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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Australia's poor policy reform capacity   September 18, 2014

In his ANU Policy Outlook 2014 keynote, "Public policy resilience and the reform narrative", at the ANU Ken Henry, the former Treasury Secretary, argues that policy reform proposals are unlikely to be implemented, and even less likely to prove resilient, unless accompanied by a compelling narrative.

Henry states that the core narrative that has been used to support economic policy reform efforts in Australia for the past 30 years goes like this: reforms that enhance productivity and cut costs, including labour costs, build international competitiveness; international competitiveness drives exports; exports drive growth; growth drives jobs; and jobs support living standards.

RoweDpoliticalcircus.jpg David Rowe

He argues that recent reform proposals to deal with the economic consequences of the mining boom, and to contribute to international efforts to lower carbon emissions, have been presented tentatively, have been poorly understood, and have not proved resilient. He adds:

The fact that major policy initiatives in these areas have proven fragile has been cause for some questioning of our policy reform capacity. But really, given our national fixation with a simplistic reform narrative constructed on concepts of "international competitiveness", "exports", "growth", and "jobs", we should not have had high expectations of policy success in these areas.

We can also see this the mercantilst narrative crippling of efforts to position Australia for the Asian century.

Continue reading "Australia's poor policy reform capacity" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:34 AM | | Comments (0)
banging the drums of war   September 11, 2014

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) has signalled that the terrorism threat level in Australia could be raised to high from medium. The rhetoric is that of manufactured fear is about a death cult over there posing a threat in this country.

There’s no credible information that the Islamic State (IS) is planning an attack on Australia. Nor is there any indication at this point of a cell of foreign fighters (Islamic State) operating in Australia. So there is no actual or imminent threat to the nation from the Islamic State.

PettyBoperation_ideology.jpg Bruce Petty

That doesn't stop the war hawks from their fear mongering to scare a war weary population by implying that there are ISIS sleeper cells living in Australia and that they are a grave and unprecedented threat (far worse than al Qaeda!). The two people arrested in Queensland were not planning a domestic attack nor were they connected to the Islamic State.

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:36 AM | | Comments (17)
just short sighted politics   September 8, 2014

The Abbott Govt celebrates the removal of carbon pricing and the mining tax and stopping the asylum seeker boats from reaching Australian shores. That represents a roll back of Labor's policies and the rhetoric is that ridding the country of a minerals tax will boost income and create jobs even though the investment boom is over, the price of minerals is falling, and the mining tax raised very little money.

The next stage of Chinese development will likely see its citizens spending more on consumer goods, and this in turn means a reduced, demand for the raw minerals from Australia. What then of its medium and long term reforms as distinct from the short-sighted politics and protecting the interests of the miners and fossil fuel companies?

RoweDAbbottAnniversary.jpg David Rowe

The removal of the increase in compulsory superannuation from 9% to 12% indicates that it has none. Superannuation is one key way to further the "end of the age of entitlement" agenda as it shifts people from the old age pension to superannuation. It's self reliance par excellence. All it has done is to cut the rate of increase in the old age pension. This is hardly forward looking from a government anxious to tout its neo-liberal credentials.

Continue reading "just short sighted politics" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:10 PM | | Comments (4)
here we go again   September 1, 2014

It's mission creep under the guise of humanitarian help--to prevent genocide against beleaguered minorities in northern Iraq. It follows the RAAF humanitarian supply airdrops to thousands of people still stranded on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. Australia's’s response to Islamic State (Isis) should be on humanitarian aid.

Mission creep that is a continuation of the war of terror. Last week Australia was dropping food and water to prevent a humanitarian crisis. This week Australia is dropping weapons in a region where the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), one of 19 organisations that Canberra lists globally as terrorists, is active. The SAS is also involved as they will provide protection to the crew when they land in coming days in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq to deliver arms and munitions.

RowsonMISwar.jpg Martin Rowson

So Australia has intervened into a civil war by supporting one terrorist organization --the PKK-- against another --the Islamic State (IS) that is tacitly supported by Saudi Arabia, which Australia sees as one of the good guys who are part of the West. Australia is a gun runners for the Kurds at the behest of the United States. Australia also supported IS in its opposition to the Assad regime in Syria. Will Australia now support Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, as an ally in the fight against Islamic State (Isis) extremists? If the US does Australia will follow suit.

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:59 AM | | Comments (13)
closing down of Australia’s renewable energy industry   August 29, 2014

The Renewable Energy Target has been a success. It's built up a wind and solar power generation industry at a very low cost to electricity users and, along with carbon pricing it has helped to reduce pollution and energy efficiency. It has helped to create Investment in windfarms, solar PV'S and other large-scale renewables, created jobs, and help to start the shift to decarbonize the Australian economy.

But its killing the coal-fired power generation industry. So the Abbott Government comes to the defence of the fossil fuel industry. The abolition of the carbon pricing gave coal-fired power generators a windfall and the proposals to kneecapping the Renewable Energy Target will give them a second windfall.

PopeDRET.jpg David Pope

The Warburton RET Review argues there are cheaper ways to reduce greenhouse emissions than by changing the way we generate electricity – clearly implying no change in electricity generation is necessary. Hence the defence of the fossil fuel industry and the status quo. There is no need to change the dominance of electricity generation by the fossil fuel industry.

Continue reading " closing down of Australia’s renewable energy industry" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:59 AM | | Comments (14)
establishing authoritarian rule?   August 26, 2014

Contrary to the rhetoric from the Abbott Government Australia doesn't have an imminent debt crisis or a budget emergency. Australia has a long-term structural budget problem caused by an ageing population, which the Coalition is not seriously addressing.

An ageing population means the government needs to spend more (on pensions and health care) it will also receive lower income tax. If the government does nothing it will experience a rise in the structural budget deficit.

PopeDbudgetemergency.jpg David Pope

The Coalition is more concerned with using the rhetoric of national security and terrorist threats in Australia to put in place the steps to establish authoritarian rule. One of these steps is the way the proposed national security legislation that ASIO is demanding that journalists could be jailed for revealing intelligence operations. Journalists could face penalties even if they did not explicitly know what they were reporting on was linked to a special intelligence operation.

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:45 AM | | Comments (5)
selling austerity   August 21, 2014

The Coalition has changed its budget rhetoric.

It has dumped the budget crisis/ rhetoric and sovereign risk in favour of there is no need to worry as most of the appropriations bills have passed the Senate and that there is no problem if the Senate doesn't hurry up with the rest of the budget. The rest --Medicare co-payment, deregulation of universities, tough new arrangements for the unemployed etc--- amount to $25 billion.

The bullyboy tactics to impose austerity haven't worked. Australians haven't bought it, and they are skeptical of the government's selling of austerity and the need for a shift to a deregulated market. They see unfairness.

RoweDCorman.jpg David Rowe

There is a medium term (a decade) for a consolidation of the budget, given the end of the mining boom and and the ageing population. There is a need for debate over how that consolidation will happen given the lower income growth than in the past decade.

Continue reading "selling austerity" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:36 AM | | Comments (4)