Oz Blog News Commentary

Articles from Peter Martin

'Book famine' as government prepares to miss deadline

August 28, 2016 - 06:29 -- Admin

The Turnbull government has been accused of extending Australia's "book famine" by sitting on draft legislation designed to give blind, partially sighted and dyslexic Australians the sort of access to books available overseas.

Former disability commissioner Graeme Innes says he and other vision-impaired Australians can't import legally-produced audio and braille books without the specific permission of the publishers. He says when he asks, he often doesn't get a response.

We're moving part-time as the jobs market hollows out

August 19, 2016 - 07:28 -- Admin

An election-driven burst of part-time employment has pushed the unemployment rate down to 5.7 per cent, disguising a continuing slide in the number of Australians employed full-time.

Employment climbed 26,200 in July, according to figures released by the Bureau of Statistics on Thursday, but the jump was the net result of a 45,400 slide in full-time employment offset by an unusually large 71,600 jump in part-time employment.

Wondering whether to end a relationship? Toss a coin, seriously

August 14, 2016 - 07:34 -- Admin

What's the best thing to do when you are faced with one of those gut-wrenching decisions like whether to quit your job or have a baby or end a relationship?

When I was weighing up whether to leave the Treasury to work as a journalist a few decades back, my mother acted as if it was one of the most momentous decisions I would ever make. My father, who was more relaxed, said it would all be fine.

It turns out dad was right.

Code Red: How the ABS bungled the census

August 13, 2016 - 17:31 -- Admin

In 2015, at what ought to have been the height of preparations for the 2016 census, its head, Duncan Young, sent his colleagues in the Bureau of Statistics executive a crisis memo.

"As most of you are aware, the census program has alerted its steering committee and board that it has assessed its status as RED," he wrote in February.

He put the word "RED" in capital letters.

Defenders of banks are the ones who don't get capitalism

August 11, 2016 - 17:53 -- Admin

Why on earth am I attacking the banks? "They make profits, that's the way the capitalist system works," or so I have been told repeatedly since I questioned their decision to hang on to a good chunk of last week's official Reserve Bank cut in interest rates instead of handing it to their customers.

"It's not the job of government to dictate the margins of business," one of their shareholders told me. "Profits are the basis of free-market capitalism," another wrote.

Census meltdown just the latest Bureau of Statistics bungle

August 10, 2016 - 17:41 -- Admin

"Reckless" doesn't begin to describe the new culture at the top of the Bureau of Statistics.

Its most important product apart from the census is the monthly employment survey. Two years ago it decided to modernise. It moved much of it online, accepted a lower response rate and changed the months in which different questions were asked.

Against the advice of ABS veterans, it didn't run a backup survey using the old system.