Friday, January 08, 2021

A new version of Advance Australia Fair with lyrics that have been changed to be more inclusive is being backed by Indigenous figures

The words of the new version are pretty anodyne, unlikely to inspire or offend anyone. The reference to the "Dreaming" (aboriginal legends) is however out of place in a NATIONAL anthem. I personally feel nothing about that. It is a reference to a small minority.

If a reference to Aboriginal religion is OK,however let's make official the unofficial Christian third verse of the anthem. It is as follows:

With Christ our head and cornerstone,

We'll build our nation's might.

Whose way and truth and light alone

Can guide our path aright.

Our lives a sacrifice of love

Reflect our Master's care.

With faces turned to heaven above,

Advance Australia fair.

In joyful strains then let us sing

Advance Australia Fair.

Support for an alternative Australian anthem is growing with a new version reportedly being backed by rugby league star Latrell Mitchell.

The Indigenous NRL player previously criticised the singing of the current national anthem at the Aussies’ Rugby Championship, even though it was performed partly in the Eora language, saying that the words of the anthem should be changed.

Mitchell now appears to be endorsing a new version of Advance Australia Fair partly written by legendary Australian singer Judith Durham of The Seekers, which changes the lyrics to be more inclusive.

Durham first performed the new anthem in 2009 and it includes lyrics such as “Australia, let us stand as one, upon this sacred land”.

It is gaining support after being posted on the Instagram page of Clothing the Gap this week.

Indigenous Australian actress, director and writer Leah Purcell, as well as Indigenous star of Married at First Sight Telv Williams, have thrown their support behind the new version, commenting their approval.

“This is amazing. This needs to be our national anthem!!! Thank you brother,” Purcell wrote in the comments section.

Williams simply posted “perfect”.

Spike in interstate Aussies applying to Queensland universities

Interstate applications to study at Queensland universities have skyrocketed by 26 per cent over last year’s, with social researchers attributing the spike to changed perceptions about the Sunshine State in the wake of COVID-19.

An additional 2000 interstate applicants – from 7665 to 9679 – want to study at institutions in Queensland in Semester 1, 2021, data from the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre reveals.

Applicants from Victoria have increased 51 per cent – from 1723 last year to 2597 – while New South Wales applicants rose by 21 per cent – 3637 to 4401.

Demographer Mark McCrindle said the spike was almost solely because of COVID-19, and aligned with trends in migration, property searches and job applications.

“It’s either because of the lockdowns or the outcomes of the lockdowns, it’s also because of the changes in how we study and universities are really pivoting to a lot more flexibility in online courses,” he said.

“People are thinking Sydney and Melbourne have gone through a series of rolling lockdowns with COVID, the future is going to be pretty similar to the recent past in that sense… therefore if you wanna just get on and get it done, a relocation to Queensland might be the go.”

Mr McCrindle said the increase in applicants would help to cushion the huge economic blow caused by the loss of international students.

“The goal of the universities is to fill the courses, so the more students they can get the better,” he said.

“Plus uni students spend money, from a hospitality perspective, an entertainment perspective, a general spend perspective.

“There’re not saving, they do earn and spend so it’s great for the local economy and the broader economy… it’s a good boom to have.”

It comes as interstate applicants for Victorian university spots dropped 13 per cent on the previous year – from 8669 to 7544.

Victorian Rose Nabanyana, 27, said the Melbourne lockdown pushed her across the line to apply to study a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Southern Queensland.

“I was looking for somewhere to move, but then with all the covid in Melbourne it was like ‘yep there it is’,” she said.

“School was like a green card to do it, when I got the email back I was like ‘yes, finally’.

“I’m nervous and excited at the same time because I’ve never lived in Queensland at all.”

A Griffith University spokesman said applications from Victoria for trimester one 2021 were up 88 per cent on last year and the university has seen a 30 per cent total increase in interstate applicants.

Year-12 graduate Alexander Berner, 18, moved from Central Sydney to Surfers Paradise to study a Bachelor of Forensic Science/Bachelor of Criminology at Griffith University this year.

“I think the culture surrounding Queensland is much more sporty and together, whereas in Sydney it’s sort of more heads down doing the right thing, so the togetherness and social aspect would be the major thing,” he said.

Cruise ships could return to Queensland within months, but there will be new guidelines for our post-pandemic age

The cruise industry was brought to a shuddering halt during the coronavirus pandemic, but companies are now taking bookings for this year, with a huge surge in demand for Queensland itineraries on Carnival, the world’s biggest cruise line.

Carnival, which hopes to resume cruises to Brisbane and beyond by late April, has experienced a 400 per cent increase in demand in Queensland voyages since announcing a delay on international itineraries in a move set to inject an estimated $16.7 million into the Queensland economy.

Carnival hopes to run cruises to Queensland waters out of Sydney from late April, while the Carnival Spirit is expected to be based in Queensland from late June.

Cairns ($6.8 million), Port Douglas ($3.7 million), Airlie Beach ($5.4 million), and Moreton Island ($800,000) are the destinations that will be included within new itineraries.

While the developing situation in Sydney could prompt changes, Carnival bosses are hopeful cruise ships will soon be visiting Queensland destinations including Moreton Island, Airlie Beach and ports further north.

Carnival Cruise Line VP and GM Australia Jennifer Vandekreeke said the company was buoyed by the demand for Queensland cruises.

“We are going to be back with bells on,” she said. “We’re still in the hands of the state and federal governments, but there is already a lot of excitement about getting cruising back.

“We’re getting a great response on bookings and we know there’s lots of passengers who can’t wait for us to come back so that’s really exciting.”

Cruising has come under the microscope during the pandemic, with the Ruby Princess debacle sparking a special commission of inquiry.

However Ms Vandekreeke said strict safety recommendations introduced by the Cruise Line International Association, including mandatory COVID-19 testing for passengers and crew before they embarked, should give passengers increased confidence.

Research conducted by Carnival revealed Queensland residents were in desperate need for a holiday with nearly half of respondents taking no annual leave for the entire year.

A cruise to Moreton Island would be one way to cure the holiday blues, with Tangalooma poised for the return of cruise passengers.

Tangalooma Island Resort director David James said the return of cruise ships would deliver a windfall to the region and help keep jobs.

“As more cruise itineraries are scheduled and promoted to our region, it also solidifies Brisbane and the islands of Moreton Bay as an aspirational destination for interstate travellers that may never have visited this incredible part of the world,” he said.

“We look forward to welcoming cruise tourists back to Tangalooma with open arms once it is deemed safe for them to return to Queensland waters.”

The forecast is also good news for the Great Barrier Reef, where tourism operators have been among the hardest hit due to the loss of international visitors.

For all the cuts and privatisation, government is bigger than ever

Subsidies are an enormous distorting influence

During the 1980s, economists and public policy experts started to argue over the size of our government. Those on the Right said it was too big, while those on the Left disagreed.

The Right typically pointed to trends in government spending and taxing over time adjusted for inflation. Those on the Left preferred to look at public spending and taxing as a share of the economy, compared over time and to other countries. One lot of numbers showed big government, the other showed it to be relatively small.

Each side’s figures supported what they previously believed and rarely did they bother to engage.

It has become an article of faith among many on the Left that they won the debate but lost the policy war. The Right’s dodgy numbers were circulated by generously funded think tanks to bamboozle successive governments into swingeing cutbacks, leading to tax cuts aimed at the rich. From Keating and Hawke to Greiner and Kennett, from Tasmania to the Northern Territory, budgets were grim, assets were sold and the state began to relentlessly shrink.

In reality, the story was far more complex, involving a public sector that has been turned inside out and in ways no one could have reasonably expected when the reform caravan started rolling down the hill.

For all the cuts and privatisations, government is now much bigger than it was.

For all the talk of competition delivering the goods, the evidence is that our economy is at least as concentrated as it was and some parts are even worse.

And whereas in the old days, it was easy to see where government began and ended, today it is almost impossible to see that line.

Take superannuation. The Keating government could have used its compulsory levy to fund one public scheme. It would have been far cheaper to run — by up to $15 billion-$20 billion per year according to some estimates —and delivered workers a better return.

Instead, the compulsory levy was channelled into private and union funds, and our expensive, opaque and confusing privatised pension system began.

The levy might be compulsory, but it’s not classified as a tax, nor are the payments that are made to beneficiaries seen as government spending, even though they are made by government decree.

The $22 billion NDIS is another example where the lines have been blurred. It is wholly government funded, but services are delivered by private agents contracted to deliver services, some directly with recipients who are given the cash to pay for whatever they enjoy. What might once have been delivered by public servants paid and educated rather well has been replaced by a privatised system using a largely casualised workforce that is undoubtedly underpaid.

Aged care and child care are other examples, where governments provide most of the cash used by privates and not-for-profits to pay workers, cover costs, pay management and in some cases deliver to shareholders a nice return. They might be government funded, but they get classified as private firms.

They often use silly names that hide the identity of the actual owner and are often as interested in making a buck from property development as much as they are from the services that are meant to be their main concern. Their often male owners and managers get paid handsomely, while their typically female workforce stays underpaid.

In construction, governments are using deals with a dwindling number of private companies implementing mightily complex contracts prepared by the private consultants and the biggest law firms. Those construction firms draw on private finance that is much more costly than public debt and the financiers get paid much better than if they worked for the equivalent government department. They get classified and see themselves as being private but they depend on taxpayer cash.

But if government is now much bigger than it was, why go to all the trouble restructuring in the pursuit of something small?

Some of it is an accident arising from a particular way of viewing the world. The idea was to use private sector efficiency to deliver government services better than before. It never occurred to advocates that wage cuts are not an efficiency gain at all. It never occurred to reformers that markets bring with them marketing departments whose purpose is to sell, and that it is in the sales effort, not service delivery, that private sector providers often excel.

We now spend far more on rent assistance, negative gearing and other tax breaks for private landlords than we ever did on public housing. But we have no public assets to show for it, most tenants endure unaffordable and insecure housing, and homelessness is still rife. Private balance sheets have been beefed up at the expense of the public purse.

Worse still, we have made all these decisions but rarely by the ballot box and good old-fashioned electioneering. One proud soul took that route in 1993 and he promptly lost an unlosable election. Instead, big decisions around service design are made in between elections. We have ended up in a policy loop no matter who is in office. We just get more judicial inquiries and royal commissions.

We’ve got big government alright, but that’s not where we started. The only thing we can say for certain is that the main beneficiaries have not been those in need.




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