I was going to write a story today on the report on racism in Australian schools, this attracted Australian headlines, but when I checked the source report, I decided to hold off for the present.
I have a real difficulty with the growing proliferation in this country of single issue/topic not for profits who become devoted to causes and who depend for their funding on attracting funds for the cause. I am not suggesting that the academic authors of the report in question did not apply academic rigour, although they themselves point to weaknesses in their approach. However, the accompanying press release from the Foundation for Young Australians was designed to grab headlines and indeed it did.
There is some interesting material in the report, but the way the resulting press coverage was framed distracted from key issues. I will try to do a full analysis.
I wasn't surprised by the news that Bebo was to shut its Australian office. Facebook and Google have established a dominance in this country that it, I think, the greatest in the world. Australians are remarkably heavy users of social networking systems.
I was a little in front of the pack in yesterday's story, Australia's new fire warning system - code red. The new fire danger classification was one of the major news stories in this country throughout the day, with coverage continuing this morning.
New South Wales has now declared a code red for the west and south west of the state. I quote from the SMH story:
The Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, said people in these areas should avoid fire-prone areas. The safest option for those living there was to leave their homes this morning.
''This is not a call for alarm or panic. Simply, if you live in these areas, plan activities away from a bushfire-prone area, such as going to a friend's house, a shopping centre or a town.''
Blowed if I know. For the benefit of international readers, the area covered is significantly larger than England. I simply don't know what people are meant to do. In South Australia, they closed schools in areas covered by the code red to the confusion of parents who did not know. I don't think that they have done this in NSW because of the chaos that would result in such a huge area.
Again I quote from the story:
A spokesman for Steve Whan, the Minister for Emergency Services, said the warnings were only recommendations and the Government would not force evacuations.
In a way this statement summarises the problems that arise with a universal warning applied to a large area. The logistics involved in forcing evacuations (and to where) across an area close to half the state in size are impossible.
We shall see. These initial warnings and the consequent problems may lead to refinement of the system. Alternatively, they may simply discredit the new fire category.
This story from the Australian points to the type of problems that I am talking about with the new fire classification.
I suspect that this will be another example that I will be able to talk about in my We need to reform Australia's approach to public policy series.