Disability Funding Triumph: Progressive Blogosphere Abdicates

A repost from Labor View from Bayside:

This week we saw a major achievement in Australian policy – the bi-partisan acceptance of an increase in the Medicare levy to help fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (DisabilityCare). There was considerable activity on social media before Tony Abbott’s concession but there has been a deadening silence in the progressive blogosphere since.

When you google Oz blogs for the last four days, there are no posts heralding this policy triumph. In fact it seems that many have just accepted it as a political victory for Abbott, not a policy win for Julia Gillard’s government. A lone voice has been Gary Sauer-Thompson at Public Opinion but even his post was titled Perhaps:

The disability people got what they wanted: a secure funding source that will partially pay for the NDIS and bipartisan support. That means the Coalition will find it hard to renege at a later date because they are publicly committed to the national disability insurance scheme.

If the conservatives keep their word, the NDIS  will be a major legacy of the Labor government, whether it is reelected or not. Abbott’s “conditional” support of the levy contained his usual dissembling but once the legislation is passed, he should be locked in.

Yesterday Victoria signed up to NDIS, just as we are abandoning the field to the Liberal National Party policy void. Despondency over the polls and government policy failures must not make Abbott’s austerity a fait accompli.

Schools, climate change and the NBN are just a few reasons to keep up the political fight. If progressive bloggers cannot step up, then it is probably time to archive their blogs and retreat into the twitter ether or a subscription to Foxtel.

A Big Mac and a Coke: No Thanks!

A Big Mac and a Coke have not been some Australians’ idea of happiness in recent months. Something about the fast food and drink mob inflames the passions. Two of my posts this week for Global Voices Online look at activists’ responses to the two biggest global names – McDonald’s and Coca Cola Amatil.

Firstly, some old-fashioned protest action:

Residents’ opposition to a new McDonald’s in the Melbourne hills suburb of Tecoma has linked direct action with online campaigning. In October 2012 an administrative tribunal overturned the local Council’s unanimous decision to reject a Maccas’s proposal for a new fast food outlet.
Australia: Locals Fight to Stop McDonald’s in their Hills

Plenty of fire on both sides. In a rare response to the increasingly personal debate, Global Voices closed comments at 293, after removing a few that had been flagged.

In separate action, Coca Cola has faced a national campaign:

A nationwide campaign against Coca Cola has followed their successful legal challenge on March 4, 2013 to container deposit legislation in the Australia’s Northern Territory.
Coca Cola Machine ‘Out of Order’ in Australia

An anonymous Facebook group ‘Out of Order’ have been encouraging people to put the signs on vending machines. The Australian Coca Cola facebook page has nearly a million Likes. Can’t help feeling that the protesters are just nipping at the heels of the transnationals.

First Dog on the Moon responded at Crikey:

Giving Cheats a Sporting Chance?

I wrote this weblog for Global Voices thinking it would be a sports story. It’s fast becoming a political one. We have quickly moved to the shoot the messenger stage:

Australian Sport: Drugs, Match Fixing Linked to Organised Crime

If Australia has a national religion, it is sport in all its forms. The shared obsession is being sorely tested at present. Allegations of illegal drug taking and match-fixing, linked to organised crime, have brought an avalanche of moral outrage and a cascade of clichés online. Will saints become sinners?


It didn’t take long for the conspiracy theorists to decide that the government had released the report to deflect publicity from itself. I favour the alternative: Pope Benedict has fallen on his sword to save Aussie sport.

Time to read/reread the report. Wonder how many of the commentariat have done that?

Having Our Say about India, the World’s Largest Democracy

This was originally posted at Global Voices Online:

What lies ahead for India, which is not just the largest democracy but will soon have the biggest population?

You can join the discussion of The World’s Largest Democracy at Australia’s vibrant social media site, OurSay.

It’s the latest in their online participatory democracy initiative.

This video explains how OurSay.org works:


In this case, the World’s Largest Democracy forum runs until November 29, 2012.

There are 34 questions with 3 weeks to go. The first question posted by Glen Clark was very topical:

Just as Prime-Minister Julia Gillard visited India recently to talk up a uranium export deal, India’s own Auditor-General has warned of a “dangerously unsafe, disorganised” nuclear industry with “ineffective” oversight. Many Australians don’t want to see their uranium partly responsible for future nuclear disasters which could potentially kill thousands and displace millions in the world’s second most populous country. Wouldn’t it be better to leave Australian uranium in the ground and instead help India develop decentralised renewables to solve its energy needs?

Glen is a previous winner when OurSay partnered with ABC TV’s Q&A program after the 2011 Federal budget.

The most popular at present comes from Jan Stewart with 219 votes and 4 comments so far:

What is the single most impactful action Indian women can take for India’s benefit?

Jan is a host and manager at Hub Melbourne ‘a professional member community that exists to drive innovation through collaboration’. She asked her first question of Julia Gillard for the Prime Minister’s Google+ Hangout on 21 July 2012.


Carolyn Tate, who asked a question of independent members of the House of Representatives in an earlier forum, left this comment in response to Jan’s question:

I was in India 5 years ago with Opportunity International on a field trip to meet Indian women running their own businesses from micro-financing loans. Helping Indian women to become successful, independent business owners in their communities is the most powerful way we can impact their nation!

A newcomer to OurSay, Susanna Julian, recalls the controversy surrounding a number of violent incidents including the murder of an Indian student in Melbourne:

Since the 2009 violence against Indian students in Australia was well published in India, Australian government departments have made many efforts to rebuild the relationship between the Australian Government and the Indian public. We need to deepen this relationship between everyday Indians and Australians. What is the biggest challenge to the Australian public’s relationship with Indian public and civil society and what recommendations do you have for improving this relationship?

Many of the questions pick up on recent political developments. Stephen Manallack brings an educational perspective:

What do you think of the Asian Century report recommending schools teach Hindi in Australia? My feeling is cross-cultural understanding is more important – hence I like student exchanges and would encourage young executive exchanges as well.

It drew this comment from Angela Knox who has been active since May:

Spot on. And the study of Asian histories and culture: there’s not one ‘Asian culture’ and this new campaign shouldn’t be driven by economic considerations alone.

There have been lots of issues raised so far including: human rights, the economy, corruption, multinational miners, land appropriation, social inequality, poverty, the environment, health and family planning.

Anyone, from any country, can ask a question and post comments. The Oursay team are especially looking froward to participation from India.

Please use all 7 votes. Yes, 7 votes! Give them to your favorite Q or spread them around.

This week OurSay.org was shortlisted for THE YAHOO! GOLD STANDARD ‘INTERNET FOR GOOD’ AWARD2012.

[Personal disclosure: I have posted a question in the World’s Largest Democracy forum.]

Cory’s man bites dog – dogs bite back moment

Welcome to Civic Education Class

Welcome to Civic Education Class.
Courtesy – Wes Mountain of This is Australia. Today.

My roundup for Global Voices of reactions to Cory Bernardi’s extraordinary man bites dog/dogs bite back moment may be of interest:

It was bound to be a bad time for Australian Senator Cory Bernardi after he suggested in a parliamentary debate on legalizing same sex marriage that it could lead to marriage between humans and animals.

…It is a story that’s likely to dog his political career for some time to come.

Australia: Same Sex Marriage Debate Unleashes Beast

On the issue of same sex marriage itself, we might have lost the vote but we certainly won the argument.

Digital Activism, Social Media, and the Tunisian Revolution

Be inspried. Sami Ben Gharbia, outgoing editor of Global Voices Advocacy addressed the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law Conference on 20 July 2012.

He spoke about the role of digital activism in the 2010 Tunisian revolution and the Arab spring. He shared some of the strategies used to expose government corruption and nepotism and to combat its censorship, both online and offline.

In addition he touched on the involvement of Wikileaks and Anonymous in assisting the campaign.

Professor Sarah Joseph, Director of Monash University’s Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, chaired the question time that follows the presentation.

Sami was also interviewed on Friday night’s Lateline. The video and transcript are here: Tunisian campaigner discusses online uprising

Kenyans Speaking for Themselves

Back from the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. A truly inspiring event.

It was my pleasure to get to know a Kenyan GV couple – poet Njeri Wangari and sports enthusiast Richard Wanjohi. I took the opportunity to interview them separately about the challenges facing Kenya and Africa in general. With one child and another due in August they have a very personal stake in that future.

Seizing Kenya’s Sporting Chance: Richard Wanjohi

When Change Comes – Kenyan Poet Njeri Wangari

Stratfor Global Intelligence on Assange Sexual Assault Charges

I posted this on Wednesday: Wikileaks: Stratfor on Motives for Julian Assange’s Arrest It had sparse traffic until the last 24 hours when it’s gone viral. Well nearly 1000 hits is viral for my little blog.

From Wikileaks’ Stratfor Global Intelligence Files:

Charges of sexual assault rarely are passed through Interpol red notices, like this case, so this is no doubt about trying to disrupt WikiLeaks release of government documents. While it’s possible that Assange’s arrest could disrupt the long-term viability of WikiLeaks, it will not stop the release of cables in the short-term and governments will now be concerned about what the organization may release in revenge.
RE: USE ME Re: Discussion- Assange Arrested


I’m surprised that this gem has not surfaced in the mainstream media as it took only minutes to find on the Wikileaks website. Anyway, at least some netizens have stumbled across it.

When we go to Rio +20

This cross post from AllVoices goes with the twitter hash tag #futurewewant:

When we go to Rio De Janeiro in June next year, lots of emotional capital will be invested in the success of the Rio +20 Earth Summit. It’s the twentieth anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil’s iconic city. This time those two elements are brought together as the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

…Rio +20 needs to be more than a dream. It must come up with more than a platform to negotiate an agreement. It must deliver more that the bare bones ‘institutional framework’.

The summit can be a game changer, an earth mover. It’s over to you!
Rio +20: Earth Mover or Green Economy Carnival

Think this should be in the More in Hope than Expectation category.

Waiting on Durban

While we’re waiting for some kind of decision/communique from COP17 in Durban, may I share a cross post/cross promotion from AllVoices:

This week in Durban young citizen journalists are challenging the popular stereotype of Generation Y. Gen Ys are supposed to be: self-obsessed; apathetic; disengaged; with limited attention spans; shallow online chatterers and gamers; little concerned for the future of the planet they’ll be inheriting.

Move over baby boomers! The twentysomethings are at the gates, in particular a new generation of committed and skilled young women activists. Many of them are in South Africa to cover the current United Nations COP17 climate change conference.
These web warriors are not just reporting the story. Increasingly they are the story, as they lobby to bring about climate action. Meet three of them.

Adopt a Negotiator tracker for Mexico, Andrea Arzaba, is an active blogger withGlobal Voices and Th!nk About It.

Young Ugandan Kodili (Chandia Benadtte Kodili) is an Activista Swarm blogger with ActionAid and Secretary for Female Affairs at the National Youth Council. She also has been part of Global Voices’ mentoring program.

The third young woman doing it for her planet is Gemma Borgo-Caratti, the NSW Coordinator of AYCC (Australian Youth Climate Coalition). She tweets as@beyondthinice and her concerns about Antarctica can be shared on her websiteChanging today for tomorrow.

Durban: Gen Y women doing it for the planet

The full post is here.