News clips for Wednesday 13 April 2011. Arranged by topic.
Income support & welfare reform
Mental health & psychology
Poverty & inequality
Housing & homelessness
Church & religion
Peter Martin (blog)
A leading wine industry figure has broken ranks declaring it’s time to adopt a Henry Tax Review recommendation that would double the price of cask wine and cut more than $100 off the price of a bottle of Grange.
Robert Manne, The Drum
If it were up to me, and if I did not care about the wider political consequences, I would allow all asylum seekers who arrive spontaneously on Australian shores by boat to live in the community after a short period of detention for health and security checks.
EAST Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta says he has not discussed the plan for a regional processing centre in his country for months, despite Australia insisting negotiations have been ongoing.
Bruce Mounster, The Mercury
A GROUP formed last week to welcome and support asylum seekers at the Pontville detention centre is recruiting volunteers.
Tess Livingstone, The Australian
AUSTRALIA’S Cardinal George Pell has hit back at a radical Catholic priest who branded the church’s bishops “low on creativity, leadership, education and even intelligence”.
On the eve of Holy Week, Australia’s Catholic priests are witness to a major row unfolding in The Swag, the magazine of the National Council of Priests. It began in January when retired Melbourne priest Eric Hodgens wrote an article in which he slammed the direction of the church under the Pope as a “reversal” of the second Vatican Council of the 1960s.
Website: The Swag
James Martin, America
For those who have been following the public conversation between Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the well-known peace activist and founder of the School of the Americas Watch, and the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, his religious congregation of many years, over his support of women’s ordination, this letter, dated today, will undoubtedly mark the close of his life with Maryknoll.
Shannon Deery, Herald Sun
In a move that has rocked the Catholic Church, a new Vatican-approved catechism to be released for this year’s World Youth Day tells youths they “can and should” use “contraceptive methods” when planning a family.
Catholic News Agency
Vatican sources who spoke to CNA April 11 on the condition of anonymity speculated that the problem was in the original German text, a fact that was later confirmed by CNA.
“YouCat” is to be published in 12 additional languages. The English edition, published by Ignatius Press, does not contain the problematic language. It is not yet known if other language versions also contain the same controversial statement on contraception.
The Catholic Church has always opposed the use of contraception. In the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, its use is described as “intrinsically evil.”
Benjamin Mann, The Record
New documentation from a renowned moral theologian is shedding light on a controversial moment in Catholic history – the 1963-66 commission that considered the question of contraception prior to Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae.
Matt Johnston, Herald Sun
THE term “childcare” should be cut from job descriptions and names of government departments, an early childhood advocacy group says.
Pam Cahir, the chief executive of Early Childhood Australia, says it should be replaced by the phrase “early childhood education and care” in order to recognise the sector’s importance.
Mary Hasson, Catholic News Agency
Two recent stories suggest that a disturbing practice has found acceptance among teens and young adults: broadcasting the sexual misbehavior of their peers, especially girls, on a massive scale within hours. Photos preferred.
David Rood, The Age
THE safety of case workers and vulnerable Victorian children is being threatened by the computer system supposed to manage their care.
Adele Horin, Sydney Morning Herald
MORE than half the young people in NSW juvenile detention facilities were abused as children, and nearly 40 per cent of the girls were sexually abused, a government report reveals.
Selma Milovanovic, The Age
DISABLED workers who cannot speak lose wages if they are unable to answer questions such as ”how can you help others at work”, a court has heard.
David Uren, The Australian
THE economy is staging a powerful recovery from a summer of disasters and the annual growth rate could reach 4 per cent by the middle of the year.
Jessica Irvine, National Times
Keen to prove Labor’s economic credentials, Rudd and Swan at least proved good students in Keynesian economics. In fact, although he does not claim it in his essay, the title of Australia’s Most Keynesian Treasurer is rightly Swan’s.
Joe Hockey, The Australian
I AM heartened by recent articles by the Treasurer and Minister for Finance on the need to rapidly return the budget to surplus.
But I am sceptical this government truly understands the degree to which fiscal policy needs to be tightened.
NSW and Victoria are ahead of the other states when it comes to implementing national early childhood education reforms, a new report shows.
Milanda Rout, The Australian
JULIA Gillard raised concerns about schools “teaching to the test” to get ahead in national literacy and numeracy exams when she was education minister in 2009, recommending time limits be put on student preparation.
Alex Dickinson, The Courier-Mail
QUEENSLAND faces a disastrous skills shortage in the next five years unless the the construction sector trains more apprentices, a major manufacturing union has warned.
Philippa Williams, Latrobe Valley Express
Community groups and employment service providers have joined together at Morwell to make an easy one-step for local job seekers.
A new program, Local Connections to Work, at Centrelink, opened last week.
The initiative has about 20 partners at the one place to offer services for job seekers.
“The program is a new way the Australian Government is helping people overcome serious barriers to employment,” Human Services Minister Tanya Plibersek said.
Katharine Murphy, Richard Willingham, Josh Gordon, The Age
TASMANIAN MP Andrew Wilkie says he has received a death threat and been subjected to a smear campaign since clubs unleashed a $20 million advertising blitz against poker machine reforms.
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard says she’s committed to delivering gambling reform this term, as the clubs industry ramps up its attack against the changes.
Phillip Hudson, Herald Sun
“We know what it’s like to see people who put so much money into poker machines that they break the family budget, they can’t feed the kids. They end up with their houses being repossessed,” Ms Gillard said.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about a gambling advertising campaign by Clubs Australia and the Australian Hotels Association.
Ben Eltham, New Matilda
The bullying style of the clubs and pubs lobby was on vivid display yesterday, when South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon held a press conference to attack the “It’s un-Australian” campaign in Adelaide. The Senator was only halfway through his presser when the Australian Hotels Association’s Ian Horne crashed it.
“You are spinning the community,” Horne reportedly told Xenophon. “He’s accused us of lying, he’s accused us of basing our campaign on lying,” he told the assembled journalists.
Pro Bono News
Mandatory pre-commitment technology for poker machines will limit the economic and social impact of problem gambling on individuals, families and communities, according to the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce.
Yuko Narushima, Sydney Morning Herald
ROGUE landlords in Marsfield in Sydney’s north west are piling as many as 20 students into shoddily converted family homes, demanding cash in hand and advance notice of visitors to avoid detection by authorities, international students say.
Rob Burgess, Business Spectator
As the federal budget looms, every man and his dog wants the government to spend more on something or other, while Finance Minister Penny Wong and Treasurer Wayne Swan wail about sluggish revenue and the need to slash spending.
One of the more curious demands has been for the government to spend more to swell our intake of skilled workers. A group of CEOs reportedly told The Australian that more should be done to get skills into the country from abroad.
Carl Thompson, The Punch
… a disability pension is not a long-term substitute for work and those who regard it as such are misinformed. When I have a full-time job (I’m being positive here) and am earning good money, I will be proud to relinquish my pensioner perks.
I will be proud to be able to say that I earn my own living due to the benefits I bring to my employer and society.
But without a disability support pension I wouldn’t be in a position to study in the first place and I definitely wouldn’t be in a position to be able to look for meaningful and suitable work.
Mark Schliebs, The Australian
INDIGENOUS welfare recipients in the Northern Territory are exploiting loopholes in the federal government’s income quarantine system to obtain cash for alcohol and cigarettes.
In one example of the scam, welfare recipients buy clothes with the quarantine system’s swipe card, then return the goods next day on the basis of incorrect size and get a cash refund from the store.
PUT aside the cruise brochures and let the garden retain that natural look for a few more years. Demography and declining investment returns are conspiring to keep you at your desk far longer than you ever expected.
Tony Koch, The Australian
THE landmark Three Rivers tavern at Aurukun on western Cape York has finished its life as the pub with no beer and will now be turned into a cultural conservation and community activity centre.
The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council says it is unacceptables that most of the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody still have not been acted on.
Andrew G. Berg and Jonathan D. Ostry, iMF direct
Many of us have been struck by the huge increase in income inequality in the United States in the past thirty years. The rich have gotten much richer, while just about everyone else has had very modest income growth.
… It is a big mistake to separate analyses of growth and income distribution. A rising tide is still critical to lifting all boats. The implication of our analysis is that helping to raise the lowest boats may actually help to keep the tide rising!
Martin Bright, The Spectator
The fundamental problem Nick Clegg faces in his drive for increased social mobility is the desire of middle class parents to do the best for their children.
Suzanne Moore, The Guardian
… I wonder if the desire for social mobility is even real. It is enough if a few people make it. It reassures everyone that it is possible to come from “a poor background” and get on in life. Exceptions prove the rules. And the rules are actually becoming more rigid.
Mobility, we are being told once again, may mean actual mobility. Get on your bikes and look for work. But even when those who can do, it all starts to look rather like the Tour de France, a few pull out front, there is some sort of middle mass, and many get left behind or just fall off.
A mental health expert says he is concerned about the difference between what the Prime Minister says about mental health, and what the Government is doing.
Simon Black, news.com.au
AN ONLINE campaign urging men to face up to mental health issues turns one of the great phrases of Australian bloke culture on its head, telling guys to “soften the f— up”.
Karen Collier, Herald Sun
CREDIT card holders are being charged more than $1.3 billion in annual fees, financial analysis reveals.
Customers are being charged up to $700 a year for the privilege of using plastic – and before they pay a cent in interest – comparison service RateCity says.
Matthew Franklin and Ben Packham, The Australian
JULIA Gillard faces a revolt over her push to liberalise trade policy, with angry union leaders vowing they will challenge the move at December’s Labor Party national conference.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has claimed the gaming industry is mounting a smear campaign against him because of his calls for tougher laws to target problem gambling.
Jeremy Buckingham, the man who wrested a NSW upper house seat away from Pauline Hanson, says his win is an important victory for the Greens and the state.
Ms Hanson’s loss was confirmed this morning after the distribution of preferences by computer, more than a fortnight after the state election.
Moira Rayner, Eureka Street
The problem with freedom of speech is that some people broadcast to a willing constituency, and others are effectively silenced. Syndicated columnists have the ear of millions. Unpopular minorities preach to the small ranks of the converted.
After Canadians, Australians are the most tolerant in the OECD of migrants, ethnic monitories and gays and lesbians, with an average of 84% seeing their communities as tolerant of these groups. The OECD average is 61%.
Clive Hamilton, National Times
The Australian public keeps changing its mind on climate change. No wonder our leaders don’t know where to step.
Most Australians say they don’t want a carbon tax. So what do they want? After all, over the past year, Australians have transformed themselves from a citizenry worried about global warming, and asking for something to be done, into an outraged mob indignant to discover that their noble desire to protect the future means they must pay a bit more for petrol and power.
Dan Harrison, The Age
SHE’LL be right. That seems to be the view of most Australians, according to a report that compares satisfaction with life in 40 nations.
… We are second only to Canada in our tolerance for minority groups, perhaps because our population is so diverse. More than a quarter of Australians were born overseas.
Editorial, The Washington Times
Ask Americans what federal spending they most want to cut, and many say “welfare.” Sixteen House conservatives introduced a thorough welfare-reform bill March 25. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, incorporated major parts of the bill in his budget proposal last week. If passed, new reforms promise to save over a trillion dollars within a decade while putting tens of thousands into meaningful jobs.
Alec Fernandes, City Times
Vermont is attempting to shed some pounds by proposing Resolution JRH13 – a piece of legislation that would not allow users of food stamps to purchase junk food.
For those who think Resolution JRH13 infringes on the liberties of the less fortunate, consider this: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one out of five people in the state of Vermont were listed as obese in a 2009 survey.
Michael Brennan, Independent.ie
ALMOST 800,000 individual social welfare claims are to be reviewed this year in a major crackdown on fraud.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has said inspectors will use “tried-and-tested” methods to cut down on fraudulent claims — including home visits.
Her department will review 780,000 claims and carry out checks on people whose “lifestyle and display of wealth” indicate they are not depending on social welfare alone.
Patrick Wall, City Limits
Through the transitional jobs program, hundreds of former welfare recipients have performed actual city jobs—not workfare. But state budget reductions will force the program to scale back.
The equal pay test case has been boosted by new polling that suggests a majority of people support higher wages for community sector workers.
Fair Work Australia is considering a case brought forward by The Australian Services Union, seeking increased wages for the female-dominated social and community sectors.
Natasha Bita, The Australian
CHILDCARE workers will seek a 50 per cent pay rise this year, their union revealed yesterday, as it accused centre owners of profiteering from parents.
The United Voice union is planning a long-term industrial campaign to dovetail with new government regulations that will raise the quality of childcare.
Ewin Hannan, The Australian
UNION leader Paul Howes has hit back at criticism by Resources Minister Martin Ferguson of high wage deals in the offshore sector, declaring they are the result of the decentralised bargaining system advocated by the former ACTU president.