More Civility

WELA submission to the Productivity Commission about Paid Maternity Leave

As Chairperson for the Women’s Electoral Lobby Australia (WELA), I’ve been heavily involved in preparing a submission for the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Paid Maternity, Paternity and Parental Leave.

Making time and taking our time

Something went wrong between the dreams of post-war workers and our modern working lives. I remember the push for the 35 hour week and the dreams of new technologies that would see workers replaced by robots and more leisure for all. That dream has stayed in the realms of science fiction.

Balancing the time budget

Do we really think that money is the most important thing in our lives? The treatment of most issues in the public sphere is based on that assumption: incomes, tax cuts, payments, rebates and interest rates dominate our political debates.

Bronwyn’s no solutions report

There is an urgent need for workable solutions to the many persistent problems which plague children's services in Australia. Unfortunately after an 18-month parliamentary inquiry on ‘Balancing Work and Family', the Federal Government still has not managed to address many issues

What kind of Australia do we want?

Just over a decade ago I delivered my Boyer lectures on how Australia could become a ‘truly civil society’. In 2006 it is probably more realistic to look at how we could achieve more civility. How can Australian society become more equitable, hospitable and generous?

Understanding what the Federal Government means by choice

Neo-liberalism is passé; a set of precepts promoted in the eighties that started failing as a government strategy by the early nineties. Often misleadingly called economic ‘rationalism’ in Australia, neo-liberalism dominated policy agendas just long enough to undermine the welfare state and the idea that the government was an appropriate provider of services.

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Changing child care policy frameworks

There are multiple crises in child care which occasionally hit the headlines. A recent story on some day care centres charging about $100 per day has started a ripple about affordability. The lack of child care places led the Federal minister last weekend to blame the state and territories’ planning, and to praise her government’s increased spending as evidence of good policy; and the PM to mutter about funding nannies.

Defining the role of the state

Policy making is closely related to politics, the polis and the rule of the state. It is usually governments that people target when they want policy change, particularly in Australia where we have traditionally expected them to fix our public ills. We have a long tradition of expecting state involvement in areas such as wage fixing, dispute resolution, utilities, transport and creating fairness.

How do we define fair?

Can we establish the principles that would frame the development of policies to produce and support a fairer Australia? How do we define fair? We tend to use terms like the public and common good, social justice, fairness and equity but rarely do we define what we mean or, explore which aspects of public/social policy are more or less likely to succeed.

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A social plimsoll line?

Choice is the mantra for neo-liberals who believe, in fundamentalist ways, that god is actually the market. So they want to give us maximum choices to buy services in the free market.

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