An annual report from an Australian Charity focussed on housing affordability is making alarming claims about housing insecurty in Australia, especially for those dependent on welfare. The Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot is taken annually, using real estate listings from a single weekend to give a picture of what the housing market looks like to the most vulnerable in society, including those on the aged pension and unemployment benefits. The report, in line with Australian norms, defines affordable housing as costing less than 30% of household income. It found, among other things, that the number of houses affordable to a single person on Newstart (the Australian unemployment benefit) to be only 2, down from 3 the year before and 21 the year before. It notes that neither of these dwellings is in a major metropolitan area, and that the poor and unemployed have been essentially priced out of the major cities.
The report goes on to say that data from the Department of Social Services shows “there are nearly half a million Australians on government income support who pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent.”, and calls for action to address housing affordability and raise the amount of various government welfare payments.
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Hundreds of kilometres south of Sydney, on the remote Far South Coast of New South Wales, the fire season should just be getting started. But instead it’s been raging all through winter, with over 80 homes destroyed, according to officials I spoke to in the field. One fire, propelled by high winds, has been burning for over a month, near Bemboka, a small town surrounded by dairy farms, on the highway between the coast and the Australian snowfields. I drove out to have a look first hand, seeing extensive damage and ongoing efforts by firefighters including helicopters acting as waterbombers.
“Scientists will tell you it’s climate change” said the employee of the fire department I spoke to in the field. Sure enough a quick online search produces an array of experts proclaiming their alarm at the unseasonsal fires. With much of the state in drought conditions and a hot dry summer predicted for the region, no respite is in sight in the near future.
See Cassie findlay put our new research tool to work, capturing her research work on this history blog.
The short piece below is a test of the Beta release of Write in Stone, a new tool for capturing and sharing research. To view the full Writeline for this story, or to rate the research, click on the widget. Feedback (on the tool, not my dodgy writing) is welcome! Email me at cassie (at) writeinstone.com
The Sydney Ducks
‘Sydney Town’, looking north to Telegraph Hill, 1851.
It was only after I had been living in San Francisco for almost two years that I discovered the Sydney Ducks. From memory, it was in an Uber on the way to a trust in journalism event with Austin Mackell that I found out about them. At first, I didn’t believe such an excellent story could possibly be true. Not only was there a gang ex-colonials from Sydney that had roamed around in what is now lower Telegraph Hill but that they were truly…
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Leader of the UK Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn has laid out an ambitious vision for media reform including charging a “windfall tax” on “digital monopolies” to fund public interest journalism, a “decentralised” BBC controlled by staff and license-fee payers, charitable status for certain outlets, and an end to ministerial vetoes of freedom of information act requests.
Speaking at the Alternative MacTaggart Lecture, Corbyn balanced praise for the vital role of a free press, and the value of “hard working journalists” with criticism of “owners and editors” who have ” dragged down standards”. He lamented “how close so much of the media is to the rich and powerful”, and suggested other outlets could follow the Guardian’s example and have journalists elect their editors.
Corbyn said however, that none of these proposals were yet Labour Party policy, and that he hoped his speech prompted further “research and discussion”.
I’ve basically stopped writing journalism for the time being. My last piece was an impassioned cry for progressives not to assume a Clinton victory, and to therefore hold their noses and vote for the lesser evil. We were in a situation where the parties are no longer converging on a neoliberal consensus but polarising faster than ever, especially in the right, which is in serious danger of being taken over by its most hateful and dangerous impulses.
By now there’s no joy left in telling people I told them so on this point. Just as there isn’t in regards to Egypt, or Libya. I even deleted my twitter account. I long ago decided I wanted to more than simply spew article after article into the internet’s gaping maw, with little or no reaction coming back.
So I’ve been involved over the years in attempts to upgrade journalism standards and methodology. The latest incarnation of this effort is called Stone and it is the worlds first research transparency system. Further explanations and early use cases will soon be added to our website.