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'Labor-lite' budget's social welfare report card

09 May 2017 | Julie Edwards

Drug testing with urine sample'Labor-lite' or not, there are many investments contained in the budget which will work towards a more just society, including the securing of funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme by raising the Medicare levy, and the needs-based approach to school funding, dubbed 'Gonski 2.0'. But among these commitments that seek to create a more equitable Australia, this budget again seeks to vilify welfare recipients, among the most vulnerable members of our community.

Hope versus humiliation in the Federal Budget

09 May 2017 | John Falzon

Client exiting Centrelink officeIt would be nice to believe, as the Treasurer wants us to, that better times are around the corner. But while wages stagnate and company profits surge, inequality is at its highest since the 1950s. This is not going to get any better any time soon. By 2019, the highest income earners will have received an effective tax cut of 1.5 per cent compared to all other taxpayers who will be paying an extra 0.5 per cent. For young people especially, Budget 2017 boosts inequality instead of building a better future.

Steering SS Australia through the doldrums is serious work

07 May 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Malcolm Turnbull steers the SS Australia through turbulent watersIn Australian public life we are becalmed in a sea where the trade winds of political will, imagination, ability to agree, trust and firm direction do not blow. We search for portents in the US skies and hope for wind from the budget. The challenge facing the serious person on the ship is to avoid responding to each rumour and proclamation and focus on what matters. What is needed is to sustain the spirits of the crew and to plan the continuation of the journey when the wind again fills the sails.

Seeking a fair go on budget night

06 May 2017 | Frank Brennan

Scott MorrisonPart of the cost of the double dissolution election last July has been the creation of a Senate with the largest, most diverse group of crossbenchers ever. This will make the passage of any new contested Budget measures difficult, particularly given the Prime Minister’s vulnerability on his right flank, and the Labor Party's propensity to mimic the Opposition tactics adopted previously by Tony Abbott. The government needs to create a clear narrative as to how it will achieve equitable and sustainable growth through this Budget.

Cry if you want to as mandatory detention turns 25

02 May 2017 | Kerry Murphy

Bleak looking birthday candlesFriday 5 May is the 25th birthday of the introduction of mandatory detention in Australia by the Keating government. It is by no means a 'happy birthday'. Rather it is a sombre reminder of how control, power and political vilification can be used for political ends. There are now more sections in the Migration Act dealing with statutory bars, mainly directed at asylum seekers, than the total number of sections in the whole of the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901.

Businesses need to get serious about gender diversity

02 May 2017 | Neve Mahoney

Chalk outline man and womanWhether to have targets or quotas is a hard question to answer. Quotas have been employed by several European countries to great effect. But in Australia companies are encouraged to set themselves targets, which are optional. Businesses are moving towards targets at a glacial pace, with women in senior executive roles increasing by 2 per cent per annum since 2012. As long as it is up to businesses to create a diverse workplace, they need to put in the effort.

Changi war remembrance asks how we keep peace today

27 April 2017 | Francine Crimmins

Two Malarias and a Cholera by Ray ParkinThe air-conditioned bus offers a sanctuary from the tropical temperatures outside. It's hard to believe these are the same temperatures experienced by inmates over 70 years ago on this site. It is not often that we consider peace as something we must constantly work for. Often it is portrayed as something which can be achieved and then passed down to us. Changi reminds us we shouldn't become complacent in our memory of war because it might cause us to lose sight of how we keep peace today.

The counter-cultural, rehumanising work of volunteers

26 April 2017 | Fatima Measham

Vinnies volunteersA significant portion of the work that goes on in our economy is voluntary. It features in many contexts, such as social welfare, mentoring, animal welfare, landcare, local sport, and arts and literary activities. It can be hard to make a case for volunteering at a time when labour exploitation is rife. Students, migrants and Indigenous people, who need to establish work experience, are particularly vulnerable when it comes to unpaid work. This does not mean that volunteer work can never be meaningful.

Youth justice system needs reform not repression

25 April 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Hand print on wallWe need only to imagine ourselves as a child subject to the practices described in these accounts, to find them scarifying. The recurring images of children lying in the foetal position, in solitary confinement, hooded or surrounded by guards say it all. When we set them against the results of research into the biological and psychological development of children, detention, prolonged lockdowns, isolation and a culture of punishment are destructive and counterproductive.

Bad sports and politics

25 April 2017 | John Warhurst

John CoatesRecent adverse coverage of sporting organisations has revealed once again what looks like widespread organisational dysfunction. Sport is such a major part of Australian life that we should all be interested in what goes on within the multi-million dollar organisations that run it, whether it be the big football codes, cricket, tennis or the Olympic sports. The stakes are huge and the issues, including self-interest, interstate rivalries and personality conflicts are eerily familiar in public life more generally.

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