Monday, May 12, 2014

African thought, Border Force, budget conundrums with a dash of New England soap

Treasurer Hockey will deliver the budget tomorrow. Like most Australians, I just want to get through tomorrow to find out just what we are dealing with. Tonight’s post is a just a round-up on a few of the things that I have been thinking about or working on.

In a comment on Saturday Morning Musings – South Africa votes in 2014, DG wrote:

Malema (my link) a "charismatic" figure? Well, to some I suppose; and much in the way that Hitler proved "charismatic" during the Weimar Republic. This lunatic enthusiastically endorses the Mugabe model of economic growth.

While I do not pretend to be in any way an expert on African thought, I have followed enough posts and comment streams on African posts to know that it is very different from Australian thought. One stream is that of the left, where Mugabe is still a hero, old anti-colonial and left agenda battles still being fought out. A second is a conservative stream. the imposition of absolute moral values, religious and political, whether by Christian or Muslim groups. My feeling is that I should know more about this, for population and economic growth will make Africa very important in coming decades.

In politics and public policy, organisational roles and the language wrapped those roles is very important in historical terms. I mention this now because I got completely sidetracked yesterday.I started a post looking at certain aspects of the pre-budget discussions, then introduced Australian Border Force. This is where the side-track came in.

My feeling at the time was that the creation of Australian Border Force was an important marker in the evolution of a new and, to my mind, not especially nice feature of Australian life. To try to test this, I began an exploration of the changing titles and administrative arrangements that had  governed the customs and immigration functions since Federation in 1901. This historical analysis tended to confirm my view, but what had begun as a short contained exercise suddenly became a middling piece of historical research. 

I started in the early morning, then had to take Clare to hockey. That was fun, but sidetracked me. I continued for another hour, then realised that it was just more than I could manage. I promise to bring it up. When I do, bear with the administrative detail, I accept that is boring. Yet I think that I have done enough research to at least establish that we have been trough a fundamental change without realising its significance.

The post that I had started before being sidetracked by Australian Border Force was on the importance of interconnections and lags in public policy. We have tightened and focused so many Government policy areas over recent years that a change in one area.

Consider this example. Over the last four years, the number of older Australians on unemployment benefits has grown by more than 40 per scent. Part of the reason appears to be changes in the pension age, especially for women.

Or this. Whereas public housing used to be a device for assisting lower income working class Australians to improve their conditions, limited supply and priority setting means that social housing has become focused on high priority cases. Most of these people live on benefits, paying a proportion of their income for rent. So when benefits are lowered, social housing rents drop. Rents are not high enough now to support the system, so each benefit drop adds pressure to the deteriorating social housing fabric via lower rents. 

In both these cases, a saving now in one area than can be measured creates costs in other areas that cannot be so easily measured in the short term. I think that we need to recognise this.

I will leave this argument aside for the moment. My end point is not what you might expect.

Meantime, this is the trailer for a new ABC TV series. I really have been enjoying it, including its soapy nature. Further comments follow the trailer.

This is a New England TV series, my New England, the Northern Rivers within the broader Northern NSW that forms my new state New England. Again, I will write a broader story. 


Anonymous said...

Jim, people who disavow Mugabe aren't confined to the 'conservatives'. This guy has succeeded in alienating even his most enthusiastic erstwhile supporters on the left. The penny began to drop on the left after Peter Tatchell attempted a citizens arrest of Mugabe in Brussels in 2001 and Mugabe's bodyguards assaulted Tatchell causing him brain damage. He accused Peter Hain of being Tatchell's wife. Mugabe doesn't in particular, like gays, the "Breeetish" and the Matabele. He took a dim view of Mandela, believing him to be a white stooge. Mugabe is corrupt, violent and incompetent and surrounds himself with mediocrities who provide him with calamitous economic advice... to mention just a few of this ogre's shortcomings.


Jim Belshaw said...

One of the things that I have struggled to understand, DG, is just why Mr Mugabe gets so much support. I happen to agree with most of your comments, but why? I read the Zimbabwe Situation - - and have often shuddered.Again, why?

Anonymous said...

It isn't a good look for Africa that other leaders haven't properly called Mugabe to account. They even at one stage elected him Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity. Also people realise that with Emmerson Mnangagwa waiting in the wings, the alternative is much worse. Mugabe doesn't enjoy domestic support; it's just that he controls the army, the police, the Marange diamond fields and so on. etc.


Jim Belshaw said...

I agree with your comment, DG. That is how it seems to me too.