Rather than being empowered, children are being exploited by the process of sexualisation. For children seeking to become empowered in an adult world, a more promising route is to focus on developing cognitive and emotional capacities that enable them to negotiate power relations more maturely and with less risk to themselves. There is nothing wrong with selling products. But sexualising children to sell products has social costs that are unacceptable.
Despite the fanfare that surrounds major events, the reality is that state and territory governments are often spending large sums of taxpayer money in attempts to divert events, tourists, jobs and associated revenue from one part of Australia to another, and from one industry to another.
There cannot be a competitive market for water while the Government continues to subsidise agriculture through such things as drought assistance and half-price water delivery. All in all, the plan looks more like a deft political move than a serious attempt to solve our water problems. It is, as Shakespeare once said, all sound and fury, signifying nothing. We should hold our applause until the Government actually puts water back into our rivers.
Like individual citizens, community groups are being worn down and are increasingly reluctant to engage in the democratic process because they no longer believe that they can make a difference. At the same time, certain influential business lobbies have been brought into the fold, along with a few tame or uncritical NGOs such as Mission Australia, the Salvation Army and WWF. There are grounds for serious concern that the longer this continues the more difficult it will be to reshape and rebuild the structures of democratic participation.
The outcome for the broader Australian polity is that the knowledge and breadth of experience collected together in the NGO community is having much less influence on how we develop as a society than it should. Like individual citizens, community groups are being increasingly reluctant to engage in the democratic process because they no longer believe that they can make a difference. Certain influential business lobbies have been brought into the fold, along with a few tame or uncritical NGOs like Mission Australia, the Salvation Army and WWF.
The Government needs to overcome its ideological prejudice against all things environmental. Its conservative voter base will, if it hasn't already. They realise that the effects of climate change will be felt in their lifetime and that material prosperity must go hand-in-hand with sound environmental stewardship.
Plans revealed this week to squeeze a further 1.1 million people into Sydney over the next 25 years will transform it into the nation's least liveable city. Twenty years ago Sydney was less congested, slower, more friendly and had more green space. Unregulated population growth and timid planning are choking the city, a situation exacerbated by the refusal of the Labor Government - still hostage to the economic rationalist fear of public debt - to invest in a modern public transport system.
Since the early 1900s, Australias drug policies have been based on the notion that the law should be the primary mechanism for addressing drug problems. By prohibiting both the supply and use of certain undesirable drugs, governments thought they could stamp out drug use and drug-related activities. But drug markets have proved remarkably resistant to legal pressure. The Council of Australian Governments should ensure prevention and treatment are placed at the centre of Australia's drug strategies. Until they do, drugs like ice will continue to extract a terrible price from society.
Back in 1999, the Government overhauled the original Commonwealth environment laws that were introduced by the Whitlam Labor government. The old laws needed updating and the Government obliged, creating the loftily titled Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. While an improvement on the original laws, the EPBC Act has proven to be a failure, largely because of a lack of political will.
Over the last fifteen years, much effort has gone into the preparation of sustainability reports. These are reports that provide information on social and environmental as well as economic matters. This has been done in the name of improved decision making, accountability and transparency. It has also been motivated by a desire to promote ecologically sustainable development. But for all the effort, it is difficult to know exactly what has been achieved and how useful sustainability reports have been. This is worrying when you consider the amount of resources that have been dedicated to the task. To address this issue, we undertook a review of sustainability reporting in Australia.