Daily News - Monday 7 July 2014
This week Australians have the opportunity to share and acknowledge the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the nation. Let us join together to celebrate the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week 2014 (6-13 July).
Divorce is costing the Australian economy $14 billion a year
Lauren Wilson and Lisa Cornish, News Corp Australia
Divorce and family breakdowns are costing the national economy more than $14 billion a year in government assistance payments and court costs, an exclusive News Corp analysis has found.
That figure has blown out by $2 billion in the last two years alone, with each Australian taxpayer now paying about $1100 a year to support families in crisis.
The financial sting is one of the reasons why Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has confirmed he will overhaul early intervention strategies in a bid to strengthen Australian families.
Mr Andrews told News Corp that as early as this month he will act to establish an expert panel on early intervention, which will be made up of a mix of practitioners and academics.
We can do better than a lifetime spent on income support for Australians who have some capacity to work, says Kevin Andrews
Kevin Andrews, Address to the Melbourne Institute
Work is a social good which, in turn, is a foundation and expression of human dignity. Seen this way, it is work or employment and finding it for all those who wish to participate that should always be a primary focus of national policy.
Not only does work enable us to express ourselves as human beings and fulfil our material needs; it enables us to contribute to society as a whole: to our families, our communities, and the nation.
An issue, then, is how we can ensure work for all those who are capable of it. None of us exist in isolation.
We have a duty to allow each of our fellow citizens to participate in the work of society according to their ability.
Work is the Default Option
ACCI, media release
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for a calm and rational debate about the McClure Report into Welfare Reform.
ACCI’s CEO, Kate Carnell said: "The kickback against any suggestion of cuts to benefits is the welfare lobby's standard approach to discussion of reform, but Australia really does need more than that.
... Ms Carnell said the key message in the report is that work is the default option, reinforced by evidence that individuals and families on long term welfare support have poorer health, lower self-esteem and social isolation. As the report states: 'In contrast, employment generates clear financial, health and social benefits for individuals, families and communities.' Those that spend their lives looking at welfare policy, both in government and in the not-for-profit sector know this to be true.
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews tells job seekers to work for free
Emma Kelly, The Canberra Times
Young people struggling to find paid work should consider volunteering their time in the workforce as a foot in the door to employment, according to Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews.
Mr Andrews has previously suggested young people facing the prospect of no dole for six months should take a job they don’t really want or do a course.
Income management is mutual obligation writ large
Trisha Jha, Centre for Independent Studies
The release of the interim report of the McClure Welfare Review and expectations that the government will expand income management presents us with an opportunity to revisit the philosophical concerns of income management as a social security tool.
Roundtable on the Interim Report on Welfare Reform
John Cleary, Sunday Nights, ABC (audio)
Anglicare's Roland Manderson and UnitingCare's Lin Hatfield Dodds join John Cleary to discuss the McClure report on welfare reform.
An opportunity to invest in Australia's needy
Lin Hatfield Dodds, Eureka Street
Adequate income support enables people to survive. Working with people to build their skills and capability enables them to thrive. Social services, like those provided by organisations in our network and other charities, are crucial to providing meaningful support.
As the Review progresses in the weeks and months ahead, some key priorities must remain front and centre. The welfare system must provide support that is adequate, it must be simplified and it must be effective. If we can support people to build their capacity and capabilities, if we can nurture our communities, our families and our people, the long-term social (and economic) benefits follow.
US - Why You Don't Need To Be A Paternalist To Embrace Welfare Paternalism
Adam Ozimek, Forbes
Brink Lindsay has a piece on why he opposes a universal basic income that has gotten a lot of attention. His argument draws on paternalism and behavioral economics style arguments about how welfare that encourages rather than discourages work makes people better off. I think many libertarians, neo-classical economists, and others who typically oppose paternalism and are critical of behavioral economics might be drawn to Brink’s piece. But rather than letting intuitions about the positive benefits of work draw these erstwhile paternalism skeptics into making an exception, they should consider a completely non-paternalistic basis for these intuitions that requires no departures from neo-classical economic arguments.
UK - Shaming people won't get them off welfare
Robert Walker, The Guardian
It is almost 30 years since Norman Fowler, then secretary of state for social security, announcing the flagship welfare reform of the Thatcher era, declared that the social security system had "lost its way" and needed to be reformed to tackle "genuine need". "Welfare" has since become a term of abuse, and the long-term unemployed are deemed by politicians left and right to be part of a "something-for-nothing culture". Policies have hardened.
Young families, elderly worse off under proposed $7 GP co-payment: study
Sophie Scott, ABC
Families will be worse off under the proposed GP co-payment, while the elderly and those with chronic conditions will be hardest hit, according to new research.
The University of Sydney study suggests a young family - classified as one with two children aged below 16 with two parents aged between 25-44 years - would pay an additional $184 more per year on average to access medical care.
Homelessness and its friends
Alan Moran, Catallaxy
Homelessness is an issue with a high policy profile. The Rudd Government had ambitions for halving its level by 2020. The ABS established a Homelessness Statistics Reference Group (HSRG) with 26 members drawn from academia and welfare agencies and there was support from various state and Commonwealth departments.
... Efforts to deregulate wages and land are better routes to resolving homelessness than more subsidies and an increase in the number of facilitators.
Fairer Paid Parental Leave
Matthew Taylor, Centre for Independent Studies
This report describes how an Income Contingent Loans (ICL) scheme could be used to provide wage replacement paid parental leave for Australian parents. This scheme would provide the same social benefits that the current statutory PPL provides and meet the gender equity objectives of the Coalition’s proposal.
... To assert that those who produce social benefits are worthy of subsidies in the absence of any evidence that these subsidies directly contribute to the production of social benefits that would not otherwise be produced is not an economic argument for increasing social welfare. This is an argument in favour of redistribution from those who do not have children to those who do—one that presumes that the welfare of families with young children is more important than the welfare of those without.
The banality of evil: violence against women
Hannah Piterman, The Conversation
It is the ubiquity of ordinary sexism that creates the circumstances for violence against women and sees it as the leading cause of death and disability in Australian women aged 15 to 44. In Australia, a woman is murdered every week at the hands of her partner or ex. Worldwide, 35% of women experience either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
Graeme Innes: The Optimist We Had To Have
Max Chalmers, New Matilda
nybody who caught his address at the National Press Club on Wednesday will realise it’s been a big week for outgoing Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes.
Towards the end of his remarks – which were at times deeply personal, but also sliced through Treasurer Joe Hockey’s division of society into “leaners” and “lifters” – Innes was on the verge of tears.
Human relationships and efficiency don't mix
Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street
The Victorian Government has started to recommission its community sector programs. The first to be affected were the community mental health services. The outcome saw a simplification of administration into a smaller number of areas, with tenders being awarded to a few large tenderers in each region. These included some large community organisations.
... How are these harmful changes to be explained? The common thread running through the measures adopted both at State and at Federal level is the commodification of services and benefits. The business of government is the prudent management of its economic resources. Services are seen as commodities to be produced at the lowest possible cost and distributed in the most economically efficient way, and to be paid for by tokens of involvement in the economy. Vulnerable people who are mentally ill, lack social skills and live in poverty cannot respond in an economically acceptable way. So they will lose access to benefits.
When services and benefits are commodified, too, their delivery will be evaluated primarily in terms of economic efficiency. Inevitably large agencies which promise to deliver economy of scale will win contracts. The public service can shrink, and eventually will lose the stored wisdom necessary for regulating services for the common good.
Who killed the charity watchdog?
Sarah Dingle, Background Briefing, ABC
A charitable trust which donates to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital has lost tens of millions of dollars while still paying its corporate trustee millions in fees, according to a charities lobby group.
The allegations come as the federal government moves to axe the charities watchdog, the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission.
Options Paper, Australia’s Charities and Not-for-profits
Department of Social Services
The Options Paper, Australia’s Charities and Not-for-profits sets out proposed replacement arrangements for charities in Australia. The paper outlines the policy directions proposed by the Government to introduce effective replacement arrangements that reduce the burden of regulation on the civil society sector.
Federal Government Must Learn From Chaplains Case
Aaron Lane, Institute of Public Affairs
Any power to spend taxpayers' money must be found expressly in the Constitution, or in statutes made under it by the parliament. Pape put many areas of commonwealth expenditure into doubt, and this was the basis for the two Williams decisions that followed.
... The commonwealth should cease meddling in policy areas that were clearly intended to be the responsibility of the states, like health and education. The wasteful duplication of government departments and agencies should end. States should be given the capacity to raise enough revenue on their own to cover the cost of the services they deliver.
If the Abbott government doesn't act quickly to revive federalism, the High Court might force it to do so.
Australia is not good enough for politicians
Michael Short, The Age
The notion ... that we are in a ‘‘deficit and debt crisis’’ requiring crimping key wealth-creating services like healthcare and education, along with an emergency increase in taxes and payments, is fanciful. It undermines consumer confidence and is thus a drag on the economy. It is even more of a shame because, as a number of election promises are seen to have been abandoned in the name of this false ‘‘crisis’’, community disdain for the political process has been fuelled.
Confessional writing is not self-indulgent
Leslie Jamison, The Guardian
Confessional writing often gets a bad rap. People call it self-absorbed, solipsistic, self-indulgent. Who wants to hear another 30-year-old going on and on about her damage? But when I published a collection of "confessional" essays this spring, The Empathy Exams, full of personal material (an abortion, heart surgery, getting punched in the face by a stranger) – I started to feel like confession could be the opposite of solipsism. My confessions elicited responses. They coaxed chorus like a brushfire.
Many people in unions and progressive politics talk about “framing” — made famous by George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant — but it’s difficult to see what that means in practice. Effective communication is made even more challenging by the broad left’s obsession with “rationality” and fact-based arguments.
Freedom to believe must mean freedom to practice
Peter Kurti, Centre for Independent Studies
Australia is committed to upholding freedom of religion. Anti-discrimination legislation contains exemptions protecting the right to religious liberty ensuring it is balanced against other rights.
But religious liberty is under threat here from an aggressive secularism that wants to drive religion out of the public square where it is practised, and into the private and confined realm of the mind.
We see it, for example, in the push by certain groups led by the Australian Greens to introduce same sex marriage in the name of tolerance, dignity and 'marriage equality'.
John Michael McDonagh on his new film 'Calvary'
Susan Chenery, The Saturday Paper
... As the whiskey flowed, McDonagh had another radical idea. What about creating a priest who was – gasp – good and decent?
“I assumed,” he says now, “that there would be a lot of movies about the [church] scandals, dealing with them obliquely or in some other way. There would be films about bad priests. So I said, ‘Oh, you know, we should do something more original and get ahead of the game and do a film about a good priest.’ ”
Pope Francis ... spoke with workers and industrialists, re-emphasizing a concept he has expressed on other occasions: true dignity for the labourer and being able to bring home the bread. On this topic Pope Francis said, “Not having work is not only lacking what is necessary to live, no. We can eat every day: we go to the Caritas, we go to this association, we go to the club, we go there and they feed us. But this is not the problem. The problem is not bringing home the bread: this is serious, and this takes away dignity!”
The Pope's attack on capitalism shows he knows nothing about how the world really works
Allister Heath, The Telegraph
In any free society characterised by private property rights and folks endowed with differing tastes, ambitions, talents and aspirations, there will inevitably be a divergence in earnings and wealth. Francis’ wholesale condemnation of inequality is thus tantamount to a complete rejection of contemporary economic systems. It is not a call for reform, or for moderation, but a radical denunciation.
The logical conclusion of the Pope’s tweets is that it is “evil” for the likes of Sir Richard Branson to have been allowed to keep the money he earned by providing the public with goods and services, and that we need immediate equalisation through punitive taxes. Such an extreme view would have catastrophic consequences, annihilate incentives to work, save and invest and halt the progress of human civilisation.
Pope Francis just expertly trolled his critics
Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, The Week
Since Pope Francis began speaking in public about the Christian view on economic matters, opponents have engaged in what often feels like a McCarthy-era smear campaign, accusing the Pope of things like Marxism, communism, and Leninism.
... since his concern for the poor causes critics to accuse him of Marxism, Pope Francis reversed their accusations: rather than Christianity looking suspiciously communist over its concern for the poor, perhaps communism looks suspiciously Christian. After all, justice for the poor is hardly a communist invention; as Pope Francis points out, a focus on helping the poor was native to Christianity long before the 19th century.