Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Christopher Lee

January 9, 2013


Why It Could Be Wizard If Keynes & Friedman Get The Edge On Harry Potter in Oz

9th January 2013

It had to happen, Australia knows how to prevent future financial and economic crises. Simply really, just ask the six year-olds.

The cunning plan is in an idea from Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth Peter Garrett.  He wants primary school children to be taught economics and business studies. These kids should, according Mr Garrett, be financially literate (probably means numerate, but there you go) and have a basic understanding of how the economy works.

As the economy in Australia does work reasonably well and mostly hasn’t taking the big hits experienced elsewhere in the world, everyone should either listen very carefully at what he has to say or simply follow the Australian model.

Now Mr Garrett is instinctively a campaigner with ideas that most people think matter but most people do stuff all about. He was a member of that great Australian band, Midnight Oil.  It was the Oils who through their music hit sensitive spots including homeless youths, green issues and the Exxon protest from a truck in New York.  thirteen successful albums and clever lyrics suggest Mr Garrett sings more than music.

But kiddies into economics?

Could be good for working percentage increase in pocket money demands. They would certainly be sharper at picking up on-line Nerf gun bargains.  But that’s taking the wind too far.  Mr Garrett’s reasoning is not for cheap headlines.
“For young Australians not to be aware of the basics of economics and business [is] for young Australians not to be aware of the potential in terms of their employment, the subject choices that they might make in high school, and young Australians not to be able to manage their personal finances, which even at that age can be an important issue in someone’s life,” he says.

So this is take-away childhood time. That’s clear.  What’s this about being aware of their terms of employment? Under tens already dealing holiday times, pension rights and sickies in one year? And when older, what’s this about Young Australians not being able to manage their personal finances. Where does he get that from?

Young Australians can work out their finances OK. They seem to get by when it comes to the pub or best flight buys when heading overseas.

There has to be another opportunity here. If you want a bigger allowance then the best way is not to simply whine into one.  You have to work out the financial state of the old man, show him how to better balance and then get a percentage of what he saves. He’d probably call it being a personal financial adviser. Teeny Australians would call it squeezing more out of the pint pop.

says the curriculum is already quite full and he worries that by adding to it, other subjects might have to be dropped.
Sounds good but you’d have guessed right if you’d expected the Australian Primary Principals Association to clap both hands and feet at the prospect of numerate kids. Their President Norm Hart says the curriculum is quite full.  Good.  Teach the youngsters the finances and numbers game and they’ll soon adjust it for you. I mean, I mean Norm mate, you reckon you can beat any of them on a DS?

“If we are to have it as an add-on to an already extremely busy working week for primary school students, then I think we need to ask some questions around what goes instead.”  That’s good old positive Norm.  Sounds to me the teachers just want a quiet life, don’t want any minister telling them what to do and maybe, could be maybe, they don’t know much about economics anyway.

Best of all, I like the Garrett idea because you never know, we could be teaching in primary schools and there in the back-row we discover a nine year old genius for this stuff. Imagine our worthy PM Julia Gillard getting to hear about this wizard of bought ledgers and then at the next Cabinet meeting she takes secret glances at the record of her Treasurer Wayne Swan. Treasuer Swan hasn’t quite got the 2+2 thing together has he?

He said he was going to get the economy right by 2013.  It isn’t right is it.  Spotty youth at the back says “No it isn’t Miss and as Mr Swan in May 2010, just the year I started school  promised a surplus in three years and hasn’t made it because the tax revenues are too low, well miss, you could as they say at Goldman Sachs let him go.”

Then what?  Spotty youth at the back, picks up his books (no Harry Potter. Just Milton Friedman, Keynes, Berner, Carney) and works over to Ms Gillard, takes her by the hand and whispers “When do I start?”  Swan clears his desk. Spotty moves in but on the understanding there’s twelve weeks holiday a year especially when surf’s up.

It could, it just could work.  Nine out of ten Mr Garrett.

Christopher Lee

November 27, 2012


Boat People marooned on an old phosphate island while Australia thinks what to do with them – an impossible job for everyone?


27th November 2012

The Australian Government has admitted this week that it has a major problem with south east Asia boat people – illegal immigrants.  And the government in Canberra knows that it’s not alone in the increasingly destabilizing phenomenon of mass migration.

Here in Australia, a record number – more than 15,500 – have arrived in Australia so far this year and the government doesn’t know what to do with them.
Worse than that, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says his people are having to get rid of some of the influx to places like Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

Given that mass migration is a feature and in many cases a major headache for immigration departments throughout the world, Australia’s boat people should not be such a special case.  But they are because Julia Gillard’s left of centre the government is losing control of the incomers and placing them in conditions that are so verging on the inhumane that some of the refugees have, reportedly, tried suicide rather than live as they’re forced to.

The old phosphate island of Nauru in the Pacific near the equator has been turned into a refugee camp. Reports here in Sydney say that people are living 14 to a tent in some of the most sweltering temperatures in the Pacific and at present predictions are likely to be kept there for anything up to five years.

Transfers from mainland infiltrators to PNG include families with children from Sri Lanka and Iran. The determination to get them out of mainland Australia has forced Prime Minister Julia Gillard to revive the once discredited island human dumping policy ominously called the Pacific Solution created by  the administration of former prime minister John Howard in 2001.  It was so internationally unacceptable that it was scrapped by Labour  five years ago.

But Ms Gillard has agreed to open the procedure in desperation to cope with the boat people, which is how 400 boat people are now forcibly marooned by Australian immigration officers on Nauru.

Nauru was never the best place to be even in the lucrative phosphate winning days.  As Amnesty’s Australian refugee co-ordinator Graham Thom apparently view it “Conditions on Nauru are grim. In the front of their minds is the fact that they’re not being processed, the uncertainty that’s facing them is clearly having an impact on their mental health.”

Ms Gillard’s officials say that island dumping and harsher immigration clearance policies are designed to deter refugees from Asia and the Middle East risking their lives and those of their families. But that is clearly not working.

Already there are mostly unbelievable horror stories about the island pens, including tales that refugees have been known to throw children overboard to force immigration off-shore craft to rescue the whole family from their sieve-like vessels.  The Australian MP for Manus Island, Ronnie Knight, warns about imprisoned boat people going “stir crazy” with all that might mean.

The primary difficulty is that the re-vamped Pacific Solution is not working. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has had to admit that this week and now says that the thousands of boat people arriving every month make it impossible to island-dump until the numbers are thinned out.  It’s a job that will take years.
“So some people… will be processed in Australia and processed in the community, but will remain on bridging visas, even after they are regarded, through the process, as refugees,” he reckons.

And not everyone who makes it to the beach is allowed to stay – even in the processing cage. The conundrum is to differentiate between asylum seekers and those just wanting a new economic life in Australia.  Consequently, people are being packed up and sent back to their original countries, for example, Sri Lanka.

“Our humanitarian programme is for people who are at risk of persecution, not for people seeking to undertake economic migration,” Bowen said.

The importance of the monitoring by Amnesty and Australia’s Immigration Commission is that this is not just an Australian problem that probably cannot be fixed.

Europe is also going through immigration scares. The UK sees it as partly a hangover from colonial days from which many surprisingly still have an historical claim on settlement in the UK.  Membership of the EU with cross-border transfer adds to the British dilemma.

Elsewhere in the EU, the Irish government of Enda Kenny skirts the problem but secretly worries about social unrest immigration is causing.  Dublin for example, has more and more non-white faces, Roma beggars at every other ATM and streets full of people without a word of English and certainly not Erse.

In Italy, boats arrive every day from Saharan Africa at about the same rate as Australia is getting them from Asia. The French government is reviewing its Intelligence and Security programmes as African Islamic groups promise to export their revolution into Europe starting with France.

There is no policy that makes a European nor an Australian version of the Pacific Solution work. What the Australians don’t yet admit, but European governments are having to take on board is that illegal immigrants and the mass movement of displaced peoples is more than a social invasion.  It is yet another very real destabilizing factor in a world barely coping with shifting economies and fiscal failures. Like the boat people, mostly the problem is not going away.