James Allan rss

Wicked versus Stupid

13 December 2014

Why is it so hard for those with ‘lefty’ political sensibilities to be funny when they write about politics? And why do those with ‘righty’ political sensibilities so frequently surrender… Read more

The Silence of the Barnes

29 November 2014

I had the great good fortune to play varsity basketball at university in Canada back in my youth. I was part of a team that practised six days a week… Read more

Freedom’s just another word

25 October 2014

Do you tend to judge people by what they say or by what they do? Imagine you and your spouse have neighbours whom you both really like. You’ve invited them… Read more

Cheques and balances

11 October 2014

Have you heard the news? The Upper House of the Commonwealth Parliament, our Senate, has decided to launch an inquiry into how one of our states is doing business. Yes,… Read more

A funny thing happened on the way to the Senate

27 September 2014

Australia’s Constitution copied much from the United States. We explicitly opted for an American-style federalist arrangement whereby only the centre’s heads of powers are listed, and what is not listed… Read more

Gillard Defeats Rudd In Leadership Battle

Tony Abbott – the new David Cameron?

16 August 2014

I remember when Tony Abbott won the leadership of the Coalition by one vote of caucus. I was a fan. Here was someone who was prepared to take a stand… Read more

Scottish diary

14 June 2014

Not so long ago I travelled to Dumfries, Scotland, the first leg of the trip being on an Emirates A380. This was my first time on the world’s biggest passenger… Read more


The devilish problem of Tasmania

22 March 2014

Now that the state election is over, and Tasmania has rid itself of 16 years of Labor governments, including a spell of genetically modified Labor-Greens togetherness, we will now be… Read more

NAVA Announcement In Canberra

You’re no John Stuart Mill

15 February 2014

Our Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, takes more than a little pride in painting himself as an old-fashioned classical liberal. Think of the great philosopher MP John Stuart Mill and you’ll… Read more

Australia Parliament Opening

An appalling hypocrite

30 November 2013

It has been said that hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue. If so, Australia’s Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, knows a thing or two about paying compliments. Of course… Read more

The worst of friends

18 May 2013

Go back three or four years and try to remember what your honest answer to the question, ‘What do you think of coalition governments?’ would have been. Certainly there were… Read more

Parting shots

29 December 2012

My wife and I are on the verge of heading overseas for all of 2013. You see I’m off on sabbatical from my job at the University of Queensland law… Read more

No lessons today

17 November 2012

I teach constitutional law, and every so often do a course on comparative constitutional law here, or overseas. One thing that few know, even here in Australia, is that our… Read more

Diary Australia

27 October 2012

Eight years. That’s how long I’ve lived in Australia. And in that time I’ve been lucky enough to see big chunks of this wonderful country, including Darwin, Alice Springs, lots… Read more

Can we dump s18C now

15 September 2012

I’m one of the most pro-Israel people to earn a living in an Australian university. I see a democracy surrounded by non-democracies, though some are improving on that score. I… Read more

Tony’s soft spot

7 July 2012

On many issues I am a big fan of Tony Abbott. I think he’s right on the total worthlessness of the carbon tax, that it won’t accomplish anything at all… Read more

Australian Notes

5 November 2011

To paraphrase the old adage, ‘political correctness may not be all that easy to define, but I know it when I see it.’ Take the International Rugby Board’s post-World Cup… Read more

That’s not how democracy works, Julia

22 October 2011

Tony Abbott’s pledge to ditch this carbon tax is entirely justified on political and constitutional grounds Our Prime Minister has pushed her carbon dioxide tax through the House of Representatives.… Read more

Gillard was right about the High Court

10 September 2011

Our elected representatives, not unaccountable judges, should determine who comes to this country   In thinking about the recent doings of our High Court and whether it is starting to… Read more

I’m no longer in love with the Economist

23 July 2011

I fell in love with the Economist magazine 30-plus years ago when my dad bought me a subscription. That subscription has never lapsed, even as I got married and moved… Read more

Nowhere Man

11 June 2011

The Beatles might have had something to say about Ross Garnaut’s supposed monopoly on the truth Reading about Professor Ross Garnaut’s performance at the Press Club in Canberra last week,… Read more

Delusions of competence

28 May 2011

No amount of spin will cover the government’s blunders The great American newspaperman H.L. Mencken defined puritanism as ‘the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy’. I reckon that… Read more

The Kiwis need a David Cameron

2 April 2011

Their conservative PM isn’t doing much to reverse New Zealand’s economic decline. Still, he seems nice I lived in New Zealand for 11 years until late 2004 and have been… Read more

Repeal Victoria’s Charter of Rights

12 February 2011

There has been a general asymmetry at work in the Western political world, at least since the end of the second world war. Political parties on the left of the… Read more

A lesson in living the Skeptical life

15 January 2011

I met Denis Dutton on a plane going to a New Zealand Skeptics meeting back in 1994 or ’95 when I lived in Dunedin. Denis was based in Christchurch and… Read more