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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/

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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/

The Binge Drinking Problem

Its no question that Binge Drinking in Australia has been a prevalent social issue for some time. However authorities in Ceduna, a South Australian west coast township say the town’s drinking has spiralled completely out of control.

Maybe Allan Suter states “It is totally out of control. People are just drinking themselves to death.”

A still of video footage taken from the front of a police car on the Eyre Highway.

Head of the K-9 Special Operations squad Bruce Thompson says he has saved a dozen lives by moving intoxicated individuals from the Eyre Highway. It is not uncommon for drunk citizens to stumble off dangerously. Moreover, it is driving tourists out of town.

Many methods have been attempted to stop the vicious cycle and intervention methods have been implemented. Last year, Ceduna enforced an ID system, where alcohol sales were limited to 2 liters per person per day. Although this had some sort of initial success, the population eventually resorted to enabling; alcoholics turning to others to help them deal with addiction.

Now, the council believes that in order to break the vicious cycle a restriction on welfare spending to booze-free outlets will be the solution. This however leaves a divided community. While some support the solution, other’s feel it is an infringement on their personal rights.

On the national scale, the Australian government has an anti-binge drinking campaign. Surfing Australia has recently announced its support of this campaign and has progressed to cancel all alcohol brand sponsorship. The campaigns main message being “Be the Influence- Tackling Binge Drinking”

Surfing Australia to Promote ‘Be the Influence – Tackling Binge Drinking’ Initiative

The participation and support of Surfing Australia is big in its influence towards the youth. The brand said they will address the youth binge drinking issue so from a younger age Australians will be more aware of the adverse effects of this addiction.

CEO Andrew Stark emphasizes that they will be addressing the issue in the most effective ways. He says, “The partnership has touchpoints across our entire organization from grassroots to elite. We are extremely appreciative of the support and look forward to a fantastic partnership.”

The partnership with the initiative allows Surfing Australia the naming rights for two national level event and state level events. All the While Owen Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons, world tour competitors of the Association of Surfing Professionals, have been named brand ambassadors of “Be the Influence.”

The Binge Drinking Problem is a social issue which mars many communities but the efforts of Ceduna township and Australia as a whole mark a step in the right direction.

-Jenny Zhuo

Sources:

http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/latest/16744731/ceduna-drinking-spiralling-out-of-control/

http://topnews.net.nz/content/227318-surfing-australia-promote-be-influence-tackling-binge-drinking-initiative

Not enough IT workers in NZ

While it doesn’t seem to be as pressing as the political divide or the problems of the indigenous culture clash on New Zealand, it also can’t be overlooked that New Zealand is facing a major shortage of IT experts. Without these skilled workers smaller and medium-sized businesses fail to benefit form exciting new technologies.

The island needs hundreds of more IT men who know web strategy, search marketing, and web design. Without these men New Zealand is hindered from moving into the digital economy said Keusgen, Google New Zealand country manager.

New Zealand also needed hundreds more skilled IT workers who were trained in jobs like web strategy, search marketing and web design, he said.

“We don’t have the people to enable New Zealand to move into the digital economy,” Keusgen said. The businesses and agencies of the nation are desperate for the right people. Moreover with the governments new UFB or Ultra Fast Broadband Plan, the firms cannot even benefit from this positive development.

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Keusgen spoke at the MinkStorm conference in Auckland and mentions how there are currently over a hundred digital related jobs online for New Zealand. They are unfilled despite the fact that they are “well paid, creative and globally relevant.”

As a solution Google New Zealand has teamed up with the University of Auckland to help address the shortage issue. They will not only run web training courses at the University but also give recent graduates the opportunity to meet with employers. Students are also invited to attend a complimentary weekend long training seminar assisting businesses with their online strategies. As a result of this seminar students will graduate with industry-recognized Google accreditation.

Keusgen hopes that by the end of the year New Zealand will see a hundred people in new digital jobs post courses and for the businesses across the country to benefit overall.

-Jenny Zhuo

Sources: https://comm410thunderdownunder.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php