Comment and Analysis

Arguably, the University of Sydney’s decision to give former Prime Minister John Howard an honorary doctorate on September 30 has backfired badly. 

Academics and students spoke eloquently against the award before and during the ceremony, prompting some students who had just been given their degree to join in.

The university had cited Howard’s “world-leading gun law reform, leadership in East Timor and contribution to Australia’s economic reform” as reasons for the award. While many would question these, the elephant in the room was Iraq.

Efforts to halt plans for nuclear waste dumping in South Australia have made important advances in recent weeks, with environmental, trade union, indigenous and other bodies pushing for a joint opposition campaign.

At a September 16 meeting called by the peak labour movement body, SA Unions, and the Maritime Union of Australia, members of at least 14 organisations resolved to work toward forming a coordinating committee “around the common objective of preventing nuclear waste dumps being established in South Australia”.

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett survived a leadership challenge on September 20, easily seeing off his former Transport minister Dean Nalder. Another minister also resigned from cabinet in solidarity with Nalder in the lead up to the contest, which has been brewing since the start of the year.

Power is gradually returning to South Australia after wild storms blew across the state last night, but some areas could be offline for days. The storm — associated with heavy rain, lightning, and severe winds — damaged transmission lines that carry electricity from power generators to people, causing a state-wide blackout.

South Australian premier Jay Weatherill told ABC radio “the system operated as it was meant to operate”.

Politicians such as Nationals leader Barnarby Joyce, independent Senator Nick Xenephon and, predictably, One Nation's climate denying Senator Malcolm Roberts have sought to pin the blame for South Australia's power outage on September 28 on the state's reliance on renewable energy, especially wind power. Even Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined the attacks, with

Bruce Charles “Bill” Mollison died on September 24 in Sisters' Creek, Tasmania.

A few people are born who are world class heroes to those who know them and unknown to the great majority, until one day their inescapable influence floats to the surface and is generally recognised for the cream it is. In hindsight such leaders go on to become household names.

A candidate for the vomit inducing moment of the week must be Minister for Social Services Christian Porter and his crocodile tears for young people "trapped on welfare", especially those slogging away as carers and single parents.

His government is so concerned about their wellbeing it has been trying every way it can to cut their payments and drive them deeper into poverty.

The Murdoch press got the tip and paved the way with beat ups about a new generation of young welfare bludgers.

On September 20, days after the passage of the “omnibus” legislation that enabled the implementation of the federal budget, Minister for Social Services Christian Porter released the Baseline Valuation Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), as part of the federal government’s “Priority Investment Approach”.

In what amounted to a financial audit of the welfare system, the report focused on the costs to the welfare system over a prolonged period of three categories of recipients: young carers, young parents and students.

I was dismayed to discover that Australia’s Minister for Social Services is turning to New Zealand for inspiration in his latest approach to welfare.

On September 20 Christian Porter announced the ‘Australian Priority Investment Approach’. This draws on work New Zealand’s right-wing National government has done since 2011 on using actuarial estimates of fiscal liability to underpin an extensive program of punitive and pauperising reforms.

A poll of 1000 people by Essential Research has found 49% of respondents supported a blanket ban on Muslim immigration to Australia, 40% opposed the ban and 11% were not sure.

Young people aged 18–24 were the most likely to oppose a ban on Muslim immigration. Fifty-eight per cent of young people opposed a ban, compared with 28% who supported it.

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