1. Macron – everyone’s friend
French President Emmanuel Macron came and went.
Andrew Tillett in the AFR reports that analysts do not think that Macron’s drive for an Australia-France-India “strategic axis” for the Indo-Pacific will amount to much in the long run. You can surge but it is harder to sustain. Realistically France is peripheral to what happens in the Pacific.
Labor stands by to out-compete the Chinese in the Pacific, by getting in there and doing stuff to meet their needs.
Meanwhile Turnbull and Macron announced a surge in the $50 billion submarine project. Detailed design work will shift from France to Adelaide in 2022, creating 270 jobs.
Macron found Lucy Turnbull “delicious”, David Rowe noticed something else:
Meanwhile Der Spiegel has done a report Sidelined: Germany’s Incredibly Shrinking Role on the World Stage, asking, Has the ‘Queen of Europe’ been dethroned?
I wouldn’t worry too much. To Merkel he’s just another bloke, but one who knows how to shake a woman’s hand:
Sophie Pedder, Paris bureau chief for the Economist, author of Revolution Française: Emmanuel Macron and the Quest to Reinvent a Nation talking to Tom Switzer has a largely positive view of him. He is enthusiastic about Europe, and wants to make France more agile – more in the manner of the Scandinavian countries. At home the French don’t like change very much and on European matters he won’t get past Merkel’s pragmatic filter.
2. Trump talks in Korea
Hugh Riminton talked to three intelligent and informed people at The Roundtable.
Bottom line is that if North Korea is to denuclearise it will want the Americans out of South Korea.
The United States has 23,468 people on duty in South Korea at 83 sites, then there are a further 39,345 troops stationed across 112 bases in Japan, plus the Seventh Fleet:
- with roughly 50-70 ships and submarines, 140 aircraft and approximately 20,000 sailors across the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.
The USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft supercarrier, is permanently deployed at Yokosuka, Japan, as the fleet’s flagship carrier.
The fleet also includes up to 14 destroyers and cruisers at any given time, some armed with ballistic missile interceptors, long-range Tomahawk land attack missiles and anti-aircraft missiles. Up to 12 nuclear-powered submarines are also available.
That’s a bit threatening in anyone’s language.
The worry is that Trump will want an outcome. What the Koreans want (North and South) is the beginning of a process that might take 6-10 years.
3. Gonski fail?
At the AFR Jennifer Buckingham said:
The highly anticipated Gonski 2.0 report offers little useful guidance for schools and school systems, and does not even meet important terms of reference set down for the review.
- Unfortunately, the recommendations in the second Gonski report are not based on evidence about effective use of school resources. Most are inane and obvious – for example, children who learn more in a year at school will have higher achievement. Yes, really … it is surprisingly at that useless level.
And the recommendations that do represent a departure from the status quo have several significant problems. The proposals are not supported by research, they lack detail about implementation, and overall they will significantly increase the level of complexity and bureaucratisation of the school system.
At the SMH with Blaise Joseph she says:
- The report released yesterday does not meet this brief. The report is more of a manifesto than a blueprint. It does not provide any guidance for how schools or school systems should spend the extra Gonski 2.0 money to improve student results.
It is full of generalities and a head-spinning number of platitudes. And it certainly does not include any comprehensive analysis of the costs and benefits of its recommendations. In short, it contributes very little to the education policy debate in Australia.
At The Spectator Australia she advises Simon Birmingham Cut the losses on Gonski 2.0 review and quietly back away.
I’d like to have a yarn with someone who is more in touch with schools these days. I worry about the workload of doing individual planning for the 100 or more students who teachers meet each day in a large secondary school.
I heard talk about grouping according to ability rather than age. Perhaps Gonski doesn’t know that the academic program is only half the deal in educating the young.
There was also talk about payment by results for teachers, which will go down a treat.
Robert Bolton in the AFR says Gonski’s idealism is hard to implement and his solutions unrealistic.
- Personalised teaching is not going to fly according to John Hattie, chair of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. One-on-one, tailor-made classes are an idea that’s been around for 20 years but Dr Hattie says no teacher in the world has time for an individualised program. A one-time advocate for it himself, Hattie now wishes he’d never used the words.
“Parents love it, it sounds like it is just for their child. But teachers need to teach on a collective basis.”
Back in the 1980s I saw a high school that was providing extension work for bright kids, and special teaching for those struggling, while keeping them basically in their age cohorts with their mates. They called it ‘competency-based education’.
State education ministers only saw Gonski’s report a few days before it was released. It will be considered at their next meeting (August, I think). The basic problem is that there are spruikers, Jennifer Birmingham among them, who say extra money won’t help, whereas the people actually do the teaching know that the LNP has not put back all the money they took out of ‘Gonski’ and it matters.
4. Greens tax proposals
The Greens tax proposals have some useful information and ideas. For example:
- “Despite what the Liberals say, Australia is a low taxing nation. It is the 8th lowest-taxed among the 35 OECD nations. Australia’s combined tax-to-GDP ratio is 28.2% for all levels of government in 2015. The OECD average is 34%.
“If Australia collected the same amount of tax as the average OECD nation then we would need to collect an additional $94 billion per year”.
The LNP has ruled an arbitrary line which says that Commonwealth Government receipts shall not be more than 23.9 per cent of GDP.
They have also abandoned their previous rule that we need a surplus of one per cent of GDP to make us a bit shock-proof from a major black swan event in the world financial system. “Debt and deficit” have given way to tax cuts to drive “jobs and growth”. And “You’ll pay more under Labor” – $200 billion more (over 10 years). Actually you’ll pay less unless you are rich, as Labor will have more to compensate low and middle income earners.
Labor’s extra revenue amounts to around $20 billion a year, not a lot when receipts are getting up near half a trillion. That’s nowhere near the OECD average. Here’s what the Greens would do:
- First, they would bring in “a Buffett rule” to ensure higher income earners paid their fair share of tax by limiting deductions made by those earning more than A$300,000. That would raise $9.5 billion over the forward estimates.
- Another $14.3 billion would come from targeting property investors, with the capital gains tax discount phased out over five years, and negative gearing scrapped for future purchases and phased out for multiple properties.
- Trusts would be taxed as large corporations, at a 30% rate, raising $3.8 billion over the forward estimates.
- They have put forward measures to target corporate tax avoidance, saying it is estimated corporations avoid about $8 billion of tax a year.
- Finally, they advocate changes to the petroleum resource rent tax, ending fossil fuel subsidies, mainly paid to multinational mining companies, and the introduction of a mining super profits tax at a rate of 40%. And no reduction in corporate tax rates.
Here’s the tax burden share of the top 10% and top 1%:
Hasn’t changed much over 10 years. I’m sure an extra 2% on their tax rate won’t cramp their life-style.
5. Is money evil?
Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens ask the question at The Minefield along with Gordon Menzies, who is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Technology Sydney.
The short answer, is no, not as such, but the love of money is the root of all evil.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.