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Archive for January, 2012

The failure of federalism for Elizabeth

Posted by cegan on January 8, 2012

Elizabeth known as the town of the Holden Commodore has the unenviable title of being the suburb with the highest unemployment in Australia. 21.6% unemployment within the boundaries of Central Elizabeth as of September 2o11.

Of the 9557 in the Labor force 2065 are unemployed an increase of 235 since September 2010. (http://www.deewr.gov.au/lmip/default.aspx?LMIP/SALM/SA/Adelaide/NorthernAdelaide)

If we do this for comparisons sake and look at a similar northern suburb in my home city of Perth, Joondalup also a satellite city has an unemployment rate of  1.9% in the southern part of the city. Remarkably of the 74,220 people that are in the labor force as of September 2011, only 1379 people were unemployed. So 7 times more people in the Labor force, yet 700 less people unemployed.

Often economists will say such discrepancies in unemployment rates in a nation is natural and that Australia viewed on state roles is less variant than say the United States

But Elizabeth a satellite city that has 21.6% unemployment making it worse off than those in Greece, much of the US and a whole basket of  developed economies around the world is not really acceptable in a nation that is meant to be a fair go for all and on a national level is not in recession but in a mild expansionary phase.

What has created jobs in Joondalup but not Elizabeth? Both cities are about 20 kms from the CBD and both cities like Aussie Rules, have a large English expat community, each city has a SANFL and WAFL side based out of it and were both post war satellite cities.

But their economies are completely different. Elizabeth was designed to be a home of manufacturing and to feed the Holden plants. Sure the manufacturing industries downfall can be defended by state planners, but the reality can hit you in the face when you go to Joondalup and what it has achieved, sure you can say that digging up dirt has created higher paying jobs and larger windfalls. But the suburb was ‘designed’ to be a hub of activity and attract people from the  wider region. Elizabeth doesn’t do this.

Joondalup has also benefited  by the movement of Edith Cowan University from the inner north to Joondalup, academic and educational funding deliver higher paying jobs and thus stimulates the economy. It has designed inner city apartments, created a town centre and created a welcoming impression to the ever increasing migrant population to Perth. All creating an economy that is booming and at full employment, compared to Elizabeth which is at pretty much at depression levels.

For Elizabeth, while we can blame state planners lack of forsight is really an area we need to focus our funds and economic intention.

Is the idea of our nation to allow a fair go for all and to learn from other cities to rectify inbalances? Or to allow this sort of labor under utilisation to continue. The failure of federalism is interstate rivalry that festers and stops one state from looking over the border to rectify and see what is working.

South Australia doesn’t have the mining royalties, but it is in the interest for all Australian’s to rectify it. Telling people to move to find work is clearly not working and to be honest isn’t practical when people are reluctant to move away from friends and family support.

I propose a new system that bypasses the failure of federalism that looks at the success stories of similar cities in other parts of the country and can learn from these stories. Indeed the similarities between Elizabeth and Joondalup are huge, other than incomes, the present economy and wages. I can say that comfortably having been in both cities.

In my dream world this would be the policy implementation I would seek to alleviate this unacceptable 21.6% unemployment rate In Elizabeth.

1. Playford City Councils to develop a strong inter city relationship with the City of Joondalup

2. Federal Government funding of at least 50-60 million dollars to set up University of South Australia campus in the CBD of Elizabeth

3. Planning underway to develop a new town centre, integrating it with the cultural hub that is the Central Districts Football Club, rather than it being isolated from the town centre.

Other cities around the country will need different policy directives, Elizabeth needs to diversify, but it can benefit from being close to the CBD. It has to see itself in a limelight of what a Satellite City can achieve, not what it is.

Unfortunately in piggy backing politics and a Federation gripped with interstate rivalry, what’s best for the nation and how to deal with areas of the greatest amount of unemployed is often just left to being told ‘move out and go somewhere where there are jobs’.

But as the statistics are showing, this is not working.

It’s time for a new way to deal with poverty/areas of large unemployment in this country as Federalism is clearly not delivering equal living standards between one capital city to the next capital.

Which further makes a mockery of GST taking into account the different states economic circumstances. Elizabeth can be saved, Australia has money unlike other countries that have regions of unemployment above 20%.

It just needs the political will  and courage to do so.

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View From the West – Edition 5 – Are we as conservative as the stereotype says…

Posted by cegan on January 1, 2012

If you are a political junkie like me, you would have heard the often quoted statement “Western Australia and Queensland are the conservative states, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania the progressive states and NSW a mixture of both”. But is this correct of the great western land, well lets see where it is correct.

Social conservatism, nowhere else in the country has had such debates on culture. One of the leading debates on Western Australian culture has been Sunday Shopping and the importance of small business to not be forced to open on a Sunday and thus have a day of rest, so they did not have to compete with a large retail outlet that has competitive advantages during the weekdays.

Alhough the shopping hours debate mantra changed by the last referendum and it became more about it not being fair to make people work on a Sunday and the impact on the bottom line of small business. In some ways the change in debate reasoning on keeping shopping hours regulated has lessened the strength of its case to the Western Australian community that in 2011 we should deliver government intervention to maintain Sunday ‘as the day of rest and family.

What else is another strongly conservative based issue that may fit the stereotype? Well as I said on facebook – What is a more poisonous debate than the carbon Tax – WA’s Prostitution Laws. These laws create a conservatism force that creates total mayhem for any leader of either the Liberal or Labor Party, it is an excuse for widespread dissesion in the ranks. What makes it more interesting is that Western Australia can pass issues on gay parents being able to adopt before anywhere else in the country, but creating a regulated  sex industry – Well its time to stick the heels in and show to the rest of the country that the stereotype fits, we are basically hillbillies worried about those prostitutes festering in our safe, family friendly and non sunday shopping suburbs.

Research also shows that Perth is continuing the love affair of the block of land and house more than any other mainland capital.  We haven’t moved out of that traditional aussie mantle, even if our city is growing at a blistering rate.

But my argument goes today about why the stereotype does not fit, won’t fit and is further evidence of an ignorant media that does not understand the different dynamics running through WA politics.

Old Growth Forrest was an issue that overthrew the Court Government for a Premier/Academic who had a PHD in Philosophy. He would be a leader of the third way and became one of the states most popular premiers before depression stopped his stint. But lets look at this more carefully, Old Growth Forrests and the stopping of logging in Old Growth cost the conservative party government. Labor was prepared to ban it, the Conservative party wanted to conserve the traditional way of life of the loggers of the south west corner.

This is all the more remarkable when a liberal, progressive state such as Tasmania that these experts laud fiercely reject these reforms. The same reforms that the state demanded and would throw out a government that was not progressive enough on the issue and would cause significant division within  the Liberal Party( eg the setting up of the new “Liberals for Forrest”that has since been disbanded.

Progressive issues can be fought for here, euthanasia is widely supported by the West Australian community(and members bills to legalise it are constantly debated in parliament) at the same time as the last poll on capital punishment showed support for it here was the highest in the country.

Then you ask why did the Ruddfall of the 07 election stop in Western Australia? Why are their only 3 Labor held seats in Federal Parliament from Western Australia? Doesn’t this give an indication of a very conservative state who vote on conservative issues?

Perhaps, but then again do Sandgropers vote on Federal Issues far differently to State issues, did they vote Liberal and continue to vote Liberal based on conservative attitudes? Or was it based on the ‘who can deliver most/best for Western Australia”.

With no MRRT, a belief that the GST handouts would deliver more to WA households if the Liberals were in power and a significantly higher advertising war chess that flooded the West Australian market during the last two elections, I’d argue it does nothing to show how conservative we are, but the view out there that the Federal Liberal Party will listen to Western Australian demands, rather than ignore them which is an underlying theme of Federal Labor.

The current major debates in Western Australia are all in state politics, Federal Politics seemss to take a back seat. With Local Content issues, Electricity Prices being too high for the disadvantaged in our community and the brief brushes of the never-ending Prostitution Reform bill we will move from conservative to progressive based politics at a whim and depending on the issue. Western Australia also can be caught in an unpredictable hype on a particular issue eg Organ Transplants for Drug Users and whether Government should pay for it, became a huge issue overnight and the public wouldn’t let it die.

But a Conservative state naturally…

Well I think the last ten years and our present Liberal Party’s ideology would suggest that the wild west is not as ‘stuck in the times’ as those simplistic political analysis often declare.

Chris Egan

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