Daily News - Friday 5 December 2014

Posted 5 December 2014 8:04am

Greens senator Rachel Siewert demands Government release report into income management

The Greens are calling on the Federal Government to publicly release a report it commissioned into income management.

The Government is considering expanding income management in the form a healthy welfare card, as proposed in a review by mining magnate Andrew Forrest.

But a research coordinator involved in the three-year study of the program in the Northern Territory has told the ABC the report's findings showed income management had not worked.


Volunteers can boost Tasmanian economy: report
Helen Kemption, The Mercury

Tasmania could boost its economy by more than $70 million a year if the state’s already high rate of volunteering increased by just one per cent, a new report says.

Already, four out of five Tasmanians gave up their time to volunteer this year.

A landmark report released by Volunteering Tasmania says the 7.1 million hours donated in 2014 added $4.9 billion in socio-economic and cultural capital to the state.


Volunteers most needed in education, disability services
Pamela Frost, The Gympie Times

Less than one fifth of Ipswich residents volunteer their time for the community.

Statistics show 17.9% of the population - or 6769 people - volunteer their time in a form of unpaid work.

... Based on current opportunities listed online, volunteers are needed most in education, youth services and disability services in the Ipswich region.

Figures from Volunteering Queensland show the most popular choice of volunteer work is sport and recreation, followed by religious and community welfare.


Disability housing crisis
Rick Morton ($)

The national disability insur­ance scheme is using the former federal government’s failed rental affordability program as a model for its own housing project, which will eventually cost $700 million per year.

The agency is so stricken by indecision on a policy direction to address housing needs for up to 120,000 people at NDIS maturity that it has delayed by more than a year a discussion paper on the subject.


No Christmas for children banished to island of tears
Elizabeth Elliott, The Age

Thursday was the last parliamentary sitting day for the Federal Government in 2014; the last opportunity to table a report that allows Australians to hear for themselves the voices of children in immigration detention. It is the result of a year-long inquiry by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

As one of nine expert clinicians who accompanied the commission to detention centres around the country, I was both alarmed and distressed by what I saw and heard on Christmas Island. In this I am not alone. The clinicians – specialists in child health and psychiatry – have a combined clinical experience of more than 200 years. We can recognise ill-health and emotional trauma when we see it, and there was plenty on offer.


Pre-Christmas release looms for kids in detention
Stefanie Balogh, The Australian ($)

Children could be released from the Christmas Island ­immigration detention centre as early as Christmas under the government’s overhaul of migration laws, which includes a return to Howard-era temporary protection visas.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s legislation passed the Senate at 12.15am last night with the support of crossbenchers after lengthy debate, 34 votes to 32.


Why Baby Hatches Are A Bad Idea
Karen Healy, New Matilda

Earlier this week NSW Police called for policy makers to consider the introduction of baby hatches. The call was in response to two recent high profile tragedies, one involving a baby found abandoned but alive at Quakers Hill and the other of a baby’s body buried at Maroubra beach.

Baby hatches are like a human dropbox that allows a person, usually the parent, to anonymously leave their newborn in a safe place, usually to be put up for adoption. The hatches, sometimes referred to as baby safe havens, have been in operation in many countries for over a decade. The evidence from these countries should give us much pause for thought.


Back to school: why attendance is up in the Top End
Stephen Easton, The Mandarin

School attendance is on the rise across the Northern Territory, thanks to a more co-ordinated bureaucratic effort and the award-winning dedication of teachers in the public system.

Compared to last year, attendance is up by about 15%, averaged over the government schools targeted in the first half of 2014. The handful of schools where it declined — three in term one — are reportedly receiving greater scrutiny from federal bureaucrats.


Higher prices won't stop problem drinkers, alcohol sellers tell inquiry
Katherine Gregory, ABC

Australia's largest alcohol retailers have told a public hearing into Indigenous alcohol abuse that increasing prices will not reduce consumption.

Representatives from Woolworths Liquor Group, the Winemakers Federation of Australia, Brewers Association of Australia and Distilled Spirits Industry Council addressed a parliamentary committee on Indigenous Affairs about strategies they are taking to engage with Indigenous communities and reduce the consumption of alcohol.


The ‘muddled narrative’ of indigenous affairs centralisation
Stephen Easton, The Mandarin

The uncertainty created by Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s takeover of indigenous affairs has Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Mick Gooda “deeply worried”, but he sees some steps in the right direction.

Reviewing the past year in his annual Social Justice and Native Title Report, Gooda (pictured) says the transfer of responsibility for 26 programs from eight federal agencies to the Prime Minister’s Department has caused “immense anxiety” among indigenous Australians.


Feds Move Again to Abolish ACNC
Lina Caneva, Pro Bono News

The Abbott Government has rushed to reintroduce legislation to abolish the national charity regulator on the final days of Federal Parliament, coinciding with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s second anniversary.

The ACNC Repeal Bill No 1 was reintroduced into the House of Representatives late Wednesday after previously being introduced in March 2014.


Women elevated and Daniel Andrews’ Victorian cabinet sworn in
Rachel Baxendale, The Australian ($)

Jenny Mikakos gets Families and Children and Youth Affairs, Lisa Neville Environment, Climate Change and Water, and Fiona Richardson Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, with the government set to announce a Royal Commission into the issue.


Australia needs higher taxes, not spending cuts
Max Corden, The Conversation

The federal budget balance is expected to deteriorate. The reasons are numerous but, in a lengthy statement, the government sums it up in terms of two key factors. These are: the softer economic outlook; and unresolved issues inherited from the former government.

The economy is going through a transition. A decline in resources investment will be offset by a recovery in the non-resources sector. It seems the decline in resources investment may be sharper than previously forecast while the recovery in the non-resources sector may be more gradual.


Increasing tax burden won’t help
David Leyonjhelm, The Australian

Tony Abbott has promised his tax white paper will not be about increasing the tax take. This is heartening because a look at the numbers confirms the budget woes are not due to the government forgetting to tax us.

Allowing for inflation, commonwealth tax collections per person have increased by more than 15 per cent since introduction of the GST. The tax-to-GDP ratio is also higher in Australia than in many countries we compete with for investment and skilled workers, including South Korea and the US.


How business can bypass the pollies on tax reform
Rob Burgess, Business Spectator

... the Australian Council of Social Service, whose member charities are picking up the social services shortfall as the labour market deteriorates, is going straight to the heart of the matter.

It has formed an alliance with the Business Community Tax Reform group to knock both sides’ heads together and convince them that a broken tax system is causing social problems, economic problems and obvious fiscal problems.

And since the BCTR includes all the major business groups in its membership -- such as the BCA, ACCI and COSBOA -- it brings with it significant expertise and lobbying power.

The BCTR and ACOSS are holding a closed-door conference on December 15 to get this stalled debate moving again.


We’ve discovered hundreds of millions of euros off the Vatican’s balance sheet, says cardinal
Catholic Herald

Vatican reformers have discovered hundreds of millions of euros that did not appear on the Holy See’s balance sheet, the cardinal charged with sorting out the Curia’s financial affairs has said.

Writing exclusively in the first issue of the new Catholic Herald magazine, Cardinal George Pell says that the discovery means that the Vatican’s finances are healthier than they first appeared.


Australian prelate: Don’t expect big Catholic changes on sex
Inés San Martín, Crux

Following a landmark Vatican summit of bishops in October that debated a greater opening to gays and lesbians as well as Communion for the divorced and remarried, many people are wondering if Pope Francis has the Catholic Church poised for major changes in its teaching on sexual morality and family life.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia, a member of the Dominican order and an influential Catholic expert in bioethics, has a clear message about those expectations.

It boils down to: Don’t hold your breath.

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