News clips – Wednesday 13 April 2011

News clips for Wednesday 13 April 2011. Arranged by topic.

Income support & welfare reform

Welfare reform
Income support

Mental health & psychology

Psychology
Mental health

Poverty & inequality

Inequality

Politics

Politics – Australia

Children

Children & parenting
Child protection

Health

Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs
Disability

Housing & homelessness

Housing

Social problems

Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs
Gambling

Immigration

Asylum seekers
Immigration

Work

Employment
Workplace

Church & religion

Catholic Church
Religion

Indigenous

Indigenous

Other

Economy
Education
Personal finance

____________________________________________________________

Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs

Double the price of cask wine, do it now – Wine guru

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.

Asylum seekers

A two-step asylum seeker solution this government will not touch

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 contradicts Australia over asylum centre, saying there’ve been no talks for months

AAP

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.

Support for asylum seekers

Bruce Mounster, The Mercury

A GROUP formed last week to welcome and support asylum seekers at the Pontville detention centre is recruiting volunteers.

Catholic church

Unholy war as George Pell pelts priest

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

Roy Bourgeois: ‘I will not recant’

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.

Contraception OK, Vatican says in World Youth Day booklet

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.

…. or maybe it’s not OK

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.”

New documents undo damage of Humanae Vitae opposition

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.

Children & parenting

Push to axe ‘childcare’ PC gone mad

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.

The Facebook Generation: Narcissism, sexting and the decline of empathy

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.

Child protection

Victoria: Computer system ‘a threat to children’

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.

Juvenile detainees’ shocking histories

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.

Disability

Wordless workers lose wages

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.

Economy

Economy fights back from summer of disasters

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.

Swan proved Keynes works but can he avoid Keynes’s curse?

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.

Rapid return to surplus needed

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.

Education

NSW and Vic top childhood education

AAP

NSW and Victoria are ahead of the other states when it comes to implementing national early childhood education reforms, a new report shows.

Gillard was concerned schools prepared for NAPLAN tests

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.

Employment

Queenaland faces skills shortage disaster ‘within five years’

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.

Job seekers one stop shop

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.

Gambling

Pokie clubs using ‘smear campaign’

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.

Julia Gillard stays firm on pokies reforms

AAP

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.

Gambling crack down will go ahead, a defiant PM says

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.

Xenophon goes to ACCC over gambling reform

ABC

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.

The Standover Lobbyists Club

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.

Mandatory Pre-Commitment on Pokies a Must : Churches

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.

Housing

Landlords ‘demanded sex’ from students

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.

Immigration

Visas aren’t fixing our skills crisis

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.

Income support

I’m not a dole bludger, I just want to work

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.

Remote rort pays for alcohol

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.

70 or bust! : Current plans to raise the retirement age are not bold enough

The Economist

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.

Indigenous

Benefits of alcohol management plan seen in Wik community

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.

Aboriginal prison deaths ‘still an issue’

ABC

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.

Inequality

Warning! Inequality May Be Hazardous to Your Growth

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!

UK: A nudge towards genuine social mobility

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.

UK: Speak to us peasants, posh boys, for we know all about social mobility

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.

Mental health

Funding undermines mental health promises: expert

ABC

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.

Online campaigner Ehon Chan urges men to ‘soften the f— up’ to raise mental health awareness

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”.

Personal finance

Aussies paying more than $1.3b in credit card fees

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.

Politics – Australia

Julia Gillard faces union revolt on trade

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.

Wilkie ‘threatened with compromising photos’

ABC

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.

Greens win a victory for NSW

AAP

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.

Hanson falls at final hurdle

ABC

Ms Hanson’s loss was confirmed this morning after the distribution of preferences by computer, more than a fortnight after the state election.

Educating bigots

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.

Australia: Second only to Canada for tolerance, says OECD (pdf)

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%.

A nation of fickle fools

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.

Psychology

She’ll be right? Mate, she is right

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.

Welfare reform

US: Welfare reform redux

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.

US: Food stamps should not go to junk food

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.

Ireland: Welfare fraud crackdown will include home visits

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.

US: From Welfare To Work—Until A Budget Cut Hits

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.

Workplace

Australians support equal-pay test case

AAP

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.

Childcare staff seek 50pc pay hike

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.

Paul Howes defends 30pc wage increases

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.

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