Opinion Pieces

Kids Should Code: Why 'Computational Thinking' Needs to be Taught in Schools

19 December 2014

Originally published by The Guardian. Written with Tim Watts.

On Wednesday lunchtimes at Altona Primary, it’s not just the basketball court or the cricket pitch which is the place for students to be. It’s the library, where kids in grades four, five and six crowd around and enthusiastically learn the basics of how to give instructions to a computer – coding.

Technology, Teaching and the Future of Work

08 September 2014

First published by ABC's The Drum.

Ours is a democracy, and we have choices. The economist and writer Tyler Cowen described what it would look like if we get those choices wrong: a society divided into two camps. Those who have the ability to work with machines, and those who are replaced by them.

Turnbull's NBN Vision Has No Future in Sight

01 September 2014

Originally published at Business Spectator.

When electricity was first reticulated in the north-eastern United States in the 1880s, its primary application was street lighting. Doubters at the time argued against the investment of what would today be many billions of dollars in a lighting network.

By Following the US, Australia Consigns Future Generations to Social Immobility

22 August 2014

Originally published by the Guardian.

The unemployment rate in Australia was lower than in the United States every single day of the Rudd-Gillard governments, but higher just before Labor was elected and soon after it was defeated. This was a largely-ignored but key takeout from the recently-released labour force data for July, which saw the Australian rate tick up to 6.4% while the US’ dropped to 6.2%.

Second Generation of Success

21 July 2014

Originally published by the Chifley Research Centre.

During a recent meeting at my local Khmer Buddhist Temple, a visiting senior Asian politician recounted to me a joke that got me thinking: what’s the difference between a migrant taxi driver and a university professor? The answer: one generation.

Budgeting for Inequality

12 June 2014

Originally published by the Chifley Research Centre.

Simon Sinek is not a household name in Australia outside of those who watch TED talks on their iPads or pick up self-help books at airports.   Only devotees would recognise his central tenet of life and business – to Start with Why.   But he helps us understand the first Abbott Budget: why it has taken the shape it has; and why Labor joins most Australians in opposing it so vehemently.

Tony Abbott's Austerity-Like Measures Will Hit Poorer Communities the Hardest

23 January 2014

Originally published by The Guardian.

Even more alarming than the news that our economy shed almost 32,000 jobs in December is the likely impact that extreme budget cuts would have on the communities where the labour market is already at its weakest, like my electorate of Rankin to the south of Brisbane.

3D Printing: Not Yet a New Industrial Revolution, But its Impact Will Be Huge

11 December 2013

First published by The Guardian.

When music was a physical item – a vinyl record, a tape or a CD – ownership could be verified and quality could be assured. In the last decade, music progressively morphed into little more than a file which can be easily shared and edited. Now, the vast and rapid technological advances being catalysed by three dimensional printing could see this phenomenon repeated for a much wider range of products.

The Courage of Our Convictions: the Dollar Float 30 Years On

10 December 2013

Originally published by the Chifley Research Centre.

It is highly unusual for a former prime minister, especially a fairly reclusive one, to trek to Canberra during a parliamentary sitting week to address the caucus.  There has to be a really good reason.  And in this case, for Paul Keating, that reason is to mark the 30th anniversary of the Hawke-Keating Government’s nation-changing decision to float the dollar on 12 December 1983.

How to Make the G20 Matter Again

28 November 2013

Originally published on ABC's the Drum.

When Australia assumes the leadership of the G20 this Sunday, the world will be watching to see if the 2014 Brisbane leaders' summit will set the stage for genuine progress on global economic challenges or whether we will just be keeping the seat warm for the Turkish presidency in 2015, a bit like the Russians kept the seat warm for ours. If we are serious about grasping the opportunity, the best thing we can do is to harness the G20 to advance multilateralism in the trade arena.