NUMBER 7 SUMMER 2001/2002

EDITORIAL Kenneth Davidson argues that Beazley's ALP lost the 2001 election because it failed to articulate an alternative vision, not because of Tampa. Voters rewarded Peter Andren and Senator Bob Brown for their principled stand on Tampa. Howard’s victory lay in his ability to impose his agenda and his vision on the electorate. Before Labor can develop a believable alternative political agenda, it must develop a credible economic model as an alternative to the Liberal’s neo-classical model.

SEPTEMBER 11: CHRISTIAN REUS-SMIT says an effective policy response to the events of September 11 must give priority to finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; to the removal of sanctions against Iraq; and to the initiation of a global Marshall Plan to combat global poverty – especially poverty in the Islamic world. 

HILARY CHARLESWORTH observes that the most striking aspect of the war of words superimposed on the war on terrorism is the similar language used by both sides to justify their own positions and condemn their opponents, and she argues that this prevents the articulation of a broader view of the conflict or ways to resolve it. 

TESSA MORRIS-SUZUKI claims that the real global divide is not between a clash of civilisations (as proposed by Samuel Huntington), but between fundamentalism and pluralism, and shows that both ways of thinking about the world can be found in all societies, including Australia. 

COLIN RICHARDSON argues that that all societies are capable of falling for the lies of political opportunists and religious fundamentalists, given sufficient stress in the form of economic hardship and political oppression. The 1947 Marshall Plan showed that the best way to prevent nations following madmen into their imaginary world – a clear danger at present – is to remove the causes of political and economic repression. 

FREYA HIGGINS DESBIOLLES is an American-Australian who details US state-sponsored terrorism and other recent activities that have violated the political, environmental and economic rights of other peoples to support selfish US interests. She suggests that terrorism will continue until the US adopts foreign policies based on equity and justice rather than brute strength.

JAMES JUPP says that Australian policies towards asylum seekers arriving by boat are unsustainable and a more liberal policy would cost only a fraction of the naval and overseas internment operations, without endangering social cohesion.

PATRICK TROY argues that our present approach to urban water management is no longer sustainable. But modern water tanks could capture enough water from the average roof to meet the average consumption of households in the five mainland capitals for most years, and for all years assuming recycling of water for toilet flushing and garden watering.

SUPERANNUATION: JOHN M LEGGE outlines the higher costs of compulsory superannuation compared to publicly funded age pensions: private schemes consume as much as 10 per cent more of their gross revenue in administration costs and a private pension is likely to be 25 per scent lower than a well-run state pension, given a similar level of contributions. 

LOUISE SYLVAN looks at compulsory superannuation from a consumer viewpoint and shows how the fee structure, largely hidden from superannuants, has provided a gravy train for the superannuation industry, which may be creaming off up to 35 per cent of the value of the retirement accumulation. IAN McAULEY shows how privatisation of retirement income is putting at risk those least able to hedge against it and is channeling workers' savings into private capital markets which are reluctant to invest in productive national infrastructure.

DENYS CORRELL argues there is no looming 'ageing crisis' – although it is used to justify more and more savings being diverted into the superannuation industry. The proportion of the population over 65 is low and not expected to reach present Japanese and German levels until after 2030, giving us plenty of time to plan.

JOHN MULVANEY describes the history of the conflict of interest between aboriginal culture and the interests of uranium miners and suggests that the long-term national interest may coincide more closely with the local aboriginals than the miners.

KATE DAVISON records the decline of universities as public institutions serving the public interest and the long term aim of the Howard Government to open up the education system to profit at the expense of both standards and access.

PETER THORNE argues Australia’s failure to develop an IT industry is due largely to the ideological hostility of hard line economists to interventionist policies, and cutbacks to university funding. Vice-chancellors have corporatised their universities and compete for students, particularly full fee paying students, and use popular IT-related departments as cash cows, further undermining Australia’s ability to raise its R&D capability in IT.  

NOTE FOR EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: For permission to reprint articles, or for interviews, contact Kenneth Davidson or Lesley Vick on tel/fax 03 9347 7839 or email

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