The number of Australian people who smoke has declined steadily in the past 30 years. The decline is a specific goal of various governments in response to the clear harms to health, and the economy, of smoking. The latest government initiative is legislation mandating that all tobacco products be sold in plain packaging by July 2012. The Alliance of Australian Retailers is lobbying against this new legislation including a national advertising campaign. It is very likely that the funds are coming from Big Tobacco.
Archive for the 'In-Scope' Category
Joe Hockey provided the media with some door stops on the Banks and created a circus: reporters quizzically asked for more details around what the Government or Wayne Swan could do about interest rates; Hockey darkly invokes the power of parliament. Meanwhile, a
member of his own party thinks that this must be a plot from the Greens and business sector commentators splutter about free enterprise. The whole thing looks like an irresponsible, clumsy populist grab for a headline. (http://www.2ue.com.au/blogs/2ue-blog/joe-hockey-calls-for-bank-regulation/20101021-16voa.html and http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/its-the-hockonomy-stupid-20101021-16w53.html)
While Joe’s strong point might not be economics, he may well make a stronger claim to decency than the cynics might be willing to recognise. Among the one-liners, the appeal for a renewal of the “social contract” reflects that decency. (more…)
- Making sense of claim and counter-claim by competing interests within a heated debate is near impossible, especially when all parties are professing to act in the common interest. Australians have had to try and make sense of an extremely confusing debate about the proposed Mining Resources Rent Tax in the charged context of an election campaign notable for its lack of ethical content (ERC, http://www.erc.org.au/ERBEI/?p=463).
- The Federal Government, small to medium sized resource companies and large multinationals have all professed to be interested in the common good of Australia–mostly expressed as “the national interest”. How genuine are these claims and how much is the common good being used as a smokescreen for the pursuit of narrower sectional or individual interest?
- So the public face of this debate must be presented as what would be best for everyone. If the arguments proposed are to be more than a smokescreen they must take others’ concerns and needs seriously, present the facts clearly and truthfully and construct arguments from the evidence in a rational way. The point behind the exercise being to allow all concerned to come to a well informed judgement about what should be done. This is the only way respect for all concerned can be real.
Australian citizens who care about the ethics of democracy –of being a citizen– should make a stand for improving the quality of public debate. This most recent election campaign was notable for the thoroughness with which it sullied every topic that was raised. The discussion on the office of the Governor General is a place to start to demand some standards of debate.
The National Council of The St Vincent de Paul Society recently placed the NSW State Council of the Society under temporary administration. Mr Syd Tutton the Society’s National President took this decision pointing to what he called “over-corporatisation” in NSW, producing a culture poorly suited to ensure that the Society fulfil its primary mission to support the most marginalised members of the community.
The drastic step was taken by the board in response to accusations of bullying by a number of staff over a long period of time (ABC).
According to Mr Tutton, “This is a move to return the Society in NSW to the grassroots members, out of respect for their magnificent dedication to the Mission on the ground to people on the margins. To leave this problem unattended would be a betrayal of who we are and why we exist as a grassroots movement committed to Social Justice.” (St Vinnies).