Western Sydney Wonk: reboot

It’s been a long time – nearly a year – since posting on this blog. I put it aside to focus on pressing commitments relating to family, study and work.

For those who don’t know me, I am based in Jakarta but have spent much of the past year travelling back and forth from here to Sydney.

My background is in economic and social policy: including as an analyst in Commonwealth Treasury and Finance Departments, and as a Parliamentary staffer. I have degrees in sociology and economics, and am nearly finished a Masters in Economics. My main policy interests are in the area of poverty and inequality, particularly as it relates to welfare economics and benefit-cost analysis (my dissertation), governance practices (my public service history), politics (my staffer history) and health (a side interest relating to my family experience).

Part of what draws me back to Sydney is an Australia-based research component of my Masters, as well as some family issues that needed my attention.

I’m also working in Jakarta, and doing nearly full-time coursework.

So I’ve tried to avoid distractions.

Nevertheless, I did write a piece for the Mandarin arguing for distributional analysis in the budget papers. My take was picked up by Jessica Irvine in a good article for the Sydney Morning Herald. (In another Herald citation that month Jewel Topsfield described me as a “Twitter wag” – one for the business card.)

When I started the blog, I found it helpful for working through my ideas, engaging with others and practicing my writing. But a blog also takes up time and focus. If you write 3,000 words of decently drafted and referenced original material, the obvious question is why a personal blog rather than submit it for publication? Other the other hand, the benefits of a personal blog are that writers can have greater control, informality and spontaneity.

How to find the balance that gains most of the benefits while limiting the costs?

I’ve decided the answer to this is to try shorter, faster and less ironed out pieces. The objective is to get the ideas down, and open a discussion. Many of my favourite bloggers write in this style – John Quiggin springs to mind. Sure random thoughts on Quiggin’s mind while he eats his cereal or cuts his toenails are probably smarter than even our smartest thoughts, but I digress. It’s a good approach.


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