AQ: Australian Quarterly 93.4 – Oct-Dec 2022

AQ 93.4 - New Oct-Dec 2022 Edition - Out Now!

One of our most basic evolutionary imperatives is a desire for simplicity – a simple, intuitive answer to inform our next move. In politics this often manifests as binaries that are then transformed into ideological fist-fights – the climate wars and the culture wars, for example. Tiring straw-man arguments of no nuance.

On the other hand, it also means that when a solution seems intuitive then it can become implacable dogma: for example, that the party of business is naturally the best economic manager, or that a government in debt is an economy poorly managed.

This edition is a reminder that the easy way is generally not the best way and that going to the effort to understand things a little deeper could be more important than ever.

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From Little Things, Big Things Grow: Fungi, Security and the Future of Food

Global conflicts, devastating fires, destructive flooding, COVID-affected supply-chains, lettuce shortages…the fragility of our food security has been brought into sharp relief recently. Our soil ecosystems are one of the facets in this system that is fundamental to supporting the future of food and our access to it. Can increased understanding of these systems reduce our reliance on destructive industrial farming techniques and increasingly scarce resources?

Adam Frew, Meike Heuck, Christina Birnbaum

Budget Repair? Better to repair your thinking instead

Everything that you think you know about Australia’s ‘debt and deficit crisis’ is probably wrong.

Politicians, journalists, and even economists have been peddling the mistruth that running a country’s budget is like balancing a household’s books – when nothing could be further from the truth…Menzies knew the value of a good deficit, and knew that deficits are the driver of wealth creation. By oversimplifying a complex system, the public understanding has been turned on its head – putting everything at risk.

Steve Keen

Social Grooming: Algorithms mis/shaping political discourse for young voters

Three quarters of young Australians are likely to have been exposed to toxic, politically-divisive content on social media, such as Covid denialism, Qanon conspiracies, or extreme men’s rights views. Whether or not these young people are interested or searching for such content, platform algorithms are pushing it into their feeds. Around the world we have seen real-world repercussions of social media misinformation and political propaganda. To protect our democracy we need to find ways to limit the exposure of young people to potentially polarising material.

Ralph Housego and Rys Farthing

Australia’s U-turn: The past and future of Australia’s COVID-19 response

Through the first two years of the pandemic Australia’s response was lauded overseas, particularly when death rates soared in dozens of countries that had been unable, or unwilling, to pursue a “Covid-zero” approach.  Now the contrast is stark as we, in 2022, come to terms with our future of ‘living with the virus’. Yet questions remain: Was our success good luck or good management? Was it the best approach? Was it all worth it? Where to next?

James Trauer

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