NUMBER 9 SPRING 2002
EDITORIAL: The Howard
Government’s policies are predicated on the myth that low government
debt leads to low interest rates. In fact Australia has one of the
lowest levels of net government debt and the highest interest rates in
the industrialised world. Official debt reduction has been achieved by
assets sales (directly or indirectly financed by foreign debt).
Coalition economic mismanagement has made our tax burden higher than at
any period since WW11.
APPLE explains how and why State and Federal Labor leaders have
facilitated the Macquarie Bank, the AMP, and other leading exponents of
the 5% Club in schemes called Public Private Partnerships. PPPs rip off
taxpayers in order to keep public debt off the balance sheet.
LEGGE argues that merchant banks and asset strippers who
gained from privatisation and tax burden redistribution are now
targeting the welfare state. They see opportunities to get their snouts
into the $100 billion social insurance trough, claiming that they can
offer choice (at far higher cost). Choice is neither needed nor wanted
in circumstances of social risk.
MCAULEY discusses the nature of leadership and the
difficulties leaders have in getting people to face up to difficult
issues which cannot be resolved without a shift in public opinion. He
cites the example of the ABC, whose role is to provide a forum for
discussion about issues like aboriginal reconciliation and
environmental degradation, and how those who do not like to hear these
messages dismiss them by accusing the ABC of left wing bias.
KESSLER and TONY WALKER draw on their personal experiences
to analyse the Israel-Palestine conflict. They argue that the intensity
and duration of the conflict has corrupted both sides' perspective on
reality to the point where the dispute can only be resolved by the US,
which unfortunately seems bent on policies that are exacerbating the
METCALF describes the impact of economic rationalism on
rural emergency rooms.
MURPHY examines the latest proposal from politicians like
Mark Latham to marketise health and education services by introducing
individual health care and education accounts in place of the present
system where governments are still accountable for the provision of
these services. He compares these proposals with alternative methods of
provisions via hypothecated taxes like the Medicare levy.
PRESTON examines the report on Australia’s schools to the
Menzies Research Centre by neoliberal educationists, Brian Caldwell and
John Roskam (Australia’s Education Choices, April 2002). Behind the
rubric of ‘choice’, most Australian students in low to medium fee
paying non-government schools, as well as government schools, would be
disadvantaged to benefit students in high fee non-government schools if
its recommendations were implemented.
SAWER celebrates a century of women’s suffrage in Australia,
examines the party affiliation of women in our parliaments, and
compares the Australian experience of women's parliamentary
representation and leadership positions with Canada and New Zealand.
GREGORY traces the economic progress of women over the last
35 years and shows that women have had lots more education, but no more
full time jobs (although many women are receiving higher pay), lots of
part time work and a spectacular increase in welfare support.
COLLINS says the real crisis in the Catholic Church stems
from its centralised authoritarianism, based on the papacy. This is
incompatible with the spiritual needs of an educated and independent
laity whose financial contribution is vital to the ongoing operations
of the church. The church’s corruption is seen in its failure to
develop contemporary spirituality and its retreat into simplistic and
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