The tumultuous changes affecting the Middle-East have been widely described as representing ‘people power’ and claimed by many Western political leaders, including Australia’s, as representing aspirations for democracy. The uprisings from Morocco across to the Arabian Peninsula are, to be sure, a reflection of a popular desire for political change, but their chances of democratic outcomes is much less certain.
Does anyone have a sense of déjà vu?
From mid 2007 to early 2009, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) received an increase in complaints from consumers of more than 40 per cent. More than a third of the complaints to the TIO were related to poor customer service or complaint handling experiences. As a result of this increase in dissatisfaction with service delivery, the then Ombudsman, Deirdre O’Donnell, implemented the “connect.resolve” campaign to encourage the telecommunications industry to “re-focus on customers and their experiences.” At the start of the campaign in 2009 the Ombudsman was receiving 20,000 cases at all levels each month. By early 2010, this number was still high, but had dropped to 16,500 per month.
Desperate times, they say, call for desperate measures. Proposing to cut $400 million from Australia's aid budget to Indonesia’s schools program looks pretty desperate. So one can only assume that having alienated damp Queensland voters and not just a few Victorians, Tony Abbott is trying to find a way out of opposing the one-off tax hole he has dug himself into.
Someone should tell him that the first rule of holes is, when you are in one, stop digging.
Abbott’s chopping of the Indonesian education program would be an abysmal policy decision, but for one saving grace: being in opposition means it won’t be enacted.
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’