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Random search powers: are they working?

A recent Office of Police Integrity report shows that ‘random stop and search’ powers cannot be shown to reduce crime or improve community safety.

NDIS funding a start but limited trial means a long wait for most

Last night’s budget contained an important step towards realising a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), with $1bn allocated over the next four years. Of these funds, $342.5 million will pay for individualised care and support for 10,000 people in four yet-to-be-announced “launch sites” in 2013-14. The trial will grow to include 20,000 people by 2014-15.
The remainder of the funding will go towards the set-up costs of the NDIS over four years, including systems for data collection and analysis, local area coordinators, a new agency to oversee implementation and manage delivery, assessment of need and monitoring of outcomes and the effectiveness of the scheme.
The government’s announcement will see people assisted by the scheme a year earlier than the timeline the Productivity Commission suggested in its 2011 report into disability care and support.
But there are some major shortfalls in last night’s announcement.

Accounting tricks behind the budget surplus

Government budgets are increasingly becoming more political documents. This has been particularly evident with the federal government’s pledge to return the budget to surplus. However, budget numbers are calculated pursuant to accounting principles and a number of accounting ‘tricks’ can be identified behind the $1.5 billion surplus number.

Moving of spending out of the 2012-13 budget year

Given its commitment to announcing a surplus, the government has had an incentive to move spending out of the 2012-13 budget year.

What is especially evident is the extent to which the government has made ‘policy decisions’ which have taken spending out of the 2012-13 year and brought it forward into the current financial year (ie year ending 30 June 2012).

Consolidating Democracy

As Timor-Leste moves towards marking the 10th anniversary of its independence and completing the third round of its national elections, the question arises as to whether it has consolidated its democracy. The assumption is that consolidating democracy is a necessary step towards ending internal conflict and regularising the affairs of the state. But, the second question is, when one talks about consolidating democracy, what they mean by the term? Having three sets of elections at regular intervals is certainly a good sign of democratic consolidation in Timor-Leste. Yet elections alone do not comprise democracy. Indonesia had regular elections between 1977 and 1997 under its New Order government, yet it was very far from being a democratic state at that time. It is not enough to have the formal procedure of democracy; one also requires the substance, if the term is to have meaning.

Spin in the Victorian Government Budget

In the recently released Victorian government budget and in the accompanying Treasurer’s speech, the government made much of a fall in GST and stamp duty revenue, claiming ‘significant revenue write downs’ and a reduction of $7.6 billion over the forthcoming four year period 2012-13 to 2015-16.

This would suggest an actual expected decline in the total revenue amounts from past years and into future years.

However, close reading of the budget indicates that the reference to the decline relates to estimates made in late 2010.

In fact, the budget figures clearly show that government revenue has actually been increasing steadily since the time of those estimates and that this will continue to be the case.

Total revenue will increase by 3.2% for 2012-13 and then increase by an average of 4.4% for the following three years.

($million)

Dog-whistle politics offends Indonesian ears

Not since Malcolm Fraser was prime minister has the federal Coalition understood, much less had an engaged relationship with, South-East Asia. This lack of understanding and engagement was reflected again yesterday when the Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson, Julie Bishop, made a ‘courtesy call’ on the chair and deputy chair of Indonesia’s legislature (DPR).
What should have been a brief exchange of pleasantries turned into a diplomatic disaster when Ms Bishop outlined the Opposition’s policy on ‘sending back’ asylum seeker boats to Indonesia. Indonesia’s DPR Deputy Chairman, Hajriyanto Thohari, described the policy as unfair on Indonesia and said that Ms Bishop was arrogant in her expression of the policy.

There’s more to homelessness than ‘rooflessness’

 

It’s fair to say that homelessness is at crisis point in Australia. According to the 2006 census, almost 105,000 Australians were homeless on any given night.

And the problem clearly hasn’t disappeared over the past six years, with more than 91,000 Australians seeking assistance from specialist homeless services in the three months to September 2011. One in five of those people were aged under ten.

If you think the disability insurance scheme is not your problem, think again

AT THE moment there is no automatic right of access to disability support across the board in this country. If your child fell out of a tree tomorrow and sustained serious brain damage, what sort of help would you expect and hope for?

He or she would be entitled to care in a public hospital, but once discharged, you'd be largely on your own.

This article first appeared in The Age 26 April 2012.

Pace at last in Timor-Leste?

As Timor-Leste went to the second round of the presidential elections, the peace that marked the first round appears to be holding. Apart from an incident in Viqueque District, there have been no notable outbreaks of violence, so far, to mar this electoral process. Many have congratulated Timor-Leste for this important achievement.
The peaceful environment that has greeted these elections was in part as a result of an agreement between the leaders of political parties to restrain their supporters from attacking each other. This stands in marked contrast to the 2007 elections, in which there were few if any such restraints and violence and destruction were widespread, both before and after the elections were held.
Many of Timor-Leste’s friends wondered at this time what the purpose was of achieving independence if this was to be its result. Many in Timor-Leste asked the same question, and have since rejected violence.

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