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National Curriculum – a long and painful death?

This post was published in ACEL's weekly online newsletter (22/08/20110

Indonesia and East Timor - odd bedfellows

The announcement by East Timor’s prime minister, Xanana Gusmao, that his country will begin military to military links with Indonesia has caused widespread surprise, given the deeply troubled history between the small, recently independent state and its large and previously belligerent neighbour. There are a number of benefits to this new arrangement, which will also see police to police links established. But there are also many unresolved issues.
Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor in 1975 led to the deaths of more than a quarter of its population, almost 200,000 people, with its final farewell being the destruction of most of the country and the murder of around 1,500 more civilians. According to Prime Minister Gusmao, it is now time to forgive and forget.

Changing attitudes to the carbon tax

The mining industry, led by the Minerals Council of Australia, has written to members asking for funds to under take a new advertising campaign to attack the carbon tax.

In his letter to members, Minerals Council chief executive Mitch Hooke says that in current day Australia, major policy battles are fought and won in the media and that miners must spend accordingly.

So is Mitch Hooke right when he says the “new paradigm is one of public contest through the popular media more so than rational, effective, considered consultation and debate”?

Where to for the Arab Spring??

It’s been almost eight months since the first Arab dictator, ousted President Ben Ali of Tunisia, fled the country under unprecedented popular uprisings signaling a snow-ball effect that has swept across North Africa and the Middle East like a political tsunami.

Since then, events in Egypt led to similar outcomes with the spectacular demise of President Hosni Mubarak and the subsequent initiation of his trial in Cairo. Indeed, these are tense times to be in power in the Arab world as the fear and prestige of office all but disappeared amid popular demands for political reform and genuine accountability.

Events in Libya have in the last couple of days developed to the point where the rule of maverick self-appointed doyen of Arab and African leaders, Colonel Gaddafi,  has all but collapsed relinquishing the capital Tripoli to the rebels and the political leadership of the transitional council.

Pakistan’s experience amidst debt crisis has lessons for other nations

Debt crisis is indeed a burning current issue in the whole world.   A true glimpse of this reality is provided by the ongoing violent protests against a series of fiscal austerity reforms in Greece.  The worsening debt crisis of Greece is expected to trigger a contagion of sovereign debt crises in several other European countries.
 
It is interesting to note that the nature and the economic  aftermath of the current debt crisis of Greece and 1998 debt crisis of Pakistan have remarkable similarities ─ For example, the debt-gross domestic product ratio of Pakistan as well as Greece exceeded 100% during their respective debt crises,  national external debt has been acting as a drag on the national economies of Pakistan, and Greece, and now both Greece and Pakistan desperately need fiscal consolidation as well as economic growth for resolving their respective external debt crisis.

In Search of the New 'Multiculturalism'

In discussing multiculturalism, there is always a tendency to focus on the challenges posed by increased cultural and religious diversity to social cohesion. This is especially the case in states that are supposed  to be more ‘secular’ or where religion is not expected to dominate public  life.
 
But how nation states deal with religiosity in general is not always easy to predict. In Australia, for example, Section 116 of the Australian Constitution explicitly provides that the Commonwealth shall not legislate to establish any religion, impose any religious observance or prohibit the free exercise of any religion.
 

Western Muslims and the Challenge of Integration and Intercultural Understanding

This is an extract from my keynote address at the Iftaar Dinner Function’ hosted by Deakin University and the Australian Intercultural Society at Deakin Prime, 12 August 2011

Current debates in many western countries seem to suggest that the current tension surrounding Muslims is essentially linked to the perceived incompatibility of Islam and Islamic values with values associated with liberal secular democratic states.

Are doubts about consumer confidence justified?

Consumer confidence has fallen by 8.3% to its lowest level in two years, according to the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index.

The drop has been connected to speculation about the impact of the carbon tax, with Treasurer Wayne Swan calling on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to “stop scaring the consumers”.

Retailer David Jones last night issued a dramatic profit downgrade, saying it expects second-half profits to be down by 9% to 12%. The company blamed the slowdown of sales on factors such as offshore Internet retailers due to the high Australian dollar, fears about the carbon tax and the impact of the flood levy.

Parking Politics 101

I hope my political science colleagues in the Faculty of Arts & Education very carefully document everything that is happening in the Deakin University parking discourse (which, I hear from reliable sources, will go down into history as ‘The Great Deakin Parking Battle of 2011’).
Virtually every aspect of the issue lends itself to exquisite political analysis. It also allows for an absolutely hermetic alignment with principles of engaged student learning, life-integrated learning (let’s please move beyond the shallow ‘work-integrated learning’) and various aspects of reflexivity, both for students and staff! Over time, you would hope, even the Executive –through a process of osmosis- might actually learn a thing or two about this.

People power: is the health-care industry becoming more democratic?

The rhetoric of participation has long been the mainstay of modern health policy. But to what extent are efforts to give people a voice in health-care policy successful, or even appropriate?

The idea of participation was elevated to a global level in the Alma Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care (1978). Governments at all levels around the world now proclaim their commitment to public participation in all dimensions of the health domain.

This has led to a rich mosaic of scholarly and practical efforts towards community development and empowerment for health in the fields of health promotion and disease prevention.

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