On New Years day, as the Victorian and Northern Territory governments followed NSW, WA and the ACT by implementing laws preventing cigarettes from being put on display to the public, the Australian Medical Association called for a $25 million TV and newspaper advertising campaign showing “damaged vital organs or people drinking liquefied body fat” to shock Australians into giving up junk food and sugary soft drinks. The good doctors based their call upon a belief that the fear-based advertising campaigns used by the TAC (in Victoria) and Quit have been effective in changing behaviour around driving and smoking.
So, Christmas Eve wasn’t the saviour that the retailers expected. In conversations with retailers, it seems that even Christmas Eve sales were down. As one said to me, “This is the quietest Christmas Eve that I can remember.”
That said, it seems that grocery sales were up leading up to Christmas. Gluttony takes another form?
Are the days of the traditional bricks and mortar store numbered?
Probably not. What we do know is that the internet and online shopping has meant that consumers have access to more information, which is a good thing. At least for the near future (probably until we get flying cars and jetpacks), there will be people who will go to the bricks and mortar shops.
You may get a lump of coal in your stocking if you buy the Christmas cards being sold by Typo, which feature the slogans "Merry F---ing Christmas" and "Happy Christmas D---head".
As expected (and probably hoped by the brand), there has been some controversy and outrage that the cards are offensive, and don’t represent the "true" meaning of Christmas.
The reality is that the cards were probably sold to fill a gap in the market and are more of a reflection on today's consumer driven society, rather than some inexorable slide into hellfire and damnation (or community standards).
This is the text of my address to Deakin University's annual forum: ‘Yes we’re still a monarchy but it’s not my fault’
The people of Burma – or some of them - went to the polls on Saturday in what was that countries first election process in 20 years. This process was so restricted and stage managed and the substance of the result know as early as three days before the event that even the terms ‘poll’ and ‘election’ have to be used in a heavily qualified sense. It was, in reality, just the Burmese junta’s mechanism for shifting away from an overt military dictatorship to a slightly more covert form – dictatorship without so many uniforms.
For a political leader who honestly but unwisely admitted that foreign policy is not her passion, Julia Gillard is now learning that how she conducts herself on the world – or regional – stage – is central to her overall performance as a prime minister. How Australia’s relationship is conducted with Indonesia is not just important to Australia’s external concerns, but directly impacts on domestic political issues.
Front and centre of Ms Gillard’s discussions with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was, unsurprisingly, Indonesia’s potential role in a regional refugee processing centre. Notice the subtle name change? We may be seeing a move away from an asylum seeker processing centre in East Timor to something located elsewhere, if not more widely dispersed.
It is a truism that Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is one of its most important. Yet the bilateral relationship has often been troubled, sometimes deeply so, and may become so again.
The current success of the bilateral relationship can be attributed almost entirely to Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Until his presidency, Australia only kept good relations with previous presidents by bowing to Indonesia’s wishes.
With Yudhoyono, however, Australia found a genuine democrat and reformer with whom it had much in common, confirming that previous troubles reflected political rather than claimed cultural differences. However, Yudhoyono is now into his second and final term as president and his reformist agenda has become stalled by an unfriendly legislature and vested institutional interests.
In a recent newspaper article (Long way to top 10, The Age (Melbourne, Australia)