Archive for June, 2011

Let the disadvantaged manage their own income

By Paul McDonald


Each year Anglicare Victoria surveys some of the 60,000 Victorians who use our emergency relief services. The survey outcomes paint a vivid picture of the lives and situation of those in our society who are battling hard to make ends meet. It tells us how much they have to live on, what they spend their money on and how they manage when the money runs out.

Not surprisingly, this year’s results tell us that it is getting harder for people receiving government benefits to afford the bare essentials. Approximately one in five people could not afford a safe and secure home and about the same proportion could not afford one substantial meal a day.

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New Tools for New Times

by Bruce Jones
A central theme of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was the need to revitalize the institutions of governance for 21st century problems. “We cannot meet 21st century challenges with a 20th century bureaucracy,” he declared in one notable stump speech, and the sentiment was repeated throughout his campaign. Once in office, President Obama made the same claim regarding international order and governance. The 2010 National Security Strategy acknowledged that in a world facing transnational threats, and one where “new centers of influence” would shape diplomatic options, international cooperation was a necessity. But it recognized that outdated institutions are as much an obstacle for international governance as outdated financial rules are an impediment to managing the global economy. The NSS asserted that, “As influence extends to more countries and capitals, we will build new and deeper partnerships in every region, and strengthen international standards and institutions.”
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Plebiscites and conscience votes: Playing the democracy card

By John Warhurst


Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s ill-fated bill to put the government’s carbon tax to a plebiscite within 90 days came to nothing. No matter how clever a move it might have seemed, he jumped ahead of himself in the same way that Greg Combet did when he announced an advertising budget for a tax that had not yet been announced. The plebiscite move turned out to be too clever by half.

By playing this card Abbott gave up several others in his hand. He admitted that the tax would receive parliamentary approval, thus reducing any pressure on the cross-bench to oppose the legislation. More importantly he shifted ground from his earlier position that the tax would only be legitimate if Julia Gillard first called an election with the tax as an issue. Thus he gave away too much in trying to manipulate the last week of parliament before the new Senate takes office.

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Rebuilding Political Parties – Lessons from UK Labour

By Peter Hain





I’ve been a member of the Labour Party for over 30 years.  I have seen some of the best our Party has to offer – a clear vision for a better, fairer world and a commitment to work hard to achieve these goals.  We have been a great force for positive change and development for many years.  I am incredibly proud to be a member of the party that introduced the minimum wage, fought for women’s suffrage and made the National Health Service a world leader.

But despite our efforts and achievements, over the last 10 years we have seen a steadily declining membership.  Notwithstanding the post-election surge where over 10,000 people joined in the week following the election alone, less and less people are joining political parties and less and less people are voting.  From a high of 84% in 1950, we have seen a steady and continual pattern of decline in voter turnout to a new recorded low of 59% in 2001[1].  Party membership has not fared much better, over exactly the same period political party membership has fallen from 4 million members for Labour and the Conservatives combined to under half a million for the three main parties by 2005.  Currently just 1.3% of the electorate are members of any political party[2].  Political parties seem to no longer be mass movements but have become the domain of the passionate minority.  It’s hard not to wonder if there is a link between these two trends and, if so, what we need to do to redress it.  This is not just a failure of the Labour Party but a problem that all parties must address if we want to be relevant in the years to come.

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Why Libertarians Are Wrong on Free Trade

by Ian Fletcher

I recently gave a podcast interview to Vox Day, a prominent Christian libertarian, explaining why free trade is bad for America. He followed it up with an article making many of the same points.

Finally, a libertarian gets it.

This did not go over well with some of his followers.

I’m not qualified to speak to the “Christian” aspects of free trade — whatever those are — beyond observing that globalism, of which free trade is a part, certainly looks like the Tower of Babel. But as one prominent libertarian has now seen through the free trade delusion that generally grips his fellow libertarians, this is probably a good time to explain what he got and they didn’t.

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