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Editorial: The 2013 federal election was the Australia’s first post-Enlightenment election in which the core policy of the successful Coalition parties was based on a denial of the fundamental laws of science relating to climate change. The politics of denialism – seen as good politics – may come back to haunt the Coalition in 2016 when the connection between extreme weather events and global warming are likely to be even more obvious.
David Spratt argues that the Abbott government’s purpose is the rapid expansion of the fossil fuel sector. The government’s climate policy is deny-delay-deregulate, based on the ethos of ‘politics as warfare’, the virtues of confrontation and political extremism and the dumbing down of politics. The Coalition must be defeated; it is not interested in debating issues.
Ian Hundley questions whether the greater influence of the ALP membership in the selection of the parliamentary leader is worth the candle. It diminishes the centrality of parliamentary democracy in the affairs of the ALP and further concentrates power in the executive.
John M. Legge reviews two recent economic histories looking at the causes and consequences of the GFC. He concludes that neoliberalism and austerity will be seen as descendants of the Spanish Inquisition, not the logical continuation of the Enlightenment. But it remains possible that general enlightenment can occur before large areas of the world descend into fascism.
Richard Parsons surveys the literature on the economic contribution of refugees to Australia and finds no study that indicates refugees impose a burden over the long term.
Ian McAuley looks at the history of rent seeking in agriculture and manufacturing in the 1950s and 1960s and compares it with the rent seekers in the mining industry today. In the earlier period we had the means to share some of the benefits with a large manufacturing workforce, which provided a barrier to going down the Argentinian road. Now we don’t.
Caroline Colton points out that the process of expanding the resources sector under the Coalition is clear. Not so clear is the creation of new industries through the dual process of privatising existing government assets and instigating a taxpayer/superannuants financed infrastructure boom. This results in private equity taking ownership of newly-built assets such as railways, toll roads, hospitals, bridges and schools.
Ian Manning reviews Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen’s book An Uncertain Glory: India and its contradictions which evaluates the decision to open up the market. This has resulted in growing inequality, little progress in expanding literacy, health care, and infrastructure and poses a threat to continued strong economic growth.
Elizabeth Cham writes an open letter to the Minister for Social Services asking why the government is determined to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. She points out that, over the last fifteen years, four government enquiries, including a Senate enquiry and a Productivity Report, have all recommended that a single, independent national regulator be established.
Geoffrey Marnell contends that time is more valuable than tangible assets yet there are no penalties for people wasting our time. For example, consumer laws protect consumers from buying goods not fit for purpose, but purchasers of software with inadequate instructions will have to spend more time to make it usable.