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What is development?

The postgraduate International and Community Development course has existed for over 20 years at Deakin University. It is Australia’s largest and oldest course of its kind with hundreds of students studying in countries around the world. Our past and present students work in international aid agencies, local councils, state and federal governments, community-based organisations, and UN bodies. All of them dedicating their working lives to bringing about ‘development’.

Senate Inquiry into Rural Access Terms Flawed

Deakin University will be making a submission to this inquiry. In preparing the submission it seems that the Senate may not have the full picture of where rural and regional students go to attend university. The Terms of Reference are restricted to:

The future of academic standards

The recent discussion paper on setting and monitoring academic standards for Australian Higher Education from the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) should have been a welcome contribution to a national discussion on this critically important topic.

It is a shame that it has come so late and at the same time that the federal government has announced there will be a new system for ensuring standards at the tertiary level.

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”.

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