Peter Mares

Peter Mares

Peter Mares is lead moderator with the Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership and a contributor to Inside Story magazine. He is the author of No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis (Text Publishing, 2018), Not Quite Australian: How temporary migration is changing the nation (Text Publishing, 2016), and Borderline (UNSW Press 2001), an analysis of Australia’s refugee policies. Peter previously worked for twenty-five years as a broadcaster with the ABC, mostly with Radio National.

Peter Mares reviews 'The Forest Wars' by Judith Ajani

October 2007, no. 295 01 October 2007
Peter Mares reviews 'The Forest Wars' by Judith Ajani
I am embarrassed by my deck. It is well designed, sturdily built and a congenial place on a balmy evening. The problem is that the deck is made with tropical hardwood, logged from a rainforest in South-East Asia. Not only have I added to Australia’s yawning trade deficit, I have also contributed to the decline of the globe’s equatorial lungs. ... (read more)

Peter Mares reviews 'Reconnected: A community builder’s handbook' by Andrew Leigh and Nick Terrell

January–February 2021, no. 428 17 December 2020
Peter Mares reviews 'Reconnected: A community builder’s handbook' by Andrew Leigh and Nick Terrell
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 ... (read more)

Peter Mares reviews 'Lifeboat Cities' by Brendan Gleeson and 'Transport for Suburbia' by Paul Mees

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
Peter Mares reviews 'Lifeboat Cities' by Brendan Gleeson and 'Transport for Suburbia' by Paul Mees
These two books share common assumptions about the nature of our cities and our collective future as homo urbanis. If we are to survive the impending disaster of climate change and build an environmentally durable and socially just future, then we must do so within our existing, sprawling suburban landscapes. Gleeson and Mees know and respect one another’s work – each quotes the other approvin ... (read more)

Peter Mares reviews 'The Future of Us: Demography gets a makeover' by Liz Allen

May 2020, no. 421 28 April 2020
Peter Mares reviews 'The Future of Us: Demography gets a makeover' by Liz Allen
In Australia, debate about population runs in well-worn grooves. The focus is on size – ‘big Australia’ versus ‘not-so-big Australia’ – and the tool used to regulate numbers is immigration. When politicians link population growth to excessive house prices, traffic congestion, unemployment, or crime, they call for immigration cuts, not for birth control. Liz Allen wants us to think abo ... (read more)

Peter Mares reviews 'Offshore: Behind the wire on Manus and Nauru' by Madeline Gleeson

August 2016, no. 383 22 July 2016
Peter Mares reviews 'Offshore: Behind the wire on Manus and Nauru' by Madeline Gleeson
This month marks a grim anniversary: four years ago, in August 2012, Prime Minister Julia Gillard re-introduced a policy of offshore processing for asylum seekers who try to reach Australia by boat. Since then we have inflicted terrible punishments on thousands of vulnerable men, women, and children who made the mistake of seeking safety in the wrong country at the wrong time. ... (read more)

Peter Mares reviews 'I'm Not Racist But ... 40 Years of the Racial Discrimination Act' by Tim Soutphommasane

September 2015, no. 374 25 August 2015
Peter Mares reviews 'I'm Not Racist But ... 40 Years of the Racial Discrimination Act' by Tim Soutphommasane
Does a law change the way people behave and think? Can it accelerate a shift in cultural norms? These are some of the questions that emerge from this reflection on Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act (1975). Tim Soutphommasane is hardly a disinterested commentator, since he owes his current job as Racial Discrimination Commissioner to the very act that he is writing about. So this is a sympat ... (read more)

Peter Mares reviews 'Confessions of a People-Smuggler' by Dawood Amiri and 'The Undesirables: Inside Nauru' by Mark Isaacs

October 2014, no. 365 01 October 2014
Peter Mares reviews 'Confessions of a People-Smuggler' by Dawood Amiri and 'The Undesirables: Inside Nauru' by Mark Isaacs
After an explosion that killed five asylum seekers and injured dozens more on a boat moored at Ashmore Reef in 2009, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described people smugglers as ‘the absolute scum of the earth’ and ‘the vilest form of human life’. Further tragedies at sea during the ‘fifth wave’ of boat arrivals to Australia provoked similar outbursts from politicians across the political s ... (read more)

Peter Mares reviews 'The Affluent Society Revisited' by Mike Berry

April 2014, no. 360 27 March 2014
Peter Mares reviews 'The Affluent Society Revisited' by Mike Berry
Usually, significant books are revisited on significant anniversaries. By these lights, Mike Berry’s critical re-evaluation of John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society should have appeared in 2008, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of its original publication. In this instance, we can be grateful that normal publishing practice has not been followed, for it enables Berry to incorporate the ... (read more)

Peter Mares reviews 'Frontier Justice: The global refugee crisis and what to do about it' by Andy Lamey and 'Contesting Citizenship: Irregular migrants and new frontiers of the political' by Anne McNevin

April 2012, no. 340 01 April 2012
Peter Mares reviews 'Frontier Justice: The global refugee crisis and what to do about it' by Andy Lamey and 'Contesting Citizenship: Irregular migrants and new frontiers of the political' by Anne McNevin
Australian advocates of a harsh line against asylum seekers arriving by boat often base their arguments on a concern for the protection of human life. Unless we deter boat people, so the reasoning goes, ever greater numbers will set out on the dangerous voyage from Indonesia, and more and more lives will be lost at sea. This may sound like a novel position, but, as Andy Lamey makes clear in Fronti ... (read more)

Peter Mares reviews 'Into the Woods: The Battle for Tasmania’s Forests' by Anna Krien

November 2010, no. 326 15 November 2011
On the day that I finished reading Into the Woods, I opened the newspaper to a report that Gunns was withdrawing from native forest logging to base its future business entirely on plantation-grown timber. Given that Gunns controls almost eighty-five per cent of the wood products traded in Tasmania, this has raised hopes of an end to the decades-old forest war in the island-state. ... (read more)