Andrew Leigh

Most people, and certainly most politicians, don’t spend much time or emotional energy thinking about whether human life on this planet will still exist in one hundred years’ time, or what efforts might need to be made right now if we and our descendants are to avoid extinction.

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Disaster movies tend to follow a similar arc. Our band of heroes not only has to survive flames engulfing the skyscraper or sea water flooding the cruise liner, but must also triumph over the calculated selfishness of others who are also scrambling for salvation. The implication is that, with few exceptions, Thomas Hobbes was right. Amid the upheaval of the English Civil War, Hobbes declared that our natural human condition is a war of all against all, and that order can only be secured by a powerful ruler, a Leviathan, that keeps our naked urges in check. The social contract of considerate behaviour and thoughtfulness towards others is a thin veneer. Under pressure it peels away, and we are soon at one another’s throats in a life that is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

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Unusual for a federal parliamentarian, Andrew Leigh is a former academic economist and author of several serious books, these being distinguished from the vapid and self-serving memoirs published in recent times by many current and former politicians ... ... (read more)

Bigger than Bradman and Phar Lap combined, no Australian legend has endured the ages quite like the ‘fair go’. Egalitarianism is as central to Australian identity as exceptionalism is to the United States. The promises that underpin these mythologies are as contentious as they are seductive ...

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According to one study cited in Stuart Cunningham’s book, there are two opposing groups of people: ‘Political Junkies (PJs)’ and ‘Big Brother fans (BBs)’. PJs think that it beggars belief that anyone could think Big Brother was useful. BBs say that politicians are unapproachable and out of touch. As an MP who used to quite enjoy watching Bi ...

Since the mid 1990s, when Robert Putnam lionised the concept in his famous essay ‘Bowling Alone’, writing on ‘social capital’ has proliferated. It caught the eye of politicians, including then United States President Bill Clinton, and for a while it seemed that everyone was lamenting its decline ...

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