I am one of the older generation who are not much affected by the crisis. We usually own our own homes so have no rent to pay and have built up savings through a lifetime of work.
But the reports below do bother me and I wonder what I could do to help. I already provide ultra-cheap rental accomodation to four people but I will have to think of doing more
Just about everywhere you look, there are worsening signs that Australia is no longer the lucky country – for just about all of us.
Just about everywhere you look, there are worsening signs that Australia is no longer the lucky country.
From record-high rents to skyrocketing mortgages, a cost-of-living crisis to the alarming emergence of a ‘working poor’ population, the country faces an unprecedented storm of factors putting pressure on millions of people.
And very few Aussies are immune.
“We’re seeing a new demographic of people turning to charities for support over the past 18 months,” a spokesperson for St Vincent de Paul Society in New South Wales said.
“It has been very concerning to see a growing number of people in employment and families on dual incomes reaching out in a time of desperation because of the cost of living.”
Whether paying a mortgage or renting, working for someone or running a business, earning a little or making a lot, this is a startling look at just how tough things are right now.
Skipping meals or not eating at all
An estimated 3.7 million households are battling serious levels of food insecurity, not-for-profit Food Bank revealed in its 2023 Hunger Report.
Food insecurity describes the need to make “unenviable choices about what and when they eat” such as skipping meals or going whole days without eating.
Foodbank’s research shows an extra 383,000 households are grappling with food insecurity than a year ago.
More than a third of the population – more than the total number of households in Melbourne and Sydney combine – are having to “compromise their meal choices”, the organisation said.
The proportion of Aussies who are experiencing “some level of distress in meeting the most basic needs” when it comes to putting food on the table is racing towards 50 per cent.
“Food insecurity is waking early and sending your child off to school with a rumbling tummy and empty lunch box because you’ve been forced into an impossible choice between paying the rent or buying food that week,” Foodbank chief executive Brianna Casey said.
“Food insecurity is living at home alone as a pensioner, convincing yourself that three meals a day is a luxury, and that two – or even one – will suffice.
“Food insecurity is rushing to the fruit platter at a working lunch in the office because fresh fruit and vegetables have become a treat, rather than a dietary staple.
“Food insecurity is now having a mortgage, a full-time job and a side hustle, yet food is a discretionary spend in the household budget.”
Cutting dangerous corners
As the country brazes for a particularly hot summer, the Australian Council of Social Services warns vulnerable households will go without cooling as a result of cost pressures.
An ACOSS survey released in October shows 74 per cent of people on income supports are slashing spending on cooling, while 62 per cent are cutting back on the use of lighting.
“As we head into a summer of extreme heat, the federal government needs to deliver a substantial package to urgently address energy affordability for people on low incomes,” ACOSS program director of climate and energy, Kellie Caught, said.
“Energy is an essential service, one which has serious implications for people’s health and wellbeing.”
Meanwhile, a recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data release shows seven per cent of people who needed to see a doctor in the 12 months to June delayed the visit or didn’t go at all because of cost-of-living pressures.
“This was double the number compared to 2021-22, when 3.5 per cent of people put off or did not see a GP when they needed because of the cost,” Robert Long, head of health statistics at the ABS, said.
One-in-five people delayed or avoided seeking mental health treatment because of the cost, while 10.5 per cent of patients needing to see a specialist didn’t due to price pressures.
“There was also an increase in people who delayed or didn’t get prescription medication when needed due to cost, from 5.6 per cent in 2021-22 to 7.6 per cent in 2022-23,” Mr Long said.
Crushed by mortgage repayments
Since the Reserve Bank began hiking interest rates back in May last year, the cost of meeting repayments on the average size mortgage has soared.
Those with a home loan balance of $590,000 – the national average – are forking out $1345 more per month, or an extra $16,140 per year.
“That’s a huge amount of extra money to be spending on your mortgage, especially when the cost of almost everything else is also going up,” Graham Cooke, head of consumer research at finance comparison website finder.com.au said.
Even if those huge increases were happening in isolation, rates of distress would be high, but with a cost-of-living crisis on top, countless Aussies are now up against the wall.
Martin North is the principal of economic research firm Digital Finance Analytics and tracks household cash flows, with data indicating more than half of mortgage holders are in cash-flow deficit each month.
That is, half of all mortgage households are now spending more than they earn every month.
“Looking in detail, we find that recent purchasers, especially young growing families, are most exposed,” Mr North said.
Many bought when mortgage rates were sitting around two per cent, and when then-RBA Governor Philip Lowe assured people the official cash rate would likely remain on hold until 2024.
It didn’t. Home loan rates are now sitting at about six per cent.
Aussie homeowners warned ‘perfect storm’ to hit as insurance is cut from budgets
This is a real problem. Recent natural disasters have cost insurace companies big so they have to allow for such big costs in the future. And increased premiums are the only way to do that. My home insurance has trebled in recent times. I can afford that but many can't. So they risk losing everything
Homeowners are crossing their fingers as the cost of living crisis has more Aussies cutting insurance from their budgets.
The increased frequency of extreme climate events, inflation, and Australians’ love for urbanisation in places most likely to be hit by weather have created a “perfect storm” in insurance markets.
Insurance Council of Australia chief Andrew Hall painted the grim picture during an address to the National Press Club on Thursday.
He said the “difficult choice” to forgo insurance or to be underinsured was creating a protection gap – the extent to which potential economic losses are not covered by private insurance.
“It’s the difference between what should or needs to be insured and what isn’t insured,” he said.
Many Australians have tried to maintain cover but Mr Hall said the risk was greatest in areas where “the threat of high natural peril risk is driving the biggest increases in premiums.”
“As the protection gap widens there will be serious implications. The first is the additional vulnerability that households and families, particularly middle and lower-income earners, will face if the worst happens.
“It means that when disasters and accidents occur, they disproportionately up-end the lives of people particularly in vulnerable lower socio-economic groups.”
As a result, he warned, taxpayers will be carrying more additional risk to clean up after a disaster and more pressure on the government’s coffers.
Banks will also be increasingly exposed.
A recent report by the Actuaries Institute suggested nearly one in eight Australian households is facing home insurance affordability stress.
Since the Black Summer bushfires in 2019, Australia has experienced 18, as Mr Hall described, “insurance catastrophes”.
“Last year alone, the insurance industry in Australia paid 302,000 disaster related claims, which caused more than $7.25bn in insured losses,” Mr Hall said.
The ICA boss said proper mitigation was key and pointed to an example of premiums dropping by on average 34 per cent in Roma, Queensland after the construction of a flood levee.
He also urged for a further strengthening of the National Construction Code to make homes more durable for the environment where they’re built.
Mr Hall welcomed the call from national cabinet to stop putting homes on flood plains.
“All too often, we have built our homes in places where we can touch and feel and absorb nature – in bushland, on river frontages, and backing on to beaches,” he said.
“But in so doing, we have put ourselves on flood plains, in fire-prone bushland, or coastal areas in direct paths of cyclones.
“We have ignored the red flags of nature.”
He also urged state governments to wipe the 10 per cent stamp duties on insurance customers.
“If insurance policies for houses or cars did not exist, or were priced out of reach, then the population would demand it of the government.
“For the sake of our future protection and productivity, Australian governments at the state and Federal level must have an eye on reform of insurance taxes.
“There is a clear opportunity here to think about how to incentivise states to lower their insurance taxes to ensure more people have the private cover that will protect.”
Anglicanism is traditionally tolerant of theological variety. It is not even clear that all the episcopate believe in God -Runcie, for instance. So this news is a surprise.
There is no doubt that the woman is heretical: She defies the absurd Trinity doctrine. But her rebellion is against the hierarchy, not the Bible. The Bible is thoroughly on her side. Jesus said "the Father is greater than I" (John 14:28) and he prayed to God (Matthew 26:39). If he was God, who was he praying to?
I can only hope that she manages to form a study group of others who respect what the Bible says
A 72-year-old grandmother and devoted Christian has been labelled a “dangerous heretic” and banned from Anglican churches upon pain of police action, after a disagreement over theology with Tasmania’s bishop.
Former nurse Sue Carlyon’s exclusion – confirmed in writing – was ordered by Bishop Richard Condie over differences in interpretation of scripture that Christians have been debating for millennia.
Dr Condie has expelled the churchgoer over her view that God did not die on the cross, only Jesus as a man and son of God.
Ms Carlyon, who voluntarily cleaned at her parish church, believes firmly in her interpretation, arguing it helps her and others aspire to be more like Jesus.
She has published a short book explaining her interpretation.
The grandmother of five sent a copy to Dr Condie, seeking his views, and was later invited by the bishop to meet him to discuss it.
At this meeting on November 2, Dr Condie informed her she would be banned from her parish church, in Kingston, south of Hobart, and all Anglican churches in Tasmania.
Dr Condie confirmed the ban in writing on November 7, telling Ms Carlyon her book “contains significant dangerous heresy” and she would be allowed to return only if she retrieved and destroyed every available copy and publicly repented.
“To claim Jesus was not God when he died on the cross does not accord with orthodox teaching in any Christian tradition, undermines the doctrine of the Trinity and the efficacy of Jesus’ death for sin,” Dr Condie wrote.
He said her position “undermines people’s confidence in Christ” and she had continued to ignore directives not to distribute the book. “I am left with no other option that to forbid you from attending any Anglican church in Tasmania,” he said. “This includes Sunday services or visiting the church through the week.”
Ms Carlyon was told by Dr Condie: “If you do attend (any church), I will be instructing the ministers to have you removed from the property by the police.”
A survivor of domestic violence and family abuse, Ms Carlyon said she was “truly devastated” by the ban. “I thought I was settled in this church, I had made some nice connections and it’s a very active church with a lot of functions,” she said. “I find it exhausting to be contending with this at my age.
“To expect me to make a public declaration of repentance is just ridiculous – it’s from the dark ages.”
She would have preferred the bishop hold a group discussion. “There would have been others who would have fully supported what I’m saying,” she said.
The bishop had “bullied” her, Ms Carlyon said. “He was using bullyboy tactics – he was like a dog with a bone.
“He wanted me to cave in and apologise and be submissive and repentive. But it wouldn’t be true if I had given in. “As one of my sons said, ‘It’s just as well they can’t burn you at the stake’.”
Ms Carlyon said she was considering seeking legal advice or appealing to the Anglican Primate.
Dr Condie said it would be “inappropriate” for him to comment on a “matter of private discipline”.
Ms Carlyon’s book argues: “If God had died on the cross at Calvary, the world would have ended because of the fact that God is the ultimate source of life, and life is only sustained because of God. It is understood that Jesus died once He surrendered His spirit to God, His Father.”
However, others argue God died on the cross in the human form he had assumed in Jesus, and that his divine form did not and cannot die.
Ms Carlyon believed seeing Jesus as God when he died, rather than a man and son of God, “distorts people’s understanding of who God is, who Jesus is, what life’s about”.
“If we’re true to the scriptures in the New Testament, there’s nothing in it that says Jesus was God, so it’s an interpretation by church elders that, as Richard Condie said, took them 300 years to work out,” she said.
“They have over-intellectualised and theorised it and come out with a dogma that doesn’t align with the scriptures.”
Dr Condie said Ms Carylon’s views were an “extremely serious matter” as they “undermined” the “good news” that people could turn to Jesus for forgiveness for their sins.
“The Bible teaches that Jesus died to take the full punishment for the sins of humanity so that anyone who turns to him can be forgiven,” Dr Condie said.
“To satisfy God’s own just requirement, it is necessary that he be the one to provide the sacrifice for sin, which he did in the person of the divine Jesus Christ.”
In 2017, Ms Carlyon’s parish priest, Peter Adlem, gave her a reference expressing “no concerns about Sue’s Christian faith” and praising her “bold witness and obvious love and concern for others”.
Dr Condie is no stranger to controversy, with some Anglicans concerned about his key role in the anti-gay marriage Anglican “breakaway” Southern Cross, his sale of churches, and what some see as the spread of evangelism at the expense of “high Anglicanism”.
The Lancet is prestigious and publishes some good studies but it is under heavily Leftist influence. It published, for instance, an article that criticized the American invasion of Iraq. And Leftists like the authoritarian responses to Covid. They took the heavy-handed Chinese Communist approach as their model
A Lancet paper has made outrageous claims that Covid vaccines are highly effective in reducing Covid and all-cause mortality for older Australians. This paper, used by the Australian Government to support more boosters for the elderly, is debunked in the following open letter:
Open letter to Bette Liu, Sandrine Stepien, Timothy Dobbins, Heather Gidding, David Henry, Rosemary Korda, Lucas Mills, Sallie-Anne Pearson, Nicole Pratt, Claire M. Vajdic, Jennifer Welsh, and Kristine Macartney, authors of “Effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination against COVID-19 specific and all-cause mortality in older Australians: a population based study”. The Lancet, Vol. 40, 100928, November 2023. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lanwpc.2023.100928
also to Richard Horton (editor of the The Lancet)
and Paul Kelly (Australian Chief Medical Officer)
Concerns Regarding Data Integrity And Analysis
The retrospective, observational study of 3.8 million Australians of over 65 years, during eleven months of 2022, has reached the following broad conclusion:
“COVID-19 vaccination is highly effective against COVID-19 mortality among older adults although effectiveness wanes with time since the last dose.
Our findings emphasise the importance of continuing to administer booster doses, particularly to those at highest risk.”
This paper and its conclusion have been cited by the Australian Chief Medical Officer in an Australian Senate Estimates inquiry  to support government policy of continued vaccination for older adults.
The research has been funded by the Australian Government through various government agencies and by pharmaceutical companies.
As it stands, the conclusion of the paper is unclear, if not invalid, because it states that vaccination is “highly effective”, but “wanes over time”. Can a vaccine be “highly effective” only for a limited time? How limited?
The time limit to effectiveness is one of the key issues to be discussed below.
Data Integrity Issues
Most of the paper, consisting of four large tables occupying most of a printed page each, is a presentation of dosage statistics of the Australian population, which, while not irrelevant, are not germane to the main subject of the paper.
The space could be better used. The main subject and conclusion of the paper depend critically on analysis of the data relating dosage to COVID-19 and all-cause mortality shown in Figures 1 to 3.
These “death by vaccination status” data, central to the study, are largely absent from the paper. Importantly, the conclusion quoted above requires analysis of accurate Australian COVID data which are well-known to have serious integrity issues, which have errors originating from data collected from disparate sources and from flawed data recording procedures.
For example, someone who dies soon after being vaccinated with one dose may be recorded as the death of an unvaccinated person .
Also, COVID-19 mortality is intrinsically an unreliable statistic, because attribution of a COVID death may be erroneous. A death (ICD 10 code U07.1) could be with COVID (defined by a positive PCR test) rather than from COVID (the disease).
Sometimes, COVID deaths (ICD 10 code U07.2) have been assigned by judgement without doing any tests.
Raw COVID-19 mortality data by dosage, essential to the paper have not been disclosed in the paper, even in a summary form. How did they select and validate COVID-19 mortality data? The authors need to discuss the data of Figure 1 and 2 and should publish their compilation of the raw data, so that readers can replicate the results of their paper.
A further deficiency is: that measuring vaccination effectiveness (VE) by survival rates against only COVID-19 mortality is inadequate because it assumes falsely that vaccination does not have lethal side effects. Even the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has admitted  that there were 14 COVID vaccine-induced deaths to March 2023.
With mass vaccination, non-COVID excess deaths have reached about double COVID-19 deaths , which should be investigated for association with vaccination. Yet, with only a brief discussion suggesting how vaccination may reduce all-cause mortality, the authors have inserted “all-cause mortality” in the title of the paper, insinuating vaccination is also effective against all-cause mortality.
Method And Analysis Issues
Even ignoring data integrity issues, ignoring non-COVID excess deaths and supposing VE is validly measured against only COVID-19 mortality, the paper still suffers seriously from methodological and analytical defects. Vaccination, COVID-19 mortality and all-cause mortality data are available since 2021 and well into 2023.
Why does the paper select and analyze only eleven months of 2022? There were surges in deaths in 2022 accompanying the rollouts of the first and second boosters, but the paper does not consider that they may be related to vaccinations, rather than only to the COVID disease.
Instead of analyzing 2022 data as a whole, COVID and all-cause mortality data are analyzed in two separate periods: one five-month period and one six-month period. For different dose groups, vaccine effectiveness (VE) is evaluated by COVID-19 survival effectiveness for three windows: less than three months, three to six months and more than six months.
Such divisions of time periods need to be discussed, because analyzing survival over multiple fixed time periods involves unstated assumptions about the time taken for vaccines to have their effects, and the delay effects should be discussed.
The risk of errors increased due to survivorship bias, where deaths may “fall between the cracks” between survival windows. With two data periods, three dosage groups and three survival windows, there are 18 different vaccine mortality rates to compare to two unvaccinated mortality rates.
As may be expected, there are 18 different VE measures with a wide range of results depending on the various combinations. Importantly, the results appear random with no consistent VE pattern across the two time periods or between the dose groups.
In their main findings, the best and most convenient cases were selected for reporting. For example, from Figure 1 in the first period, the main finding reported was “VE of a 3rd COVID-19 vaccine dose within 3 months was 93 percent (95 percent CI 93–94 percent) whilst VE of a 2nd dose >6 months since receipt was 34 percent (26–42 percent)
Among unfavourable findings (see below), the most favourable finding has been cited by the authors to show COVID-19 vaccination is highly effective, but only relatively and “wanes with time”. Some of those unfavourable findings are masked by what appear as glaring anomalies, probably serious errors collected in table below.
From Figure 1 of the paper, the “Dose3>180 days” group has higher mortality rate (per 100 person-year) than the unvaccinated, yet they have positive vaccine effectiveness of 63.4 percent (COVID-19 VE (percentage) column below).
This and few other examples are shown in the table below, where a “Relative Risk Reduction (percentage)” column (should be the same as COVID-19 VE (percentage)) has been added here with shaded cells, simply calculated from the mortality rates given.
In the June to November period of Figure 1, the “Dose2 8-90 days” group had 1.218 mortality rate per 100 PY, compared to 0.49 for the unvaccinated. This shows that even in the short-term of less than three months, that vaccinated group (second shaded cell from the bottom) had 2.5 times higher risk of dying from COVID than the unvaccinated.
How could the authors claim for that case (second last column in the above table) a positive VE of 13.9 percent in their paper?
The paper needs to disclose the sorts of adjustments used to achieve positive “COVID-19 VE (percentage)” for those cases where the vaccinated groups had higher mortality rates than the unvaccinated. Those negative relative risk reduction results calculated here for those cases, if unexplained, would invalidate the main conclusion of paper that COVID-19 vaccination is highly effective.
Similar criticisms can be raised against the analysis in Figure 2 and Figure 3, where the method of adjustment for obtaining VE results for all-cause mortality is also not transparent, even though the raw all-cause data would be more accurate than COVID-19 data for reasons explained and discussed above.
On all-cause mortality the authors made unsubstantiated comments such as “COVID-19 vaccines also appeared effective against other specific causes of death…those who are more likely to get multiple vaccine doses, or to be vaccinated earlier are healthier and less likely to die from any cause…”. Emphasis added.
On Pfizer/BioNTech’s COMIRNATY vaccines alone, the TGA’s DAEN database  recorded (subject to underreporting) over 82,000 adverse events associated with many different diseases. Moreover, those comments are contradicted by the authors’ own analysis.
Figure 3 of the paper shows clearly that the authors’ own calculated VE against all-cause mortality (rates not shown) are all negative for those cases shown in the above table (last column).
Therefore, COVID-19 vaccination was ineffective and had increased all-cause mortality among some groups of older adults. Their evidence of ineffectiveness is consistent with Australian macro-data where all-cause mortality have increased significantly for older Australians vaccinated since 2021 .
Summary Of Critique
The approach of this study depends on official COVID data which have integrity issues, which the paper does not acknowledge.
Only 11 months in 2022 of official data out of possibly more than 24 months have been selected for the study.
The “death by vaccination status” data which link dosages with mortality data have not been discussed or disclosed. The key data used need to be publicly available for replication of the findings.
The unseen key data collection has been selectively analyzed, by dividing into separate time periods, dose groups and survival durations, producing 18 comparisons. The method of analysis is unsound and has led apparently to random results, without identifiable regularity.
The vaccination effectiveness results were not simply calculated, but adjusted. The details of the adjustments need to be disclosed.
The unadjusted results contradict the general conclusion that “COVID-19 vaccination is highly effective against COVID-19 mortality among older adults”.
Out of 18 comparisons of adjusted results, the most favourable and convenient findings have been selected and presented to draw the main conclusion which is not generally valid.
As it stands, the paper has serious deficiencies in data integrity, data selection bias, flawed methods of analysis, undisclosed adjustments of results, selective reporting of findings and the drawing of invalid conclusions.
The Australian Government has chosen to take this paper as authoritative evidence to justify its health policy, which has been associated with many excess deaths particularly in older Australians, but those deaths have been brushed off without investigation as coincidental, unrelated to vaccination.
The paper, in its currently published form, has serious methodological and analytical defects, resulting in errors and misleading conclusions.
Therefore, the paper needs substantial revision to address the issues raised or it should be retracted.
The term autism covers a very wide range of behaviours so this regulation seems likely to capture some people who are not likely to be problem drivers. I am a high-functioning autistic and I drove for 60 years without once hurting myself or anyone else.
The legal basis of this would also appear to be shaky. What evidence do they have implicating autism in bad driving? None, I am sure. To prodce such evidence they would need to have a very precise definition of the problem behaviours and that is precisely what is not possible with autism
The prime manifestation of autism is social insensitivity of various sorts so it is difficult to see how that could be a driving problem. So this is a very silly piece of regulation. Courts should assess the actual behaviour rather than some speculative claim about its origin.
A quiet change to the national standards that govern driving fitness has left autistic Australians in legal limbo, potentially facing fines of more than $9000.
The 2022 Assessing Fitness to Drive standards were the first to list autism as a condition that “should be assessed individually”, but there is huge variability about how the new rule applies across states and territories.
That puts many autistic Australians, particularly those who were diagnosed later in life, years or decades after they earned their full licences, in a confusing place of legal limbo.
The Assessing Fitness to Drive guidelines are updated every few years and cover a range of medical conditions, including diabetes, epilepsy and vision. They are written for health professionals who treat people with conditions that may impact their driving.
According to Austroads, which develops the guidelines in conjunction with other groups, autistic drivers aren’t required to automatically report their diagnosis, but the “overarching requirement is that a person with a condition that may impair safe driving will need to report and be assessed”.
Each state and territory interprets the guidelines differently, making for a lot of confusion — as well as some eye-watering fines and costs.
Tests of driving fitness also vary across jurisdictions. GPs often request an on-road assessment from an occupational therapy driver assessor, which costs around $1500. If the test is failed, subsequent “driving rehab” lessons cost between $130-$150 a pop.
The writer below sees a knowledge of the full facts as an antidote to the present upsurge of antisemitism. I think he is being far too optimistic. What the pro-Palestinian demonstrations reveal is how deeply runs the river of antisemitism in the West, a river that has now burst its banks.
Memories of Germany's Nazi horror have long kept antisemitism from being expressed in Western societies but that historic hatred has always been there and the Gaza conflict has caused it to burst into the open.
The big fault in Jews that causes them to be hated is their success in all sorts of ways -- particularly financial. And that provokes envy, a powerful destructive force that is such an ancient human folly that it is expressly forbidden in the Ten Commandments. It is a huge mental affliction that seethes in the minds of many unbalanced people.
And if Jewish success generally is offensive, Israel is REALLY offensive. Israel is not only succesful at building prosperity in what was once desert, it is TRIUMPHANT. It has repeatedly defeated attacks on it despite all odds against it. And that triumph provokes burning rage. A triumphant Jew is the very antithesis of what Jew-critics want. It is a towering insult to the envier mind
And where a towering rage is what is driving antisemitism, reason, rationality and facts are of no effect. What the pro Palestinian demonstrators say is founded in rage only, with the facts being completely irrelevant. The facts will be rearranged to suit the rage
And where does the rage come from? It comes from the Left, for whom rage is basic. The eruption of hate that emerged when Trump was elected reveals what drives Leftists. Rage and hate are the drives of most Leftists. So, where I see Israel as admirable in its success, the Leftist sees it as outrageous and deserving of total hate.
The divide over the Gaza war is a window into the ghastly reality of what drives the Left/Right divide in modern Western societies. Its "pro-Palestinan" motive is just window dressing for Leftist hate. It is not "pro" anything. It is just a demonstration of deeply-rooted hate.
During a call-in show with the late Christopher Hitchens, many years ago, a lady asked a simple but discerning question. After praising Hitchens for his insight, she asked how much of that insight came from talent and what rested on simply ‘knowing about stuff’.
While few can attain the knowledge, experience, and wit of Hitchens, knowing a few basics facts is surely considered the bare minimum to be a member of a society who wishes to participate in the marketplace of ideas… Or, if you don’t know ‘stuff’, you should at least be open to learning.
In our self-censorious age, it is more fashionable and pseudo-sophisticated to regurgitate the prefabricated phrases of the ‘bien-pensant’. It saves the effort of learning and thinking. Given this, we should not be surprised to find so many spouting propaganda without knowing the depth of their ignorance. Nothing illustrates this better than the Israel-Gaza conflict.
Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel, beginning on October 7, killed around 1,200 Israelis, mainly civilians, making it the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust. One mustn’t forget that many Israeli Arabs also perished. One of these inconvenient facts forgotten by pro-Palestinian placard-wavers (who are really pro-Hamas, even if they don’t know it), is that some 20 per cent of Israelis are Arabs and 17 per cent are Muslim. Documents found on the bodies of Hamas terrorists show that the intent of Hamas was to kill as many civilians as possible, including detailed plans to target elementary schools. Another note, recovered by the Israeli Defence Force, read as follows:
‘You must sharpen the blades of your swords and be pure in your intentions before Allah. Know that the enemy is a disease that has no cure, except beheading and removing the hearts and livers. Attack them!’
Video footage, gathered from bodycams of the terrorists, shows them torturing their victims. The bodies found of Hamas’ victims bear the scars of the inhuman suffering they were subjected to before they were killed. There is a recording of a Hamas terrorist calling his parents with the phone of his victim, bragging with glee that he killed 10 people. Another is of terrorists boasting of having cut off the heads of their victims and playing with them.
This is the conduct of Hamas, an organisation designated as a terrorist group by, among others, the US, the UK, the European Union, and Australia. Remember, Hamas was voted into power in 2006 by a slim margin over Fatah in the Gaza Strip, they never allowed another election.
Another ignored fact is the fundamental difference between Israel and Hamas in how they treat their citizens and civilians during conflicts. While the former has made sure that every one of its citizens have access to shelters from the random rocket attacks, Hamas shelters their rockets in schools and hospitals, using civilians as human shields for weaponry and combatants, knowing that Israel will hesitate to attack due to humanitarian reasons. For Hamas, this is a win-win situation – either its civilians will prevent Israel from attacking, or if Israel does strike, the civilian casualties will be used for PR and engender sympathy among the gullible.
The actual welfare of the civilians has never been a consideration for Hamas, underscored by a report that said Hamas is hoarding 200,000 gallons of fuel for its militants, who hide in hundreds of kilometres of tunnels, while hospitals and water treatment plants are running low. Hamas openly calls for the destruction of Israel, and yet Israel is the one providing clean water to Gaza.
Even after the slaughter of Israelis, the Israeli military sent advice to residents in Gaza to move to the south in anticipation of their ground offensive in an attempt to reduce civilian casualties. Which other country will tell their enemies in advance of their combat strategy to avoid civilian casualties? The Hamas leadership, on the other hand, has ordered the civilians in the north to stay.
Around the world, mindless mobs have gathered and marched in support of Hamas and in condemnation of Israel, as if there is any moral equivalence. It is petulant and self-righteous. In Victoria, protestors saw fit to storm the office of Defence Minister Richard Marles. In Sydney, protestors were shouting ‘F*** the Jews!’ Elsewhere, the language reveals the callous nature of pro-Hamas protesters, with one man in London saying that ‘Hitler knew deal with these people’.
One might be tempted to say, and many do, that the slaughter of 1,200 Israelis is the culmination of Israel’s occupation of Gaza. But Israel does not have any presence in Gaza. In 1967, during the Third Arab-Israeli War, Israel occupied the then-Egypt-controlled Gaza (which is seldom mentioned), only after being fired upon from positions within Gaza. In 2005, Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza, forcibly removing the few thousand Jews who settled there.
But Israel has cemented the borders of Gaza, meaning that it is an open-air prison, others might pipe up. Perhaps Israel wouldn’t need to if the Hamas Charter didn’t specifically say that it intends to obliterate the state of Israel. But Gaza also has a border with Egypt, which the Egyptians have kept closed without any condemnation. Is it not morally worse for Egypt, an Islamic country that had occupied Gaza for years, as well as all the other Arab states in the area, many of whom very wealthy, not to open their doors to their brother and sister Muslims? The reality is that the Arab nations, like Hamas, care not a jot for the citizens of Gaza, whom they see only as a useful chess piece in the game of international relations against Israel.
The moral confusion over the Israel-Hamas conflict stems from not knowing ‘about stuff’. For if people knew a little more, there would be mass pro-Palestinian protests against Hamas. As such, in the utter moral confusion, antisemitism of the crassest kind is allowed to flourish again in the West, decades after ‘never again’ was promised.
The problem with any drive towards ‘fixing’ men’s mental health is a lot of blokes like being blokes. It is easier. An important reason why men on average die younger than women is that they do more dangerous things -- both at work and during recreation. Male suicides are often the result of a judicial system weighted against them in family court matters. And the biological differences between men and women are an obvious cause of differing disease patterns between the sexes. So attempts to "reform" men are unlikely to affect such important differences
International men’s day takes place today. There are plenty of good people working hard to raise the event’s status, but in many quarters it’ll be greeted with shrugs.
The same compelling stats will again do the rounds: that men die younger, receive longer prison sentences for the same crimes, do worse academically, represent the vast majority of our homeless and remain much more likely to kill themselves. Most will only be aware of the last statistic, even though it’s most likely the net consequence of all the others. Some people will acknowledge the problems facing men and boys but only offer up cursory platitudes and simple fixes. ‘Men need to talk more’, ‘Men need to cry more’, ‘Men need to hug other men without the catalyst of a last-minute goal’.
The subtext of such attitudes is almost always that men need to change. Women it seems, are the eternal finished product, ready for market. Whereas men are the equivalent of one of those robot dogs you see online that can do a bit of dancing but can’t quite master the stairs.
Even when men aren’t seen as individually defective, they are often viewed as collectively at fault. Feminists who take a sympathetic view of men’s mental health will sometimes go on to assert that men’s problems are yet another consequence of the patriarchy. But this just can feel like an attempt to get back to the ‘real’ agenda, like whenever the latest ‘Just Stop Something’ protest group inadvertently reveal that a sudden obsession with cavity insulation has something to do with Karl Marx.
The patriarchy is often imagined as a self-conscious act by men to protect both the status quo and each other’s interests. I’m not sure we’re all that concerned about one another’s welfare, given we are after all a species for whom the funniest thing imaginable is seeing our best mate take a football to the nuts. Most blokes don’t want a cultural revolution or, indeed, those fix-all solutions favoured by the ‘manosphere’ either, where they tell men to ‘crush’ self doubt and ‘unleash’ their inner beast. The closest most of us come to unleashing our inner beast is when a visiting in-law puts the heating on in September.
On a day-to-day basis the vast majority of blokes are doing their best to protect and provide for the people they care about. They may be a bit rubbish at remembering important dates, or the names of any children other than their own, but most are trying to be a dependable presence for the people they love.
When it comes to mental health, they would probably like to feel a bit happier, a bit calmer, sleep a bit better and feel less alone. It’s a hard thing to admit, but middle age and fatherhood can be a lonely business. At this age women are often still making friends: Annabelle from NCT, Claire from the school gate, Hannah from tumble tots, and that Pilates instructor who insists on leading all female classes. When I’m at the school gates my intention isn’t to make friends, it’s to, and this might sound crazy, pick up my son and take him home. Women excel in their ability to share the details of their lives with friends and family. It’s why a show like Loose Women has existed for nearly a quarter of a century; we recognise the value of a group of women getting together to share, moan a bit and laugh about the rubbishness of the hapless blokes they’ve been saddled with.
This kind of exchange is a lot harder for most men. For a start, when we do get time together, the last thing we want to do is talk about anything meaningful. This can easily lead to a situation where a man comes back from three days with his mates and has no new information to report to his partner. She’ll seek life ‘news’ but the only new thing he’s sure about is Greg’s fringe, which Greg spent the whole time getting hammered for.
His partner might conclude that this emotional distance is sad. In some ways she’s right, one of the great tragedies of being male is you never get to tell another man how you truly feel (the flipside being that you don’t have to listen to their woes – it may be flawed, but it’s not without logic).
The downside of this system is that as blokes bumble into middle-age the tough stuff of life becomes inevitable – disappointments, death, the cost of a family pass at Centre Parks. When the sad stuff goes undiscussed men can end up existing in an emotional vacuum.
But are those who say ‘men just need to talk more’ right? I suspect that even if men are encouraged to open up more, most of us are never going to become head tilting empaths or help our mate journey to find his ‘inner child’ (in fairness, we’d instantly forget the name of that child).
I suspect the real answer is something of a compromise: with men opening up more, but gradually and at their own pace. I wonder if something like the successful campaign for eating five fruit and veg a day could help. When spending time with a friend, aim for five new things you can tell your partner about them when you get home. In the process of finding out those things you might end up discovering something important. Or maybe, just like the original fruit and veg plan, you’ll only manage two, but at least you can convince yourself that the emotional equivalent of a Terry’s chocolate orange counts for the other three.
The problem with any drive towards ‘fixing’ men’s mental health is a lot of blokes like being blokes. The simplicity, the directness of communication, the fact you can make a full plan using just nine words spanning three text messages. So men might be open to some adjustments in behaviour, but only if it’s evolution rather than revolution.
We should keep this in mind the next time yet another campaign for men’s mental health calls on us to bare our souls. Men may need to talk a bit more – but let’s retain a bit of realism, the average bloke isn’t likely to go from nought to 60. Emotionally speaking, we’re less sports car and more family saloon.
The conclusions Sabrina Haynes comes to below are congruent with my personal experience. I have never been better than average in looks but for most of my life I have had no trouble attracting women, usually pretty good-looking ones. Why? In line with what she says, I have a lively sense of humour and high intelligence. I joke a lot and understand a lot. And I have great self-confidence
I was always confident that if I could just get a woman to have a meal with me, the magic would happen rapidly and she would want to see me again. Now that I am 80 and physically frail, it no longer works but it did work for many years. Sabrina does nail it below
The dominant social narrative currently at play is that a majority, if not all women are superficial beings who want a guy with a six pack who earns six figures. Women who are picky (or merely just selective) about their mate rightfully end up sad and alone, while the men they rejected go on to be successful.
At least, that’s what the manosphere thinks. The more reasonable among us probably disagree with this. In many couples, one individual is more attractive than the other. This isn’t always the case, of course, but there are actually benefits to women being the one who is more attractive in these scenarios. One study found that couples, where the wife was more physically attractive, had better positive outlooks as opposed to couples where the husband and wife matched one another in attractiveness.
Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t all about looks, money, success, or what car he drives for a lot of women (I can already hear the protests coming from the responses), but how exactly do women fall in love with unattractive men? The answer isn’t all that surprising, really.
The Pete Davidson Conundrum
Davidson isn’t a supermodel or even very good at his job, according to some, but that hasn’t stopped him from being romantically linked to some of the most successful and beautiful women in the public eye.
To be fair, you might not think that Kim Kardashian, Kate Beckinsale, Phoebe Dynevor, or Emily Ratajkowski are the most deserving of fame or success, but from a somewhat objective standpoint, they have the advantage over him in terms of physical appearance. Whenever there’s a question of inequality, specifically in terms of attractiveness, it boggles the mind. Women might look at that and think, what’s she doing with him? Men might think, what does he have that I don’t?
It’s been scientifically proven that women find a funny man “irresistible.”
I received a fair amount of pushback in my circle for arguing that Davidson’s girlfriends, both past and present, choose to be with him because he’s funny, sweet, and vulnerable (their adjectives, not mine), but the science doesn’t lie. It’s been scientifically proven that women find a funny man “irresistible.”
Pete Davidson and his famous celebrity girlfriends might be a bit too far-removed for some of us, so I’ll use a more realistic example. A friend from college, let’s call her Helen, confirms this.
In our senior year, she briefly went out with a friend of hers, so I called her to talk about their first date. “We had been friends for several years before this,” she says. “I didn’t think he was drop-dead gorgeous or anything, but he wasn’t terrible looking.” I can corroborate that, but here’s where it gets interesting. “We had amazing chemistry,” she says, still gushing, though this happened years ago. “He was super smart, very sweet, with an amazing sense of humor. We shared similar interests, and when we talked, it was a back-and-forth, effortless kind of banter.” Sadly, they didn’t last due to distance, but she says, to this day, it was the best first date she’s ever had.
Comedian Iliza Schlesinger Explains
We know that it’s possible for men who aren’t the most visually stunning to land a 10, but how exactly does it happen? Comedian Iliza Schlesinger, winner of Last Comic Standing and a frequent guest on The Joe Rogan Experience, explains it for us.
A matter of years ago, Iliza was flying back to her home in LA when she struck up a friendship with the man sitting beside her, Brian. He worked at a hedge fund, was a Yale graduate, and owned a home in Beverly Hills. They got along, but he wasn’t the most physically attractive guy. And, to make things complicated, he was into her, and she didn’t feel the same at first. But all of that changed.
“You cannot fake intelligence, you cannot fake sense of humor, you cannot fake wit. He had those things. He was unattractive,” she says, “We were friends for a full year.” But as their friendship grew, his feelings for her did as well. She wasn’t into him, until he revealed that his mom had cancer and became really emotionally vulnerable with her. “This is my big thing. As a woman, you can become attracted to a man you’re physically not attracted to because of personality. [For] men, it doesn’t work. You’re never like, that girl is a warthog, but it turns out she’s really funny, so I wanna put my mouth on hers.”
“It was all the kindness, how smart, how funny, all the stuff…my heart opened up.” Iliza admittedly fell in love with a guy she wasn’t attracted to who had been more or less pursuing her, but unfortunately, it didn’t end well. As it turns out, Brian lied about his mom being sick, his job, and his college education, among other things, and she eventually found out. After they broke up, she went on to write and star in Good on Paper on Netflix, based on her experience with him.
Women Are Cerebral, Men Are Visual
“Women are cerebral, men are visual,” Iliza explains. This, in part, is what she attributes to how she fell in love with a man she wasn’t initially attracted to. It’s also important to note that though she wasn’t attracted to him when their friendship began, her feelings for him grew as she got to know him.
It seems that a lot of men feel that most women initially write them off right away if they’re not better looking — but in a lot of cases, that isn’t accurate. Had she never formed a friendship with this man, she wouldn’t have become attracted to him. But his character (at least at first) made up for that.
Even the looks of a Hemsworth brother can’t prevent the most boring man from being off-putting.
Men often misguidedly think that women want the hottest man possible because it’s what they themselves value in a mate. Women want an attractive man, but even attractiveness can’t save a man who takes himself too seriously, can’t take a joke, knows nothing of personal hygiene, can’t hold a conversation, or doesn’t know how to dress well.
The same study, which found couples are more positive where the wife is the more attractive of the two, also found that a man’s attractiveness wasn’t the sticking point for wives — it was his level of support for her. At the same time, the couples where the husband was the most attractive found lower levels of support.
A subreddit on r/dating provides a wealth of knowledge on this topic. One guy sums it up perfectly:
“Women, for the most part, do not find men attractive the same way we find them attractive. Meaning that I would go out with a girl as long as she is attractive, sexy, or pretty…I will give her a chance. She doesn’t have to be smart, funny, etc. And I know that might seem wrong for some, but I understand that, by nature, that’s how most guys are. Women, on the other hand, are attracted to something special about you. Not necessarily your looks, I know plenty of guys who are very handsome and attractive but lack personality, social skills, confidence, and so on. That’s why a lot of average-looking guys can get women to notice them if they are funny, mature, and confident with who they are. I think that’s what most women see as attractive. Anything physical is a bonus.”
It wasn’t Brian’s looks or even his fake Yale degree that attracted Iliza to him. It was his emotional vulnerability, his sense of humor, his intelligence, and so much more.
For my friend Helen, her amazing chemistry with her long-time guy friend wasn’t based on his appearance, but on their shared interests, their ability to keep up with one another, their conversation. “Sparks were constantly flying,” she tells me. “Over time, I grew to be more physically attracted to him because I was so engrossed in him. Our connection was magical.”
Is it possible for a woman to be attracted to a man’s mind? The short answer is yes. Attraction is a powerful thing, and we can’t over-analyze or explain it a lot of the time. Again, even the looks of a Hemsworth brother can’t prevent the most boring man from being hard to be around and off-putting. Similarly, intellect, sense of humor, character, charm, and all the other indescribable qualities we’re drawn to can’t stop us from falling for the guy we wouldn’t think we’d be interested in at first glance.
Your partner may meet someone whom they like better than you.
"Open" relationships are often tried and seem a good idea at first but in the end a committed monogamous relationship is a better route to long term security in a relationship. The woman below found that out the hard way. She has lost her partner and is suffering badly as a result
For those of you who have been following my last few posts, you know that my relationship with my husband is tenuously holding on by a very thin thread. Four years into our non-monogamous exploration, his new, very serious, relationship with an HSV2+ partner has caused our relationship to implode.
In the nine months since he started dating his new partner, we have had to grapple with the significance of introducing someone with an STI into our sexual lives, in the face of very different views on the associated risks. We’ve also had to negotiate my husband’s request to change our non-monogamy agreement and transition to becoming non-hierarchical. And, on top of that, we’ve been navigating the contrast between his new, highly sexually and emotionally charged relationship and our long-term, relatively less sexually intense relationship involving three kids, a dog, a mortgage, bills and the other realities of married life.
Yeah… it’s been a fucking awful few months….
From my perspective, all of this started nine months ago. Right around the time — actually, to be totally exact, it was exactly at the time — that he met his new partner. Before that fateful point in time, things had been mostly humming along between us. We’d survived the roller-coaster of the first few years of the massive transition from monogamy to having sex and relationships with various new partners. We’d entered a fairly stable phase of our non-monogamy.
I was pretty confident we were kind of normal. Yes, obviously, there were some points of friction and just general blah-ness that comes with a quarter of a decade of living together, but overall I felt good about our relationship. We were talking about the future. We were going out on date nights every couple of weeks. We enjoyed our time together on vacation. And we were getting through the daily hum of family life without too many hiccups. Plus we were kind of rocking non-monogamy, with both of us having stable partners that added rather than depleted from our life.
I totally acknowledge that there were parts of our relationship and life together that weren’t perfect. There were days were we struggled with our different communication styles — I’m rapid-fire and he’s a thinker-before-speaking type of guy. There were periods when we felt a bit less connected, preferring to spend our evenings on our separate mobile devices watching our own shows rather than spending the evening compromising on watching a show together. It wasn’t shits and giggles every single minute.
But I still felt our relationship was good.
Nine months ago, it wasn’t just between us that it was good. Our family unit was strong. With three teenagers in the house, many people assumed our home life was full of teenage hormones, drama and rolling eyes. In reality, our three kids have always been fairly lovely people to be around, even during the throes of adolescence. Unlike many families in which the teenagers disappear into grungy basements to sit in front of screens all day and all night, our teens spend a lot of time with us. In fact, we spent so much time together that we would sing-song to each other “just the fiiiiive of us” as we sat down for our almost-daily family dinner.
Up until recently, I thought we were the lucky ones — lucky to have such a close, connected family. I felt lucky to have a 25+ year relationship with a man that I loved, respected and wanted to grow old with. An us against the world kind of feeling.
And then, there was this fateful day when he met her and suddenly things changed.
The shift was neither subtle nor slow to come about. It happened fast. Practically overnight my husband became distant and irritable around us, spending more and more time out of the house. He stopped coming to bed at the same time as me preferring to stay on the couch until the wee hours of the night texting with his new partner. His evening absences met fewer family dinners and those that he was physically present for, he didn’t contribute to the conversation.
I started to gripe about the situation. I even dared suggest that his new relationship was causing more harm than good and that maybe it was time to end it and get ourselves back on more stable footing. I foolishly thought that if she was out of the picture we could go back to the way things were before. I was wrong.
Instead of considering the role that this new relationship was having on us, my husband was thinking something very different. He finally told me that he’d been unhappy for years. He felt that’s why we were in the situation we were in. Whereas I completely blamed his new relationship and felt that his emotional connection with his new partner was causing havoc on our relationship and the sanctity of our family unit, he thought the havoc had nothing to do with her. I was gob-smacked — and if there was ever a time to use the word gob-smacked this is it — when he told me that the problem was our relationship. He said that he had felt our marriage had been lacking for many years and he was done with being unhappy.
Since that shocker, he has made clear that he is “digging in his heels and pushing back” on what he views as years and years of me not paying enough attention to him. The problems in our relationship, according to him, are so bad and so terrible, that we need to fix them now or he will leave.
I am totally destabilized. I feel complete dissonance between what I experienced and what he says he experienced in our marriage. I thought we were happy. Perfect? No. But happy. He says he wasn’t for years. I did not know and feel blindsided by his newly expressed version of our life together.
I admit, I have struggled to believe him. The timing is problematic. If he’d been unhappy for years why did it only come out when he met his new partner? I can’t help but think he is actively trying to rationalize his decisions about his new partner by convincing himself that he was unhappy with me. Re-writing our history and making me the bad guy may be a lot easier than taking a look at his actions.
He admits she’s been a “catalyst” but even without her, he says it was a matter of time before he was going to leave me. Seriously?
I want to scream at him: What were you doing or going to do to stop this from happening? Why didn’t you fight for us? Why didn’t you tell me before it got this bad?
We are now in a stalemate. I blame him for falling in love with someone and being blind to the impact this has had on his decisions and thought process. He blames me for not believing that there has been a big problem between us for years.
I feel like I have two choices in front of me: Either continue to believe that the problem stems from her or start to reflect on whether there were major cracks in my marriage’s foundation that I didn’t see (or didn’t want to see). Was our non-monogamous exploration an attempt to fill those cracks? Did we open up because our marriage was unhappy? If so, can we fix things before things crumble completely?
I desperately want to go back to believing we are the lucky ones. But I am not sure it will ever be “just the five of us” again.
One should be wary of stereotypes in matters of divorce and child custody. When my wife walked out with our 5 year-old son, I might well have had grave concerns for his welfare. I did not. I thought his loving and capable mother would look after him well and was happy to leave him in her care
And my positivity was rewarded. She thought the boy needed his father and made a point of sending him to me for a day each weekend. No custody dispute whatever. With goodwill many custody disputes could be avoided and the lack of goodwill is the real problem. Not all fathers may be able to act as I did but those who try it may be surprised at how trust engenders trust
For two days this week the lawns of Parliament House have been strewn with 2500 empty shoes, one for each of the men and boys who die in Australia each year through suicide. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare our male suicide rate is overall three to four times higher than the female rate, and mainly involves men in mid-life. These are the major predictive facts about suicide: being male; being divorced, widowed or separated; living alone; being unemployed. The suicide rate in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is twice that of the non-Indigenous population.
Meanwhile, the government is concentrating all preventive efforts on domestic violence against women, always seen as “gendered” violence; in other words, men being violent towards women. According to organisations such as White Ribbon, domestic violence is just a male problem. It is their fault. What’s more, according to its media releases this week for White Ribbon Day, most men just can’t see it or know what to do about it. White Ribbon demands they “educate” themselves because “violence against women is at epidemic proportions, and (our research) contrasts that with the reasons men have given us for not getting involved. We think men will see that there’s no good reason to not step up this year and either make a donation or educate themselves. Because with one in three Australian women being a victim of violence, it’s not just a women’s issue, it’s everyone’s issue”.
But guess what? According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there are 47 male deaths from suicide per week. Meanwhile, there are 71 females who die from fatal domestic violence per year, that equals 1.36 per week. So male suicides, which are 35 times as numerous as deaths from DV, should also be everyone’s issue. But where is the advertising campaign? Where is the support? The ads that are all about “gendered violence” just blame men, and boys, and the support for men at risk of suicide, except for veterans of the armed forces, is almost nil.
You might say these two issues, DV and male suicide, are not comparable. But think about them in the psychosocial terms of the health and social wellbeing of the community. Most importantly, how well do we value the health and welfare of each section of the population, male and female?
Domestic violence is, as I know, real and has all sorts of serious intergenerational effects. My paternal grandfather was a violent man, who terrorised his family. But, and this is the big but, where is the nuance in the “domestic violence is gendered” statements like the ones White Ribbon uses? It is all the fault of men and apparently the men have to educate themselves. This is simplistic. It is ideology, plain and simple.
What of the pathologies that plague all of us, and our whole society? Why is something that involves two people presented as one-dimensional: man bad perpetrator, woman good victim? The DV lobby does not allow presentation of this problem in any other way, because allowing any nuance might question the simplistic assumptions that underlie the narrow, prismatic feminist ideology that governs all current social legislation, especially in family law.
One fact of male trauma the feminist trope will not admit is that men’s mental and psychological welfare is often eroded by the constant blame and fear of being blamed. No wonder, as even White Ribbon admits, men are confused. None of the DV advocates who speak in terms of “gendered violence” and male “toxic” behaviour look at the root causes of violence.
Importantly, these overlap with the causes of male suicide: substance abuse, unemployment, isolation, intergenerational dysfunction (especially in Aboriginal men and young boys), and family breakdown, which affects all classes and groups of men, but particularly men in the highest age bracket for suicide.
Since 2008, the highest suicide rates have been observed in middle-aged males (aged 40-49). But groups such as White Ribbon are not really interested in the male’s welfare within a marriage or domestic partnership; furthermore, its view of female welfare is so one-dimensionally seen as victimhood that it never admits the couple dynamic.
However, male suicide, though complex, is often triggered, in the words of the AIHW research, by “a recent stressful life event”, especially divorce or final separation from a long-term partner. That has been cited by all research into Australian male suicide as the overwhelming reason behind the rise in middle-life suicide, especially where children are involved.
Divorce is not just a single event; it causes a cascading series of problems, and men in contested divorce cases often find themselves in a maze of legal and financial dead ends, with a mounting psychological toll of usually concealed trauma.
An inquiry into the operation of family law earlier this century was one of the longest in Australian history and found suicide among Australian men was disproportionately associated with family law disputes, especially over custody of children. What is more, the level of false accusations was outrageous. Consequently, in 2006 family law was redrafted to give fathers more say in parenting their children after divorce, with a presumption of shared parenting.
Now, due to the untoward influence of the feminist lobby, for whom all marriages are potential minefields of domestic violence, that sensible and humane principle has been abandoned. This is not “reform”. It is a regression to the past. It is a disastrous change, which will cause more false accusations of violence and more harm to fathers of children and, consequently, more male suicides.
A win for sanity. Because it is cheap and very effective the Green/Left have long hated it and tried to drum up evidence of its harmfulness. The big problem is that it is NOT harmful in normal use. Lawsuits have however cost Monsanto a lot of money. Background on the campaign against it below
The European Commission has approved the use of the controversial weedkiller glyphosate for another decade, with a spokesperson for Australian growers backing the move as good news for exports.
Authorisation in European Union countries was set to expire on December 15, after a one-year extension was given last year.
Without access to the chemical, which kills a broad spectrum of weeds, farmers claimed food production would have been affected.
The weedkiller is also widely used among the broader population by backyard and professional gardeners.
Farmers globally were worried the commission would not renew its approval, given strong pressure from anti-glyphosate campaigners, and claims that glyphosate is a health hazard.
But the commission defied those expectations in a split decision this week, after key member states France, Germany and Italy abstained from voting.
Earlier this year, a class action lawsuit was launched against the makers of glyphosate by people diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma who used or were exposed to Roundup.
In September, a preliminary nine-week trial in the Federal Court in Melbourne heard from expert witnesses about whether glyphosate is carcinogenic to humans.
Closing submissions in that trial are scheduled for January.
Research on glysophate 'intensifying'
In a statement, the European Commission said the approval was "based on comprehensive safety assessments carried out by the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency, together with the member states".
It said there was "no evidence to classify glyphosate as being carcinogenic".
In granting a 10-year extension, rather than the usual 15-year time frame, the commission said research on glyphosate was "intensifying".
"New insights on the properties of glyphosate relevant for the protection of human health and environment can be expected," it said.
It also said the 10-year approval came with several new conditions, including the prohibition of use as a desiccant, or drying agent, and the setting of maximum application rates.
The European Union's (EU) chemical regulation system is a two-step process, meaning member states have the right to ban products even if approved at EU level.
Shona Gawel, chief executive of peak body GrainGrowers, said a glyphosate ban in the EU would have been bad news for Australian growers. "I don't like to speculate on exactly what it would have meant but … it could have impacted on exports," she said.
"There are also other countries that watch the EU fairly closely, so we suspect that would mean they might have started to reflect the EU requirements."
Ms Gawel said Australia's chemical regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), had ruled glyphosate to be non-carcinogenic.
"I know the APVMA scientists have reviewed close to 4,800 peer-reviewed articles and datasets around glyphosate usage, so I think we have to trust the science," she said.
Ms Gawel said that while farmers do use chemicals that are harmful to human health, it was done in a safe way.
"It's a little bit like with our family pets at home — if we give them a flea treatment, if we used a chemical like that outside of the way the label dictates, it would be harmful," she said.
"So it's the same approach when it comes to the use of chemicals on farms, that growers have training and they use chemicals in compliance with labels."
Families waiting for public housing frustrated as almost 1,400 government-owned properties sit empty in WA
When I was a landlord, I did from time to time have tenants leaving my property in a mess. I usually had the place habitable again within a week -- usually by bogging in myself to do a cleanup. When government is the landlord, however it commmonly takes months to get the property ready for new tenants. It stays vacant meanwhile. An old-old story about government inefficiency
Families experiencing homelessness in regional Western Australia say public housing is sitting empty and boarded up for months and even years at a time — forcing some into overcrowded and unsafe living conditions.
Geraldton woman Dena Comeagain and her two-year-old son Boston have been relying on family members for a place to live since July, after a series of private rentals they were living in were sold.
Ms Comeagain is on the priority housing waitlist, but she could still be waiting over a year for a house.
She said the past few months — moving between crowded houses and not knowing when they would have a place of their own — had been unsettling.
"It's taking a toll on me now; everything is, with being homeless," Ms Comeagain said.
"I just want to get up and go, but I can't because I have nowhere else to go.
Ms Comeagain's frustration builds when she sees empty public housing boarded up around Geraldton.
As of June, there were 191 vacant public homes in the Midwest and Gascoyne, which includes the regional centres of Geraldton and Carnarvon.
There were 1,380 houses across the state sitting vacant.
In December last year, the Midwest-Gascoyne had the highest rate of vacant public housing in WA at 13.7 per cent — three times the state average.
The December figures, which were provided to WA parliament earlier this year, show empty public housing has been climbing over the past three years.
Statewide, empty public housing increased from 2.5 per cent in December 2020 to 4.2 per cent in December 2022.
Ms Comeagain said she had called the Department of Communities about empty properties she thought could be suitable for her and Boston.
"I am angry when they keep telling me the same yarn over and over ... that's their job, to get the people so they can be fixed, so people can be housed."
Ms Comeagain is not alone in her frustration.
A report to a parliamentary committee on the Funding of Homelessness Services in WA, released in June, found there was a significant number of public housing properties in Western Australia that were vacant or under-utilised.
The parliamentary committee heard anecdotal evidence of properties that had been empty for many months, and even years.
Ten people under one roof
Housing advocates are also concerned that lack of public housing is a factor contributing to unsafe overcrowding.
Over the past few months, Ms Comeagain and Boston have stayed with family members, and at times there have been 10 people living under one roof.
Ms Comeagain she found the overcrowded living difficult, especially after hearing about the death of a 10-month-old baby in the Midwest in July while awaiting public housing.
"I could be in the same situation. I'm a single mother and I'm living the same way those girls were with their babies," she said. "We want to break that cycle.
"[The Department of Communities] should be able to house people so they can have a safe home for their babies."
Ms Comeagain craves stability. "Having a safe haven for my baby, putting him in daycare and getting my life back on track, getting a job again and just being stable," she said.
Potential health issues
Veteran housing advocate Betsy Buchanan said it was difficult for families in desperate need to see empty houses. "I think it's it makes them feel very powerless and very unheard," Ms Buchanan said.
She said overcrowding led to many health issues. "It means that the children get very ill ... that places huge stress on the entire family and the mothers and grandmothers often feel personally responsible, when the overcrowding is really triggering a lot of the illness," she said.
A Department of Communities spokesperson said the number of vacant public housing properties in the region had dropped by 50 since last December, with 35 properties and 12 units being refurbished.
Another 12 "untenable" properties were demolished to make way for a road reserve.
The spokesperson pointed to damage caused by tenants as a factor contributing to properties being vacant, alongside the lingering impact of Tropical Cyclone Seroja and the collapse of the department's property maintenance contractor in the region, Pindan, in 2021.
I agree with Toby Young below. English customs, traditions and attitudes are powerful in helping people to get along with one-another. Australia retains a strong English influence but is even more multicultural than Britain -- and we too have an almost seamless multiculturalism.
When I sit in my favourite breakfast cafe, I often find that among all the customers there is only one or two who have my fair Celtic skin. There are always people of Chinese and South Asians as fellow-diners there plus a great majority with Mediterranean skin -- presumably from everywhere between Spain and Iran. And there is NEVER the sligtiest disruption. People line up nicely to order their food and the waiters keep bringing out wonderful-looking meals. I have never heard so much as a raised voice. That is real-life multiculturalism at work.
And it so happens that I have these days a female friend of Indian heritage whom I am rather soppy about. See below:
Many of my conservative friends are beginning to catastrophise about the future of Britain in light of the pro-Palestinian protests that have erupted in our major cities over the past month. ‘I think you’re screwed,’ an American philosopher told me on Monday. ‘You should have raised the alarm about immigration from Muslim countries 25 years ago and now it’s too late. The fox is in the hen house.’
Such pessimism is coming to a head this weekend, with tens of thousands of protestors threatening to disrupt the Remembrance ceremonies which are taking place over two days owing to 11 November falling on a Saturday. If the two-minute silence is interrupted on either day by chants of ‘from the river to the sea’ or the Cenotaph has a Palestinian flag draped over it, we can expect a lot of hand-wringing about the failure of multiculturalism from right-of-centre columnists, as well as some Tory MPs. But unusually I find myself at odds with my colleagues on this issue. I’m not quite ready to conclude that a significant percentage of Britain’s Muslim population remains stubbornly unassimilated and rejects our way of life.
To begin with, the vast majority of Britain’s four million Muslims haven’t participated in these protests. Let’s suppose – generously – that 250,000 people have taken part in a pro-Palestinian protest in the UK since 7 October. If you subtract the 50,000 or so who aren’t Muslims but the usual middle-class rabble clutching Socialist Workers party banners, that means just 5 per cent of the Muslim population have been on the streets calling for the destruction of Israel.
And what of that 5 per cent? The press has focused on the most extremist people, like the two young women with pictures of paragliders stuck to their jackets and the young men using loudhailers to denounce the Jews – and such behaviour is deeply shocking. But there’s no evidence that most of the protestors support Hamas or Hezbollah or want Israel’s seven million Jews to be slaughtered by Islamist paramilitaries, even if that would certainly be their fate if the state of Israel ceased to exist.
I think the majority are engaging in a kind of wilful blindness, their natural humanity temporarily silenced by the excitement at being swept up in a tribal conflict. They remind me of QPR fans on their way to play a local rival like Fulham. Loud and intimidating and prone to chanting some quite unpleasant things, but they don’t even represent themselves – certainly not their best selves – let alone the entire population of Shepherd’s Bush.
Am I being too generous? Not according to the survey evidence. An ICM poll for Policy Exchange carried out in 2016 found that more than half of the UK’s Muslim population want to ‘fully integrate’ (53 per cent) and the vast majority share the hopes and concerns of the rest of Britain’s citizens. True, they’re more likely to believe conspiracy theories – 7 per cent believe the Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks – but they’re also more likely than the general population to condemn acts of terrorism (90 per cent compared with 84 per cent) and less likely to sympathise with terrorists (2 per cent against 4 per cent).
We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Britain is one of the most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith societies in the world. We have a Hindu Prime Minister, a Buddhist Home Secretary and a Muslim Mayor of London. Yes, there are occasional bouts of ethnic conflict, such as the clashes between Muslims and Hindus in Leicester following India’s victory over Pakistan in the Asia Cup cricket match last year. But, in general, Britain’s different ethnic groups rub along together remarkably well. In my part of west London I’ve never witnessed any racial tension. Catholic Poles and Muslim Somalis may not worship in the same temples, but when Saturday comes they cheer along the same football team at Loftus Road.
I hope I don’t sound too complacent. I know anti-Semitic incidents have increased by several hundred per cent in the past month, which is one of the reasons I helped create the October Declaration, an expression of solidarity with Britain’s Jews that has attracted more than 75,000 signatures. But I don’t feel as depressed about the future of our society as some of my fellow conservatives. I pray that nothing will happen to undermine the solemnity of the Remembrance weekend, and the pro-Palestinian protests will fizzle out as winter comes in. My hope is that the ugly scenes we’ve witnessed on our streets will be remembered as a blip, not as a watershed moment when we realised how catastrophic mass immigration has been for our way of life.
We hear a lot about Arctic warming, Greenland in particular. How come we don't hear much about Antarctic cooling? Could there be a natural balancing going on that nobody wants to talk about?
New research indicates West Antarctica’s mean annual surface temperatures cooled by more than -1.8°C (-0.93°C per decade) from 1999-2018. In spring, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) cooling rate reached -1.84°C per decade.
Not only has the WAIS undergone significant cooling in the last two decades, but most of the continent has also cooled by more than 1°C.
Of 28 CMIP6 models, none captured a cooling trend – especially of this amplitude – for this region. This modeling failure “implies substantial uncertainties in future temperature projections of CMIP6 models.”
The post-1999 cooling trend has not been confined to Antarctica.
Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Eastern and Central Pacific (south of 25°N) also cooled from 1999-2018 relative to 1979-1997.
This cooling encompasses nearly half of the Southern Hemisphere’s SSTs.
The 1999-2018 mean annual surface temperature cooling of the Antarctic continent and nearly half of the Southern Hemisphere’s SSTs do not support the claims that surface warming is driven by human emissions of ‘greenhouse gases’.
After all, if the increase in ‘GHG forcing’ can’t explain the widespread cooling, why would the same concentrations of ‘GHG’s explain the areas with warming temperatures?
A VERY intellectual story below about images of polar bears. The Green/Left for a long time claimed that the bears were dying out so the bears became a symbol of global warming. Now, however, they are mostly a symbol of climate fraud. Why? The bears are NOT dying out. They are increasing in overall numbers, if anything. Pesky!
From television news bulletins, newspapers and magazines, documentaries and films, social media memes and cartooning, to protest and art – even to the images that spontaneously come into our minds – polar bears are now ubiquitously associated with climate change. Indeed, polar bear visuals now often mean nothing but climate change. Why do polar bear images, as a particular type of climate change imagery, continue to thrive and to circulate – and indeed, to haunt – our imaginings of climate change? This paper seeks to understand the tangled social, cultural, political, and scientific histories of polar bear visuals through defining a new concept, a ‘visual metonym’. This concept is worked through using a longitudinal analysis of visual evidence arising from political, social, scientific, and cultural domains and using a hauntological approach that is sensitive to the spectre-like nature of polar bear imagery. This reveals three periods in which the work that polar bear visuals has undertaken has changed: polar bear (1990s–mid-2000s), political bear (mid-2000s), and climate bear (mid-2000s onwards). By the time of the ‘climate bear’ period, polar bear images had become entrenched and irreducible from (i.e., they haunt) climate change. As polar bear images came to stand in for much wider debates – of climate scepticism and political (in)action – they became a visual metonym. The paper concludes by presenting the visual metonym concept as a way to explore and understand how particular image types gain power, agency, and meaning and how they come to act as signalling devices representing complex engagements with contemporary issues. The visual metonym concept can be used to understand, interrogate, and critique naturalised and pervasive issue-led imagery.
There are two problems with the article below. The big one is to blame older people for the failure to cure inflation and the detail of that is condemnation of increased spending by the elderly.
I am one of the old "sinners" concerned: At age 80. After some earlier good life-decisions, I have substantial assets and no debts and have increased my spending recently. But I have not done so to exploit anybody. I have done so to help with my declining health. I have recently failed the medical for my driving licence so get more food home-delivered. And that is an increased expenditure.
It is time to lay off the elderly and sheet home the blame for increased costs to where it belongs: to increased spending by governments. Albanese has hired thousands more publc servants who all have to be paid and that is where we should look for the big spending.
Michele Bullock got off the mark with a crisp drive on Tuesday, increasing the Reserve Bank of Australia’s cash rate at her second meeting as board chairwoman. It had to happen, given official interest rates had been on hold since the June hike, and with consumer inflation lingering at around twice the central bank’s target rate.
The RBA governor explained to borrowers that while inflation might have peaked a year ago, it “is still too high”. As more evidence rolls in, it’s clear prices growth is more persistent than expected when she took over from Philip Lowe a couple of months ago, as is the strength of spending.
“The risk of inflation remaining higher for longer has increased,” Bullock said after lifting the cash rate to 4.35 per cent. “While the economy is experiencing a period of below-trend growth, it has been stronger than expected over the first half of the year.”
On Friday, the RBA released its quarterly Statement on Monetary Policy, with inflation forecasts revised higher. It will be a close-run thing whether inflation falls back into the 2-3 target band by late 2025, but Bullock has one very blunt bat to knock this interloper on its head if the journey looks like being delayed.
Jim Chalmers knows the central bank must do whatever it thinks it has to do, but he’s a politician who wants to stay in office.
Thus, the custodian is – and has to be seen as being – on the side of those in the RBA’s firing line, come what may. Flush with revenue, midway through a parliamentary term, Labor is caught between providing relief to families and putting more juice into an overstretched economy.
Independent economist Chris Richardson tells Inquirer the federal Treasurer could help the RBA and families in two ways: first, by reducing the amount of spending in the economy; second, by helping offset some of the pain. “Yet that’s easier said than done because those two things can pull in different directions,” says the Rich Insight principal.
Families rearing children in the mortgage belt decide elections in this country and Labor’s political stocks are on the slide in the published polls. Many living in typically well-off areas are in financial counselling and seeking social support for the first time.
Required mortgage repayments as a nationwide share of disposable income is at a record high of 10 per cent. Bill shock – for petrol, electricity, insurance premiums, rents, childcare and eating out – is on everyone’s lips.
While the consumer price index increased by 5.4 per cent in the year to the September quarter, living costs for these “employee households” rose by 9 per cent (that includes mortgage interest charges; the CPI does not). Living costs for self-funded retirees rose by 5.7 per cent across the year.
The other side of the big squeeze on home-loan borrowers, where an average big-city mortgage is now perhaps $20,000 a year more expensive to service than it was 18 months ago, is an economy that refuses to yield, sustained by predominantly older Australians who are footloose and mortgage-free. Savers, it’s your moment to shine, although many believe it’s about time, with real returns finally hovering around zero.
Retail spending in the September quarter was stronger than expected, helped along by the warmer weather, a new iPhone, energy subsidies and the grey dollar. Betashares chief economist David Bassanese says today’s “cruel irony” is that the more debt-free households keep spending with abandon, the more the RBA is forced to screw down on home borrowers.
Commonwealth Bank head of Australian economics Gareth Aird says those without mortgages “are certainly keeping spending higher than otherwise”. “Older people, on average, are spending a fair bit more in nominal terms compared to last year,” Aird tells Inquirer. “They are the beneficiaries of higher rates as they get a higher return on their deposits.”
But retail trade is also being propped up by the savings pile built over the pandemic, the revival in home prices and our world-leading population growth.
Many economists, including Aird, had predicted a crunch in consumer spending under the weight of the RBA’s first dozen rapid-fire rate hikes, which make Glenn Maxwell look gun-shy, and the roll-off from ultra-cheap fixed rate mortgages.
“We are currently about halfway through the fixed-rate rollover, which means there is still a lot of organic tightening to come to home borrowers,” Aird says. “It has not been a problem from a financial stability perspective and arrears are low. But many households have had to tweak their consumption as they roll off fixed-rate loans. Real discretionary spending per capita has fallen.”
But across the entire economy, the CBA economist says, household spending has held up better than we anticipated.
“But a big part of that has been stronger than expected population growth,” Aird says. “At a per capita level the trend in spending has largely been what we expected to see. Further weakness will carry forward through next year.”
RBA economists believe the outlook for consumer spending is only one of the significant uncertainties in play, along with China’s prospects, the long lags in monetary policy’s effects, how workers and businesses will behave on wages and prices as the economy slows while the jobs market remains tight, and wars in Ukraine and the Middle East.
Last week officials from the International Monetary Fund noted the remarkable resilience of our economy even as household disposable incomes were battered by higher inflation, mortgage costs and taxes. They observed an economy growing ahead of expectations despite the RBA’s assault and Canberra’s “fiscal consolidation” – meaning a stunning two-year turnaround in the budget balance as most of the revenue upgrades from stronger mining profits and personal income tax were saved.
But they added the RBA and Albanese government should ensure monetary and fiscal policies were not in conflict. The Washington-based officials also found an economy operating beyond full capacity (producing about 1 per cent more than its potential), with house prices on the rise and a 3.6 per cent unemployment rate close to a 50-year low.
In a concluding statement issued before this week’s RBA rate rise, the visitors noted the elevated level of migration, strong exports of iron ore and coal, robust private investment and public capital works were contributing to high inflation and called for “further monetary policy tightening to ensure that inflation comes back to the target range by 2025 and minimise the risk of de-anchoring inflation expectations”.
They also warned the federal and state governments to slow things down and co-ordinate their spending on infrastructure. “Otherwise, interest rates would have to be even higher, putting the burden of adjustment disproportionately on mortgage holders,” the IMF officials said.
In its World Economic Outlook last month, the IMF forecast the global economy to expand by 3 per cent this year and 2.9 per cent next year. This will be the weakest two-year period in the past two decades, outside of the global financial crisis and the pandemic, for the world and for us at home.
The RBA’s forecasts suggest the same, noting on Friday that growth in our major trading partners will fall to 3 per cent next year, well below the average in the decade prior to the pandemic. Yet Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy told parliament last month “advanced economies have been more resilient to higher inflation and tight monetary policy than expected”.
“The path for a so-called soft landing appears to have widened in many, but not all, countries,” Kennedy told a Senate estimates session, nominating the US as the standout case.
Is it widening for Australia or is it narrowing? “My own view is that it remains narrow but it’s a little wider,” Kennedy said in response to the question from West Australian Liberal senator Dean Smith. “I’m becoming more confident about our ability in Australia to maintain low unemployment rates and see inflation fall back within the band over a reasonable period.”
But it’s the slide in living standards that is eating away at the electorate’s mood. Real per capita household disposable income (that is, after tax and inflation) fell by 2.2 per cent in the year to June, although this was less than the OECD average of 3.6 per cent. Of course, averages mask big swings in different families.
Australia is being hit by “shock after shock after shock”, as Bullock observed recently of the spike in oil price rises and wars, complicating the story. Kennedy argues shocks cut both ways: higher oil prices, for instance, will increase headline inflation by raising petrol prices, but it may well reduce growth and see other prices fall because people have less to spend.
What can the Albanese government do in the short run – many of its supply-side moves on workforce participation, skills and energy won’t pay off for years, if at all – to help in the inflation fight and ease the cost burden?
Voters surveyed by Newspoll a week ago believed the best thing the government could do to ease the cost of living was to subsidise energy bills (with 84 per cent support), followed by subsidising fuel prices (81 per cent), then cutting government spending to reduce inflation, tax cuts for individuals and cash payments to low-income families. Every item on the five-dish buffet got majority approval.
Richardson says a temporary cut to petrol tax would help people with buying petrol. But it would also add to spending and inflation – giving with one hand and taking away with the other. “In fact if it adds enough to inflation, it could spook the Reserve Bank into another rate rise, meaning that a policy designed to help could actually hurt,” he said.
The economist argues more cost-of-living help gets delivered than Treasury would usually like to see. “The politics of helping out is rather better than the economics of helping out,” he says. “Remember, if governments did have a magic wand that could make your living standards higher, then they’d be waving it like mad – and they’d have been doing that for decades. But they don’t, which is why helping out in a cost-of-living crisis is so complicated.”
The best approach would be to spend on those who need help, “while avoiding the risk of a worsening in inflation and another hike in interest rates by cutting other spending and/or raising taxes”, Richardson says.
“So the government could, for example, boost rent assistance and the lowest welfare payments, and pay for that by trimming the stage three tax cuts. But that would mean taking money from swinging voters to give it to rusted-on voters, something the political hardheads would baulk at. Or, in other words, and as is so often the case, the right thing to do is also the politically difficult thing to do.
“In which case the next best outcome is for the government to choose to do nothing (or, more likely, to announce small things and pretend they’re big things).”
The federal budget is idling, in a neutral setting, for the purposes of helping to slow the economy and reduce inflation. Canberra should be more proactive than simply allowing the so-called automatic stabilisers (essentially a rising tax take) to do their thing, especially as the size of the federal government has grown this past decade and the mendicant premiers keep building in permanent spending.
New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed the number of public servants continues to rise, with Canberra the outlier. The states, too, are spending more on their own operations, especially the frontier states, off the back of strong mining royalties.
Delving into the “table of truth” in the federal budget papers, with some running adjustments since May, Richardson calculates government decisions across four years have added about $61bn to spending and $27bn to taxes. “The official data says that we’re in surplus despite our politicians, not because of them,” he says. “If you want the budget to help the RBA, then government decisions have to save money. That hasn’t happened. To be fair, a worsening of around $34bn over a four-year period isn’t that bad. But it certainly isn’t in the right direction.”
In a change of language this week, Bullock said in considering whether further policy tightening was required, the RBA board would be paying close attention to “trends in domestic demand”, a term that goes beyond consumers to take in public spending as well.
Naturally, economists are divided on whether the RBA has done enough – it must be close. Those with ties to the housing industry and retail argue it already has gone too far, while others point to the migration surge, persistent and high services inflation and ongoing strength in the labour market as reasons to expect one more hike in February for “insurance”. Former RBA governor Lowe argued Australia was special and didn’t need rates to be as high as our peers in New Zealand, Canada, Britain and the US.
For one, wages growth has been more moderate. We have a higher proportion of variable-rate mortgages and so household cashflow is hit hard with each twist of the monetary screws. And officials here are prepared to take more time to reel in inflation so we can preserve the spectacular post-pandemic employment gains.
The CBA’s Aird says Lowe is not wrong but the “jury is still out”.
“So far the evidence indicates there is no wage-price spiral”, while activity is still slowing and inflation is coming down, although it was a bit stronger in the September quarter than the RBA had anticipated. “The economy will continue to slow next year, inflation will come down, the unemployment rate will gradually lift,” Aird says. “We don’t expect the cash rate in Australia to get as high as it is in other countries.”
Middle Australia, battered and bruised, is hoping he’s on the money, and the nation doesn’t slip off the narrow path to better days.