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Making Housing Affordable – Pearls and Irritations new series beginning 1 May 2017.

Next week Pearls and Irritations will post thirteen articles on the theme Making Housing Affordable. The series will focus on Australia’s housing affordability crisis. Articles will be posted daily over the week commencing Monday 1 May.  

The series features articles by well-known independent economist, Saul Eslake and Grattan Institute CEO, John Daley (with colleagues) and includes contributions from a range of other experts in the field – Professors Hal Pawson and Peter Phibbs, Tim Williams, Michael Perusco, Dr Marcus Spiller, Patrick Flynn, Damien Webb, Jack de Groot and Ned Cutcher. See  Making housing affordable schedule.

Making Housing Affordable explores the values and principles that should guide policy makers. The nature and extent of the housing affordability crisis, its origins and causes are viewed from the perspective of those seeking home ownership and those who rent. Finally, we examine the range of policy options to address the problem.

Contributors to the series acknowledge that there are no simple fixes and that change will take time. They recognize however that tangible reform is within reach and put forward specific proposals for improvement.

Making Housing Affordable canvasses many critical or contentious aspects of the housing affordability debate, including the importance of addressing both supply and demand, the politics of urban planning, distortions caused by current fiscal settings, the scope for institutional investment in rental housing, protection for those who are forced into or opt for long-term rental and, finally and importantly, how to revitalize the social and affordable housing sector. 

The series Making Housing Affordable  has been organised by John Menadue, Susan Ryan and Oliver Frankel.

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JOHN MENADUE. A rigged gas market and market failure.

Yesterday, the government announced that it would impose an Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism on gas exports from July this year.  This will give the government authority to limit companies’ gas exports if they are emptying Australian gas reserves to meet overseas export contracts.  Two years ago – I drew attention to the market failure in gas policy. I have reposted below that article of April 28, 2015.  John Menadue  Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Environment, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

RICHARD BUTLER. Malcolm’s Anzac Day Gift. Australian troops will be in the Middle East for the ‘long term’.

The Prime Minister’s statement that Australian military forces will need to remain in Afghanistan and the “Middle East” indefinitely must be clarified as must be the powers under which such decisions are legitimately made.  Continue reading

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JOHN TULLOH. Trump’s first 100 days – so what?

   The media have been besides themselves in anticipation of Donald Trump’s first 100 days in the White House this weekend. It’s as if this is some magic marker by which to judge his next 1359 days in the Oval Office. It is meaningless.   Continue reading

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IAN McAULEY. The Liberal Party’s French Connection

The political future of Kelly O’Dwyer, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services (presently on maternity leave) is uncertain, as Liberal Party members in her electorate move to disendorse her. On one level this conflict can be seen as the shenanigans of Liberal Party faction wars, but at another level it reveals a deep malaise in our political system.   Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics, Taxation | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

SAMANTHA PAGE. In defence of public investment in childcare

When childcare issues have hit the news lately, it’s either been about the Federal Government’s new $1.6 billion package to help make childcare more affordable, or about massive fraud cases where rogue Family Day Care operators have pocketed millions of tax payer dollars.   Continue reading

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GREGORY CLARK. Pingpong diplomacy and Whitlam’s first visit to China.

April 2017 is the 46 anniversary of the pingpong diplomacy – an event that changed the future of China. It also changed the direction of Australian politics, leading to the ALP Federal election victory in November 1972. But as I explain in the link to this posting, the change in Canberra could well have not occurred but for a chance telephone call from myself to a small manufacturing firm in Nagoya.   Continue reading

Posted in Foreign Affairs and Trade | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

VIVIENNE MILLIGAN and HAL PAWSON. Ready for growth? Has Australia’s affordable housing industry got what it takes?

Australia lacks any enumerated and resourced plan for expanding affordable housing. Recent growth opportunities in this industry have largely been small-scale, fragmented and ad hoc. As a result, providers have been highly constrained in their ability to predict and plan for growth. This has disrupted capacity-building and undermined capacity-retention.  
Continue reading

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ALLAN PATIENCE. How much lower are we going to go?

The current Australian values and new immigration visa debates, blusteringly initiated by Malcolm Turnbull and his would-be successor Peter Dutton, represent one of the lowest points in recent Australian political history. Are these panicking populists capable of dragging the country any lower? Very likely they will try, because the politics they have now so fully embraced can take them nowhere else.   Continue reading

Posted in Immigration, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

PAUL BUDDE. The role of the NBN in the development of 5G

From a network efficiency point of view fibre-based infrastructure will always win over wireless.  …  Don’t expect a rapid development of 5G services for the mass market. 5G will most likely be installed in pockets where there is a clear business case (for a premium service) and where there is plenty of fibre available to provide a fast and reliable service.   Continue reading

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ROD TIFFEN. The Australian’s Wind Farm Reporting

The National Wind Farm Commissioner, Andrew Dyer, delivered his first annual report on March 31, covering the first 14 months of the agency’s operation since being set up by the Abbott government, with the support of conservative cross-bench senators. The agency has an annual budget of around $650, 000 a year, while Dyer is paid $205,000 for his part-time role.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Guardian and Crikey covered the release with short news stories. The Australian, and I think the other Murdoch dailies, ignored it.   Continue reading

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KERRY BREEN and M.TAFFY JONES. Why mandatory reporting of the ill-health of doctors is not in anyone’s best interests

“Sick doctors will delay seeking help because of fear of stigmatisation and a threat to their professional status and livelihood through premature and unjustified reporting by treating doctors who themselves are made to feel insecure by the legislation. The distress and harm resulting from an inappropriate mandatory notification cannot be underestimated.”   Continue reading

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MARK COLVIN. “Four Weeks One Summer” by Nicholas Whitlam

In the summer of 1936, over just four weeks, it all went wrong – for democracy and for Spain, even for the British royals. Politicians failed, and Hitler was emboldened to plan a new European war, and more.  

When some army generals sought to overthrow Spain’s elected government Francisco Franco quickly emerged as their leader; Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy supported him with men and matériel; pusillanimous politicians in Britain and the United States, even in France, turned a blind eye – and the Spanish Civil War was on. Edward VIII took a scandalous holiday cruise with Mrs Simpson, Berlin staged the greatest sporting event of modern times, the alternative Peoples’ Olympiad never came to be, and Barcelona was transformed into a unique workers’ paradise. All this in four weeks. It was an incongruous, at times brilliant, juxtaposition of events.   Continue reading

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ALISON BROINOWSKI. What Australian Foreign Policy?

Insider, analyst and adviser Allan Gyngell finds that Australian defence and foreign policy are more bipartisan than ever. But even as Australia’s national security agenda metastesizes, we have more to fear from an unreliable ally and an increasingly lawless world.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SUE WAREHAM. The Australian War Memorial and weapons manufacturers.

The peace of the world for future generations is anathema to the interests of those who profit from warfare. As we commemorate again the “war to end all wars”, and every war since, one can only wonder what the diggers would have thought, as we allow the industry that profits from the cruelty of wars to bask in the reflected glory of those who suffer it.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Politics, Vested Interests | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. It is becoming much easier to go to war.

We used to think that the gravest decision any government could make was to take its country to war. Not any more. Going to war for us has now become almost common place. We commit to war after war – Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan – but we are unwilling to contemplate the disaster which each of those wars has brought not only to Australians but to millions of other people.  But rather than face up to our mistakes we hide behind the valour of service personnel who have made sacrifices.   Continue reading

Posted in ANZAC, Defence/Security, Foreign Affairs and Trade | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

John Menadue. The Anzac Myth.

Conservatives and militarists want us to cling to a disastrous imperial  war. They encourage us to focus on how our soldiers fought in order to avoid the central issue of why we fought.   Continue reading

Posted in ANZAC, Defence/Security, Foreign Affairs and Trade | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

MUNGO MacCALLUM. Turnbull’s lunge to the populist right.

And this is the big glitch in last week’s announcements – there was a lot of sound and fury, but it was hard to see just what, if anything, will really change – except, perhaps, the squalid dynamics within the Liberal Party. At least Tony Abbott has given the changes a cautious tick. But he has not, and never will, endorse the core values of his leader. He has his own announceables to ponder.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

PETER HUGHES. Citizenship Test Mark II – How much juice can you squeeze out of an orange?

It seems that Coalition governments have developed a habit of squeezing the citizenship “orange” for political advantage when there are some community concerns about migrants.

Last week’s announcement by the Turnbull Coalition government, at a time of poor government performance in opinion polls, of a “toughening” of the Australian citizenship test for migrants has a familiar ring to it.   Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. Dog whistling about Australian values.

Housing will not be a centrepiece of the forthcoming budget, our Prime Minister assures us, while remaining vague about what, if anything, will be.   Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

CAVAN HOGUE. Let those who are without sin cast the first stone.

The USA is a complex place with its vices, virtues and differences. Despite its noble ideals and democratic institutions, it has a long history of aggression and of overthrowing democracies in the pursuit of American commercial or strategic interests. It does not have the moral high ground and its lectures to other countries can be counter-productive. It does not observe the rules it demands from others.. This does not make it any worse than other countries but no better either. Australia should judge it by the same standards that we apply to other counties. We cannot trust Chinese and Russian propaganda and intelligence but nor can we trust the Americans. It is very dangerous to put all our strategic eggs in the one basket especially when we don’t know what the threat will be and when the US has a president as unpredictable as Donald Trump. Let us be friends but not a client state. Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Between tragedy and farce in the Korean peninsula

The world’s options on North Korea can be summarised as bad (strategic patience), worse (growing strategic impatience), and worst (military strikes).   Continue reading

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JAMES O’NEILL. Just Who Does Pose the Greater Threat in Korea?

The election of Donald Trump as US President has seen the ramping up of US rhetoric about North Korea.  Trump recently demanded that China should use its influence with the North Koreans and if China did not intervene, then, according to an interview Trump gave to the UK Financial Times, the “US would act alone.”   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Foreign Affairs and Trade | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MACK WILLIAMS. Korean Peninsula – just where are we right now?

So much is going on in the different channels between the US and China, China and the DPRK and by now maybe US and DPRK that reading the tea leaves is an almost impossible – if not frantic – task. The situation remains extremely high risk and crystal ball gazing is near to fantasy.  Continue reading

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JUDITH CRISPIN. Indigenous Elders to Tackle Youth Suicide Using Mobile Technology

A groundbreaking collaboration between Walpiri Elders, cultural historians, technologists and a clinical psychologist aims to tackle youth suicide using traditional knowledge and mobile technology.   Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. The unfairness and waste of private health insurance and the threat to Medicare.

History is repeating itself.

Medicare was created by the Whitlam government because of the abject failure of private health insurance or, as it was then called voluntary health insurance. 

As a result of the growth of private health insurance (PHI) since 1999 under the Howard government, Medicare is now seriously threatened. Government subsidies for PHI will take us back to the pre Whitlam and pre Medicare era.  Continue reading

Posted in Health, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

BEN NEWELL, CHRIS DONKIN, DAN NAVARRO. worried about shark attacks or terrorism?

The recent terrorist attack in Paris will attract a lot of attention. However, whilst terrorist attacks are very vivid, the risk is quite low.  John Menadue

The world can feel like a scary place.  Today, Australia’s National Terrorism Threat Level is “Probable”. Shark attacks are on the rise; the number of people attacked by sharks in 2000-2009 has almost doubled since 1990-1999. Travellers are at a high risk of getting the Zika virus in places where the disease is present, such as Brazil and Mexico.

Continue reading

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QUENTIN DEMPSTER. With talk of war, what should Australia do?

As the United States Trump administration now confronts North Korea, there is talk of war. Also confronted, but more indirectly, is China itself with President Donald Trump’s declaration that the US would go it alone to disarm North Korea if China and President Xi Jinping did not help in that objective.   Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Foreign Affairs and Trade | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

TIM COLEBATCH. Yes, there is such a thing as too much immigration

Adjusting the intake in response to shifts in employment makes long-term sense.  

Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Immigration | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

ALLAN PATIENCE. It’s time for Labor to think big about policy – a people’s bank!

Tony Abbott is not the only one anticipating a change of government at the next election. Voters across the board are increasingly fed up with the Coalition and there are even signs that some of its most devoted cheer leaders in the media are beginning to give up on it. Dear old Alan Jones has certainly given up on it. So what does Bill Shorten have in store for us if the ALP wins the next election?   Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Economy, Infrastructure, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments