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Archive for December, 2011

View from the West – Edition 4

Posted by cegan on December 12, 2011

While I was away the GDP results came out about the Australian economy, the bragging by the west would now be cemented in stone. Of the quarters 1% growth, Western Australia was responsible for 52% of the growth. Without Western Australia, Australia would be growing at the rate of the United States. Yet the policy impact is stark, these news stories deliver an expectation that Western Australia is carrying the nation, that the mining industry is responsible for our economic growth.

I am one West Australian that doesn’t quite believe this. Economic growth increased 8.4% for the quarter and over 16% for the year ending September 2011.  Yes, my personal economic health has increased dramatically over the past year and my starting salary is far higher than any Western Australian would have dreamt of ten years ago. I work for the Department of Commerce and have a starting wage of $40 an hour as a contractor. Pretty good when I don’t have to toil in the hot Pilbara sun exporting our Iron ore commodity.

But the view that Western Australia carries the nation creates an interesting policy complexity. The more WA’s economic power grows, the more independent it will become. Provinces world wide who have seperatism as a strong political tendency increase in this mantra during economic booms. But the misplaced hype about Western Australia carrying the nation is shown specifically of what happened in 2008 during the GFC. Diesel Mechanics who earn big bucks were laid off, mines stopped hiring right across the state and without the Rudd stimulus package we would have been screwed.

But this is still not reported, our current economic power is reshaping Australian politics, reshaping Western Australian politics. There is also demographic differences being exacerbated changing the political agenda. In research I did for the Department of Commerce, I advised that Western Australia is tuning out of traditional hot political issues/debates because of the demographic differences. Unlike the rest of the country, growth in Western Australia has stabilised for those over 65, while the growth of those aged under 40 has doubled.  

This divide will see political issues such as health care, gay marriage, pension increases of less political importance for Western Australia and in the ‘piggy banking’ tradition of Australian politics there will need to be an awareness of this demographic split. As I reported to government, Western Australia’s political agenda has already moved away from healthcare which dominated the Gallop and Carpenter Government, the inquiries and reforms seem to have quietened down the media. Or it could just have been that the west has become less conservative since Channel 7 have purchased the paper. The states political agenda is now designed for its political powerbase, young people. New stadiums, waterfront, Indoor Arena now have greater news coverage than ever before.

In something of a first for Australian democracy, the 40,000 people who stated on facebook that they wanted late night trains were listened to by the transport minister. His response typifies the understanding the government has of being the city of the young right now and the increasing power the youth of the state have.

 “We are doing a six month trial for a 4:00am train on Saturday and Sunday mornings…it is good to be able to respond to public demand, especially for a demographic that often feels its not listened too”.

 Facebook brought a policy to fruition, I caught a train on the first weekend and it was packed. There was violence on one of the lines, but as the government knows, the youth are speaking. As demographics interact with skyrocketing economic growth, seperatist thinking will increase.

It has already been proven that Barnett is the most powerful politician in this state. Federal Politicians in the last election had their photo taken with Barnett not Abbott, he changed the national  health reforms and forced another GST inquiry.

Economic growth is great for the state, not so good for federal unity.

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Wellington, the cultural differences that we don’t hear about

Posted by cegan on December 11, 2011

As a Political/Historical Analyst, I look at similarities and differences between nations and why it occurs. I have a particular interest in Australian/New Zealand relations,one of the topics I found as soon as I got on the bus in the CBD was the power of women.

In my 24 years on this earth, I have never experienced what I saw. A female telling two men to move for a blind women in such a way that was to the point, powerful and without any regard to the time old tradition of women not being heard. The two men moved immediately.

This power and strength of character shows an inkling of what society is. With the long serving prime minister Helen Clarke being ever popular still in the capital, feminism and women’s rights are at the hallmark. But then a few days later was a long discussion on feminist issues, they were talking about how Women MP’s are treated and they had air time. Now there may be much shauvinistic attitudes in New Zealand, but I know of no TV show talking about female treatment of politicians, the lack of political analysts being female and a program that would facilitate the many feminists in Australian society.

It’s not hard to suggest that despite having a female Prime Minister, on women’s rights/media coverage we still have much to learn from our friends over the ditch.

Welfare, French Nuclear Program policy, Women’s universal suffrage were all implemented after our little brother did it.

Unfortunately our media doesn’t cover New Zealand Politics at anywhere near the level it should be, considering the over-arching influence it has on Australian politics.

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