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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Good and bad news about the Syria ceasefire

    • Justin Glyn
    • 25 February 2016
    4 Comments

    There is cause for both optimism and scepticism in the news that the US and Russia have agreed a ceasefire in Syria. On the face of it, one of the world's bloodiest civil wars is about to come to an end; an end to be guaranteed by the two biggest, best armed militaries on the planet. This should be excellent news for everybody, not least the long suffering civilian population of one of the most bombed countries on earth. So what could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a lot.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Consequences loom for global debt binge

    • David James
    • 19 January 2016
    11 Comments

    Low interest rates tend to change the understanding of risk; having high debt seems to be less of a problem because the cost of servicing it is lower. This cavalier attitude has been especially evident in Australian households, which have racked up more debt relative to the size of the economy than any other country in the world. The massive appetite for debt has been replicated across the globe. The world may have survived the era of casino money - just - but it is now facing another crisis.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Australia's bridge-building role in Saudi-Iran dispute

    • Justin Glyn
    • 18 January 2016
    2 Comments

    The US, while backing Saudi Arabia, seems to be increasingly exasperated with how far it has to stick its neck out for its ally. Relationships with Iran, by contrast, have improved recently. The difficulty is that sections within both Iran and Saudi Arabia's governments seem to see a certain short-term interest in tearing the region apart. Australia, which has full diplomatic ties with Iran, a strong trade partnership with Saudi Arabia, and the ear of the US, can play an important diplomatic role.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Unions may be the answer for exploited garment workers

    • Beth Doherty
    • 27 November 2015
    4 Comments

    This week marked three years since the Tazreen Fashions factory fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh, left over 100 garment workers dead. Six months later, Rana Plaza in Dhaka collapsed, and 1134 people were killed. Labels for top brands such as H&M and Benetton were found in the rubble. While steps have been taken by some companies to promote ethical supply chains, it may be that the only way for a more just treatment of garment workers is the proper organisation of the workers themselves.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Untangling the murky Turkey plane incident

    • Justin Glyn
    • 26 November 2015
    6 Comments

    The downing of a Russian Sukhoi-24 bomber by Turkey reminds us of the risks which attend military intervention. There are, however, a number of additional complicating factors which promise to make the Syrian war even more dangerous and bloody for all sides. The situation could escalate dangerously. If this kind of event is not to become much more common, potentially leading to a much wider war, genuine peace talks with a lot more honesty on each side need to be a priority.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Unskilled immigration is good for Australia

    • Gabriela D'Souza
    • 09 November 2015
    10 Comments

    George Megalogenis describes a protest rally in 1849 organised by residents of Sydney against arrivals of more convict boats. Workers who 'wanted to maintain their high-wage society' made 'the first of countless calls that would be made against migrants who threatened to undercut their standard of living'. It is a familiar refrain today. In a world where three-fifths of a person's income is determined by their place of birth, it defies logic that we place restrictions on people's movement to preserve our standard living.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Chinese economy a work in progress

    • David James
    • 14 September 2015
    1 Comment

    The recent ructions in the Chinese stock market set off great consternation in global financial markets, but for the most part this was a display of ignorance. One of the reasons China’s influence on global markets has been so beneficial, since at least 2007, is that its economy and financial markets are so different.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Should Labor break ties with the unions?

    • John Warhurst
    • 03 August 2015
    15 Comments

    The formal link between trade unions and the Labor Party is sacred in many quarters, and has sustained both sides of the relationship for 120 years. The revelations of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, despite its anti-Labor political origins, may eventually generate change. But the question has been around for decades, and any move to break the link would be vigorously opposed.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    The tyranny of career

    • Ellena Savage
    • 22 May 2015
    3 Comments

    The expectation to enjoy the labouring part of your life, or find it 'rewarding', is a relatively new one. Australia's boon in tertiary education in the latter half of the twentieth century, and the post-industrial nature of postmodern work means that for many, labour is immaterial, and jobs are not necessarily protected or stable. 'Career management' is therefore a key concept that rules life decisions.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    'Single person household' slight on working poor

    • Brian Lawrence
    • 14 April 2015
    6 Comments

    A fair minimum wage has to be fair to workers with family responsibilities, many of whom are currently working poor and living in poverty. But in its 2014 Annual Wage Review decision, the Fair Work Commission  decided that the 'appropriate reference household for the purposes of setting minimum wages is the single person household'. This was the first time in more than a century of minimum wage setting that an industrial tribunal has decided that minimum wages should exclude the needs of the low paid with families.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Australia out of step with Pope's climate action mission

    • Thea Ormerod
    • 27 January 2015
    33 Comments

    It is no coincidence that Pope Francis chose to visit the Philippines before he releases his encyclical on the environment, and that he made a point of visiting Tacloban, which was ground zero for super typhoon Haiyan. This follows the recent UN climate talks in Lima, where Australian negotiators so regularly blocked consensus that they won us the 'colossal fossil' award for 2014 from environmental observers.       

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  • RELIGION

    Francis moving Church from pale green to deep green

    • Paul Collins
    • 20 January 2015
    43 Comments

    Pope Francis has been hailed for his ‘rattling’ and ‘upsetting’ Catholic climate change sceptics and politicians. His predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI were ahead of most politicians on the issue, but essentially they underestimated the magnitude and urgency of the environmental problems we face. It is likely that Francis will make a decisive effort to confront climate change during 2015.    

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