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Pakistan will want its share of (yellow) cake too

 (A version of this blog was first published in Dawn.com on 6 December 2011)
THE Labor Party at its biannual national conference which was held in Sydney 2-4 December decided by a thin majority to support the Australian prime minister’s motion to scrap the party’s nonsensical and contradictory uranium export policy banning the sale of uranium to India.
This is a welcome development.  It would appear, listening to the prime minister’s and her ministers’ comments on this issue, that the reasoning behind the change of policy was to maximise the prosperity and the strength of Australia’s relationships in the Indian Ocean region.

Moving right along: what powers do police have to ‘move-on’ protestors?

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Occupy protestors have a right to protest; police powers to move them on from public spaces should be questioned. RynChristophe/Youtube

 

When police removed a young woman’s “tent dress” this week at the Occupy Melbourne encampment, it was yet another controversial interaction between protesters and authorities.

The Euro, Germany and Currency Shocks

Few economic challenges are as potentially destabilising as threats to currencies – or exchange rates. German history, including the rise of Hitler, was a shattering response to the hyperinflation that destroyed savings in the 1920s.  Assets had been destroyed by a currency that in Nov 1923 traded at 67 billion to the US dollar. Inflation that meant money was carried in wheelbarrows; and one needed more and more barrows.
Ever since that time, German unions, businesses and households have been inflation averse to a very marked degree – which made the 1999 Euro decision understandable in non-inflationary times, but unwise given widely divergent economic conditions across Euro nations and an uneven level of fiscal discipline across many European countries.

Are people more than consumers?

Competition… at any cost?

So, Heinz has made a bit of a fuss about the growth of private-label or in-house brands in our major supermarkets. According to Fairfax publications, “William Johnson, executive chairman, CEO and president of the $US16.4 billion Pittsburgh-based Heinz, told investors the company has had to rework its strategy in Australia to cope with the growing domination of private label goods and the never-ending discounting on branded goods by the supermarket chains,” with Mr Johnson labelling Australia as the “worst market” to do business. Obviously, Johnson and other national brands should be doing everything they can to try and deal with this growth in supermarket private-label brands. It is in their interests to have as much of their product on the supermarket shelves as possible.

ARE STUDENTS 'THE PROBLEM' WHEN IT COMES TO UNI SUCCESS?

When uni drop out happens, it can be tempting to balme the student. But this is simplistic thinking at its worst.

The ways in which students from low socio-economic status in Australian higher education are thought about and talked about need some careful examination.

 There are deficit conceptions of students from low socio-economic backgrounds and deficit conceptions of the institutions in which they study. But is there a more useful and progressive framing of the widening participation agenda?

The Australian federal government has set an ambitious target in an attempt to address the under-representation of students from low socioeconomic status (low SES) backgrounds in higher education: that by the year 2020, twenty per cent of higher education enrolments at undergraduate level should be from students from low SES backgrounds.

Gillard adds 'ballast' to shore up Indon relationship

Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is continuing at its all-time high following the conclusion of the East Asia Summit in Bali. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has come away from the summit confirming a major reduction in tariffs in trade with Indonesia, providing further "ballast" to the once-troubled relationship.

Even Australia’s agreement to host US Marines in the Northern Territory has caused fewer problems than sometimes insecure strategic commentators in Jakarta might have indicated in the days immediately after the plan was announced. Having said that, it is unlikely that Australia will take up President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s suggestion that Australia also play host to China’s military, by way of balancing assertions of regional power.

Free money and help for uni students

The caps are coming off and university administrations are nervous. Just what a demand driven system means for university recruitment, no-one really knows for sure.  What I know for sure is that as well as ensuring recruitment targets are met, we need to be ready to ensure the success of the students we recruit, especially the ones who are from underprivileged backgrounds. 

I think we should give them all schoalrships, bursaries, stipends and all the other versions of free money available.  Lucky I don't rule the university world or we'd be spending a bit of money (and maybe keeping more students to completion...ahem).

We also need to assist those who aren't familiar with the discourses and norms of higher education to understand what is expected of them as university students and to learn to perform in ways that ensure their success.  Easy to type, hard to do.  But some research I led last year has some cool tips.

Reconciling cultural diversity and public law

I have just arrived in Ottawa, Canada,  as a  visiting professor hosted by the Audio Visual Lab for the Study of Culture and Society, and only a few hours ago delivered my first public seminar about the  transnational practices of migrants in multicultural societies.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by local radios on the broader topic of migrant settlement policies and what Canada and Australia had in common and also where their respective policies differed.

However,  the most interesting media interaction happened to me in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, a leading newspaper here.

What was rather surprising about the interview is the reporter’s questions about the very contentious issue of domestic law and whether this needed to be amended in some cases to take into account cultural practices of the specific migrant communities.

Qantas dispute

In grounding the entire domestic and international Qantas fleet last month, the firm's chief executive, Alan Joyce, claimed the action was the only way to stop the unions' industrial campaign. The implication was that grounding the planes was the only way to have Fair Work Australia (FWA) intervene and order a stop to all industrial action.
In the weeks since, a number of anti-union ''cold war'' industrial relations warriors, including Peter Reith, Chris Corrigan, economist Judith Sloan and coalition politicians, have thrown themselves into the debate, questioning the efficacy of the Labor government's Fair Work Act. The common theme is that the grounding of the Qantas fleet demonstrated the weakness of the act, because the company had no other way to get FWA to order a cessation of all industrial action other than by grounding its entire fleet. This is patently untrue.

Against bringing civilians into war zones

Presentation to the Asia-Pacific Civil-Military Centre for Excellence, 8 November 2011.

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