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Competition Law Journals lose out in ARC journal rankings

The ARC has accepted the ranking of law journals proposed (reluctantly) by the Council of Australian Law Deans (CALD) and it’s not good news for competition law academics. Rankings are designed to ensure research is assessed based on 'quality' and not merely 'quantity', although exactly how this will work in practice remains unclear. Good quality research is to be encouraged, but quality assessment cannot be made on the basis of journal alone.

Criminal Cartel laws passed

Australia will soon join the US, the UK and a number of other countries in criminalising cartel behaviour.  The criminalisation of cartels is desirable.  The economic damage they cause is well documented and civil penalties, no matter the size, have failed to provide adequate deterrence.  But the consequences of criminalisation are serious and it is important to ‘get it right’.  While it took many years for Australia to introduce criminal cartel legislation, its passage through Parliament has been rushed with the consequence that the bill that has now passed is seriously flawed and likely to lead to considerable uncertainty.  The sudden urgency (grounded more in politics than good policy) was highlighted by Senator Coonan's acknowledgement that, despite the potential for the bil

The evolving world of public relations

I'm chairing and presenting at this week's PR and New Media Summit in Brisbane, and it's got me thinking about the evolving nature of public relations.

When I started my BA (Public Relations) at Deakin in 1985, the role of the mass media was of paramount importance to PR practitioners. Mainframe computers were starting to be used for word processing, and telephone calls were made on rotary dial, fixed-line telephones (provided by Telecom).

Creeping towards creepy 'creeping acquisition laws'

On 6 May the government released a second discussion paper relating to the introduction of creeping acquisition laws in Australia.  It is disappointing to say the least.  A 'creeping acquistion' involves ‘the acquisition of a number of individual assets or businesses over time that may collectively raise competition concerns, but when considered in isolation, are unlikely to be captured by the existing mergers and acquisitions test under section 50 …’ (this is the definition adopted in Chris Bowen’s Press Release) and the ALP have, for many years

The budget and foreign aid

It always takes a couple of weeks for the dust to settle on the 'big ticket' items in any federal budget before space can be found to discuss some of the smaller budget areas. The global financial crisis (GFC), certainly added a extra level of complexity to the budget process (and perhaps an extra level of naivety to the subsequent analysis). But now that that some time has passed and the hysteria over the budget deficit has slowed somewhat, discussion of Australia's aid program can take place.

The recession and consumer behaviour

Since 1990, household debt has risen from around 80 per cent of income to around 130 per cent. So household finances were badly stretched leading up to the middle of 2008. There has been very little change in ratio of total household net worth from post-war to 1990. But after 1990, there was a significant increase in household wealth in proportion to disposable income, i.e., we have more money to spend, and products cost less. This is then coupled with the fact that economy has been more stable since 1985, than in prior postwar recessions – recessions have been less frequent and also shorter and smaller. As our wealth has increased, we have saved less, because we don’t feel the need to save for a rainy day (because we believe that we will always have money). The optimism bias tells us that if times are good, we assume that times will continue to be good.

The “alcopops tax”.

Senator Fielding and the opposition acted destructively and against scientific evidence in blocking the “alcopops tax”.

Molan's nonsense

The war in Afghanistan was lost over 4 years ago. Given what has been dropped on and fired at them since late 2001, it is clear the Taliban cannot be eliminated: after all, they have nowhere else to go. There are no military solutions to the complex social, political and economic problems in the country. Victory cannot even be rationally or coherently defined by Western forces.

Time for a World Financial Authority

First proposed 10 years ago in John Eatwell & Lance Taylor, Global Finance at Risk: The Case For International Regulation (New Press, New York 2000), the time has come for the establishment of a global body to regulate cross-border finance. In fact it is long overdue. This is precisely what the G20 should be discussing now. The fact that it isn’t or won’t squanders a critical opportunity in world history.

Victorian Biodiversity in Crisis

Over 70 % of natural vegetation in Victoria has been cleared since European settlement. Hence Victoria has been ‘on the back foot’ throughout the last hundred years in attempting to protect its natural areas.

The Victoria Naturally alliance (composed of most of Victoria’s well known conservation groups) wanted to see Victorian biodiversity start to get the attention it warrants from the Victorian government and hence commissioned two reports carried out under the auspices of Deakin University to describe the problem and attempt to propose solutions.

On Tuesday night the second of these reports will be launched with presentations from the leader of the first study on what are the threats to Victorian biodiversity (led by Professor Andrew Bennett of the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University) and the leader of the second study on policy options for Victorian biodiversity (Associate Professor Geoff Wescott).

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