Coral Bell: the ‘accidental academic’ who wanted to stop armageddon

Originally published on ANU Bell School This piece is part of a new series in collaboration with the ABC’s Saturday Extra program. Each week, the show will have a “who am I” quiz for listeners about influential figures who helped shape the 20th century, and we will publish profiles for each one. You can […]

Vaccination rate needs to hit 70% to trigger easing of restrictions

Originally published on Seven in ten people aged 16 and over will need to be fully vaccinated for COVID restrictions to begin to be eased, under targets agreed in principle by national cabinet on Friday. Further relaxation and opening beyond that, including a near end to lockdowns, will require 80% of those eligible to […]

India’s vaccine rollout is ignoring the many inequities in its society

Originally published on Some 6 months after India began what is said to be the largest COVID-19 vaccination drive in the world, equitable distribution has been a challenge. A recent instance from a remote area in one of India’s hill states is illustrative. According to news reports, over 90% of vaccination slots meant for […]

Rapid antigen testing isn’t perfect. But it could be a useful part of Australia’s COVID response

Originally published on Shutterstock Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 testing in Australia has been performed using highly sensitive PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests. But this conventional model of testing, which involves swabbing by a health-care professional and transporting samples to a laboratory for analysis, has important bottlenecks. Recent reports indicate people have […]

COVID has changed policing — but now policing needs to change to respond better to COVID

Originally published on With rolling lockdowns now part of how Australians live in the pandemic age, important questions arise about corresponding changes in policing. Constantly changing public health orders bring not only confusion but expansive police authority to enforce many new criminal offences. On one view, using the police to protect public health by […]

Australia shouldn’t ‘open up’ before we vaccinate at least 80% of the population. Here’s why

Originally published on Shutterstock Earlier this month National Cabinet released a four-phase COVID response plan. It wasn’t so much a plan – it had no dates and no thresholds – but more a back-of-the-napkin thought bubble. It was sensible, but vague. National Cabinet now faces the hard task of converting vagueness into a real […]

Grattan on Friday: Albanese lightens his boat, ahead of the battle of the ‘grey men’

Originally published on Anthony Albanese this week sent a clear message – he intends to use John Howard’s 1996 model as his strategic guide to the election. With this in mind, it was predictable the opposition leader would embrace the government’s stage three tax cuts, which benefit middle and higher income earners, despite Labor […]

Should pregnant women have a COVID vaccine? The evidence says it’s safe and effective

Originally published on Shutterstock Having a baby brings enough stress and uncertainty without having to deal with a pandemic. Added to that is the difficult decision to have a recently developed vaccine or not. Last week, pregnant women of all ages were added to Australia’s priority phase 1b of the COVID vaccine rollout. Pregnant […]

Is the truth out there? How the Harvard-based Galileo Project will search the skies for alien technology

Originally published on ESO Can we find alien technology? That is the ambitious goal of the Galileo Project, launched this week by Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb with substantial private financial backing. The project is far from the first attempt to detect signs of civilisations beyond Earth. Loeb has been criticised in the past for […]