January 2009

Sloppy super

by Josh Fear in The Australian

Debates about superannuation policy are often ideological in tone.People in finance and investment circles tend to forget that the majority of Australians are profoundly disengaged from their super, at least until they approach retirement. The super system is so complicated that many workers take the simplest option – doing nothing. Governments therefore have a responsibility

Reclaiming your time from telemarketers

by Josh Fear in Analysis & Policy Observatory

Telemarketing is one form of ‘direct marketing’, along with junk mail, spam and face-to-face marketing. Direct marketing differs from ‘traditional’ advertising in making a much stronger claim on our attention. Members of the public have to take deliberate action if they wish to avoid direct marketing, but Institute research indicates that an ‘opt-in’ system would

October 2008

In a man’s working world parental leave should be about fathers, too

Originally printed in the Sydney Morning Herald. Under the Productivity Commission’s parental leave proposal, men are entitled to two weeks’ paternity leave (use it or lose it), and mothers would be allowed to transfer their 18-week entitlement to their partners. It leaves the important decision about who provides primary care up to individual families and,

September 2008

NGO Advocacy way of Future

by Gemma Edgar in The Canberra Times

Non-government organisations contribute to the Australian community in a myriad of ways, creating a rich, supportive and inclusive community. They help produce an active and vibrant democracy and they provide representation to marginalised members of the community. NGOs can also inform public debate, rendering it more substantive and less likely to be captured by business

May 2008

A question of character

A character test is traditionally applied to decide whether a person should be granted some kind of privilege – for example, a visa, citizenship, or an important job. When trying to judge character, the evidence examined usually includes a person’s past statements, activities and conduct, including any police record, criminal charges or jail terms. The

April 2008

Leave accounts: win-win solution to child care

by Jo-anne Schofield in ABC The Drum

Originally printed in ABC News. It’s a good thing for our communities if working parents are able to take time out to spend with children. This should be the guiding principle for the Productivity Commission’s upcoming inquiry into paid maternity, paternity and parental leave. The second principle is to accept that many parents want or

March 2008

February 2008

October 2007

The Apprentice Dog Whistler

by Josh Fear in Crikey

Over recent months, Minister Kevin Andrews has been bringing the new Australian Citizenship Test to fruition. This is a policy destined to fail utterly in its stated intention – “to help new citizens to embrace education, employment and other opportunities in Australia”, according to the Government – but succeed in sending a message to voters

September 2007

April 2007

From Bambi To Bimbo

by Emma Rush in Sydney’s Child, Melbourne’s Child, Canberra’s Child, Adelaide’s Child

As parents and professionals who work with children point out, the time and energy that they currently spend in trying to protect children from the advertising and media onslaught (as well as in healing the damage it causes) would be far better spent on the positive aspects of caring for children. In short, if government

March 2007

Adult world must let girls be girls

by Emma Rush in Family Update

Rather than being empowered, children are being exploited by the process of sexualisation. For children seeking to become empowered in an adult world, a more promising route is to focus on developing cognitive and emotional capacities that enable them to negotiate power relations more maturely and with less risk to themselves. There is nothing wrong

January 2007

Silencing the critics

by Clive Hamilton and Sarah Maddison in The Age

Like individual citizens, community groups are being worn down and are increasingly reluctant to engage in the democratic process because they no longer believe that they can make a difference. At the same time, certain influential business lobbies have been brought into the fold, along with a few tame or uncritical NGOs such as Mission

The repression of the bleeding hearts

The outcome for the broader Australian polity is that the knowledge and breadth of experience collected together in the NGO community is having much less influence on how we develop as a society than it should. Like individual citizens, community groups are being increasingly reluctant to engage in the democratic process because they no longer

December 2006

It’s life, but certainly not as we want it

by Clive Hamilton in The Sydney Morning Herald

Plans revealed this week to squeeze a further 1.1 million people into Sydney over the next 25 years will transform it into the nation’s least liveable city. Twenty years ago Sydney was less congested, slower, more friendly and had more green space. Unregulated population growth and timid planning are choking the city, a situation exacerbated

Ice, ice, baby

by Andrew Macintosh in On Line Opinion

Since the early 1900s, Australias drug policies have been based on the notion that the law should be the primary mechanism for addressing drug problems. By prohibiting both the supply and use of certain undesirable drugs, governments thought they could stamp out drug use and drug-related activities. But drug markets have proved remarkably resistant to

November 2006

September 2006

Death becomes an excuse to savage ‘elites’ – now that’s nasty

by Clive Hamilton in The Sydney Morning Herald

Steve Irwin created a new genre of documentary called “nature nasty” which rejects attempts to portray animals in their natural environment going about their usual activities. Instead, it goes in search of the most dangerous, poisonous and bizarre and provokes animals into extreme behaviour. Irwin’s death provided a trigger for a gratuitous outpouring of hatred

August 2006

June 2006

May 2006

Minority groups target of vilification

by Andrew Macintosh in The Canberra Times

The Howard Government’s vilification of indigenous communities and their culture is another in a long line of morally repugnant diversionary tactics employed by a Government devoid of ideas and scrambling to retain the interest of the electorate. When the history of this Government is written, the events in recent times should be placed side-by-side with

Equality of Opportunity: Levelling the Playing Field

by Fred Argy in New Matilda

We drew out the broad elements of an active social strategy targeted at the major barriers to social mobility ”” children’s early development, public infrastructure deficiencies and inequalities of access to employment, health, education, training and housing. If it is to gain public acceptance, such a strategy would need to be preceded by a campaign

April 2006

Has the government been selling out Australia’s children?

by Emma Rush in On Line Opinion

Corporate chains – which now own around a quarter of centres in Australia – offer the lowest quality of care on all indicators surveyed, in some cases markedly lower than that provided by community-based centres. Beyond tightening up the centre accreditation processes, as announced recently, the government should consider offering capital grants to new community-based

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