Category: Public/Private

Public Broadband Internet Isn’t a Luxury — It’s a Necessity

The LNP wants to shut down the ABC and control the Internet because when it comes to Democracy they level the playing field. “Bias” and “Trolling” are their euphemisms for “fact-checking” and the “public auditing” of their message. A message controlled and fed to us by our over-concentrated and consolidated private media begging for the financial benefits and rewards on offer by the LNP at the taxpayer’s expense. They want MPs to be able to sue and defend themselves in defamation actions at taxpayer expense as well to be “untouchables” as if their current parliamentary privilege wasn’t enough.

They claim to be the party of “free speech” but are rather the party of privatized and commodified speech or cash for comment and they have the cash and it’s ours. They have just increased government debt from $300M to almost $1 Tr or 200% of which private media compete for a part while keeping the ABCs Budget at 1984 levels. Now they want to control the Broadband and Internet as well.

Everybody needs high-speed internet. But private corporations will never provide it. The solution: treat internet infrastructure as a public utility, funded by the public and built by union workers.

Source: Public Broadband Internet Isn’t a Luxury — It’s a Necessity

The Untamed and Unregulated Beast of Private Military Security Companies | The Smirking Chimp

The number of groups operating as private sector security and military organizations, and the extent of their activities, is extremely difficult to track, as transparency is not a highly valued concept.

Source: The Untamed and Unregulated Beast of Private Military Security Companies | The Smirking Chimp

Wither Encryption: What Operation Trojan Shield Reveals – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Having given nods of approval for encryption as “an existential anchor of trust in the digital world”, the ministers took aim at the various platforms using it. On this occasion, it was the “challenges to public safety” posed by the use of encryption technology, “including to highly vulnerable members of our societies like sexually exploited children.” (The battle against solid encryption is often waged over the bodies and minds of abused children.) Industry was urged “to address our concerns where encryption is applied in a way that wholly precludes any legal access.” This would involve companies having to police illegal content and permit “law enforcement to access content in a readable and usable format where an authorisation is lawfully issued, is necessary and proportionate, and is subject to strong safeguards and oversight.” Cases like Anom demonstrate that there is seemingly no need for such intrusions, bells of alarm, and warnings about safety. The police have sufficient powers and means, and more besides. As with such matters, the danger tends to be closer to home: police zeal; prosecutor’s glee; a hatred of privacy. Joseph Lorenzo Hall, senior vice president at the non-p

Source: Wither Encryption: What Operation Trojan Shield Reveals – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Is private health insurance a con? The answer is in the graphs | Greg Jericho | Business | The Guardian

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, and shadow minister for health, Catherine King, during a visit to Vermont Private Hospital in Melbourne, 4 February 2018. Labor are planning on making private health insurance more affordable to Australians.

We have a system that attempts to force young people to take out a private insurance policy they don’t want or particularly need in order to fund the use of it by older people. As the Centre for Policy Development research fellow Ian McAuley told Melissa Davey last year, it is essentially “transferring funds from the young to the old”.

We have a public and private health mix in Australia, but consistently over the past 40 years people have revealed through their spending choices they prefer the public system.

And yet rather than pick the winner, governments of both persuasion have attempted to prop up the private sector. And as ever the private system has taken advantage – offering less coverage while complaining about needing ever more government assistance.

via Is private health insurance a con? The answer is in the graphs | Greg Jericho | Business | The Guardian

Whyalla steelworks to be powered by $700m solar, battery and pumped hydro project | Australia news | The Guardian

Project announced after British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta chairs his first Zen Energy board meeting in Adelaide

Source: Whyalla steelworks to be powered by $700m solar, battery and pumped hydro project | Australia news | The Guardian

Universities as Society Infra structure Vs Competative business models. Germany vs Australia

Australia has undergone a significant shift from the Whitlam days when tertiary education was free. Dean Lewins/AAP

Recent times have seen heated debates in Australia about whether higher education tuition fees should be deregulated, and about the private/public benefits of higher education. A question that goes to the heart of these debates is whether higher education is primarily considered as a social institution, as an industry like any other, or as infrastructure.

The recent decision to eradicate all tertiary fees in Germany provides interesting points of comparison between how Australia and Germany view education.

Higher education as industry

In Australia, recent decades have seen a considerable shift toward conceiving of higher education primarily in terms of an “industry”. As part of this change, universities have become increasingly regarded as corporate organisations competing in the local and international service economy.

At the same time, the perception of universities as social institutions providing orientation to society has waned. In line with this shift in perceptions, the relative public funding provided to universities has suffered a continuing reduction. In 2012, less than 50% on average of the revenue of “public” higher education providers came from Australian government sources.

Higher education as infrastructure

In Germany, the purpose of higher education has likewise become in recent times increasingly framed in terms of more practical economic goals and concerns.

But in Germany, in contrast with Australia, the political push for a more practical, economically oriented view of higher education is not so much centred on the notion of universities becoming corporate organisations competing in a marketplace. Rather, in current German politics and policies, universities tend to be primarily regarded as vital infrastructure for the economy at large.

This difference in how the economic role of universities is framed in each country translates into different approaches to core policy issues such as funding, tuition fees and internationalisation.

In Germany, as has been recently noted in The Conversation, even low-level tuition fees have proven to be rather unpopular. As a result, all German states have eventually scrapped all fees. Moreover, there still is a relative consensus in the political arena that it is the government’s responsibility to provide the bulk of funding to universities. German universities receive around 90% of their funds from the public purse.

Attracting international students

Over recent years, Germany has become increasingly proactive in attracting international students to its higher education institutions. A particular focus has been on attracting students from China and India. According to the 2014 Trends in International Student Mobility survey, Germany’s popularity as a destination for international students has been growing very rapidly, and has recently overtaken that of Australia.

The primary motive for this push toward internationalisation in German higher education has been the need to tackle shortages of skilled labour. A related concern has been addressing long-term demographic developments. There are no tuition fees for international students in Germany. This is not likely to change in the near future, partially due to legal constraints imposed by the German constitution.

By contrast, Australian universities have been attracting international students, very successfully to date, mainly in order to compensate for the reduction of public funding from the Australian government.

Different funding models

Overall, the framing of higher education in terms of infrastructure may be one of the reasons for there being less reluctance in Germany to provide substantial public funding to universities than there has been in Australia. It also may partially explain why, in Germany, the debate concerning the public and/or private benefits of higher education, which we have become accustomed to in Australia, has had hardly any traction whatsoever.

The framing of higher education as industry in Australia has led to universities successfully diversifying their funding sources. As a result, universities have become less reliant on the public purse. However, it has also come at the cost of major higher education policies and institutional strategies in Australia often lacking a long-term vision. Moreover, it has led to the creation of a higher education sector in Australia that is heavily exposed to risks associated with the international student market.