Policy Forum https://www.policyforum.net The APPS Policy Forum a public policy website devoted to Asia and the Pacific. Tue, 19 Mar 2019 02:16:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 https://www.policyforum.net/wp-content/uploads/cache/2017/01/favicon/2924535576.png Policy Forum https://www.policyforum.net 32 32 Regional policy, regional deals, and regional voices https://www.policyforum.net/regional-policy-regional-deals-and-regional-voices/ https://www.policyforum.net/regional-policy-regional-deals-and-regional-voices/#respond Mon, 18 Mar 2019 23:29:48 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=31495 Australia’s regions don’t just need funding, but the power to decide how to spend that funding, Kim Houghton and Kylie Bourne write. With a Federal election fast approaching, the National Parliament is again turning some attention to Regional Australia. Every seat will count, and there is a common feeling that dissatisfaction with major party performance […]

The post Regional policy, regional deals, and regional voices appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
Australia’s regions don’t just need funding, but the power to decide how to spend that funding, Kim Houghton and Kylie Bourne write.

With a Federal election fast approaching, the National Parliament is again turning some attention to Regional Australia. Every seat will count, and there is a common feeling that dissatisfaction with major party performance on regional issues has led to new independent members in the national and Victorian Parliaments, triggering Federal Government rethinking on policy.

In a recent article, researchers argued that Australia’s current high representation of regional ministers – and one parliamentary secretary  places Regional Australia in a unique position of now “calling the shots”. Regional issues are gaining traction at the highest level: there are more ministers ready to receive advocates and there is a greater chance that regional leaders will “have an opportunity to be heard”.

A new role for the Federal Government in regional development could emerge from the Federal Parliament’s Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation. In June 2018, the Committee completed a 12-month inquiry which examined approaches to regional development, the decentralisation of Commonwealth entities and supporting corporate decentralisation.

More on this: Podcast: Rusted off rural voters take policy change into their own hands

The Committee’s report, Regions at the Ready: Investing in Australia’s Future, made 13 recommendations to support and promote the economic development of regional communities. The Federal Government has recently provided a response to the recommendations which gives indications of how it sees its role in regional development.

“The Committee will examine best practice approaches to regional development, the decentralisation of Commonwealth entities, and supporting corporate decentralisation.”

The Government’s response is based on its public commitments to decentralising Federal public sector staff, continuing to offer grants programs for regions, changing the role of its network of Regional Development Australia Committees, and piloting a deals-based approach to agreeing and funding regional priorities.

Of these actions, it is the deal-making model which has the greatest potential to mark a departure from the regional policy framework of the last decade.

Our organisation, the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), has written on the significance of deals approaches for regional cities, having seen the impact of this model in the United Kingdom. Deals are designed to bring together key players including the regional community and different levels of government, and commit to a long-term place-based approach to developing regional economic and social resilience.

More on this: What do the SDGs really have to offer?

In the UK, deals are helping revitalise cities in England’s north. However, these city deals are having a limited impact in the regions surrounding the cities of the north, the regions that were strongly in favour of Brexit.

These are the places ‘left behind’ by decades of policy-making that focused on cities in the belief that economic benefits delivered to a centre would spill out to the surrounding communities.

In the absence of the manifestation of such benefit, the Brexit vote can be seen as an instance of what Andrés Rodríguez-Pose from the London School of Economics calls the “revenge of the places that don’t matter”, which University College London’s John Tomaney identifies as the “struggling mill towns, declining coastal resorts and former coalfields that have been largely untouched by the growth in big cities”.

Using deals to reach beyond cities to these ‘forgotten places’ in their own right is a promising policy option.

In the UK, the London-led version of devolved decision-making is being seen as less than satisfactory for some northern regional leaders and their smaller communities. One Yorkshire is emerging as a locally-led reaction to the perceived weaknesses of London’s preference for developer-led, city-centric policies. It contrasts with a vision of rejuvenated economies based heavily on the big cities like Sheffield and Leeds to offer an approach “where power is devolved to the larger regional scale to create a more inclusive form of development that addresses the needs and aspirations of communities beyond the big cities.”

More on this: Podcast: Putting community engagement in the neighbourhood of good policy

Approaches like One Yorkshire bring into sharp relief the unequal power dynamics between players in city deals. While the concept of central government-initiated multi-level negotiations was welcomed in the cities in the north of the UK, it has become clear that these negotiations are not always amongst equals, and still favour the most economically powerful actors.

Regional policy in Australia is only starting to experiment with deals, and with closer partnerships between regional organisations and state and federal governments. Generally, policymakers have been very good at informing regions, and quite good at inviting their ideas by consulting with them.

But the spectrum of public participation goes much further, into the unfamiliar territory of collaboration and empowerment. This is the essence of the differences between a grants program and a deals process. A real shift in Australia’s regional policy framework would see state and Federal governments empowering regions to make decisions on priorities that are then endorsed and resourced.

The research by Andrew Beer, John Tomaney, and the RAI highlights the importance of not just of funded programs for regions, but of enabling regions to determine the nature and mix of that funding.

Movement on this would reflect the emerging global best practice examined by the Select Committee. It would also require a significant departure from the status quo, and at present this is just a small part of the response to Regions at the Ready.

The true impact of a changed national approach to regional development will depend on the extent to which an inverted decision-making process is recognised and supported by regional voters and validated by central government decision-makers. Progress down this path would mark a significant rethinking of regional policy.

The post Regional policy, regional deals, and regional voices appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/regional-policy-regional-deals-and-regional-voices/feed/ 0
Kazakhstan: a growing rail hub https://www.policyforum.net/kazakhstan-a-growing-rail-hub/ https://www.policyforum.net/kazakhstan-a-growing-rail-hub/#respond Mon, 18 Mar 2019 00:45:05 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=31374 Though geographic and technological challenges remain, Kazakhstan is on its way to becoming an even more central player in its region’s rail transportation, Shang-su Wu writes. Amidst China’s Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI) and other international rail projects, Kazakhstan has growing potential to be a crucial global rail hub as long as the many challenges […]

The post Kazakhstan: a growing rail hub appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
Though geographic and technological challenges remain, Kazakhstan is on its way to becoming an even more central player in its region’s rail transportation, Shang-su Wu writes.

Amidst China’s Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI) and other international rail projects, Kazakhstan has growing potential to be a crucial global rail hub as long as the many challenges it faces don’t allow the country’s plan to be derailed.

The country occupies land that is indispensable to two of the BRI’s rail routes: one goes through Russia, Belarus, and greater Europe, while the other goes across the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan, then Georgia, Turkey, Europe, and to Iran through Turkmenistan. Another leads to Iran through Turkmenistan.

Despite there being another route that traverses Mongolia, Russia, and greater Europe, those that travel through Kazakhstan are shorter and are parallel to oil pipelines. Furthermore, taking multimode transportation across the Caspian Sea avoids Russian sovereignty – a significant geopolitical interest for Beijing.

More on this: Belt and Road: What’s in it for China?

Though the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan rail project may provide an alternative route to Kazakhstan, the mountainous terrain through which it is supposed to travel may prove difficult and result in high construction costs. This may discourage participant countries – especially Kyrgyzstan that has relatively limited finances – to wholeheartedly invest in the project. As such, this route may take longer to build, leaving the path through Kazakhstan as a more viable option.

An additional complication is that Kazakh and Chinese rail networks have different track gauges – 1520 millimetres and 1435 millimetres – which makes direct transport impossible. As such, both sides have established a dry port in Khorgos, a town on the bilateral border, with large-scale facilities used to transfer cargoes between trains on the different rails. Though this system has its own inefficiencies, its usefulness is demonstrated in the increasing frequency of transportation across the border.

Lianyungang port in China also serves as Kazakhstan’s gate to sea transport. Apart from receiving considerable BRI funds from Beijing, the port’s infrastructure receives investment from Astana – as seen in the cases of the Aktau port and the modernisation of its rail lines – to accommodate the increasing freight flow through its territory. Based on such bilateral achievements, Kazakhstan is a major BRI partner to China.

More on this: China-Russia: a pseudo-alliance in limbo

Geographically, there are other directions from which Astana can approach the sea – not just the East. Russia’s ports are much closer to Kazakhstan than to China and have the same 1520 millimetre track gauge – something of a Soviet legacy – that allows for direct routes.

Furthermore, these two countries and Belarus have formed the Eurasian Economic Union that covers issues relating but not exclusive to customs and rail alliance.

Despite some bilateral quarrels between Astana and Moscow, like the bans they put on certain types of wagons from each other’s side, the BRI projects and the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) give these two countries no choice but to cooperate.

The Kazakh rail industry differentiates the landlocked country from its neighbours. Thanks to its oil money, Astana has sufficient capital to develop its own industry and introduce foreign technologies such as Alstom, General Electric, and Talgo. Astana’s involvement in the INSTC also opens southward routes to the sea through Turkish and Iranian ports.

Due to historical and economic relations, various Russian and Chinese rolling stocks are still in service in the Kazakh rail network. Potentially more advanced national locomotives and passenger carriages that use French, American, and Spanish technologies have been supplied to modernise its rail fleets.

Furthermore, as most central and inner Asian countries currently still require much work in increasing their railway capacity, Kazakhstan stands out as the best alternative for China and Russia for rolling stock transportation.

More on this: Many belts, many roads at the Shangri-La Dialogue

Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and other regional countries have become regular users of the Kazakh rail industry. Along with increasingly developed rail connections in the region, demand for the Kazakh rail industry is only expected to grow.

There are, however, a few factors that may constrain Kazakhstan’s development in international rail transport, such as external political conflict and breaks of gauge – where incompatible rails meet – between border crossings. Since Kazakhstan has to rely on ports in other countries, such issues are inevitably of concern.

For instance, tighter sanctions on Iran or Russia by Western countries would decrease – if not deny – Kazakhstan’s access to sea transport. By the same token, terrorist attacks and civil wars in the countries along the routes could also disrupt normal operations.

Another external factor is the size of China’s subsidy for land transport – a significant drive for the recent increase in regional railway development. With its slowing economic growth and trade war with the United States, however, this amount might be subject to change.

Despite resources being poured into building international rail connections, not enough efforts have been put into solving issues that arise from breaks of gauge. Ultimately, this will be the bane of further development after a certain point.

Kazakhstan no doubt plays an important role in Asia serving both as a pathway to China within the continent, as well as being a major transporter of goods. As it gradually becomes a hub of rail transport, greater and more concerted efforts must be made to tackle the geographic and technical obstacles that still remain.

The post Kazakhstan: a growing rail hub appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/kazakhstan-a-growing-rail-hub/feed/ 0
Podcast: Women in politics and policy https://www.policyforum.net/podcast-women-in-politics-and-policy/ https://www.policyforum.net/podcast-women-in-politics-and-policy/#respond Fri, 15 Mar 2019 03:22:25 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=31461 This week’s Policy Forum Pod tackles crucial questions regarding women in politics and policy. Why should we care about gender balance? What hurdles do women face in reaching senior positions in politics and policy-making? And what role do men play in all of this? Last week, the world celebrated International Women’s Day with an outpouring […]

The post Podcast: Women in politics and policy appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
This week’s Policy Forum Pod tackles crucial questions regarding women in politics and policy. Why should we care about gender balance? What hurdles do women face in reaching senior positions in politics and policy-making? And what role do men play in all of this?

Last week, the world celebrated International Women’s Day with an outpouring of inspiring stories and recognition of the female heroes in our families, communities, and politics. But it also saw a speech from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison where he said, “we want to see women rise, but we don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse.” This week on the pod, our panel – Kim Rubenstein, Helen Machalias, and Caitlin Figueiredo – take a look at women in policy and politics, the power of diversity in building good policies, and what roles gender quotas can play. Listen here: https://simplecast.com/s/e4fa0e4a

Our presenters – Sharon Bessell, Sally-Anne Henfry, and Julia Ahrens – also discuss ABC’s new soap-opera The Heights, Theresa May’s never-ending Brexit nightmare, and the excellent The Familiar Strange podcast. On top of that, they take a closer look at several of the interesting comments and suggestions you’ve left us – so keep them coming!

This week on the pod, we’ve welcomed:

Kim Rubenstein is Professor in the Law School in the ANU College of Law and an ANU Public Policy Fellow. She is a former Director of the Centre for International and Public Law and was the inaugural Convenor of the ANU Gender Institute. Kim is Australia’s leading expert on all matters around citizenship in law and practice and the author of Australian Citizenship Law.

Helen Machalias is Director of Communication, Advocacy and fundraising at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Canberra. Her career has encompassed roles in media relations and corporate communications, policy, fundraising and partnerships across the transport, arts, regional development and social policy sectors.

Caitlin Figueiredo is the founder of Jasiri and is an Australia Global gender equality activist. She was named 2018 ACT Young Australian of the Year and was recognised on the Forbes under 30 list for her work on parliamentary gender equality through the Girls Takeover Parliament Program.

Our hosts are:

Sharon Bessell is the Director of the Children’s Policy Centre at Crawford School, the ANU lead on the Individual Deprivation Measure Project, and Editor of Policy Forum’s Poverty: In Focus section.

Sally-Anne Henfry is the Executive Director of the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation. She was, until recently, the Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Adviser at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) in Washington D.C. Prior to that, her career had included working in international development for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the World Bank. Sally-Anne has worked in Australia, the Asia Pacific, and the US.

Julia Ahrens is a Communications and Engagement Coordinator at Crawford School and a presenter for Policy Forum Pod. She is also an Associate Researcher at the European Institute for Asian Studies in Brussels.

Show notes | The following were referred to in this episode:

Brexit: What happens now? – Peter Barnes (BBC)

Upcoming US presidential elections

Ethiopian Airlines crash

The Heights (ABC)

The Familiar Strange podcast and blog

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comment on International Women’s Day

World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Gap report

McKinsey Delivering through Diversity report

More on Joe Hockey’s comment on ‘double-dippers’

Media report on Plan International’s survey

Girls Take Over Parliament

‘A women in politics scorecard’ – John Warhurst

Karen Andrews on Q&A

New norms of work and care: re-thinking what it means to be a responsible adult – Jennifer Nedelsky

Panel discussion: Research, work, life and balancing academic careers – Kim Rubenstein, Jennifer Nedelsky, Joseph Carens

Podcast: Is every billionaire a policy failure?

Mark Zanker’s comment on the Policy Forum Pod Facebook group

The heat is on: an urgent case for climate action – Andrew Leigh

More on Australian coal debate and Barnaby Joyce’s position

Policy Forum Pod is available on iTunesSpotifyStitcherSubscribe on Android or wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to podcast@policyforum.net. You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or join us on the Facebook group.

The post Podcast: Women in politics and policy appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/podcast-women-in-politics-and-policy/feed/ 0
The theory that’s too good to be true? https://www.policyforum.net/the-theory-thats-too-good-to-be-true/ https://www.policyforum.net/the-theory-thats-too-good-to-be-true/#comments Fri, 15 Mar 2019 00:03:05 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=31437 Printing money to replace excessive government borrowing is unlikely to improve fundamental problems but is likely to make things worse, Warwick McKibbin writes. There is currently a popular debate on how to stimulate economies that are stuck with low productivity, low real interest rates and a large amount of public debt. Proponents of an old […]

The post The theory that’s too good to be true? appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
Printing money to replace excessive government borrowing is unlikely to improve fundamental problems but is likely to make things worse, Warwick McKibbin writes.

There is currently a popular debate on how to stimulate economies that are stuck with low productivity, low real interest rates and a large amount of public debt. Proponents of an old idea in new clothes – modern monetary theory (MMT) – argue that central banks can solve all these problems by simply buying the large amounts of government debt and increasing the money supply. Advocates argue that the stimulus to demand would cause firms to unleash investment and a long sustainable economic expansion would follow. This can only be described as a classic free lunch.

The idea of free lunches has a long tradition in policy debates. Free lunches are politically popular and have recurred many times in the twentieth century and before. The experience with all economies that have swallowed this particular free lunch is that it is very costly, and it can take a long time before the contradictions eventually causes a disastrous outcome.

More on this: A dangerous dependency

The basic problem with MMT is that it has been tested by countries and the result has always been hyperinflation, massive social and economic destruction, and a crisis followed by more conventional economic policies being imposed. All existing experience: Venezuela today; Zimbabwe in 2008; Yugoslavia in 1994; Hungary in 1946; Greece in 1944; and Wiemar Germany in 1923 demonstrate the large costs.

It is possible that traditional economics has missed something? Is it possible that this time really is different?

When a government spends more than the revenue they generate, the budget deficit that results is usually financed by issuing government debt. The debt of the government is a promise to repay lenders at some time in the future. This can be done by eventually cutting spending relative to taxes or by raising taxes relative to spending.

Most taxes are transparent – such as income or profit taxes – but the usual tax that eventually finances large and persistent fiscal deficits and exploding government debt is the inflation tax. This is the decline in the value of real money balances in the hands of the public because prices rise more quickly than the printed money on issue. It happens when central banks print large amounts of money in excess of the capacity of the supply side of the economy to produce the additional goods. More money chasing a limited supply of goods leads to rising prices on those goods.

More on this: Tax, debt, and trouble topples Najib

John Maynard Keynes was an advocate of money-financed fiscal expansions to smooth the business cycle. There is a reasonable argument to smooth fluctuations in private demand with government demand financed by temporarily printing money.

The problem with the MMT is that it is seen as a way to raise the growth rate in the economy in the face of persistent fiscal deficits and high levels of debt for no apparent cost.

The reality is that, eventually, someone must pay for fiscal deficits – but the long lags from implementing money-financed, persistent deficits and the eventual crisis it creates, makes it a tempting proposition for politicians.

I know of no example of a country that has started down the path of money-financed fiscal deficits and then been able to transition back to more conventional policies once the economy enters a new long-term growth path.

More on this: Demonetisation: disruptive economics, self-destructive governance

There are plenty of examples where printing money to solve a fiscal debt problem hasn’t worked. There are no examples, that I am aware of, where the approach of proponents of MMT has worked. It is a theory with no practical relevance.

The fundamental problem in the global economy in 2019 is a complex mix of many factors including adjustments to demographic slowdowns; a decline is productivity growth; threat of trade wars; and a real concern about the scale of public and private debt in the global economy which imply that someone has to pay taxes in the future to fund these debts.

It is difficult to see how printing money to replace excessive government borrowing can do anything to improve these fundamental problems and it is likely to make things worse.

There is a good argument for governments to temporarily finance investments that earn a much higher rate of return than the current low and negative real interest rates. There is also a role for governments to smooth business cycles.

These arguments are completely different to the ideas being proposed by advocates of modern monetary theory that printing money to replace the huge quantities of government debt in the world economy is a free lunch.

 

This piece was originally published in the Australian Financial Review: https://www.afr.com/news/economy/the-theory-thats-too-good-to-be-true-20190312-h1ca6x

The post The theory that’s too good to be true? appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/the-theory-thats-too-good-to-be-true/feed/ 1
The ups and downs of school fees https://www.policyforum.net/the-ups-and-downs-of-school-fees/ https://www.policyforum.net/the-ups-and-downs-of-school-fees/#respond Wed, 13 Mar 2019 23:28:16 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=31361 The changing nature of school fees and government funding amongst Australia’s Catholic, Independent, and public schools worsen societal gaps in the country, Chris Bonnor writes. You could create a recurring calendar out of media reports about schools. In late January, there is always news about starting school, then NAPLAN in May, the moral panic in […]

The post The ups and downs of school fees appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
The changing nature of school fees and government funding amongst Australia’s Catholic, Independent, and public schools worsen societal gaps in the country, Chris Bonnor writes.

You could create a recurring calendar out of media reports about schools. In late January, there is always news about starting school, then NAPLAN in May, the moral panic in August when results come out, and the various exams and league tables in December. School fees are often in the news, either marveling at how high they are in private schools or questioning why they exist at all in public schools.

As a former public school principal, I found that school fees, along with school uniforms, were the bane of my existence. In most cases, neither uniforms nor fees were or are compulsory – meaning considerable energy went into ensuring that the students were attired appropriately enough and that parents continued to make much-needed financial contributions. It was always easier in the Catholic or Independent school down the road: dress up, pay up, or ship out to the ‘free’ school.

More on this: Reimagining retention for rural, regional, and remote students

There is still a need for fees/contributions/levees/costs/charges – choosing the word most likely to keep you within the rules – in public schools. At the very least, some school subjects come at a cost, if only for materials used.

But it is also the case that the level of fees – and the collection rate – varies considerably. The most recent My School figures show that the average fee-income per student in public schools is around $340 each year, rising to well over a $1000 for students in selective schools. The amount seems to be linked to each school community’s capacity to pay.

There has also been a need, at least up until now, for fees in private schools. Historically, their public funding fell well short of providing the dollars needed to properly resource the schools. As a consequence, the charging of fees has long remained part of the operation and culture of Catholic and Independent schools.

However, the last two decades has seen this situation change. In 2015, governments funded most Catholic schools at between 91 and 99 per cent of the level of recurrent funding provided to public schools with students at similar levels of advantage. Most Independent schools in that year were funded at between 81 and 97 per cent. In financial terms, both Catholic and Independent schools are becoming government schools.

More on this: What matters in global poverty

Despite this, non-government school fees have kept increasing to the point where they are starting to resemble icing on the government-funded cake. The total income – from all sources – for private schools outstripped that for government schools several years ago. At the same time, the post-Gonski intention to fund schools on the basis of student need has certainly not been reflected in real dollars going to real schools.

The problems created by fees are deeper and wider. The charging of school fees at various levels is creating a substantial socio-economic status (SES) division between groups of schools, in ways which challenge myths about Australian egalitarianism. Fees have become a mechanism by which school enrolments are sorted along SES lines, in ways readily apparent to anyone logging onto the My School website.

In almost every community in Australia, Independent schools charge the highest fees. Across Australia, their fees average around $4,800 per student. They are followed by Catholic schools, that average around $2,600, and government schools, that average around $340.

The level of advantage of each sector’s enrolment neatly reflects these fee differences: the sector-average socio-educational advantage measures on My School are 1034 for Independent schools, 1017 for Catholic, and 980 for government schools. Given that two-thirds of schools fall between 950 and 1150, the gaps are considerable.

More on this: Returning teaching to the land

These developments have been accompanied by endless debates not only about fees, but about school choice as well.

To even question the way choice operates in Australia invites hostile responses accompanied by assertions that choice is almost a moral right – regardless of other impacts – and that it saves public money – though assertions about the latter are becoming increasingly doubtful as well.

Recent reports indicate that choice amongst public schools is quite highly exercised, meaning that the level of fees doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. But the choice of a higher fee-charging school is certainly not available to all. My estimates are that, overall, only half of Australian families can choose such a school. Even then, the choice – for average families – is available for just one child.

While choice enables selection of schools by those with the required resources, the reality is that it is the schools that do the choosing: students are substantially chosen by schools that can employ substantial enrolment discriminators. Higher-demand schools, regardless of their sector, are especially able to decide who walks in through the school gate each day. In more than one way, our schools are increasingly able to be categorised as high-choice, low-choice, and anything in-between.

The results are a disaster, and are easily demonstrated across Australia especially in our most vulnerable communities. Maybe the next big debates about schools in Australia, including the debates excited by our media calendars, will include searches for solutions.

The post The ups and downs of school fees appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/the-ups-and-downs-of-school-fees/feed/ 0
FIFA President plays the global game https://www.policyforum.net/fifa-president-plays-the-global-game/ https://www.policyforum.net/fifa-president-plays-the-global-game/#respond Wed, 13 Mar 2019 04:12:58 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=31331 With the FIFA Council meeting this week, Gianni Infantino’s recent travel itinerary offers insights into what’s really afoot in world politics at the moment, Simon Chadwick and Paul Widdop write. It would be really interesting to see FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s burgeoning air miles account, which would inevitably reveal details of a man who spends […]

The post FIFA President plays the global game appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
With the FIFA Council meeting this week, Gianni Infantino’s recent travel itinerary offers insights into what’s really afoot in world politics at the moment, Simon Chadwick and Paul Widdop write.

It would be really interesting to see FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s burgeoning air miles account, which would inevitably reveal details of a man who spends his time shuttling between countries across the world. And there are some more miles to come, as he will soon be travelling Stateside to attend FIFA’s next Council meeting in Miami due to take place on the 14th and 15th this month.

Extensive travel is to be expected when working for FIFA; after all, Infantino is the leader of world football and of a governing body that has a membership numbering more than 200 nations. On top of this, there’s an upcoming FIFA presidential election in which the Swiss-Italian sport’s official will stand, albeit unopposed.

Canvassing and lobbying are on the agenda, and have been for some time. It’s a classic example of ‘retail politics’, where strong campaigning from the day a leader assumes power reduces the likelihood of credible opposition emerging.

However, Infantino keeps appearing in unexpected places, many of which seem unrelated to the machinations of a governing body’s electoral process. For instance, over the last year or two, he has spoken at a G20 Summit and the World Economic Forum in Davos – an impressive roster of visits for someone who represents groups of people involved in kicking a ball.

Indeed, such has been Infantino’s predisposition for travel that, last year, a New York Times journalist put in an information request to FIFA. The journalist asked for a record of the official’s flights in the preceding months, though access to this information was refused by the Zurich based governing body.

Whilst the governance of FIFA, and issues of security and confidentiality, may have dictated the organisation’s response, that the journalist’s enquiry was rebuffed merely adds to the mystery and intrigue surrounding it. On this basis, we decided to undertake a social network analysis of the most visible overseas visits made by Gianni Infantino during his tenure, specifically those involving meetings with political leaders.

What becomes immediately apparent from this analysis is just how far and wide Gianni Infantino has travelled. In one sense, this reveals something about the power of football, as the world’s top politicians have opened their doors to him in places ranging from the United States in the West to China in the East – and, it seems, many others in between.

And there are some unlikely bedfellows residing in the network – people who normally otherwise seek to distance themselves from one another. The United States’ president Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani are unlikely to be exchanging warm bonhomie any time soon. Meanwhile, Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman do not see eye-to-eye on anything these days either.

This raises all manner of questions about the network, its configuration, and how we interpret the travel patterns of a man who seems to get everywhere. Moreover, it shines a light on how Infantino seemingly imagines himself as a leader and on how he envisions football’s role in the world.

Notwithstanding the electoral demands of visiting his constituents, Infantino’s travel visualisation reveals something about the breadth of activity in which a FIFA president is expected to engage. Trips to the United Nations and UNESCO suggest that the sport continues to play a role in areas including health and education – something the governing body should be commended for supporting.

More on this: Russia, 'peace talks', and the Middle East

But there are clearly economic and political dimensions to Infantino’s work too. For instance, Europe has a disproportionate influence on football, notably via its commercial and financial strength. This possibly explains the Swiss’ engagements with the likes of the Council for Europe.

There are links to Africa as well, a continent where there have always been issues pertaining to football’s development and to its financial sustainability.

Indeed, for Infantino’s predecessor, Sepp Blatter, Africa constantly proved to be something of an Achilles’ heel. Several corruption scandals involving African football officials ultimately contributed to Blatter’s downfall and to a series of legal actions in which FIFA has been embroiled.

Yet there are two particularly interesting axes in Infantino’s recent travel history that warrant special mention. One that stretches from Zurich to Beijing, and another that radiates outwards from Qatar, pulling in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia. In assessing each axis, there are indications of what’s to come at the upcoming FIFA Council meeting, at future tournaments, and in terms of how Infantino leads world football.

A visit to meet China’s President Xi Jinping is hardly a surprise, as China is maintaining a stealthy pursuit of its vision to become a leading FIFA nation by 2050. Demographically, the country’s sizeable population alone could sustain football’s future global popularity.

Equally, Chinese investment into FIFA tournaments, via a series of highly lucrative sponsorship deals, has helped ease the governing body’s financial concerns of recent years. Hence, whenever Infantino meets Xi and shakes his hand, one senses an implicit bargain between the two of them.

More on this: China's proposed law on foreign investment

The significance of Qatar in the travel network, and presumably in terms of the FIFA president’s worldview, is intriguing. As the 2022 World Cup draws closer, Qatar remains locked in an intense feud with its near neighbours, most notably Saudi Arabia. This has seen the government in Doha draw closer to Iran and Turkey, with Russia standing by waiting in the wings. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has remained close to the United Arab Emirates, to Israel and, at least until Jamal Khashoggi’s death, the United States.

Seemingly no coincidence, then, that Gianni Infantino has travelled to meet the leaders of most of these countries. At the same time, FIFA’s president has proposed the move from a 32-team Qatari World Cup to one of 48 teams. The issue is set to be discussed at the Miami get-together.

However, a 48-team tournament would be problematic, as the small Gulf nation does not have the capacity to host an enlarged tournament and so, many assume, will have to co-host the tournament.

Enter Infantino and his shuttle diplomacy. One suggestion is that he has been seeking to ascend to a geopolitical peacemaking role to broker a deal between Qatar and its adversaries. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that, if FIFA can crack this conundrum, then football will become the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize.

Fanciful thinking maybe, but, in that case, the FIFA president’s strategic recent navigation of the world suggests that something is afoot. His travels have been uncharacteristic, which suggests that the imminent Council meeting could be a colourful one.

 

This piece is published in partnership with the China Soccer Observatory at the University of Nottingham.

The post FIFA President plays the global game appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/fifa-president-plays-the-global-game/feed/ 0
An off-target approach to Indonesia’s cyber-issues https://www.policyforum.net/an-off-target-approach-to-indonesias-cyber-issues/ https://www.policyforum.net/an-off-target-approach-to-indonesias-cyber-issues/#respond Mon, 11 Mar 2019 23:28:40 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=31126 To preserve its democracy, Indonesia must reconsider its current cyber-policy and rethink its political censorship measures, Thomas Paterson writes. Indonesia has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth slightly above 5 per cent per year. Much of this growth has been generated by cyberspace expansion and the creation […]

The post An off-target approach to Indonesia’s cyber-issues appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
To preserve its democracy, Indonesia must reconsider its current cyber-policy and rethink its political censorship measures, Thomas Paterson writes.

Indonesia has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth slightly above 5 per cent per year. Much of this growth has been generated by cyberspace expansion and the creation of new cyber-based businesses in the e-commerce sector.

It is estimated that Indonesia will constitute 46 per cent of Southeast Asia’s e-commerce in value by 2025. E-commerce is important to Indonesia’s growth because the government sees it as one of the main ways to reach its target of 7 per cent annual GDP growth by 2025.

These e-commerce businesses have been able to thrive due to the rising number of Indonesians connecting to the Internet. As of 2017, Indonesia had approximately 143 million Internet users, which will further increase as the economy grows.

More on this: A dance with censorship: from Asia to the US

Digital connectivity in Indonesia has created many positive economic opportunities but has also led to problems with cybercrime and disinformation. Indonesia’s out-dated legislation means that cyber-criminals use the archipelago as a haven to conduct their activities.

Recent examples include 103 Chinese nationals detained in May 2018 on top of another 153 arrested the previous August, both for alleged cyber-fraud targeting other Chinese nationals. These criminals were using Indonesia as a base because it is harder for Chinese authorities to track them.

Indonesia also has a disinformation problem. President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has himself been a victim of concerted disinformation campaigns. The most significant of these occurred during the 2014 election when he was a presidential candidate. This campaign falsely asserted that Jokowi was a Chinese-Christian and the son of communists. Another notable large-scale disinformation campaign was the spread of the allegation that China was trying to wage biological warfare against Indonesia using contaminated chili seeds.

In order to try and combat these issues, the Indonesian government has announced that the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, or Kominfo, will hold weekly ‘fake news’ briefings to try and increase digital literacy ahead of the 2019 election. These briefings will involve information about recent ‘hoaxes’ and the relevant facts in an effort to help Indonesians think more critically about the news and information they consume.

More on this: Welcome to the 'managed' Internet

Problematically, the Indonesian government is also pursuing numerous negative measures to combat cyberspace issues. These include the implementation of a new US $14 million Internet censorship system. Although this censorship system relates mostly to pornographic and extremist content, it could be used to block whatever content the government considers ‘negative’ in line with Article 40 of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law.

Indonesia has a history of manual censorship of pornographic and extremist content, but there have also been worrying instances of political censorship. This includes the blocking of 300 social media accounts and websites by police without clarity over what the procedural framework was for those decisions. Police cited so-called ‘hate speech’, which only included hostile political expression directed towards the president and the national police chief, as a reason to block those accounts.

In 2017, the Harvard University-based Internet Monitor reported instances of websites being blocked that contained criticism of the government and Islam. The Open Observatory of Network Interference and the Malaysian-based Sinar Project also found that 161 sites had been blocked, including websites expressing criticism towards Islam, as well as political criticism more broadly.

While manual censorship has been occurring in Indonesia for years, automation will make the system far more effective. If instances of political censorship continue, let alone increase, this will be highly damaging for Indonesia’s democratic health. Even the perception that the Indonesian government can arbitrarily censor political expression is damaging.

There is also a distinct lack of appetite for the strengthening of democratic institutions in Indonesia. This is due to the general apathy towards democracy and democratic institutions amongst the ruling elite from across the political spectrum.

In a political environment where the powerful are indifferent toward democracy, the motivation to strengthen democratic institutions and not engage in censorship and draconian legislative revisions is decidedly lacking.

More on this: A new wave of feminism: China's #MeToo

In a world where China has clearly demonstrated how censorship and tight control of cyberspace can work very effectively, it is clear that the Indonesian political elite has no incentive to deny themselves of such powerful tools by voluntarily strengthening legal frameworks. This indicates that Indonesian democracy is not only at considerable risk from cyberspace-amplified problems, but are also in danger due to the very reforms and measures that are being introduced to combat those problems.

A positive step the Indonesian government could take, that would further build on the announcement concerning the weekly Kominfo briefings, would be to commit to funding a countering-disinformation style television show. This could be modelled off of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) Media Watch, with the help of Australia’s advisory assistance, in aims to counter disinformation by providing factual information to the public on recent ‘hoaxes’. Estonian public broadcasting and Danish media help combat Russian disinformation campaigns and their effect on the public in a similar way.

This would help further increase digital literacy in a cost-effective manner by providing counter-disinformation content in a digestible fashion that can reach a wide range of Indonesian citizens and help them learn how to be more critical about the information they engage with online.

The Indonesian government should also publicly outline a framework for how they administer and manage the new automatic censorship system so as to be transparent about its implementation. Greater transparency and a framework for managing the system would also help make it harder for it to be misused.

Political censorship in Indonesia is counter to Australia’s International Cyber Security Strategy’s aim of encouraging a ‘free and open’ Internet in the Indo-Pacific. There is, therefore, a role here for Australia too, where the government should actively encourage their Indonesian counterparts to adopt these recommendations. Ultimately, it is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s responsibility to lobby the Indonesian government on these issues.

This piece is published in partnership with The Monsoon Project, the student-run academic blog based at Crawford School of Public Policy.

The post An off-target approach to Indonesia’s cyber-issues appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/an-off-target-approach-to-indonesias-cyber-issues/feed/ 0
Podcast: A social insecurity system https://www.policyforum.net/podcast-a-social-insecurity-system/ https://www.policyforum.net/podcast-a-social-insecurity-system/#respond Fri, 08 Mar 2019 01:56:57 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=31300 This week’s Policy Forum Pod delves deeper into the problems of punitive welfare systems, the caustic language we hear when talking about job seekers, and the role that labour policy plays in creating sustainable solutions. Why do so many welfare systems end up punishing people rather than helping them, or doing more harm than good? […]

The post Podcast: A social insecurity system appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
This week’s Policy Forum Pod delves deeper into the problems of punitive welfare systems, the caustic language we hear when talking about job seekers, and the role that labour policy plays in creating sustainable solutions.

Why do so many welfare systems end up punishing people rather than helping them, or doing more harm than good? How do these policies affect the lives of those who depend on welfare services? And what can policymakers do to remedy the situation – could a universal basic income help? Our guests John Falzon, Bob Gregory, and Sue Olney explore these questions and more. Listen here: https://simplecast.com/s/8740abdf

Our presenters Sharon Bessell and Martyn Pearce also talk about the Australian Labor Party’s recent election promises on making abortion safe for the country’s women, as well as taking a look at a few of the comments and questions you have left us over the last week.

This week’s panel consists of:

John Falzon OAM is Senior Fellow, Inequality and Social Justice at Per Capita. He is also a sociologist, poet, and social justice advocate, and was national CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society from 2006 to 2018. John’s current work focuses on social security reform, housing and homelessness, workers’ rights, and rebuilding the concept of the common good across society.

Bob Gregory is Emeritus Professor in the Research School of Economics at the Australian National University (ANU) and a former member of the Reserve Bank of Australia Board. His research has focused on economic development and growth, comparative economy systems, and welfare economics. He has a particular interest in wage inequality, international comparison of wages and employment, and unemployment.

Sue Olney is a Research Fellow in the Public Service Research Group in the School of Business at UNSW Canberra. Her work revolves around access and equity in employment, education, training, and disability services in Australia with particular focus on the impact of reform of public services on citizens with complex needs. Sue has experience on both sides of the process of outsourcing public services.

Our presenters for this week’s podcast are:

Sharon Bessell is the Director of the Children’s Policy Centre at Crawford School, the ANU lead on the Individual Deprivation Measure Project, and Editor of Policy Forum’s Poverty: In Focus section.

Martyn Pearce is a presenter for Policy Forum Pod and the Editor of Policy Forum

Show notes | The following were referred to in this episode:

Tanya Plibersek’s election promise on behalf of Labor to provide free abortions

Controversy around Australia’s same-sex marriage plebiscite

Australia’s Department of the Senate’s report on Jobactive

Australian Council of Social Service’s ‘Faces of Unemployment’ report

UN rapporteur Philip Alston’s comment on UK’s universal credit scheme

Australian Department of Social Services’ Review of Australia’s Welfare System

Joe Hockey’s comment on ‘lifters and leaners’

Fred Chaney’s attack on Australia’s work for the dole scheme and its impact on Aboriginal communities

Podcast: Back to basics – Finland’s Universal Basic Income

Frances Flanagan’s work on conceptualisation of work in society

Australian Treasury’s Intergenerational Report

Podcast: The policy and politics of refugees and asylum seekers

In defence of ‘Silent Invasion’ – Kevin Carrico

Policy Forum Pod is available on iTunesSpotifyStitcher, Subscribe on Android or wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to podcast@policyforum.net. You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or join us on the Facebook group.

The post Podcast: A social insecurity system appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/podcast-a-social-insecurity-system/feed/ 0
Pay attention to the vocational education gap https://www.policyforum.net/pay-attention-to-the-vocational-education-gap/ https://www.policyforum.net/pay-attention-to-the-vocational-education-gap/#respond Thu, 07 Mar 2019 00:42:36 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=31130 Women who receive higher education are by no means better off than men who opt for vocational education, Brody Hannan and Francesca Maclean write. It’s been long-established that there are more women enrolled in Australian universities than men. In a recent Department of Education survey, another statistic was added to the list: men are 5 […]

The post Pay attention to the vocational education gap appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
Women who receive higher education are by no means better off than men who opt for vocational education, Brody Hannan and Francesca Maclean write.

It’s been long-established that there are more women enrolled in Australian universities than men. In a recent Department of Education survey, another statistic was added to the list: men are 5 per cent more likely to drop out of their undergraduate studies than women.

When the Grattan Institute echoed similar sentiments in its Dropping Out: The Benefits and Costs of Trying University report published in April 2018, even more people started taking interest in the matter.

With evidence to prove that university graduates have higher average salaries than non-graduates, why don’t more men stay in university?

The Grattan report suggested a possible explanation: men who receive vocational training are much more likely to benefit financially than women with the same qualifications.

In a 2017 ABS survey, upper-level vocation qualifications – for example, Certificate (Cert) IV and Diplomas – reaped more financial gains for men than they did for women.

More on this: Reimagining retention for rural, regional, and remote students

Whilst the median annual income for women with a Bachelor’s degree, aged 25-34 years, is marginally higher than that of men of the same age who have only completed Year 12, it is lower than men who have completed Diplomas, or even Cert IIIs and IVs.

What’s more, women who complete a Cert III or IV earn a lower median income than their male counterparts who have only finished Year 12.

Despite having higher levels of education, women, in many instances, are paid less.

For men, there is less financial risk in leaving university because they have these less orthodox but higher-paying career opportunities. It doesn’t matter which sector or pathway men pursue; they will receive higher wages than what they would have had they not pursued any further education at all.

On the other hand, women have more financial incentive to stay in university to receive their formal education. For them, university is also the most likely path to decreasing the wage gap and moving towards a high-paying job.

At this point, it is no longer an issue of improving male higher education participation rates, but rather, an issue of addressing the gender-pay gap and gender inequity amongst those with vocational training.

But why does this disparity even exist in the first place?

More on this: Well then, walk 500 miles more

There are many drivers: a lack of advancement opportunities for women; exclusive or even toxic masculine cultures without a critical mass of women or other minoritised groups; a lack of role models, mentors, and sponsors; bias against women negotiating pay; inadequate parental leave arrangements for all carers (women and their partners); as well as unconscious bias in hiring and promotion decisions.

This is a complex problem that has many drivers and the interplay between these issues should not be ignored. These issues do not exist in isolation in any sector or workplace – but are intertwined within Australian culture and families, including in how we socialise our young women and men as carers or risk-takers dependent on their gender.

Then there’s the separate problem that women aren’t as actively encouraged as men in earlier years to take the risk to explore less common options in their formal education.

Historically, schools and universities have been designed to reward girls for being well-behaved and striving towards better individual ability. Considering the correlation between encouraging risk-taking and boosting confidence amongst girls, there might be more merit than expected in emphasising vocational training in their younger years at school.

Pairing such initiatives with a concerted effort to reduce the wage gap across vocational employment sectors, we may one day see more women willing to pursue a path other than university in the long-term.

A closer look into high male attrition rates reveal a couple of things. Firstly, it’s the career opportunities that are available to men that put less pressure on them to pursue higher education.

But more importantly, it reveals that men receive greater financial benefit than women from receiving any kind of formal education – even at the Cert IV or Diploma level. Ultimately, we are reminded that there is still more work to be done in providing equal opportunities between women and men.

The post Pay attention to the vocational education gap appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/pay-attention-to-the-vocational-education-gap/feed/ 0
National Security Podcast extra: India and Pakistan, to the brink again https://www.policyforum.net/national-security-podcast-extra-india-and-pakistan-to-the-brink-again/ https://www.policyforum.net/national-security-podcast-extra-india-and-pakistan-to-the-brink-again/#respond Wed, 06 Mar 2019 01:58:43 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=31249 On this National Security Podcast extra, Claude Rakisits and Michael Cohen talk about rising tensions between India and Pakistan.  How has history continuously pitted two nuclear-armed nations against each other over land-locked territory? In a deadly mix of terrorism, giant conventional forces, and nuclear weapons, India and Pakistan are trading blows over the Line of Control in […]

The post National Security Podcast extra: India and Pakistan, to the brink again appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
On this National Security Podcast extra, Claude Rakisits and Michael Cohen talk about rising tensions between India and Pakistan. 

How has history continuously pitted two nuclear-armed nations against each other over land-locked territory? In a deadly mix of terrorism, giant conventional forces, and nuclear weapons, India and Pakistan are trading blows over the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir like never before. In this National Security Podcast extra, Chris Farnham hears from Dr Claude Rakisits and Dr Michael Cohen about the latest spike in violence as well as its triggers and historical context. The experts also look at the roles of other countries, control over violent extremists, and how the mutual possession of nuclear weapons affects the situation. Listen here: https://simplecast.com/s/54f3fe1b

Claude Rakisits is Honorary Associate Professor at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University, and an Associate at Georgetown University. Dr Rakisits is an expert in defence and strategic issues, international affairs, and intelligence, and is specifically interested in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa.

Michael Cohen is a Senior Lecturer at the ANU National Security College. His research addresses international security in the Indo-Pacific and explores the causes of armed interstate conflict. Dr Cohen’s expertise covers nuclear weapons proliferation, the Korean peninsula, South Asia, deterrence and coercion, leaders, foreign policy decision-making, and the US-Australia alliance.

Chris Farnham is the presenter of the National Security Podcast. He joined the National Security College in June 2015 and is currently Senior Outreach and Policy Officer. His career focus has been on geopolitics with experience working in and out of China for a number of years as well as operating in Australia and Southeast Asia.

We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to podcast@policyforum.net. You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or find us on Facebook. The National Security Podcast and Policy Forum Pod are available on SpotifyiTunesStitcher, and wherever you get your podcasts. 

The post National Security Podcast extra: India and Pakistan, to the brink again appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/national-security-podcast-extra-india-and-pakistan-to-the-brink-again/feed/ 0