EDITORIAL: asks whether Kim Beazley is capable of reinventing himself as a credible leader of the opposition based on an ability to develop alternative policies derived from traditional Labor values or, as his actions suggest since he regained the leadership, he is the recycled Tin Man of Australian politics.

JOHN BRADFORD argues that President Bush’s appeal to ‘loser males’ based on ‘moral values’ was crucial in his narrow election win and it may well be an issue which wins the next Australian election for John Howard.

DENIS KENNY looks at America’s foreign policy record and shows that US actions, which are usually wrapped in the mantle of altruism and universal human ideals, have often turned out to be exercises in ruthless self-interest. What is new is that since the Reagan restoration, the voices opposing US imperialism have been excluded from the public debate and since 9/11 have been accused of appeasement, if not treason.

GEOFFREY BARKER examines the geo-political balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region and says Australia’s key problem will be how to balance Australia’s long-term security dependence on the US alliance with its growing economic dependence on China.

IAN McAULEY argues that Canberra is refusing to face up to structural issues including running an unsustainable external deficit; households financing spending from debt based on inflated personal balance sheets; a tax system favouring speculation; crumbling infrastructure; and the failure of the economy to generate well-paid jobs so that transfers now account for nearly half the disposable income of low income families.

PETER NEWMAN shows how the restoration of the Fremantle rail service and the refocusing of Perth’s development around train lines is achieving a more liveable city and explains the lessons this experience has for sustainable development in other capital cities.

KEVIN MORGAN discusses the sale of T3 and argues that the government’s only concern is raising a $30 billion slush fund to take the Coalition to another term of government. He argues the competitive environment used to justify the privatisation is an artificial construct which has undermined the economies inherent in the natural monopoly – at the consumer’s expense. Telstra will only be able to meet the national need for an advanced telecommunications system if its monopoly is largely restored.

JAMES JUPP examines the state of the ALP and finds that the trouble is not that it is losing its heartlands, but that it is hardly winning anywhere else. To win nationally Labor needs to recruit those who vote for Labor at the state level but not federally. Most federal issues are non-parochial, which means Labor must establish alliances with so-called elites and open up policy to wide debate and discussion.

BARBARA PRESTON looks at two significant schools programs – boarding allowances for isolated children and the SES (socio-economic status) criteria for funding non-government schools – to show how egalitarian principles (access to quality education for isolated children and needs based funding for non-government schools) have been used as a cover to reward the already educationally advantaged at the expense of the relatively disadvantaged.

ANDREA SHARAM shows how the privatisation and deregulation of essential services under national competition policy that promised nearly $30 billion in savings has led to market segmentation and a distinction between attractive (profitable) customers from unattractive (unprofitable) customers. Those ‘selected out’ – who are referred to as value dilutors, barrens or BOZOs – are likely to be relegated to a residual market and pay a higher price than more favoured customers in the absence of regulation to prevent this.

JOHN L PERKINS examines religious vilification laws intended to promote social harmony at the expense of freedom of speech. He argues that such legislation, which attempts to put religious vilification in an equivalent position to racial vilification, is inherently flawed. Religious views should be open to challenge in the same way as political views and be subject to the same laws against incitement to violence, defamation, slander and libel.

JOHN LANGMORE argues there is still a role for the UN and that most of the perceived weaknesses of the organisation are in fact related to the lack of commitment to the UN charter by individual members, particularly the US.

BILL ROWLINGS satirises federal education Minister Dr Brendan Nelson’s attempt to impose a ‘back to basics’ 3Rs national curriculum on state schools.

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