This week in policy

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Feb 1 14:32:27 UTC 2006

This week in policy: Wednesday 1 February 2006
Wednesday 1 February 2006
New Matilda

There is a dearth of policy development in Australia. Through the policy
portal, New Matilda seeks to develop alternative policies for Australia
and so influence decision makers, particularly in the political parties.
These alternative policies should, in our view, be based on the six values
set out in the 'Common Wealth'.

Jen Smith and Anne-Marie Boxall (Mental illness, drugs and alcohol - a
generation of sufferers about whom no-one gives a toss) describe our
health system's failure to provide effective care to people who suffer
from both mental illness and drug or alcohol addiction. This group
double-slip: they fall between two hassled services with no time or energy
for their care. Boxall and Smith endorse the recommendations of the Not
for Service report which called for funding to support integrated drug and
alcohol and mental health services to become a national priority.

James Abbott (Should we protect economic, social and cultural rights?)
explains the difference between civil and political (CP) rights and
economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights and considers the arguments for
and against protecting ESC rights in Australia. Advancing a rights culture
and the arbitrary nature of the distinction between the two categories of
rights are reasons for including them. Arguments against include the
aspirational nature of economic social and cultural rights and the fact
that they place an obligation on the government to spend money.

David More (HealthConnect is dead - So now what?) explains how the
HealthConnect project has unravelled over the past six months. Several
developments signal the end of the project and the federal government's
desire to pass responsibility to the states. Dr More calls for national
leadership to develop a robust, new e-Health plan, taking into account the
lessons learnt from the existing plan's failure. He argues that failure to
do so will obstruct other goals in health.

Paul Kringas (The politics of language, framing and discourse) explores
the use and manipulation of language in politics. He draws attention to
obvious examples such as the 'war on terror', 'tax relief' that distort
debate, as well equally powerful but more subtle examples such as
'progress' and 'democracy'. Such words and phrases have acquired meanings
that influence people's beliefs. Kringas proposes that school curriculums
be changed to include a focus on developing critical language skills in
students to help them identify manipulate language.

Suzanne Hammond (Relaxed and comfortable?) is highly critical of the
impact that WorkChoices and the Welfare to Work changes will have on
women. Because of the areas in which women tend to be employed and their
disproportionate representation in low paid jobs and on awards wages, they
stand to lose a lot from the reforms. Hammond sets out a number of
proposals that would reverse the negative outcomes for women including a
reintroduction of a no-disadvantage test and the unfair dismissal

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