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Filter by October, 2012

Australia in the Asian Century: Improving university rankings

The Asian Century White Paper sees higher education as a key sector in developing capabilities for economic success in what it calls ‘the Asian century’ and sets a national objective that ‘by 2025 10 of Australia’s universities will be in the world’s top 100’.A number of questions arise from this objective, including the appropriateness of world rankings in setting and measuring goals; the degree of investment required to improve rankings and a decision on which ranking system to use.World rankings have largely arisen in the last decade and there are now five major world university ranking systems. They have variations in methodologies but all stress research investment and performance over ... Read more...

Australia in the Asian Century: Aiming for the 'Top Ten'

In the Australia in the Asian Century white paper the Government has set the goal of Australia becoming one of the top ten countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita by 2025. This post briefly considers how achievable the government’s objective is and how useful a focus on GDP per capita is.The IMF World Economic Outlook database shows that in terms of GDP per capita (measured in purchasing power parity dollars) Australia ranked 13th in 2011 and is forecast to move to the 12th spot in 2012. However, there is little separating the countries around Australia in the rankings. In 2011 Australia ranked 13th with GDP per capita of $40,847.13 while Canada with GDP per capita of $40,519.11 wa... Read more...

U.S Presidential Election

The U.S. general election will be held on Tuesday 6 November 2012 where ballots will be held to not only elect the 435 Representatives and 100 Senators that will form the 113th Congress but also to elect the 45th President. President Barack Obama (Dem) as incumbent President is seeking a second and final term running with incumbent Vice President Joe Biden. They will be challenged by Republican nominees Governor Mitt Romney and running mate Congressman Paul Ryan. The key to the Presidential election is that voters do not directly vote for the President, instead they vote for a ticket — this year, the two main party tickets are either the Obama/Biden or Romney/Ryan tickets. This vote is essen... Read more...

Not much to smile about: two new reports highlight dental inequities

Two new dental reports provide a timely overview of the oral health of those with chronic illnesses compared to the broader population, and on the oral health of children and their families.The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) publication Chronic conditions and oral health reveals disparities in oral health between people with a chronic condition and those without. The publication reports on a survey that measured five oral health impacts: toothache, discomfort with appearance of teeth or mouth, avoidance of some foods due to tooth problems, experience of broken or chipped teeth, and oral facial pain. Two measures of tooth loss were also reported: average number of missing t... Read more...

The plasma myth: how parents of newborns spend their money

The Australian Government has announced that it intends to reduce the amount of Baby Bonus payable in respect of second or subsequent children from 1 July 2013. This is expected to result in savings of around $170 million per year ($504.9 million over the forward estimates).According to the Government, this change recognises that costs associated with second or subsequent newborns are not as great as those associated with the first.This post takes a look at what is known about the impact of newborns on household budgets, focusing in particular on any significant changes in spending on second or subsequent children. Notably, the available evidence suggests that there is no significant increas... Read more...

Private health insurance rebate to deliver yet more savings for Government

The Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) included yet more changes to private health insurance rebate (PHIR) arrangements, on top of those recently implemented. These are expected to deliver savings of $1.09 billion over three years which will be used to offset the cost of the Dental Health Reform package announced in August this year. Instead of being automatically inked to premium increases, the level of the PHIR will be based on an indexation arrangement. From April 2013, the rebate amount will be indexed to either movement in the consumer price index (CPI) or the percentage increase in premiums for private hospital cover, whichever is the lower figure. In addition, the privat... Read more...

Australia wins seat on United Nations Security Council: what next?

In the early hours of this morning (local time), Australia received 140 votes from United Nations General Assembly members to secure a seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for its 2013–14 term. The result has been welcomed by both the Government and the Opposition. Australia’s Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr, has described the win as a tribute to Australia’s global standing: ‘it’s the world saying, we see Australia as a good country, a fine global citizen’, he said, thanking Pacific, African and Caribbean nations in particular for their support. The 15-member UNSC is the principal organ under the UN Charter responsible for maintaining international peace and security. It is ... Read more...

Government’s approach to policy development criticised in formal review

On 11 October 2012, the Government released the Independent Review of the Australian Government’s Regulatory Impact Analysis Process and its preliminary response. The Review provides a broad overview of the Government’s current policy development processes.The Review was conducted by Mr David Borthwick AO PSM and Mr Robert Milliner, and took aim at many facets of the Government’s policy development processes, including the public service, ministers, and adherence to Cabinet processes. It made 14 recommendations.The regulation impact analysis process mostly takes the form of the preparation of Regulatory Impact Statements (RISs) for inclusion with Cabinet Submissions in order to inform Cabi... Read more...

Speaker's resignation

Mr Slipper resignedmid-term as Speaker on 9 October 2012. A mid-term resignation by a Speaker is not unique, although in this instance the circumstances maybe seen as such. Mr Slipper resigned in the wake of a motionby the Leader of the Opposition to remove the Speaker under section 35 of the Constitution. The motion was narrowly defeated, 70 to 69, which meant the Speaker could continue in office. Mr Slipper had stood aside from his role as Speaker in the House on 8 May 2012 following allegations of sexual harassment and allegations of fraudulent abuse of Cabcharge vouchers. Other Speakers who have resigned mid-term include: Walter Nairn                                     Resigned 21 June ... Read more...

The Administrative Review Council recommends legislative change to turn back the tide of section 39B actions.

The Administrative Review Council (the ARC) is established to ‘ensure that the administrative decision-making processes of the Commonwealth Government are correct according to law and accord with administrative law values, by working with all relevant interests — political, bureaucratic and community based’.On 24 September 2012, the ARC launched its 50th report, Federal Judicial Review in Australia.Judicial review provides an important avenue of appeal for those affected by government decision making. It is a central feature of Australia's administrative law system. There are a number of ways a party might challenge a government decision; namely, under section 75(v) of the Constitution, sect... Read more...