Aug 25, 2018

A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts covered in other media.

On ABC’s Saturday Extra this weekend (in case you missed it):

  • Liberal leadership crisis: Dennis Atkins, Alan Kohler, Rodney Tiffen, John Warhurst, Peter Craven.
  • A new report into the value of the gaming machine industry suggests the benefits might possibly outweigh the losses and social costs to society. Tim Costello, spokesman for the Alliance for Gambling Reform.
  • Professor David Runciman on what is not working in modern democratic societies, and how to go about repairing these systems which he believes are fixable, but just haven’t kept up with the electorate
  • This month’s A Foreign Affair explores how the US Administration is circumventing a lot of the damage caused by President Trump; what President Joko Widodo’s choice for running mate in the next election might mean for Indonesian democracy; and asks why don’t we hear about the ongoing protests of Okinawans about the expansion of US bases there?

Other commentary

Perhaps it’s premature to be writing an obituary of the Liberal Party, but there are many thoughtful comments on the long-term consequences of this week’s events for the Party. Two which look beyond the immediate gladiatorial fights are Leonore Taylor’s“What’s the point of the Liberal party if it just panders to an ever-narrowing base?” (The Guardian), and Judith Brett’s “‘Balmain basket weavers’ strike again, tearing the Liberal Party apart” (The Conversation).

In the week just past we may be forgiven for believing that our elected politicians cannot rise above vitriol, deceit, lies and patronising quotes from talking points. On last weekend’s The Roundtable on the ABC’s Sunday Extra Hugh Riminton hosted a discussion on the topic “Who are the people in Australia not being heard?”. His guests were Barnaby Joyce (National), Ken Wyatt (Liberal) and Mehreen Faruqi (Greens). Temporarily freed from their partisan roles, they showed their capacity to engage in a civilised and thoughtful political discussion.

Ross Gittins writes on the latest round of financial assistance to drought-stricken farmers. Naturally we have sympathy for those doing it hard, but emergency assistance encourages those who, through no fault of their own, cannot keep going. In the last big drought, the 2007-08 Millennium Drought, nearly 70 percent of farms in drought-declared areas got by without government assistance. “Our sympathy, donations and taxpayer assistance just prolong the agony of farmers unable or unwilling to face the harsh reality of farming in a country with one of the most variable climates in the world”, he writes.

Writing in The Guardian Kelsy Munro examines the cost of the decline of our public education system. Just 40 years ago 79 per cent of students were in the public education system. Now the figure is down to 65 per cent, and in Melbourne and Sydney almost half of secondary students are in private schools. The cost is a lack of social cohesion and reinforcement of a negative cycle of disadvantage. Those costs fall not only on those in government schools, but also on those in private schools. She quotes a principal who points out “that a child might learn a lot more at a local state school that reflects the whole community”.

The banking commission is providing us with plenty of tales of malfeasance in the financial system. Fairfax financial journalist Clancy Yeates writes that one of the key economic issues of the commission’s hearings isn’t so much about law-breaking conduct as about the way emphasising “choice” into the superannuation system, with inadequate regulation, has made us vulnerable to rip-offs.

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