Friday, January 11, 2013
Feminist rejects Abbott 'misogynist' tag
I never thought I would agree with Eva but the distinction she makes below is perfectly proper. Just because conservatives believe (with excellent scientific evidence) that some sex differences are genetically encoded, that does not make them "misogynist"
A PROMINENT feminist has knocked the idea that Tony Abbott is a misogynist and says some of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's policies are sexist.
Author and academic Eva Cox says the opposition leader, who last year was accused in a high-profile speech by Ms Gillard of holding sexist and misogynistic views, is "not feminism's worst enemy".
"He is a somewhat inconsistent, confused conservative with the attached sexist views on gender roles, which he seems to be trying hard to minimise," Ms Cox wrote on website The Conversation.
"He is not in my terms a misogynist."
Ms Cox said she was sticking to "the useful distinction" between a view of gender as the basis for entrenched discriminatory differences, and those who have a pathological deep dislike of womenkind and an antipathy to what they may stand for.
"Abbott fits the first, but not the second category."
Ms Cox said the prime minister may be Australia's first female national leader, but "she has real flaws in her feminist credentials".
The academic noted that at the time of Ms Gillard's verbal attack on Mr Abbott, her Labor government was cutting the incomes of almost 100,000 single parents.
She said she was concerned that issues of the leaders' personal traits and mudslinging could weaken debate over "good social policies".
"This is the area where real gender issues arise and neither party is focusing on addressing income inequality, and inadequate welfare and community services," Ms Cox said.
Aust ranked 3rd most free world economy
AUSTRALIA is ranked the third most free economy in the world despite its score falling slightly in the past year, a new report says.
Conservative American think-tank the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal released its 2013 index of economic freedom on Thursday US time (Friday AEDT).
It ranked Australia third of 185 nations on economic freedom for the fifth consecutive year.
Australia's score of 82.6 was 0.5 points lower than in 2012, dragged down by declines in labour freedom and the management of government spending despite improvements in freedom from corruption and for business, the report said.
The score placed Australia among five nations ranked as free, with Hong Kong topping the index for the 19th straight year, followed by Singapore, New Zealand in fourth and Switzerland.
"Australia's strong commitment to economic freedom has resulted in a policy framework that encourages impressive economic resilience," the index said.
The index uses 10 economic measures - property rights, freedom from corruption, fiscal freedom, government spending, regulatory efficiency for business, labour and monetary policy (interest rates), and open markets - trade, investment and financial.
The best rankings for Australia were for financial freedom (first), property rights (second) and freedom from corruption (eighth).
But the worst rankings for Australia were for fiscal freedom (148th), government spending (102nd) and trade (38th).
Australia's score for labour freedom, which looks at the legal and regulatory framework of a nation's labour market, fell 7.1 points to 83.5 in 2013.
The index defines economic freedom as individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, with that freedom both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state.
Howard rejects IMF's 'big spender' tag
Howard more profligate than Whitlam?? They've betrayed their bias by that claim: Total hogwash
Former prime minister John Howard rejects the charge that his government spent wastefully, saying that "the reason Australia dodged the global downturn was due to the strong fiscal position of the Howard government".
Mr Howard responded through a spokesman to an international study that found Australia's most needlessly wasteful spending took place under the John Howard-led Coalition government rather than under the Whitlam, Rudd or Gillard Labor governments.
The International Monetary Fund examined 200 years of government financial records across 55 leading economies.
It identifies only two periods of Australian "fiscal profligacy" in recent years, both during Mr Howard's term in office - in 2003 at the start of the mining boom and during his final years in office between 2005 and 2007.
Mr Howard defended his record on Friday, saying that government spending as a percentage of GDP declined during his term.
Finance minister Penny Wong says the IMF has endorsed Labor's stimulus spending.
Finance minister Penny Wong says the IMF has endorsed Labor's stimulus spending. Photo: Andrew Meares
"According to none other than the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Australia's fiscal position is the envy of the developed world," the former prime minister's spokesman said.
But the Grattan Institute economist, Saul Eslake, argues that Mr Howard's statement about spending declining as a percentage of GDP, while technically true, is irrelevant and misleading.
"The Howard government in its last two terms was rolling in cash," Mr Eslake said.
Mr Howard rode two booms - in mining and household spending - and as a result raked in "extraordinary" amounts of income during its last two terms.
During that period, Mr Eslake said, the Howard government increased spending "in real terms" at a faster rate than any other government since the Whitlam years.
Mr Eslake did say, however, that he was "gobsmacked" the IMF did not judge Gough Whitlam's government as profligate.
"That they didn't regard the 40 per cent plus increase in government spending in 1974 to 1975 under the Whitlam government as profligate . . . [that's] far worse than anything the Howard government undertook," Mr Eslake said.
The Minister for Finance, Penny Wong, said the IMF study endorsed the current Labor government's "responsible spending decisions" while diminishing Mr Howard's record.
"The study shows the Howard government clearly missed opportunities to effectively use the mining boom and strong global economic conditions to invest in Australia's future, and it debunks the myth spouted by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey that the Howard government exercised spending restraint," Ms Wong said.
"Rather than investing in key infrastructure projects like the National Broadband Network, which this government is rolling out . . . the Howard government made spending decisions that made the budget unsustainable".
More gay men ignoring HIV and safe sex message
GAY men are having unprotected sex at unprecedented levels amid State Government claims that taxpayer dollars earmarked to prevent HIV infection have gone to waste.
The Newman Government says it is bracing for an outbreak of sexual disease and will redirect safe-sex funding away from "radical lobby groups".
The Courier-Mail has obtained a draft report revealing programs designed to encourage safe sex may have had an opposite effect. It says that between 2011 and 2012, the proportion of gay men having unprotected sex rose from 34.1 per cent to 39.1 per cent.
The report will spark a redirection of funding away from what the LNP Government believes are more politicised gay groups.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said safe sex campaigns had descended into a form of political advocacy rather than health advocacy.
"And we are now seeing more evidence of the tragic health reality of what happens," he said.
"The previous Labor Government squandered the health dollar trying to buy and appease radical political lobby groups rather than investing in serious health outcomes and cultural changes.
Mr Springborg said he understood some campaigns might not succeed.
"These things do happen from time to time but the real health negligence came from Labor and so-called gay community leaders falsely claiming the campaigns were successful and therefore failing to changing track."
Campaigns funded by Labor had cost millions of dollars yet were "a complete farce," he said.
"It means that the so-called gay community leaders that championed these campaigns have completely sold out the people they claim to represent.
"It stands to reason that if you have the worst levels of unsafe sexual practices in the gay community, then we must brace for seriously high levels of sexual diseases in the years ahead as the LNP Government works to unwind this mess."
Mr Springborg, whose government oversaw a series of television advertisement on safe sex last year, says it remains the most important message in the prevention of HIV and other sexual diseases.