Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Global Public Debt – a simple perspective

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Global Financial Crisis, round two.  Global Public Debt.  The words on everyone’s lips these days.  I am not an economist, but everyone seems to have something to say, from Twitter to eminent university professors, so why not me?

I Stumbled (literally, on the website) upon this interesting little debt clock and map this morning at http://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock.

Global Public Debt - Three Nations Compared

Global Public Debt - Three Nations Compared

Take a look at the actual map, it is very interesting.  All the VERY red (i.e. in big trouble) countries are the ones we like to think of as being the world leaders or the most advanced civilisations or something equally complimentary.

Of course, in Australia, politicians LOVE to use the debt situation as a way to attack each other.  Looking at the media, it seems that is reasonably common globally. Looking at the figures to the left, we could be a lot worse off than we are.  I am NOT saying this to support the current Federal Government (I have my own personal little battle with that lot), I am simply making an observation about the information as presented by www.economist.com.

I’m a mother and an accountant.  Debits and credits translate into “how much money do I have” and “how much have I spent“.  Yes, I’ve had to borrow, so I have personal debt.  Don’t many of us?  Do I have more debt than I can repay?  No, I don’t (provided I don’t get hit by a bus any time soon and I have insurance against that possibility).

There are so many commas in the numbers to the left, I actually get confused!  Are  we are talking billions, trillions or something greater?  Eight trillion, creeping up to nine, for the USA, depending on which scale of magnitude you use (yes, globally we can’t agree on magnitude).  

Let’s look at the per person debt.  So far, Australia is still, compared to the other two, remarkably healthy, although I can’t say I like how dark pink we are on the map!  I am well aware of how all the economies are intertwined these days, so essentially I consider us rather lucky we aren’t sitting at USA or UK levels.

On top of my own personal debt, I only have to pay off another $11,462 of the public debt.  If I was in the USA I’d have to pay off another $28,350 and I may not have a job, given the unemployment levels in the USA.

I have read a bit about people being up in arms in the USA because the current solution is spending cuts but no increase in taxes on certain groups that many feel should be paying more tax.  Let’s face it, governments get their “income” from taxes (unless the country owns natural resources and generates revenue for the country from those resources).  Countries have budgets, just like any household or business.  Clearly someone’s been overspending!  For a long time! 

This puzzles me.  The USA policy of “fend for yourself” means that they don’t have the same funding of education, hospitals, medications and so on that we do in Australia.  How did they spend so damn much?  What on?  I could read umpteen articles and find a myriad of arguments, as everyone has a perspective.  I’m not going to, because the bottom line is simple to this simple mother.  Spend more than you have, print money you don’t have and guess what happens – you end up in the red.

I remember some years ago, when Bush introduced his first budget, global analysts stating the USA would pay about ten years down the track.  Seems those analysts were not far off the mark.  While it is now hard to find those old articles, I quote from www.economist.com again:

The most important legislation of his first year in office was a $1.35 trillion tax cut that handed an extra $53,000 to the top 1% of earners. At his farewell press conference on January 12th Mr Bush called his tax cuts the “right course of action”, as if they were an unpopular but heroic decision. They weren’t. The budget was in surplus in 2000, and both Mr Bush’s main Republican rival, John McCain, and his Democratic opponent, Mr Gore, also wanted to cut taxes, but by less, so as to pay down more debt and shore up Social Security (public pensions). Mr Bush’s much larger tax cut reflected his, and his party’s, belief that lower taxes restrain the size of government, empower individuals and are good for both growth and Republican prospects.


We all know on a personal level, if we borrow money and have to make repayments, those repayments chew into our disposable income.  If we tighten our belts, we will be OK – if we keep spending at the same rate we were without an increase in money coming in, we’ll end up owing even more.  Is this difficult logic?  What applies in our own households, in our company boardrooms, even to our children’s pocket-money, applies equally to countries.

Some of the poorest countries owe the least.  No-one will lend those countries anything!  Same with poor people – they are not a good risk to lenders, so while they have little, usually they owe little as well.

What will happen?  My crystal ball is in for repairs, sadly, but while everyone is running around blaming everyone else, there is little likelihood of a good solution.  You are up the creek without a paddle, guys, so get your acts together and work in a bi-partisan way to fix the messes you either created or inherited. 

That’s what we pay you for!


Written by Robyn Dunphy

August 7, 2011 at 8:33 am

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The Malaysian Solution? (via Australian Immigration Blog – Grant Williams)

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Still image from the documentary film "Wa...

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I have written several articles in the past about Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers.

Today I would like to draw attention to Grant William’s writing on the topic.

I’d really hoped not to have to write this article but the signing of the ‘refugee swap deal’ with Malaysian followed by the arrival of the first boat post signing makes it impossible not to respond. Before I start… I’m already on record (other posts and newspaper articles) as an opponent of the mandatory detention of asylum seekers. I have no vested interest in this, as my business has never received a single dollar for processing Humanitarian v … Read More

via Australian Immigration Blog – Grant Williams

Child “beauty pageants” in Australia?

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I’ve been watching the media coverage of Australia’s first US style beauty pageant for children.  I don’t like the idea.

Australia has always had beautiful baby competitions, but they were always babies or toddlers competing as, well, BABIES or TODDLERS.  Not primped and preened to within an inch of their adult lives, looking highly sexualised.  As a mother, I just cannot condone these competitions.

I read an article some time ago, when the competition here was first announced, about parents from both sides of the argument actually threatening members of the “other side” of the debate.  What are we becoming? 

Children should be allowed to be children.  No, I don’t see it as a “bit of fun” for the whole family at all.  I see it as parents trying to live their dreams through their children, at the expense of their children’s innocence and childhood.  The children would surely be better served by their parents listening to their reading or reading to them, than traipsing around being flaunted as mini-adults. 

Am I being “old-fashioned”? No, I don’t think so.  I think I’m being practical and responsible.  You may have a different view.  Please share!

Written by Robyn Dunphy

July 31, 2011 at 8:58 am

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The religion in schools battle continues

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Further to my article Religion in public schools – NO!, I particpate in the FIRIS campaign to stop this.  I am publishing this email I received today because I want to spread this as far an wide as possible.  I am still stunned we have a state government with a foundation principle of individual freedoms and yet we have to fight this?  Unbelievable!

Martin Dixon is quoted as saying, “I’ve gotten no complaints”.  Really?  I know I’ve personally written to him twice, so there is two complaints.  I don’t think this campaign by FIRIS is exactly an endorsement!  Besides, what terrible English!

Let me repeat, from the party’s web site:

We believe in the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Dear friends and fellow parents,

Thank you for personally communicating how unfair and intrusive the current policy of SRI is to you and your family. If you haven’t already, you will be getting a formulaic response from Minister for Education Martin Dixon.

His letter is intended to make you feel helpless and to make you go away. The message contained in Martin Dixon’s letter is “talk to the hand”.

Even so, you are making an enormous difference but this isn’t a one round match. Right now, Martin Dixon fears the group who assert that they have a right to use our schools as a “mission field” more than he fears you.

If you want to hear Martin Dixon’s thoughts, listen to this 7 minute interview he gave on talk radio:

Derryn Hinch on 3AW interrogates Martin Dixon

This is in lock step with ACCESS Ministries.

ACCESS Ministries has been repeated exposed as liars, and it is clear that they are methodically exploiting our schools Listen to the evidence . Martin Dixon has chosen to ignore this, so far. He’s instead decided to play semantic games, and he’s counting on your acquiescence.

Instead of recognizing that the Victorian Teachers Union, leading religious educators, many religious leaders, and of course the majority of parents have all complained about his policy… Martin Dixon has gone public to defend ACCESS Ministries by saying that no one has told him “personally” that “ACCESS Ministries has forced religion down a child’s throat”.

Unfortunately for Martin Dixon, people are actually looking at what ACCESS Ministries do in our schools, and one leading curriculum expert described their lessons as:

”primitively anti-educational … a crude form of missionary indoctrination that went out of style in the 1950s”

Martin Dixon thinks he can be a propaganda officer for ACCESS Ministries and their activist mob who assert they have a “God given open door to reach children in our schools”. He thinks he can write you a “non response” letter and dump this mess on principals and teachers. He can’t. We won’t let him.

We will not accept this disgraceful performance, and we will not allow our schools to be open to sectarian interests of any sort, religious or otherwise, to commandeer parts or the whole of public education.

This means that you will have to keep pounding at the door. You will have to write again, you will have to call, you will have to explain to your friends why they should care and what they should do. The Minister of Education can ignore the Union, he can ignore religious educators and he can ignore the honest and progressive clergy. The one faction he can not ignore is: YOU.

The Minister of Education does not works for ACCESS Ministries, he works for YOU. He is an elected public servant, and as a parent with children in the school, he is answerable to you, and not the board of ACCESS Ministries.

If you haven’t already written to Martin Dixon about this, do so now. If you already have dig it out and resend with reference to his dismissal. Make it personal and make it clear that you are not going away.

Find your MP here

The men who are in charge of implementation of the Minister’s policy are:

Dennis Torpy, Sr. officer for Student Wellbeing: torpy.dennis.v@edumail.vic.gov.au

Duncan McGauchie, Chief of Staff for Minister Dixon: duncan.mcgauchie@minstaff.vic.gov.au

Additionally, Barry McGaw, chairman, National Curriculum Authority: bmcgaw@unimelb.edu.au , should hear from you as well, because of his comments today in the Sunday AGE who ran another story reporting on the controversy over SRI today.

The website remains the best way to keep abreast of the news on this issue, so please keep encouraging your friends to register their emails with the campaign: http://religionsinschool.com/news/

Do not give up, this system will be changed and you will be the reason that it changes.

Thank you for your ongoing help,


PS: Here is a an easy cut and paste for the emails:







Written by Robyn Dunphy

May 29, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Posted in News

Skilled Migration, Local Experience

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Australia recently revamped our General Skilled Migration programme.  Some occupations disappeared off the lists, some were redefined, new ones appeared.

There are several lists, these two seem to be the current ones!



It works like this.  People apply to come to Australia on the basis of their qualifications in a trade or profession that we are short of.  Sounds reasonable.  It can take them up to three years to actually get through the visa application process.   There seem to be some strange regulations, such as if they are single when they apply, they must stay single until they enter Australia, so effectively we have put their lives on hold.

The biggest problem is once they get here, employers won’t give them a job, because they have “no local experience“.  Here is another interesting article in The Australian about no local experience.  The skilled migration programme doesn’t actually find jobs for these people, they are on their own.

So here is the situation in a nutshell.  Government runs the migration programme based on analysed demand for certain skills.  Employers, who presumably need these skills, then won’t employ the very people who come here on the basis their skills are needed.

This is nothing short of ridiculous.  We have highly qualified psychologists and chemists driving taxis.  A personal friend of mine arrived with a Master’s degree and ended up being a credit controller for a few years. 

When I arrived in Australia, I had no local experience either, yet I had a job the same day I decided to stay here.  That was back in 1974.  Things were different then.  Also, I didn’t have too much of an accent, I looked “the same” and my culture wasn’t that dramatically different and I didn’t need a visa.  I just stayed.  I was allowed.

Even those who were initially migrants themselves seem reluctant to hire newer migrants. 

Get over it!  At the moment it is like we are bringing people here under false pretences.  They apply for migration on the basis we, as a country, have said we need people in their occupation.  They get here and we won’t hire them? 

Give people a chance.  It isn’t just the skilled migrants.  Humanitarian visa people fair even worse.  They find it even harder to become employed: often their English may not be as proficient as a skilled migrant for instance, or they do not have the education a skilled migrant has.  So we won’t give them a job, then the rank and file “aussies” complain they are draining the public purse.  NOT BY CHOICE, I can assure you.

Employers, take your blinkers off.  Give these people a chance.  Implement a longer trial period if you like, but stop using “no local experience” as an excuse.  They have to get some, what makes you so precious as a company that you have to wait until someone else gives them local experience?

Ronald MacDonald, gumboots and broccoli have nothing in common, yet all three are part of life in Australia.  So are our migrants: many of US are migrants.  We arrived with no local experience either.

I would like to see the government more strongly encourage employers to stop using this “no local experience” discrimination.  For it is a form of discrimination. 

Have you rejected a migrant for a job lately?  Did you use no local experience as a reason?  Why?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

May 14, 2011 at 7:52 am

Why are women considered strange?

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Much is made in the media of the Muslim attitude to women.  Yet here I discover that Jews are not, due to religious beliefs, allowed to publish photos of women.  Orthodox Jews – perhaps non-orthodox are not so strict.

Christians tend to see themselves as closer to Jews than Muslims, is some way.  Yet here I see a marked similarilty between the Jewish and Islamic faiths.

This paper was published in New York.  Two women are airbrushed out of the photo, including Clinton. 

I have learnt something new today.

I am glad I am not a theist.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

May 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm

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Ted Baillieu – a real Liberal at last?

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Politics has taken a bit of a back seat in my life lately but I was pleased to read this article in today’s edition of The Age.  Budget tells us much about Ted Baillieu the man.

I’m not going to attempt to delve into the state budget details: what I am interested in here is a leader who looked to help the marginalised and disavantaged in our society.  For some reason, over the last couple of decades, the view of Liberal philosophy by the “man in the street” seems to have changed.  Even I changed my vote once at Federal level in frustration at what I perceived as an idealogical shift that seemed to put us more in line with the American Republicans, so perhaps the party was itself driving the changed view.

Politics is, it is said, a dangerous game.  I do not consider it dangerous for the politicians: it is a dangerous game for the people.  While the politicians are busy point scoring, they are often using us, the people, as the football.  I’d like to believe we can have more genuine policy and less crap tit for tat media sound bites.  I don’t want to read about how bad one side thinks the other is all the time, I want to know what the alternatives being offered are! 

I trust Ted lives up to Farrah Tomazin’s assessment.

I’m feeling very encouraged!


Written by Robyn Dunphy

May 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm