d e a n   f o r b e S                                                            w a l k i n g ,  n o t  r u n n i n g . . .

MEDIA commentary 2019

BLOG 2021                                                       scroll down to see more 2020 blogs


First Journey: Papua New Guinea 1972 to 1974 is my third piece on living and working in Port Moresby (click on ARTI STICA). It was a long time in the making. The earlier two pieces were completed in 2016 (Port Moresby: University Days) and 2017 (Place, Emotion, Memory: Papua New Guinea). I have continued with a format based on text and photos along with found paper. Creating these pieces can be very emotional as there is a close connection between travel, work and raw life.  (1/3/21)

COVID-19 BLOG 2021



The COVID-19 issue of the day is the perception that Australia is very slow in getting its number of vaccinations increased. Sources in Europe have been reluctant to deliver at the speed expected. The AstraZenica product should be arriving more quickly as stated in the agreements. Labor is blaming the governments. The PM is reminding us that a significant chunk of the vaccine will be going to PNG where the virus is spreading rapidly. East Timor has a similar problem, but Australia is not providing vaccines.



COVID-19  remains Australia’s biggest challenge. But it has been book-ended by disastrous bush fires along the east coast in late 1989 and early 2000. Now we are struggling with unprecedented rainfall over the last week or so along the east coast. And the impact may extend further along the south coast and in inland parts of South Australia and NSW. The impact of the currently weather has and will continue for a few more days, but dealing with the consequences of on houses, businesses and  from Queensland to NSW and parts of Victoria.   


National Cabinet has decided bringing back Australians from overseas will be the priority of the government. Universities can put together strategies to bring in international students, but at their own expense. International students totalled 952,000 in 2019, and dropped to 882,000 in 2020. While higher education students were down 24%, English language students (ELICOS) were down 44%. That’s not good for the language schools and nor is it good for the universities. So, which state government is going to provide some support?



The launch of the Pfizer vaccine today, with the PM and senior health people all taking their inoculations. They hope that they can convince the majority of Australians that having most of the people inoculated is the best way to deal with COVID-19. The AstraZenica vaccine will be available soon.

There were marches opposing vaccinations in several cities. The same hoodoo arguments that vaccines are not effective/dangerous/make your hair grow curly/. 


The AstraZenica vaccinations will start soon. The British-Swedish company is based in Cambridge. CSL, Australia’s biggest company, will be producing the vaccine in Parkville in Melbourne. Pfizer, which is based in New York, will have vaccine in Australia in the next few days. 


China stopped the World Health Organisation for a year before it let them visit Wuhan. When they were able to visit, China still made things difficult. 


The focus on inoculation is gearing up. Which is the better? What percentage of the adult population will refuse, and is it based on real concerns or rumour and the false words of the ignorant?

And some good news for me: South Australia has relaxed testing of people from Sydney and Western Australia from the 14th of February. However Victoria is still insisting on testing. 


Universities say 17,000 jobs have been lost. Other higher education institutions supporting English language and undergraduate and graduate higher education colleges are also in a difficult situation. The National Cabinet should step in, but most Premiers seem to be fixated on stopping just about everyone entering their states. Gladys Berejiklian is the exception. Which other state has the strength to confront this matter with the National Cabinet?



Education Minister Alan Tudge says no new international students, of scale, until it is considered safe. And that means something about inoculations. The states are keen on students coming now, but the federal government is not in the same hurry.


Victoria is easing up, albeit slowly. I could get to Victoria. I need online approval, then when I arrive I would need to get tested and isolate for three days. And if I have Corona I will be jailed... just kidding! I will instead wait until I can just drive there and back, and not have to wait for hours at the border.

Now the USA has an adult in the White House, and he understands that Corona is not going to suddenly flutter away, as his predecessor said it would. My daughter and grand daughter have been working and studying from home for much of the last 12 months. I hope this changes soon and they can get back to the office and school respectively. 


I still can’t get into Victoria, because I live in a hotspot - ie Sydney. It’s not just me. Victorians haven’t been allowed back into Victoria for weeks. Yet the cricketers and the tennis players seem to be allowed, as long as they are tested and isolated.

In the meantime, the US, UK and many others seem to be getting nowhere. Trump is not interested. It will be a huge problem for Joe Biden. His inauguration takes place on the 20th of January.


I didn’t expect to need to continue the COVID-19 Blog, but I have to. Starting with the post-COVID-19 economy. The NSW government have set new conditions for Greater Sydney, which includes the Central Coast, the south of Sydney and the Blue Mountains. We are required to wear face masks in shopping centres and stores, on public transport, in cinemas and theatres, and at the hairdressers. The Australia-India test cricket match will be on in Sydney, and about 30,000 will be there to watch it. The community is divided, with many saying cricket fans should follow the match on television.

Click on here for the 2020 COVID-19 Blog


Michael Somare (1936-2021) was Papua New Guinea’s first Prime Minister when the country was granted independence on the 16th of December 1975. I was working at the University of Papua New Guinea from 1972-1974 when Somare was Chief Minister. It was widely felt that Somare had the energy and enthusiasm to guide the country through the 1970s. He held office from 1975-1980, 1982-1985 and 2002 to 2011. He was very successful in leading PNG - RIP Sir Michael Somare. (1/3/21)


Donald Trump’s chronic lying and appalling behaviour was normalised by many people. Such is the deep gulch between the Republicans and the Democrats. Inciting demonstrators to break into the Capitol building has at last forced many Republicans to call out Trump’s crimes and ineptitude. Trump has treated the people of America with contempt. Western countries will be watching to see if American politicians will hold Trump responsible for his failures, or will they just move on and hope he goes away.  (9/1/21)  


Stay with me. This may take some time. COVID-19 was, of course, the standout. It dominated my blog. I am continuing it this year because because I am not anticipating significant steps forward until the middle of the year.

I read three books in 2020. Tim Baker’s 2019 The Rip Curl Story Ebury Press, Melbourne, was outstanding, perhaps because my brother Grant featured in it, and the importance of surfing in my teenage years.

Another was Angela Woollacott 2019 Don Dunstan. The Visionary Politician Who Changed Australia, Allen and Unwin, Sydney. I, like many South Australians, held Dunstan in high regard and tolerated his rather unusual lifestyle. The third was Matthew Flinders, Philippa Sandall and Gillian Dooley 2019 Trim The Cartographer’s Cat The Ship’s Cat Who Helped Flinders Map Australia Bloomsbury, London. An unusual book, no doubt, but beautifully put together.

What else! Throughout the year it has become much more important that Australia strengthen the economic links to the USA, Canada, the UK and New Zealand, India, and the ASEAN (especially Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore) plus Japan. Do I need to say why?  (1/1/21)


Routledge Handbook of Urbanization in Southeast Asia, edited by Rita Padawangi (Routledge, Oxford,  2019)

My Chapter: ‘Knowledge, Creativity and the City’

Planning Asian Cities: Risks and Resilience

Edited by Stephen Hamnett and Dean Forbes (Routledge, London,  2011)

paperback   eBook version

Our Chapter: ‘Risks, Reliance and Planning in Asian Cities’

Sustainable Development in China edited by Curtis Andressen, Mubarak A.R., and Wang Xiaoyi (Routledge, London,  2013)

My essay ‘China’s Cities: Reflecting on the Last 25 Years’

Planning Singapore. The Experimental City. Edited by Stephen Hamnett and Belinda Yen (Routledge, London, 2019) . My endorsement on the back cover.

Australian Overseas Aid: Future Directions, Edited by Phillip Eldridge, Dean Forbes and Doug Porter 2020 (Routledge, London & New York. A new print of the book). I was an Editor and contributor.


Click to 2020


BLOGS 2020

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  1. Bullet COVID-19 Blog 2021

  2. Bullet Art and memory

  3. Bullet Vale Michael Somare

  4. Bullet Which way USA?

  5. Bullet 2020 in hindsight

Click to 2020