Post archive – by topic

Entries in society (10)


Government raids aren't about journalists, but about society

Forget ‘journalists’: the AFP raids are an attack on people who make life uncomfortable for the state; people who resist the desires of government and government bodies to keep their mistakes secret and avoid being held to account. Journalists might be “chilled” by these raids, but they are primarily the vector for attacks on whistle blowers – which is to say, attacks on ordinary people exposing the wrongdoing of those with power.

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We have a responsibility to, and for, terrorists

I’m uncomfortable with the Government cancelling the citizenship of Australians it doesn’t like: Neil Prakash, in this case. He’s our problem. Prakash is a mangy cur we helped raise, and rather than taking responsibility for him, we’re kicking him out onto the street and expecting our neighbours to take care of him.

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How much superannuation do I need?

Don’t panic about your superannuation. You probably won’t need as much as you think – 80% of current retirees spend less than ASFA’s “modest” standard, and the current Age Pension mostly covers that.

(That said, long term compound growth investment is terrific, and I encourage you to invest in your super if you can afford it.)

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Victoria's Citizens' Jury on Obesity #1: Introduction

We have an obesity problem.
How can we make it easier to eat better?

The newDemocracy Foundation and VicHealth are running a Citizens’ Jury on obesity, and I’ve had the luck to be one of 100 people randomly selected. I intend to post about the experience along the way, both here and probably on Twitter.

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Equivalised Income: How do you compare to other Australians?

Updated on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 17:46 by Registered CommenterMCJ

Updated on Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 11:49 by Registered CommenterMCJ

Updated on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 16:49 by Registered CommenterMCJ

Per Capita recently released their latest report into public attitudes toward taxation and government expenditure. Between this and the federal government’s contemplation of increasing superannuation tax rates for high earners, there’s been another round of discussion about incomes and who is “rich”. One of the aspects that, as always, struck me was the disconnection between how well off people are and how well off they think they are.

The ABS publishes data on household incomes, both gross (pre-tax) and equivalised disposable. I’ve pulled this data together so you can see where your weekly (household!) income falls relative to other Australian households. I guess it’s then up to you to decide how many people you want to be earning more than before you consider yourself “rich” (or high income, at least).

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Time-of-use Pricing Uncomfortable, But Not Flawed

Discussing the Government’s renewed push for electricity market reform on ABC Breakfast radio, in particular time-of-use pricing and the ability for households to shift their consumption, Dr. Lynne Chester from USyd said,

we all know when we’ve got a household full of children and teenagers it’s incredibly hard getting them to switch off all those appliances and not use electricity in particular heavy use periods.

Well, yes: getting people – adults or children – to change their behaviour is hard – but it’s also absolutely necessary.

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Wish One Is ALWAYS for More Wishes

At a party celebrating the 5th birthday of the Centre for Policy Development, I was asked the following question:

“If you had three wishes to change the world to help the environment, but that change had to occur through political processes, what would those wishes be?”

I found the question fascinating, and pondered it for a minute or two. Think about your own answers for a while, if you like. (You know it’s a happening party when people stare into the middle distance rubbing their chins thoughtfully for a while.)

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The Fundamental Question on Asylum Seekers

Australia’s dog of a policy on asylum seekers – at least, those arriving by boat – appears set to be a continued topic of political discussion this year, so I’d like to echo the sentiments of Guy Rundle as expressed just before Christmas:

The Australian asylum seeker discussion is wrongly framed. As signatories to the Refugee Convention, we have a categorical moral imperative to allow any potential refugees that reach our shores to claim asylum; this is their right.

However, the policy debate revolves around whether we can

“wholly negate someone’s rights (that we have explicitly promised them), in a situation where their life and freedom will be wholly annihilated indefinitely, all as a strategy for dissuading unknown future persons from making a possibly perilous journey.

By that definition we are using the ‘deterrent’ — the people locked up for years on Manus, Nauru, in Malaysia, or god knows where — as a means to a utilitarian end. It is a clear use of human beings in their totality, as means to other ends, and cannot in any sense ground a moral policy.

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What Are the Visions of Australia’s Future Reflected in Our Parties’ Policies?

When the Government released its climate change package on July 10, it was under the moniker of a “Clean Energy Future”. This is, ostensibly, a fairly clear vision for where Labor sees Australia in 2050 and beyond. However, the package is a mish-mash of measures that don’t deliver clear policy signals to achieve this clean energy future. While this is partially a result of the multi-party committee that spawned the package, the rhetoric the Government employs is ambiguous as to precisely what sort of society they see Australia moving toward.

So where are we really going with all this? If the world follows the suggestions of science and reduces CO2-e emissions to constrain dangerous climate change, what place is this future do our parties foresee?

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Donating for Them, Or for Yourself?

Updated on Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 13:56 by Registered CommenterMCJ

Accompanying the Twitter commentary of the Queensland floods (see #QLDfloods) I’ve noticed a number of people writing that they’ll donate $1 every time their message gets “retweeted” (RTed; forwarded, in Twitter, parlance). The first message I saw was from @lilithia. I can’t say for certain whether she started the trend, and once I started looking I found several others – e.g. @AUSteambieberr, @bree_101, @xander85 –, but they all seemed to share two initial characteristics:

  • These were ordinary people
  • The donations were uncapped

The second point, especially, struck me: late last year Daniel Keogh, a science presenter on the ABC, promised to donate $5 to beyondblue(1) for every time he was retweeted (until 10pm), but his offer took off and he ended up with a nominal figure of over $17,000 dollars. That was far above Keogh’s self-imposed limit, but he ended up donating $5000 and the story made it into the papers.

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