GreenPeace Activist Colin Russell Arrives Home After Russian Detention

Colin Russell, the Greenpeace activist detained in Russia since September, has arrived home in Hobart.

Russell

Russell was one of the Arctic 30 who were arrested during a protest against oil drilling by the Russian energy company Gazprom. [Read more…]


Education Ministers Speak Out On Pyne’s School Funding Announcement

Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s state counterparts have criticised Pyne’s decision to pull out of the Gillard government’s Gonski school funding agreements.

The ministers spoke to the media after meeting with Pyne today. They included NSW minister Adrian Piccoli who has led the criticism of Pyne. The Australian Education Union’s Angelos Gavrielatos and parents’ organisations also weighed in on the announcement. [Read more…]


Car Industry Report Predicts Economic Devastation If Government Assistance Ends

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has released a report on the car industry.

The report, prepared by the Allen Consulting Group, is titled: The strategic role of the Australian Automotive Manufacturing Industry.

The report argues that Australia’s GDP would be $7.3 billion smaller (in today’s dollars) by 2018 without autmotive manufacturing. It says billions in foreign direct investment would cease and the economies of Adelaide and Melbourne “would be devastated” if government assistance to the industry ceased. The report says employment would fall by around 1.5%.

The car industry receives around $500 million in government funding each year. The report says: “For this investment, the Australian economy is $21.5 billion larger.”

The report comes as the Abbott government faces a decision about the continuation of government assistance to the car industry. Politically, the timing of the decision is awkward because of the South Australian election next March and the Victorian election at the end of 2014.

The government’s decision will also be a test of its economic decision-making and its commitment to market principles.

Extract from “The strategic role of the Australian Automotive Manufacturing Industry”, p55. [Read more…]


Getup! Reviews Its Year


Social Media As A Tool For Protest

By Marko Papic and Sean Noonan

Internet services were reportedly restored in Egypt on Feb. 2 after being completely shut down for two days. Egyptian authorities unplugged the last Internet service provider (ISP) still operating Jan. 31 amidst ongoing protests across the country. The other four providers in Egypt — Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr — were shut down as the crisis boiled over on Jan. 27. Commentators immediately assumed this was a response to the organizational capabilities of social media websites that Cairo could not completely block from public access.

The role of social media in protests and revolutions has garnered considerable media attention in recent years. Current conventional wisdom has it that social networks have made regime change easier to organize and execute. An underlying assumption is that social media is making it more difficult to sustain an authoritarian regime — even for hardened autocracies like Iran and Myanmar — which could usher in a new wave of democratization around the globe. In a Jan. 27 YouTube interview, U.S. President Barack Obama went as far as to compare social networking to universal liberties such as freedom of speech. [Read more…]


Kevin Rudd’s Opening Address to the 2020 Summit

This is the text of Kevin Rudd’s Address Opening the 2020 Summit in Canberra.

Australians one, Australians all.

I too begin by acknowledging the first peoples of our nation.

Just as I welcome all of you to this, the nation’s capital, to this, the nation’s Parliament.

To this, the great meeting place of our common democracy, Australia.

The place from which we your elected representatives seek to navigate our nation’s future.

Today we are trying to do something new.

Today we are throwing open the windows of our democracy, to let a little bit of fresh air in.

Rather than pretending that we the politicians of Australia have all the answers, and the truth is, we don’t, we are turning now to you, the people of Australia. [Read more…]


Business Council Calls For New Commonwealth-States Contract

The Business Council of Australia has released a report proposing reforms to the Australian federal system.

The BCA says in the report: “In the past, the debate has been mainly framed around political and constitutional reasons for change. The extent of the problems and dysfunctions of the current system of federal–state relations – marked by a lack of consensus on national goals and consistent forward planning – is such that it has become a major barrier to future prosperity. The challenge of reforming federalism has now become an economic imperative. Currently, Australia has a system where the lines of responsibilities between the Commonwealth and the states have become chronically blurred and confused. We have a system in which, because of a growing lack of transparency and accountability, the quantity of government has taken precedence over quality.

“As the world becomes more complex and increasingly requires decision making that anticipates rather than reacts to 21st-century challenges, Australia needs a system of government that can manage issues critical to the future of the nation through collaboration and cooperation. It is time for a new contract between the Commonwealth and the States.”

The Business Council of Australia represents the Chief Executives of 100 of Australia’s largest companies.