Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday Jottings

A short round up this morning.

My daughters' South East Asian trip that I mentioned in Travel, tubing and social change in Australia is now well underway. Both rang me yesterday from Vietnam for my birthday; that was nice. They have been having a great time and are keeping their father vicariously entertained through travel blogs and some Facebook posts. Both have taken lots of photos and I am looking forward to following the trip later in detail.

In Would You Marry The Same Person Again? Ramana discussed the results of a survey on marriage. I have made some funny choices in my life (marriage not being one of them, I hasten to add!), but could not envisage a choice that might not have my girls.  

The changes to the Australian skilled migration rules that I discussed in Education and Australian skilled migration: a policy catastrophe? continue to attract Australian media coverage (here, for example).

At this point, the consensus view appears to be that the changes were necessary, that some will be hit hard, that the university sector will benefit and that the whole international education sector will benefit in the longer term. Listening to the Minister talking last night, I still felt that there was a domestic policy mental lock in and remain of the view that the damage done is likely to be greater than expected.

With all these things, it takes time for the exact effects to work themselves through. There was an interesting article by Guy Healy and Andrew Trounson in the Australian's Higher Education section that, among other things, suggested that the changes meant that universities would need to increase their focus on English language skills. 

One thing I have noticed in the coverage is that the numbers quoted for overseas students are all over the place. I haven't had time to sort all this out, but just note it.

Many bloggers, this one included, are actual or would-be writers. In The Content Makers, one of the Crikey blogs, Margaret Simon has been discussing journalism and free-lance writing. Many of us, me included, write a lot of stuff for free. I suppose the problem is that we are really spoiling our own market place. Because this is Margaret's main topic, you will find find it by clicking on the blog link above. I will try to do a list of key posts later.

The release of the Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce report (here) on Monday (8 February) attracted some media attention, especially from the Australian which has been running something of a campaign on the issue of Northern Development. 

The Task Forces' negative conclusion on agriculture - it estimated the maximum amount of groundwater irrigable land in northern Australia was 60,000ha, up from the 20,000ha currently used - has come under attack, from, among others, WA Premier Barnett.

I last dealt with this issue back in October 2008 in Sunday Essay - the myths and realities of Northern Development. From there you will see that the question of Northern Development has been a vexed one for many years. I haven't read the report yet, but there does seem something odd about the way the study of water resources was apparently constrained by the no dam policies then in place in the three Northern jurisdictions.

Some of the press coverage of Australian PM Rudd's participation in the Q&A program has been remarkably scathing. See Erik Jensen's How teens took Rudd to the cleaners in question time as an example, a story that presently appears also as one of the Editor's Picks.

One of the reasons I wrote in the way that I did in Congratulations to PM Rudd on Q&A is that we actually need Mr Rudd to do more of these things, not less. However, it would be a brave minder who would argue this.        

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