Empowered Communities

Noel Pearson is admired as one of Australia’s great political leaders and thinkers. Last week, he released a 165-page document Empowered Communities: Empowered Peoples recommending radical changes to government policies for Indigenous Australians. Instead of policies being determined by bureaucrats in our capital cities and delivered by a largely non-indigenous support industry, the report calls for the decision making and its execution to be devolved to empowered communities. The idea is that is the principle of subsidiarity should apply. As Craig Ingrey of the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council explained, “The goal is to help individuals be more responsible for their families and t

Being Responsible for Ourselves and Our Families

I wonder why the focus of our solutions for social problems seems to be to ask strangers to deal with them and government to fund it. The incidence of family violence in Broken Hill is met by calls to restore funding of a legal aid facility. The incidence of vandalism by 12-year olds in Kununurra is met by calls for improved juvenile detention facilities. In both cases, attention to the root causes of the problems might be more effective – minimizing or preventing the problems rather than treating the consequences. In both cases, one wonders what family, friends, neighbours and workmates were doing to allow such anti-social behaviour to persist. Is there no-one prepared to take responsibilit

Creating Jobs: Honouring the Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs create jobs. So if we want more jobs then we have to create an environment in which entrepreneurs flourish. The converse is also true; if there are insufficient jobs being created then the conditions for entrepreneurs are not sufficiently conducive. The conventional wisdom is somewhat different. Our politicians promote themselves as the ones who create jobs; presumably most people believe this. It is worth considering in what ways politicians create jobs. Firstly they can increase the number of public sector jobs. Depending on your world view you may see this in a positive or negative light. You may applaud a government that increases the numbers of nurses and teachers for inst

Crony Capitalism

Many works by the great Australian sculptor Geoffrey Bartlett juxtapose contrasting elements in surprising ways, delighting the senses and challenging the intellect. Likewise, I wish to surprise you with the proposition that the apparent evils of capitalism are the consequences of the principles of the social democratic welfare state. Many modern business corporations do not, in fact, operate in the free market. They use government intervention to provide subsidies, inhibit agile competitors, fund their research and development, give them monopoly positions, enable them to profit from extremely risky positions, and to bail them out when they become “too big to fail”. They use lobbyists to cu

Minimum Wages Deny Jobs to Youth

At the first suggestion that minimum wages and penalty rates might be subject to review by the Productivity Commission, the ACTU hit the airwaves and the streets to defend their hard won rights. Rights that had been won by physical, economic and political coercion were not to be trammeled by rational debate; the proposals were offensive. Economics journalist, Peter Martin wrote that there was no evidence to support the contention that minimum wages had a negative impact on employment. Those most adversely affected by minimum wages are those out of work, those for whom the jobs do not exist at that rate. They are not members of trade unions; the unions have no concern for them. Peter Martin

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Peter Francis Fenwick       Writer      Melbourne     Australia