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Archive for December 2010

Smart Giving

My AFR op-ed today looks at how we can use the Christmas season to help those in need.

Continue reading ‘Smart Giving’ »

New skate park in Belconnen

Debating Simon Birmingham on ABC24 (13 Dec)

(And if you’d prefer the ‘Simon Says’ version, there’s a transcript of his half of the interview on his website.)

What I’m reading

Kippax UnitingCare Appeal

Gordon Ramsey from Kippax UnitingCare tells me that community generosity is being outpaced by need. If you can assist with a gift or donation, you can drop them off at their office in Holt, on the corner of Luke Street and Hardwick Crescent.

Thank you again for your support for the community services at Kippax – particularly at this time the Christmas Hampers and Gifts we are providing to individuals, households and a broad range of other refuges and organisations in the ACT. This support of other organisations as well as our own clients is an important part of our ethos, and has become relied upon by women’s refuges and Refugee support groups over previous years.

More information from Gordon over the fold.

Continue reading ‘Kippax UnitingCare Appeal’ »

Debating banking reform and climate change with Jamie Briggs (13 Dec)

Open Government

The Federal Government has reformed Australia’s Freedom of Information laws. The new laws favour disclosure and are designed to provide greater transparency and openness.

The reforms include abolishing lodgement fees for FOI claims. Continue reading ‘Open Government’ »

Debating Mathias Cormann on ABC24 (7 Dec)

Sunny Side Up


15 December 2010

14 Schools from the Fraser Electorate have received grants from the Federal Government to become more energy efficient. Each successful school will receive $50,000 to help install a range of green technologies including solar panels and other renewable power systems and rainwater tanks. Continue reading ‘Sunny Side Up’ »

Cape York Wild Rivers Hearings

Some photographs from the House Economics Committee’s Wild Rivers hearings in Cape York (courtesy of Cameron Laird).

Video Update from Gungahlin Mobile Office

A video update from my Gungahlin mobile office last Saturday. The final two mobile offices for 2011 will be on Saturday 18 December:

  • 10-11am Dickson Woolies
  • 11:30-12:30 Garema Place

AYAD Welcome Speech

Life Matters – Disconnected

On ABC Radio National’s Life Matters program, I spoke this morning with Richard Aedy about community life, neighbours and street parties, focusing on the findings of my book Disconnected. You can listen to the program here.

What I’m Reading

Taking on the World

Transcripts of our Wild Rivers hearings are now online. Here’s the answer that struck me most.

Dr Andrew Leigh—Phyllis, part of our job is to think about sustainable economic development for the cape. When I am outside talking to people before the hearings or during the lunchbreak, a lot of people talk about the way in which the education system could be better, but no-one has talked about that in here. I am wondering if you could say something about the way in which the education system could work to get more sustainable economic development. I would be interested in other people’s views on that as well.

Miss Phyllis Yunkaporta—The education system, as I knew it before, has been of low standard. The curriculum in the past, as it is in all cape Aboriginal communities, has been of very low standard. By the time our children go out to mainstream schools they are hardly there—a child in grade 8 still has the understanding of a child in grade 1. Speaking for Aurukun, I was one of the persons who were invited to the States last October; I went to New York and Los Angeles visiting African-American schools. What we have brought back to Aurukun is a new kind of teaching method and we are having that implemented in the school. Of course it took time. At the beginning it pretty much had been, in my words, chaos before that. Since having this new program come in, if you come to the classrooms in Aurukun the kids are fully focused. This new method of teaching has got them going. The teacher is full-on with the tasks given and you cannot believe it when you enter those classrooms—it is as if some of those kids are play-acting. They are not; they are just full-on, focused. I guess in time we have to have expectations for our children to be educated in a way where they have to balance both worlds—the Western world and the traditional way. Of course we want them to hang onto the traditional way because that is where they are going to be identifying themselves for the future. And with them having to venture out into mainstream, we want them to compete. It is a competitive world out there. We want our black little kids to start taking on the world. That is the aim of all this.


The Australian Government’s MyHospitals website went live half an hour ago. Well worth a gander.

Street Party – With a Template Invitation


Federal Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh called on Canberrans to get out and party this summer by having their neighbours around for a street party.

Over recent years Andrew Leigh and his wife Gweneth have hosted a street party for their neighbours on three occasions.

“Street parties are a great way for all the neighbours to get to know one another,” said Andrew Leigh.

“The festive season provides a perfect excuse to have the street around one weekend afternoon for drinks and a bit of fun.

“I’ll let you into a secret – it’s almost no work to organise. Pick a date, print a short invite and walk them around to the neighbours. And thanks to the magic acronym BYO all you have to do is provide the venue.

“To make it even easier I’ve put a template invitation on my website,

“Knowing your neighbours makes life easier when you decide to replace the fence, host a noisy party, or hit a cricket ball into their yards. You’re also less likely to get burgled if your neighbours know you,” said Andrew Leigh.

Twenty-eight percent of Australian’s in a 2004 Hawker Britton poll answered that they have no social interactions with their neighbours. Over the past twenty years or so the average number of neighbours from whom Australian can ask favours from or neighbours they can simply drop in on have declined.  In the last two decades Australians have lost one to two close neighbours who will do them a favour and lost three close neighbours who they can drop in on.

“Street parties are a bit of fun and good way to build social capital in our suburbs,” concluded Andrew Leigh.

Gweneth and Andrew Leigh will be having their neighbours around for their street’s annual party in Hackett this Saturday afternoon.

And here’s the template invitation:

With the holiday season upon us, our family is hosting the street end-of-year gathering. Please join us for neighbourly drinks and nibbles – to catch up with friends, meet new faces, and celebrate the festive season.



<Your address>

Coffee’s hot and the toast is brown

Started the day by serving breakfast at the Uniting Church’s Early Morning Centre on Northbourne Avenue. If you work in the city, and are looking for a volunteering opportunity before work one day, it’s a rewarding thing to do.

What I’m Reading

A plethora of things that have caught my eye lately:

Skilled Cities

My AFR column this week is on skilled cities. 

Continue reading ‘Skilled Cities’ »



On December 3, the International Day of People with a Disability, I visited Pegasus, an organisation in Holt that provides horse riding to people with a disability. If you’d like to know more about Pegasus, here’s their website.

(Pegasus are the site of this year’s ABC 666 Saturday Spruce Up, and they’re really looking forward to the team arriving on Sat 11 Dec. If I can squeeze it in amidst kid-minding and mobile offices, I’m hoping to pop in.)

Indigenous Economic Development

In Bamaga, discussing the Indigenous economic development hearings that the Economics Committee are presently conducting. If you’d like to make a submission, details are here.

International Volunteers Day

Speaking of social capital, today is International Volunteers Day. If you’d like to volunteer, check out:

‘N Sync

A constituent at my Charnwood mobile office on Saturday made the suggestion that fiscal and monetary policy are working against one another. Since this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this suggestion, I thought it was worth a short post. In fact, both fiscal and monetary policy are currently working in a contractionary direction. Here’s the relevant quote from part 1 of the Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Outlook, released on 9 November:

Fiscal and monetary policy stimulus is also being withdrawn. As robust growth in private sector activity is taking hold, the fiscal stimulus is being phased out as planned and monetary policy stimulus has been withdrawn. The withdrawal of the fiscal stimulus started to detract from economic growth in the March quarter 2010, and is expected to reduce real GDP growth by 1 percentage point in 2010-11 and ½ of a percentage point in 2011-12.