Neighbours, Chinese and Indian mutual distrust, perceptions of Tibet, and Chinese-style capitalism.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard triggered a debate when she rejected Kevin Rudd’s idea of a ”big Australia.” Now Michael Fullilove, executive director of the Lowy Institute has put a strong case for population growth.

As Australia’s unemployment rate comes in a shad better than the Rudd government forecast, OECD shows it is also much better than the global average.