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Climate Change (Con?). Crowcombe Al . flickr cc.

2018 – a year for confronting looming threats

Alarm bells about threats to human wellbeing have been ringing furiously for some decades, though many are deaf to them, or refuse to hear them. But a growing chorus of voices around the world is demanding these warnings be taken very seriously.

Growing inequality is proving to be a serious threat to social order and political stability, even in western democracies. Austerity policies in Europe and elsewhere are provoking nationalist and populist movements, while President Trump is damaging the framework of international relations by withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change, UNESCO, and the Trans Pacific Partnership, and by his erratic leadership.

Time is short if the world is to reduce inequality significantly, revive social cohesion, and renew commitment to develop economic policies which genuinely serve societies and universal human wellbeing. Each year of inaction now may cost us dearly in the future.

An Australian light armored vehicle transits through Shoalwater Range in Shoalwater Bay Training Area, 2011. DVIDSHUB. flickr cc.

Is Australia joining a new
arms race?

Bruce Duncan

Australians have been startled that our government, apparently without any public consultation or debate in parliament, intends greatly to expand Australian arms production to become within ten years one of the top ten defence exporters, on a par with Britain, France, and Germany.

The sudden push to expand arms production in Australia looks simply like an attempt to make money, doing little or nothing to reduce violence and the huge amounts of arms circulating around the world.

20100103adf8246638_082.JPG. ResoluteSupportMedia. flickr cc.

War on the cheap

Alison Broinowski

Nearly a year ago, on 25, 26, and 27 February 2017, Fairfax media published extracts from an official report obtained under FOI by David Wroe about the army’s role in Iraq from 2003 to 2010. Tom Hyland of the Age later summarised for readers what it said, and showed how little we knew about the war (Inside Story, A dangerous game, 5 April 2017). But why did our troops go back in 2014? And why are they still there?

Albert Palazzo, a senior historian in the Directorate of Army Research and Analysis, interviewed more than 70 service people over four years, and compiled the report. Heavily redacted though the published version is, it includes scathing comments from a Brigadier and an SAS Commander about the blatantly political motives for which they were ordered to endanger Australian lives in Iraq.

Middelgruden Offshore Wind Farm in Denmark. United Nations Photo. flickr cc.

Australia’s 2017 carbon emission projections – yet more spin & red herrings from the Australian government

Peter Sainsbury

Despite Australia committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% before 2030, compared to 2005, the Australian government is projecting, but trying hard to cover up, a 3.5% increase in greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2030. It is also encouraging companies to increase their emissions if they can increase their productivity, thus confusing ‘efficiency’ with the need to reduce the total amount of greenhouse gas pumped into the atmosphere if we are to limit global warming to manageable levels. There is a need for increased transparency and honesty in government communications.

Wall_Food_10473. Michael Stern. flickr cc.

Hunger in the lucky country. Charities step in where government fails

Carol Richards

The non-profit organisation Foodbank released its report Fighting Hunger in Australia this month.

Like earlier research, it reported that around 15% of Australians experienced food insecurity – an extraordinary figure, given up to 40% of edible but cosmetically imperfect food is discarded before it reaches the market.

The survey revealed that 3.6 million Australians have experienced food insecurity at least once in the last 12 months. Three in five of those people experience food insecurity at least once a month.

The Catalan Integral Cooperative: an inspiring development

Geoff Lacey

In 2009, a network of local activists in Spain put forward a proposal through a newspaper to establish a cooperative. In May 2010, they came together and founded the Catalan Integral Cooperative (CIC). This has turned out to be a major new development in the world cooperative movement.

Paul Smyth’s talk on Australian social policy after
the collapse of the neoliberal framework

Professor Paul Smyth addressed a public forum of Social Policy Connections on 5 December 2017, Wiring Social Justice into the Australian Economy, about how to develop inclusive and equitable social policies. Paul Smyth is Honorary Professor of Social Policy at the University of Melbourne and has been General Manager of the Research & Policy Centre at the Brotherhood of St Laurence. He has edited major works, including Social Policy in Australia and Inclusive Growth in Australia. He is a member of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council.

To see Paul’s talk, follow these links to Social Policy Connections’ YouTube page …

Paul Smyth. Renewing society with
an inclusive economy.

Paul Smyth. Lessons from Australia’s past.

Paul Smyth. Why neoliberalism has run its race.

Paul Smyth. Moving from neoliberalism to an economy for people and planet.

Paul Smyth. Renewing society with an inclusive economy.

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