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What is it about Australia’s cultural cringe that we need a Government-mandated Australian of the Year? A person who gets a platform to espouse a cause, who gets an award for advocacy rather than achievement?
The Americans, British, French, Germans and so forth do not feel the need for the Government to designate one of their citizens as an American of the Year, Briton of the Year etc. Sure, there are awards given by the Time of London, Esquire magazine, Cosmopolitan and so forth. Let there be private awards but please spare us the sanctimony of allowing one person to preach to us from the Government-designated pulpit.
Surely a reasonable savings measure is to eliminate this award.
Chapter 10 in Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom is Why the Worst Get on Top. The opening section of Gordon Tullock’s The Politics of Bureaucracy is an analysis to explain how that happens. This is the book that Tullock put aside to write The Organization of Inquiry which paints a scenario to explain how bad science could get on top, not a situation that he expected to occur in the natural sciences when he wrote in the 1960s although he could see it happening in the social sciences.
Actually I will come back to the beginning another day because he moved on to consider the conditions that make for success in departments like the Department of State (where worked for some time) and also the military. On the topic of what gets rewarded by promotion, he looked at the prima facie purpose of the Dept of State, and especially diplomats in foreign posts. The apparent aim of the service is to influence the opinions of overseas people, especially influential people like heads of state.
But there is not simple way of determining how successful any particular individual has been in this task. As a result the Department of State tends to overlook this factor in deciding on promotions. The ambitious diplomat, if he is wise, will confine himself to influencing Americans. His reports should be based on an analysis of the Department of State [essentially what important people want to hear] not upon the country he is ostensibly reporting.
Moving on to the military
Military ability, in the sense of skill in winning battles, is not of much use in rising to high positions in our armed forces. We fight wars rarely, [this is 1965] so that this ability would be very hard to test. (It is probably symptomatic of a deep decay in our forces that most recent maneuvers have bee...
In today’s Australia Day honours, Henry Ergas received a well-deserved Officer in the Order of Australia. As is well known to readers of the Cat and the Australian, Henry has been an erudite proponent of sensible economic policies. He has poked holes in the absurd logic used by many rent seekers in Australia and has stood for all that is great in this country, while being a generous benefactor. Above all, Henry has used evidence and argument based on logic, rather than his opponents who tend to logical fallacy and assertion.
The announcement yesterday by the premiers and chief ministers supporting an Australian Head of State receives unanimous supprt in contrast to last year's uproar over Abbott's infamous "captain's pick" knighthood award to Prince Philip. History editor Dr Glenn Davies reports.
YESTERDAY, THE Australian Republican Movement announced that Australia's premiers and chief ministers have made public declarations supporting an Australian Head of State. In a signed declaration, they have affirmed that:
'We, the undersigned Premiers and Chief Ministers of Australia, believe that Australia should have an Australian as our Head of State.'
Hard to argue with that right!
Thankfully, there will be no Imperial knighthoods awarded this Australia Day.
The reaction from Australians on all sides of politics showed that Imperial honours are divisive and out of touch with a modern, multicultural, egalitarian Austra...
Green co-leader Metiria Turei gave her
"state of the nation" speech today, in which she both defended
the Greens' nature as a radical party, while also trying to claim
that they're not very radical. And she's got points both ways: on
the one hand, the Greens are consistently political leaders,
advocating for policies that the other parties first decry, then
adopt. Policies like capital gains taxes, better public transport,
a price on carbon emissions, and not beating children. But on the
other, one of the reasons these policies look radical in the first
place is because policy has already been pushed in radical
directions: by Roger Douglas, Ruth Richardson and their heirs
destroying our economy and our society, by National and its efforts
to pave the planet with roads, and by farmers who want to fill our
rivers and lakes with shit. And compared to this, Green goals of
clean water, liveable cities, and not letting kids starve or go
homeless do look pretty conservative. Which is I guess a nice
example of the fluidity of political labelling and its relativeness
to the policy-space.
Also in the speech Meyt proposed a small policy: a Policy Costings Unit to provide independent assessments of the costs of political parties' policies. Its hardly a radical idea, but it is a good one. More information for voters is always good, and it would cost a pittance to provide. But there is one problem: the Greens would locate it within Treasury. While they'd firewall it against Ministerial interference, I don't think such firewalls could be trusted, and in addition Treasury is a deeply politicised department and cannot possibly be considered "independent". It would be far better if such analysis was done by a truly independent agency...
Thanks to the
Reserve Bank's efforts to evade public scrutiny, we now seem to
have a public debate on charging for OIA requests (Bryce Edwards
has a good summary
here). But we're not the only ones. The UK is currently
reviewing its Freedom of Information Act (before a strapped chicken
"independent" commission of FOIA-hating establishment mandarins),
and the issue of charging has been
raised there as well:
Imposing fees on Freedom of Information requests would be “an extremely blunt instrument” that would limit access to justice, human rights campaigners have said.
Leading charity Liberty said it had used the act to expose injustices including discrimination under police stop and search rules and said that any reforms that downgraded Freedom of Information powers would be a “retrograde step”.
However, giving evidence to the commission, Sam Hawke, an FOI specialist at Liberty, said the Act had in fact saved money by highlighting inappropriate uses of public money.
“Discussion of burden is inappropriate,” he said. “This is simply what a Government pays for, to remain open, transparent and accountable, and it’s a very, very small cost overall.
Australia continues to come up tops in house prices. In a world of Great Moderations, Quantitative Easings and the ebb and flow of the China boom, Australian house prices consistently exceed those of other countries against which they are compared.
The 12th ANNUAL DEMOGRAPHIA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING AFFORDABILITY SURVEY published this week compares median house prices across 365 markets in Australia, the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada, Japan and New Zealand plus one each in Singapore and Hong Kong. The table ranks affordability measured by the median house price compared to the median family income level. On average, Australia (and New Zealand) come out 10 per cent more expensive than the equally regulatory restricted UK market.
Sydney and Melbourne come in as the second and fourth least affordable housing markets of the 367 assessed. And Tweed Heads is the tenth most unaffordable.
Moreover, in spite of the concern expressed, things are getting worse. Affordability deteriorated over the 35 years even though the cost of building a house remaining at a par with general prices.
The gap is even greater when Australian prices are matched to those in Continental Europe, as is illustrated by this comparison with the UK (which uses the ratio of the cost...
In the first of this short series on framing: Framing the political debate – the key to winning, I described the concept of political framing as developed by cognitive scientist and linguist George Lakoff, which he described in his book The Political Mind. I illustrated it with examples drawn from the Iraq war and from our federal political scene. This piece draws on more recent examples of how framing has been used successfully, principally by the Coalition government. Conservatives have an aptitude in selecting frames for the policies and plans they wish to introduce. Often they are winners; occasionally though their frames turn out to be losers.
Leading up to the 2013 election Tony Abbott embraced three memorable slogans: He promised he would “Abolish the carbon tax’, ‘Stop the Boats’, and ‘Repay the Debt’. He embellished these with more negatives: ‘This toxic tax’, ‘The World’s Biggest Carbon Tax’, ‘Axe the Tax’, ‘Stop the waste’, and a positive: ‘Hope, Reward, Opportunity’. Someone must have persuaded him that three words slogans would stick in voters’ minds. And they did. All of these were frames. They framed Labor as a high taxing party, wasteful of taxpayers’ money, running up intolerable debt and huge budget deficits, and unable to protect our borders, all negatives. The Coalition framed itself as the party that would fix Labor’s mess, and it also offered hope, reward and opportunity, all positives. Very simple, yet successful!
IMAGINE IF Indonesia had a national celebration on the anniversary of the Bali bombings? What if Port Arthur celebrated with a town festival on the anniversary of the Port Arthur Massacre? Would we be okay with that?
No, of course not, because some lines shouldn’t be crossed.
Why then is this line being crossed with brazen disregard to the Indigenous population of Australia? Has the suffering not quite been enough? Need to rub salt in the still bleeding wounds of the past? Because let me tell you, the pain is not isolated to the past — it continues as do the mistakes of the government.
Australia, January 26 — the land where we celebrate with nationalistic buffoonery with complete disregard to the Indigenous Australians mourning. Even worse, it is the land where such mourning is not only an inconvenience but is downright offensive to th...
A big congratulations goes to our very own Henry Ergas who has been awarded the Order of Australia.
Professor Henry Isaac ERGAS, For distinguished service to infrastructure economics, and to higher education, to public policy development and review, and as a supporter of emerging artists.
Service includes: Inaugural Professor of Infrastructure Economics, SMART Research Centre, University of Wollongong, since 2009. Senior Economic Adviser, Deloitte Access Economics, 2009-2014. Member, Advisory Board, Centre of Regulatory Economics, Australian National University, since 2004. Adjunct Professor, School of Economics, National University of Singapore, since 2004.
Editorial Board Member, The Review of Network Economics, since 2002. Member, Vertigan Expert Panel, National Broadband Network Review, 2013.
Member, Defence Industry Policy Review, Defence Materiel Organisation, 2006. Member, Prime Minister’s Task Force on Export Infrastructure, 2005. Chair, Intellectual Property and Competition Review Committee, Department of Attorney General, 1999-2000. Member, Advisory Panel on Telecommunications Reform to the Minister for Communications and the Arts, 1997.
Chairman, Concept Economics, 2008-2009. Vice-President and Regional Head, Asia Pacific, CRA International, 2004-2007. Managing Director, Network Economics Consulting Group (NEGG) Australia, 1996-2004. Counsellor for Structural Policy, Economics Department, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), France, 1991-1993 and Head, Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment, 1978-1987. Founding Head, Information and Communication Technology Studies Centre, Monash University, 1987-1991.
Philanthropic service includes: Founder, The Ergas Collection, since 2000, (a not-for-profit company which supports the work of emerging artists). Director and Benefactor, Red Room Company, sinc...
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