Impending Economic Crisis?

It goes without saying that the impending economic doom has been talked about by experts and citizens alike over and over all over the world. But why exactly are they making these predictions?  Although Australia’s economy has steadily grown for 25 years in unprecedented ways, there are now two vastly different interpretations of Australia’s success.

The Australian model is that which consider’s Australia an example to other struggling countries. Having the ability to survive a turbulent global economy and deflect challenges. However, the opposing model argues that Australia has simply done nothing but ride its luck from the boom of global commodity markets. It is called the Australian bubble and argues that when the resource cycle changes, so will Australia.

A significant amount of Australia’s success has indeed been traced to this global boom. The fact that Asia is its biggest trading factor coupled with its high price exports versus low price imports has benefitted Australia. But slower growth in China means that resources and cheap imports for Australia is no longer something to rely on. Moreover, they are experiencing a financial crisis as well, similar to the United States. While house prices still remain high, the Australian dollar is also very high compared the the US dollar.

These factors and more have the more pessimist experts predicting an impending crash. As Mark Thirlwell of the Pacific Standard puts so eloquently, “an economic crash in China would send global commodity prices plunging, crash Australia’s terms of trade, hammer Australian incomes, drive up unemployment, and send house prices into a downward spiral—Australia’s own mini-financial meltdown, payback for all those comfortable boom years.”

Only time will tell how Australia fares and if it will once again survive or the bubble will burst.

 

-Jenny Zhuo

Sources: http://www.psmag.com/magazines/march-april-2013/australia-economy-recession-53744/

Closing the Gap

“Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities experience an average life expectancy of up to 17 years less than other Australians.”

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The “Close the Gap” Campaign by Oxfam in Australia highlights on of the countries most significant issues and makes strides to reduce the disparity between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Australians resulting from inadequate healthcare. Since 2006, Australia’s peak Indigenous and non-Indigenous health bodies, NGOs and human rights organisations have worked together to achieve health and life expectation equality for Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

They are calling for action that will achieve indigenous health equality within 25 years through long-term investment, increasing access to services, and building government partnerships. Oxfam also advocates building up the indigenous health workforce so that citizens may help within their communities and want to address crucial social issues in other institutions including employment and education.

Former PM Rudd signed the Close the Gap Statement of Intent in March 2008 at the Close the Gap Campaign’s National Indigenous Health Equality Summit. The Campaign has also provided significant momentum towards seven National Partnership Agreements since November 2008 which has increased their funding by approximately $5 billion dollars.

 

-Jenny Zhuo

Sources:

http://www.uq.edu.au/ccsc/oxfam-australia-tackles-indigenous-health-issues

http://www.humanrights.gov.au/close-gap-indigenous-health-campaign

Gillard Then and Now

Good’day mates! For today’s topic, we’re going to delve back into the recent history of Australian politics. The 2010 elections for the new federal government in Australia took place on August 21, 2010. The battle for votes was waged between the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal/National Coalition to gain seats within this Australian parliament. The government was established as an independent parliamentary democracy in 1901 back when Australia was a mere Commonwealth when the British colonies joined to become a federation.

The center-left Australian Labor Party (ALP), led by Julia Gillard is known for its constituents comprised of workers and members of unions, while the center-right Coalition, led by Tony Abbot, is known as the primarily conservative party and combines the Liberal Party of Australia and the Nationals. The fourth and last political party is the Green Party, which centers it’s ideas on environmental sustainability.

You might be asking what happened to previous ALP leader Kevin Rudd. While he enjoyed a long time of praise and popularity, his approval ratings began to drop, and the remaining party leaders deemed him unworthy of winning of the next election. The ALP believed Julia Gillard would ensure a solid and smooth victory.

The reason I revisit this is because recently Julia Gillard’s approval ratings have dropped drastically. Although both her and her deputy, Treasurer Wayne Swan were both re-elected as the party’s leaders again, the party remains in turmoil. ALP Verteran Simon Crean who had previously voted for Gillard has now changed his alliance back to Rudd. However, he has since been sacked and other who seem to support Rudd may follow suit.

Rudd regrouped and challenged Gillard again in February 2012 but failed, though he has garnered a huge social media following. So currently the Prime Minister wages against bad public polling, a omnipresent predecessor, and questions of trust.

-Jenny Zhuo

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/08/18/australia.election.explainer/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/21/world/asia/australia-leadership-gillard-rudd

Obesity in South Auckland

Experts claim that healthy eating programs need to be reintroduced after obesity rates rapidly increased in South Auckland. The national adult obesity rate of NZ is up to 29 percent in the 2011-2012 survey, an increase of 26 percent from five years prior. In other districts however, youth obesity rates also rose drastically from 16% to 30% in those age 15-24. Moreover, these survey reveal that Australians have been consuming less fruits and vegetables as well.

Obesity is a factor in developing diabetes and heart disease. Dr. Brandon Orr-Walker, the clinical head of endocrinology at Middlemore Hospital in South Auckland finds the increasing obesity in youths extremely alarming. He claims that by the time the generation will reach their 50s many of today’s lawmakers will be old or gone. But it is their duty to create laws protecting the future’s health. The government should be forthcoming in laws creating a protective regulatory environment in nutrition and non-communicable diseases like diabetes. Orr-Walker pushes for the reintroduction of these programs that were discontinued when the National Party of Australia came to power.

These programs, if reactivated includes bans on the sale of unhealthy foods at school and other changes. However Health Minister Tony Ryall claims that the funding will be focused on maternal and newborn nutrition, where it is the most effective.

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This infographic, found from the science media centre of NZ is very effective in illustrating the growing obesity issue.

-Jenny Zhuo

Sources:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/health/news/article.cfm?c_id=204&objectid=10879441

NZ Parliament Passes Gay Marriage Bill

Winning 77 out of 121 votes amongst the Members of Parliament the supporters cheered the victory to amend the 1955 Marriage Act allowing same-sex marriage. New Zealand is now the 13th nation to do so, the first in the Pacific Region. A memorable speech made by Maurice Williamson hit viral status as it mocks the fear of a “gay onslaught.”

He instantly became popular on all vessels of social media garnering about thousands of views on YouTube. As the Members of Parliament broke out into famous Maori love song “Pokarekare Ana” in celebration the joy is evident in the room.

However, the issue of gay marriage previously deeply divided the nation and with its recent passing, only time will tell how this change will affect New Zealand. The passing of the law also creates an interesting arena in terms of how other countries in the Pacific region will proceed; the pressure being on Australia, who’s current Prime Minister Julia Gillard, opposes same-sex marriage. Although recently a rainbow crosswalk was temporarily installed in Sydney. It was ordered to be removed but Clover Moore, Sydney’s lord mayer, supported the protest to keep it and a petition with 1000 signatures was drawn.

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The city council argues for public safety as instances of more than 15 a month were spotted because people were lying or sitting in the road to take a photo. However, there were no accidents. Unfortunately, while the petition eventually collected up to 15,000 signatures the crosswalk is still going to be removed.

-Jenny Zhuo

Source:

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/04/18/watch-new-zealand-parliament-passes-gay-marriage-bill-breaks-into-song/

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/04/08/should-sydneys-rainbow-crosswalk-become-a-city-landmark/

Press Freedom

New Zealand is the only non-European country in the top ten of the Reporters without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2013. New Zealand has climbed five places to eighth in the annual list. Malawi are the biggest climbers, moving up 71 places to 75th place. Cote d’Ivoire climbed 63 to 96th, Burma is up 18 to 151, and Afghanistan is up 22 to 128. Mali dropped the furthest, down 74 places to 99th, while Tanzania, Oman, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Macedonia also suffered large drops. Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria and Somalia make up the bottom five. Reporters Without Borders secretary general Christophe Deloire said certain types of political systems are more conducive to press freedom than others. New Zealand has jumped into the top ten that this is huge for journalists in the area.

“The Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted,” Deloire said. “In dictatorships, news providers and their families are exposed to ruthless reprisals, while in democracies news providers have to cope with the media’s economic crises and conflicts of interest. While their situation is not always comparable, we should pay tribute to all those who resist pressure whether it is aggressively focused or diffuse.” Massey University journalism lecturer Cathy Strong told Newstalk ZB New Zealanders can be blasé about the information the media has access to. She says information gained about mayors, MPs, and what is happening in Parliament is because the media is there covering it all the time. More freedom is allowed for journalists in New Zealand more than any other place within tens of thousands of miles. They’re right next to Australia and still have better journalists and opportunities for them.

http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html

Will Australia ever climb out of just average for world rankings?

What makes New Zealand a great place to be a journalist?

by Craig Waldron

Internet Speeds

Average Internet connection speeds in Australia dropped 23 per cent year-on-year in 2012, according to a report by Akamai Technologies. Average connection speeds in the 2012 quarter fell 2.3 per cent compared to Q3, according to the Fourth Quarter 2012 State of the Internet report. Australia’s global ranking for connection speeds fell one place to 41 in the quarter, compared to the previous quarter. The report found adoption rates of broadband of speeds greater than 10Mbps in Australia fell 56 per cent, compared to the same period in 2011, while global broadband adoption rates greater than 4Mbps increased 42 per cent. Globally, average Internet speeds increased 5 per cent to 2.9Mbps quarter-on-quarter. Year-on-year, average connection speeds increased 25 per cent, with the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Japan all reporting growth.

Peak global Internet speeds increased 35 per cent year-on-year, according to the report. Average connection speeds on surveyed mobile networks ranged from 345kbps to 8.0Mbps in the fourth quarter, with 64 providers delivering average connection speeds of more than 1Mbps. The report also found China accounted for 41 per cent of online attack traffic, up from 33 per cent in the previous quarter, followed by the US accounting for 10 per cent of attack traffic. DDoS attacks reported by Akamai customers increased more than 200 per cent from 2011, with 768 attacks reported by 413 unique organizations. A total of 35 per cent of those attacks targeted the commerce sector and 22 per cent on media and entertainment companies.

Does Australia need to find a way to boost internet speeds nationally or just locally?

Are customers aware of the poor service they are receiving?

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1759850/Australian-internet-speeds-fall-23-per-cent

by Craig Waldron