Political Issues

Privatization – A neccessary agenda to cut debt

Consider the following scenario: you are heavily indebted and you’ve reduced your spending as low are reasonably possible, however, you have a number of unneeded or under-used assets. Just like the majority of Western governments, would you not think it appropriate to sell off a number of assets or property in order to straighten your financial situation? This is exactly what governments should be attempting to achieve in order to eliminate debt.

There are obvious things a government would never sell. National icons with diverse historical importance or heritage listed properties such as the Louvre in Paris, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming or Australia’s Uluru would and should never be sold off. However, there are many other assets governments should look to privatize. A 2011 audit found that of the one million buildings the US government owned, at least 45,000 were deemed unneeded or under-used. Furthermore, one-fifth of the country’s land, which beneath it lies vast quantities of gas, oil and minerals, is unable to be explored due to government ownership. Throughout Europe these examples of unneeded or under-used assets and property are plentiful. Italy, for example, with debt equaling 132% of GDP, an extensive privatization plan would help to stabilize their debt burden. While Italy has a vast amount of government owned assets (more than many richer countries) its privatization agenda is non-existent. In OECD countries alone, the sale of such assets would tally almost US$9 trillion – that’s 20% of these countries’ combined debt.

Not all Privatizations are appropriate:

There is a reluctance from governments, however, to attempt to privatise assets as it is generally met by fierce opposition, just as Reagan experienced as he tried to sell land in America’s West and was met by a vehement coalition of left-wing activists and ranchers. The ranchers had a legitimate reason for concern of losing their grazing rights, however, many may well have been better off under more stable economic conditions. It is a political gamble for many governments and, if not considered and implemented appropriately can in fact cause greater problems, both financially and politically.

It is important to note that not all privatizations are appropriate. There are many services which should never be privatized to ensure all of society has access to them including healthcare, education and law enforcement. This is the widely held view from those of the center-right of politics. Left-wing activists have this fundamentally wrong where the failings of extreme instances such as the Soviet Union’s communist agenda exemplify. Even modern China, which was built upon communist principles has now moved into the realm of capitalism and operates as the world’s second biggest economy.

 

The privatization of a range of government assets and property is important to create more competitive markets which in turn offers the best possibility of increased productivity. When the private sector is able to build capital there is more incentive for performance improvement and when performance increases productivity inevitably follows. Privatization is not merely stripping assets away from the public sector but a comprehensive strategy for restructuring welfare systems and public services.

Australia’s example of Privatization:

Many people will argue at this point that increased profits will lead to greater disparity between the rich and the poor. It may be true that the gap becomes wider, however, in most circumstances the standard of living for the poorest citizens dramatically increases as real wages will rise. Where there is incentive and opportunity to do well it is imperative of the human condition to work harder. With greater opportunities employment rates will drop, consequently lowering the welfare burden on governments.

An example of effective privatization occurred in Australia over the turn of the millennium. The center-right Government led by John Howard in 1996 inherited $96b debt (>$138b today) during the worst recession the country had seen since the Great Depression. With his liberal economic policies, Howard moved to privatize government assets, including the government-owned telecommunications provider, Telstra. Along with deregulating the market and implementing tax cuts Howard and his Treasurer paid off the $96b debt and within 2 years delivered a budget surplus which they would continue to do for the 12 years they held government. John Howard showed the political courage and determination to do what was right for his country even in the face of public dissent and disapproval.

History has shown exactly what systems work in order to create robust and productive economies – that is the free market economy. Privatization complements free markets by introducing competition and supplementing productivity. At a time when markets are showing improvement governments must be looking to privatize inefficient, unneeded or under-used assets and property. Leaders of the world today must look beyond personal politics and implement the appropriate economic reforms – its time to privatize!

 

Paul Keating’s Republican Address at the Funeral of the Unknown Australian Soldier

Paul Keating, the Australian PM at the time serves a primary purpose to present a funeral address appropriate for a neutral state occasion.

A subtle subtext is employed to criticise the monarchist system in Australia and present Keating’s favour of republicanism

Context – 1993: Keating presented his speech on the 11th November, now recognised as Remembrance Day celebrating the armistice of the First World War. Furthermore heightening the exposure to the of the speech was that 1993 was the 75th anniversary of the armistice – a major occasion.

Keating personally, was raised in a poor family who joined the Labor Party as an adult, traditionally favoured towards the working class. His political position was surely influenced by his upbringing where Keating would not have agreed with the class division that monarchies traditionally created. His own personal context would have influenced his republican views and therefore his address. Furthermore, Keating served as a junior parliamentarian under the Whitlam Government who was dismissed by the monarchist system. This would have ensured hatred and resentment towards the monarchist system.

Context – 2012:

Keating’s speech today would appeal to many Australians considering Australia’s position within the world being a dominant and influential nation. Many may consider Australia no longer needs a monarchist constitution as the monarchy no longer influences Australia and its politics. There is strong debate about the relevance of continuing such a system with the decreasing monarchist links we hold with Britain. Furthermore, Australia is heavily influenced by American culture where the ideas of republicanism are ubiquitous within most forms of media. Australia holds increasing links with America especially in military with American deployment of troops in Darwin this year. Australia today fights alongside America in wars in the Middle East. As time continues and Australia continues its sway from Britain to America, Keating’s speech becomes increasing relevant for its sub- textual purpose.

Paul Keating, Prime Minister from 1991 to 1996

Kairos:

Keating’s tone is formal and reflective, appropriately fitting the occasion of a state event. Keating’s speech, therefore, holds authentic to the requirements of Kairos. Furthermore, holding the funeral on the 75th anniversary of the armistice adds depth to the purpose of commemorating the Unknown Soldier and gives Keating a sizeable platform for his subtext. Although remaining constrained to the demands of Kairos, Keating subtly presents his subtext. This subtlety is critical in remaining true to the demands of Kairos as explicit criticism would be inappropriate for a neutral occasion.

The Tomb of the Unknown Australian soldier represents all Australians who died in war.

Section 1:

Keating starts his speech by creating an everyman and allows the responder into the conversation where they are invited to mould their everyman in whatever way they hold suitable. This is important as Keating moves on to connect Republicanism with the Anzac legend and then provide the Anzac identity as the suitable model for their everyman.

In the opening paragraphs, Keating introduces the universal identity of the soldier by inviting the responder into the speech saying “he is one of us”. This is an immediate appeal to pathos where Keating continues thereafter his enigmatic presentation of the soldier through anaphoric repetition and first person plurals “we don’t know” and “we will never know.” This allows a connection between the responder and the unknown solider where the idea is created that his identity could belong to all responders.

By listing the many things unknown about the soldier, Keating is in fact providing a template that can be filled in by the responder in whatever way they wish. Furthermore, the idea of the soldier being a kind of everyman is emphasised through Keating’s balanced contrasts so that anyone “from the city or bush”, “married or single” can access the identity of the soldier. By presenting the universal identity of the soldier Keating effectively invites the responder to participate in the conversation and thus, invokes a personal response.

By reversing the anaphoric repetition from what we don’t know, to something we do know about the soldier, Keating humanises the cold facts and numbers. In affirming “he is one of us”, Keating employs the use of inclusive language to further emphasise the soldier belonging to all Australians. Short sentences add to Keating’s dramatic impact, heightening the enforced personal response.

Australia's War Memorial during an ANZAC day ceremony

Section 2:

Once Keating has introduced the Unknown Soldier and offered him as they everyman he subtly moves on to his subtext – criticism of the monarchist system. At all times Keating remains commemorative and honourable towards the soldier, however uses his sacrifice to blame the monarchy and outline the irrelevance of such a system in Australia.

Keating begins his persuasive subtext by outlining the irrelevance of a monarchy in today’s times. While continuing to fulfil his main objective – commemorating the Unknown Soldier, Keating says “this Australia and the Australia he knew are like foreign countries”. Here, his use of syllepsis (using a word two ways) and simile coupled with the negative connotations of “foreign” explore the drastic and negative changes Keating believes Australia to have undergone in the previous seventy-five years. He continues to portray this idea by employing the hyperbole in “so vast and all consuming” and “beyond the reach of the imagination” where their negative connotations force an emotional shift in the audience away from the monarchy.

Keating expertly constructs his speech to honour the war dead while using their sacrifices as a way to present his republican views. His simple manipulation of rhetoric through the juxtaposition of “king and country” and thus monarchism, to “political incompetence” enforces a connection between the two. Although this is subtly presented using alliteration of the ‘c’ sound, it is effective in forcing an emotional shift away from the monarchy. Keating does not move away from honouring the war lost soldiers but delicately persuades his audience to consider whether these soldiers died for no other reason but the glamour of fighting for the monarchy.

The Wall of Remembrance at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra lists the names of all Australians who died in war. The Poppies are a symbol of the armistice as they began to flower at that time in the North of Belgium and France.

Keating makes it quite clear that his purpose is not to glorify war and thus gives no credit to the monarchy, but in fact praises the contribution this Unknown Soldier made. In doing this, however, he discretely blames monarchies for necessitating their loss. After making the connection between political incompetence and monarchism, Keating continues to declare “the war which was supposed to end all wars in fact sowed the seeds for a second more terrible war” and furthermore adds “we might think this Unknown Soldier died in vain.” Here Keating makes the argument that monarchies started these horrible wars where millions of innocent people were killed. Therefore, after so many years of change in the world why does Australia still have a monarchist constitution? Surely so many Australians did not fight so see no gain? By degradation of the monarchy for its responsibility for the incredible loss of life, Keating is in fact presenting his favour of a substitute form of government – a republican system. He employs the use of cliché and dramatic language to relay his ideas and effectively invokes a personal response by maintaining the honour of the lost soldier.

Keating continues to move his audience away from monarchism and towards his ideas of Australia as a republic through his manipulation of language and rhetoric. He offers the war as a “lesson which transcended the horror and tragedy and the inexcusable folly” which through the use of emotional language and repetition implies Australia has moved on – that Australia learnt how to be independent of the folly or British and thus a republic system should be implemented.

Section 3:

Keating has created his everyman in the beginning of his speech, and has connected the monarchy to the terrible loss of life through war. The responder is in a position where they have rejected the monarchy and are now waiting for Keating to offer a substitute for which they can accept. He does this by linking the Anzac legend with ideas of republicanism and then offering this identity as the acceptable model for their everyman, thus his responder is persuaded in favour of the republican system.

He initially makes an appeal to ethos through his humble degradation of politicians of which he is one. This helps to lower himself to our level where we are more likely to respect his idea if he is not projected as above us. As a result, he effectively invokes a personal response within us which forces a shift in our favour to a republican system.

Keating moves on to portray the ANZACs as the model of Australian identity. He relates these ideas back to his subtle subtext and favour of republicanism by offering us the accessible ANZAC story. Keating, through inclusive first person challenges us “to believe in ourselves” which fundamentally is the basis of republican ideology.

Mateship was a dominant trait, recognized by many, as the ultimate example of the ANZAC legendHe then relates this idea to the ANZAC “legend of free and independent spirits”. Furthermore, the positive connotations linked to these words reverberate with his idea of republicanism. It could be said this is the climax of Keating’s speech. It is here that his argument is clearly presented. Although remaining subtle and, in continuing to commemorate the Unknown Soldier as his primary purpose, Keating introduces the ideas of “real nobility”, “courage”, “ingenuity in adversity” and “mateship”. This emotional appeal links all aspects of his speech, where the everyman from the beginning is shaped to represent the Australian identity. This identity is strongly distanced from monarchism and connected to the ideas of republicanism.

In the concluding paragraphs of his speech Keating reaffirms the irrelevance of the monarchy in Australia where a shift to a republican system is central to the development our Australian identity. Keating offers the juxtaposition of what has been sacrificed for gain. Although “we have lost a 100,000 lives… we have gained a legend”. Employing the use of first person plurals, Keating challenges us to call for a republic and equalise the disparity created by the monarchy.

 

Obama’s Speech to the Australian Parliament, 2011, Reaffirming the ANZUS Treaty and Committing America to the Asia Pacific

An analysis of President Obama’s speech to the Australian Parliament – 17 November 2011

Obama addresses a joint sitting of the Australian Parliament

Obama’s speech serves the purpose of reaffirming the alliance held between Australia and the United States and also acts as America’s commitment to playing a larger part within the Asia Pacific. President Obama addresses military peace within the region, economic prosperity, commitment to environmental protection, preservation of human rights and the successes of democracy whilst relating such issues to the enduring relevance of the ANZUS treaty between Australia and the United States.

The ANZUS treaty, signed in 1951 between Australia, New Zealand and the United States effectively bound the three countries militarily. Any attack on either of these countries constituted an attack on all three countries and in effective each country was obligated to help defend the security of each other. Although New Zealand and the United States have ended their treaty with each other due to differing views on a range of issues, the treaty is still solidly in effective between the United States and Australia and was evoked by the Australian Government in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

The president opens, addresses the Parliament and immediately acknowledges his purpose is “to reaffirm the bonds between the United States and the Commonwealth of Australia, two of the world’s oldest democracies and two of the world’s oldest friends.” He uses the repetition and reference to time to establish an immediate sense of relationship between both countries, both ideologically and on a personal level through the positive connotations of ‘friends’. This sets the tone for the rest of his speech to reflect a friendship between both nations. Furthermore, he connotations associated with ‘oldest’ enforce an inextricable sense of togetherness that transcends time.

The signing of the ANZUS treaty by US secretary of state Forster Dulles, 1951, in San Francisco

Obama continues to provide a personal anecdote of a childhood visit to Australia to create an appeal to the audience’s ethos and create a personal connection. He achieves this through using colloquial Australian language, attempting to speak some “strine” and do some “earbashing”. Here, by creating humour, Obama effectively connects to the cultural profile of Australia and by offering this with the personal anecdote, his audience begins to accept his opinion as he bridges any cultural differences. This ensures he gains a temporary sense of membership to the Australian identity. Furthermore, he employs the use of simile to describe how “it felt like home”, thus Obama positions himself amongst the Australian people.

Obama walks past an honor guard on his arrival to Parliament House in Canberra

Obama continues to create the sense of relationship between the two countries to each other by outlining a shared history. He emphasizes “in each other’s story we see so much of ourselves.” The use of first person plurals creates a sense of unity and inclusion of all Australian and Americans.

Obama addresses a joint setting of the Australian Parliament

Because of the shared experiences and common history, both nations can relate, thus a sense of togetherness through a common history is emphasised. Obama outlines many of experiences shared by both nations. He provides allusions to common historical themes of “ancestors who crossed vast oceans – some by choice, some by chains.” The powerful imagery, enforced by alliteration ensures an emotional shift within his audience who are moved to acknowledge the many aspects of history that both nations can relate to. Obama continues to ensure this sense of relationship transcends time so that an inextricable unity and friendship exists between both countries.

Australian and American flags fly side by side

Obama affirms “from the trenches of the First World War to the mountains of Afghanistan, Aussies and Americans have stood together, we have fought together, and we have given lives together”. Obama employs colloquial reference to Aussies to appeal to ethos and establish a sense of belonging between Australian and American cultures. Furthermore, his repetition of first person plurals ensures the sense of relationship transcends time and conflict.

The United States’ President employs powerful emotive language when describing the ANZUS Treaty. The present participle in “showing that our two nations stood as one” provides a continuing and inextricable bond. Both nations have stood as one in the past and both nations will continue into the future to stand in unity. He continues to affirm this unbreakable bond where “the alliance between the United States and Australia has never been stronger.” The sense of physical strength is a motif within his speech and is effectively employed here to symbolize that in a unity between Australian and the United States, the Asia Pacific will be influences by this inextricable friendship.

Current Prime Minister Tony Abbott talks with President Barack Obama

Obama continues to outline the need for human rights and democracy within the Asia Pacific. He enforces the unity between Australia and the United States as the model for this leadership, acknowledging, “the United States and Australia have a special responsibility to lead.” At all times he addresses both countries in unity together using first person plurals where “we all rise and fall together.”

Ending his speech, Obama reaffirms “this is the story of the alliance we celebrate today.” Once again, he employs first person plurals to create that sense of unity and belonging between both countries. He makes one final emotive appeal showing sincerity saying, “God bless Australia. God bless America. And God bless the friendship between our two peoples.” Obama ends his speech with the recurring theme of friendship and unity between Australia and the United States

Obama shakes hands with Australian troops and US marines in Darwin

During Obama’s visit to Australian in 2011 a commitment was made between Australia and the United States for increased military cooperation between countries.

Obama’s strategic plan to exert more influence over the Asia Pacific region included the deployment of troops, aircraft and ships to Australia’s mainland with an American Army base to opened in Darwin, a city to Australia’s northern reaches. By 2017 2,500 US marines would be stationed their on 6 month intervals.

OBAMA: “The US has no stronger ally than Australia. We are bound by common values, the rights and the freedom that we cherish… With my visit, I am making it clear that the US is stepping up its commitment in the Asia Pacific.”

Then Prime Minister Julia Gillard said “the increased US presence would reinforce stability in the Asia-Pacific.”

President Obama, Prime Minister Gillard and Governor General Quentin Bryce walk past the Wall of Remembrance

Obama addresses Australian and American soldiers and marines