Editor's note

These days it’s fashionable to take your politics with a heavy dash of cynicism. If Martin Amis was right to say that deploring the present was “the summit of idleness” the Australian press gallery looks fixated on besting Edmund Hillary. In fairness, they can’t avoid the truth. Even the measured and constructive Michelle Grattan today notes the alarming erosion of public trust, and the depressing reality that whoever wins in May will inherit a “bitter, sceptical, exhausted electorate”.

But it’s equally true that endlessly retelling the story of our political failures is a trap we must avoid. We have to start a different conversation, one about what really matters: how we can make things better, both for the planet and the many Australians who aren’t doing as well as they might.

Today we are launching a series of articles under the title Advancing Australia: Ideas for a Better Country. It’s an unashamedly earnest attempt to change the conversation just a little, from a sort of endless cry of outrage to a sober, evidence-based discussion of what’s going wrong and how we can make it better. Our Advancing Australia series covers topics from climate and energy, to Medicare, schools and advancing the cause of indigenous Australians. It is written by many of The Conversation’s most informed and thoughtful authors – Michelle Grattan, Warren Hogan, Stephen Duckett, Chris Wallace, Frank Bongiorno, Liz Allen, Susan Harris Rimmer, just to pick a few.

During the campaign these serious contributions to our public discussion will be collected into a book, to be released by Melbourne University Publishing. The book will be launched at a series of live events in major cities. Once we have details confirmed you will be invited to attend and help us change the public conversation.

In the meantime please participate virtually, and constructively, by reading this series and letting us know what you think.

Misha Ketchell


Top story

With the Coalition and Labor presenting several policy differences, this can be seen as a very ideological election. AAP/Lukas Coch

The end of uncertainty? How the 2019 federal election might bring stability at last to Australian politics

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

As Australians' trust in politicians continues to slide, whoever wins the 2019 will need to work hard to restore it if it has any hope of bringing about genuine reform.

Australia’s alcohol guidelines recommend women and men drink no more than two standard drinks per day. Kelsey Chance

Did you look forward to last night’s bottle of wine a bit too much? Ladies, you’re not alone

Nicole Lee, Curtin University

When it comes to drinking at risky levels, women are catching up to men. Problem is, women start to have alcohol-related problems sooner and at lower drinking levels than men.

The new ‘Plan S’ initiative focuses on making all publicly funded research immediately fully and freely available by open access publication. from www.shutterstock.com

All publicly funded research could soon be free for you, the taxpayer, to read

Ritesh Chugh, CQUniversity Australia; Kenneth Howah, CQUniversity Australia

What happens to research that is funded by taxpayers? A lot ends up in subscription-only journals. But a new European initiative known as 'Plan S' could change that.


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