Daily News - Wednesday 29 October 2014

Posted 29 October 2014 7:59am

Housing and Homelessness Policy ‘Shelved’
Pro Bono News

The Federal Government says it is continuing to negotiate on issues of housing and homelessness despite revelations that the Coalition’s long awaited policy review has been shelved.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews told Pro Bono Australia News that “the Government is committed to adopting a considered, methodical and measured approach to addressing the complex issue of homelessness”.

“I am continuing consultations with key stakeholders on housing and homelessness matters,” Andrews said.

The Department of Social Services confirmed in Senate Estimates last week that it’s long awaited review of housing and homelessness policy has been shelved.

Jan McLucas, Media release: Housing and Homelessness policy review shelved.


Crowded cities blamed for costly housing
Stephen Johnson, The Age

Crowded cities, immigration and tax breaks for property investors are being blamed for Australia having some of the most expensive housing in the world.

Australia is often imagined as the land of wide, open spaces and kangaroos.

But the everyday reality for the majority is very different, with 59 per cent of Australians living in cities with one million or more people.

Only Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan have a higher proportion of metropolis dwellers.


Blitz on remote dole scheme
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Unemployed Aborigines in remote communities will be forced into work for the dole five days a week, with tough new sanctions for failing to participate, under changes that have in-principle cabinet agreement.

Under the new policy, un­employed people with full work capacity would be forced into 25 hours of “work-like” dole activities spread over the week. Sources said there would not be any activities that allowed people to spend their time “painting rocks”. Instead the activities would replicate real work to ensure unemployed Aborigines were “work ready”.


Canberra disability providers named for NDIS transition
Lisa Mosley and Michael Donaldson, ABC

The ACT Government has named six private providers to take over early intervention services for children with a disability or developmental delays.

ACT Government-run services will finish at the end of the year as part of the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).


Victoria - Funding for youth diversion programs a good step

The State Government has made the welcome announcement that it will direct more than $7 million towards youth diversion programs if re-elected in November.

The two year pilot announced on Sunday will be followed by a state-wide pre-plea, legislated system, giving young people the same opportunity for diversion available to adults. This is a significant step that has long been called for by VCOSS members.


Greens urge Senate to reject ‘earn or learn’ measures
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

The Greens are urging the Senate to “stand firm” and reject any compromise on the government’s earn or learn measures, revealing that Senate Estimates data show that around 100,000 young people could be dumped off income support.

In Senate Estimates, the government confirmed that an estimated 100,000 people do not meet the exemptions set out under the Earn or Learn scheme, meaning they would be subject to waiting periods without any income support at all.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert told The Australian she was very concerned at suggestions that some on the cross bench would support a one month waiting period.


Seniors Supplement is poorly targeted to people who don’t need extra support
ACOSS, media release

The Australian Council of Social Service today urged the Federal Parliament to support the budget proposal to abolish the Seniors Supplement, which is poorly targeted to people who do not need additional support from the Government.

"At a time when we need to be restoring revenue and better targeting expenditure, in part to fund the needs of an ageing population, this supplement represents an unjustified excess," said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.


Greens withdraw support for budget cut to Seniors Supplement
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has attacked the Greens for backflipping on their support for the Abbott government’s budget proposal to abolish the Seniors Supplement.

The Australian Council of Social Service has urged the Federal parliament to support the Abbott government’s budget proposal to abolish the Seniors Supplement, which they say is “poorly targeted to people who do not need additional support from the government”.

”This indecision by the Greens is not surprising,” Mr Andrews said.


Greens under Christine Milne put protest ahead of progress
Richard Denniss, The Australia Institute

You'd never know it from their behaviour, but the Greens hold 10 seats in the current Senate compared to the Palmer United Party's three.

Their current strategy of voting against virtually everything the Abbott Government announces, including things they actually support, has made them largely irrelevant since the last election. It is hard to think of a more breathtaking act of political obstructionism than the Greens' refusal to support the reintroduction of petrol excise indexation.


Australian kids are at risk of poverty despite promising figures in the Global Financial Crisis
Rachel Browne, The Sydney Morning Herald

An international report into child poverty in wealthy countries has found Australia's approach to the global economic downturn protected children from descending into disadvantage.

The report from UNICEF released on Tuesday found that the proportion of Australian children living in poverty fell from 19 per cent to 13 per cent between 2008 and 2012.

Child poverty increased in 23 of the 41 affluent countries, almost doubling in Greece and tripling in Iceland.

Professor Peter Whiteford, director of the Social Policy Institute at the Australian National University, was on the international advisory board for the preparation of the report and said its findings were not a cause for complacency.

"The future doesn't look as favourable as the recent past," he said.


Breaking the poverty cycle with education
Carol Duncan, ABC

Nearly 640,000 Australian children live in a 'jobless' family. These children are, on average, up to three years behind their peers in reading and maths by the time they're 15 years of age. But this doesn't have to be the case. ABC Newcastle's Carol Duncan spoke with a local family who are bucking the trend.


Research centre to tackle the big question of social disadvantage
UQ News

Experts from universities, governments and NGOs across seven countries are set to tackle urgent problems of deep and persistent disadvantage through a $28 million centre led by the University of Queensland and launched in Melbourne last night.

The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (Life Course Centre) , administered by the University of Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research, brings together leading social scientists from Australia, Canada, Singapore, the United States, United Kingdom, Israel and Ireland, national and state government agencies and NGOs.


His solutions are wrong, but it's a good sign when even Rupert Murdoch is worried about inequality
Warick Smith, The Guardian

Rupert Murdoch has highlighted growing inequality in a post-dinner speech to G20 finance ministers in Washington. Warning that developed countries’ responses to the financial crisis of 2008 have increased the gap between rich and poor, Murdoch says a global reckoning is approaching unless business investment and innovation are freed up.

He suggests that to solve growing inequality and stagnating economies governments need to “get out of the way”. We need labour market reform and lower corporate taxes, the media mogul suggested, perhaps unsurprisingly. He added that tax avoidance by companies like Google should be policed more heavily. Never mind that these companies happen to be giving him a headache by disrupting News Corporation’s business model.


Event: Competition is good for us – or is it?
Robert Kerr, Brotherhood of St Laurence Lunchtime Seminar (via: APO)

In the context of the Harper Competition Policy Review, this paper explores through an economist’s eyes the processes of competition and the impact of government competitive tendering of welfare services on the Community Welfare Sector. The paper suggests that unintended consequences need exploration and management. Relying on the good motives of government and the Sector may not be adequate. Community Welfare organisations are not simply another form of business, nor are they a low cost extension of government. Government contracting with the Community Welfare Sector runs the risk of degrading those very qualities that attract government to the Sector.


Federation is a dog’s breakfast but Australia is mired in deadlock
Paul Kelly, The Australian ($)

Australia risks heading to a new status as a stupid country — a nation unable to solve its public policy problems and, even worse, a nation incapable of even conducting a public debate about them.

Tony Abbott’s appeal for a mature debate about Federation and tax reform has produced a predictable response. The universal ALP reaction is the default reflex: the GST is regressive, it cannot be altered and Abbott’s call for debate is the perfect trigger for an anti-GST campaign against him.

... On issue after issue Labor has nothing to contribute but hysterical rhetoric and poll-driven tactics. It says that Abbott was a wrecker in the last parliament and then seeks to outbid him as a wrecker. The ALP thinks it is being smart — but it is storing up a bundle of problems for itself.


GST out of the box, but states won't budge
Ross Gittins, The Sydney Morning Herald

Since Abbott's plan raises the possibility of tax reforms - "including changes to the indirect tax base" - he'll be lucky if the "mature debate" and "rational discussion about who does what" he seeks doesn't erupt immediately into an Abbott-strength scare campaign about increasing the goods and services tax, led by a Labor Party with a long record of hypocrisy on the topic and a thirst for revenge.

In such a climate, the various premiers facing re-election in coming months are likely to swear total opposition to any change in the GST. These days our politicians excel in the Mexican standoff.


Tony Abbott was right then, and is wrong now. The federation is still Australia's biggest political problem
Mark Fletcher, The Guardian

Federalism appeals to only two kinds of people. First, it is a godsend for libertarians who desperately want central governments to be incapable of delivering welfare programs. Around the world, entrenched federalist constitutional provisions have thwarted the ability of governments to pursue much needed reforms.


Phase 2 of the Pope Francis era: The honeymoon is over
John L Allen, Crux

We’ve passed from a honeymoon period in which most Catholics were content to bask in the fact that the pope was the most popular figure on the planet, to an era in which a growing number of people seem to have a hair-trigger.

For that, we probably have the Synod of Bishops to thank. It brought into sharp focus the battle lines in the Francis era, at least as regards the family and sexual morality.

Those battle lines are ...


Sex and gay children in Catholic families
Peter Kirkwood, Eureka Street

Over the last few weeks the Australian couple featured in this interview have become unlikely international media celebrities. The very forthright speech they gave at the recent Vatican Synod on the Family was reported widely around the globe in both secular and Catholic media.

Ron and Mavis Pirola were among 14 married couples chosen from around the world to attend the Synod to provide input on contemporary family life. There were also a number of lay experts invited to the meeting. But these lay Catholics were far outnumbered by ordained clergy – cardinals, bishops and priests – and only the clergy had voting rights.

The Pirolas spoke to the gathering frankly about their sex life and the importance of sex in marriage, and they made a plea for a welcoming attitude towards homosexuals in the Church.

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