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Friday, 24 November

00:28

Backpackers v seasonal workers: lessons from across the Tasman "IndyWatch Feed Politics.pg"

In New Zealand, for every 1,000 backpackers picking fruit and vegetables there are about 2,600 seasonal workers, mainly from the Pacific. In Australia, the mix is completely different. For every 1,000 backpackers there are only about 130 Pacific seasonal workers.

The Australian outcome is what the literature predicts. The crowding out hypothesis asserts that unregulated migrant labour will crowd out regulated options. That is certainly what we see in Australia. Employers here prefer the more flexible, much less regulated backpacker (formally Working Holiday Maker) option. It is less hassle, and as recent media and academic research has shown, easier to get away with underpayment with backpackers, where no government approval or reporting is required, than with seasonal workers, where stringent approval and reporting requirements are imposed.

How then to explain New Zealands contrary performance? Thats what we set out to do in our new Devpolicy Discussion Paper Backpackers v seasonal workers: learning from the contrasting temporary migration outcomes in Australian and New Zealand horticulture.

We came up with five factors which explain why, as the graph below shows, New Zealands seasonal worker scheme (called the RSE or Recognized Seasonal Employer, and introduced in 2007) has been much more popular than Australias SWP (Seasonal Worker Programme, introduced in 2009).

Visas issued under New Zealands and Australias seasonal worker scheme

Note: the New Zealand (but not the Australian) scheme is c...

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Thursday, 23 November

20:00

Aid, and the Pacific in the 2003 and 2017 Foreign Policy White Papers "IndyWatch Feed Politics.pg"

Aid

The last Foreign Policy White Paper was also under a Coalition Government, in 2003, when Alexander Downer was Foreign Minister. On aid at least it is vintage Downer. The document downplays the role of aid at several points, with some disarmingly frank admissions: aid is not the key to development; it is trade and investment, not aid, that will drive development. Where aid could have a crucial impact, the White Paper argued, was in relation to the promotion of good governance, the bedrock of development success. This is why, the 2003 White Paper explained, good governance is now the largest sectoral focus of Australias aid program, with Australia at the forefront of donors grappling with governance issues in the region. Grappling is an apt description. Even Downer wasnt game to claim that our aid was actually improving governance. His belief, however, that the attempt (the grappling) was a good use of aid led to millions of dollars of aid being wasted on advisers. Some made a difference, but too many drew up corporate plans and reform programs that were never implemented.

While one can criticise Downers approach to aid, there was no mistaking what it consisted of. Fast forward to 2017 and the aid program now has something for everyone. There is little discussion in the new White Paper of the role of aid in development, let alone its limits. Governance is still the biggest aid spend (p. 91), but this is not explained. Rather, grappling with governance is now just one of many things we do: Our assistance helps partner countries improve governance, education and health, and enhance productivity in agriculture, fisheries and water. (Productivity in water?) The paragraph goes on to say we also build infrastructure and trade capacity, and promote gender equality.

Agree with it or not, the 2003 White Paper gave clear direction to the aid program. The 2017 White Paper does not. There are some positives. Humanitarian funding is increased from $400 to $500 million, something supported both by the public and by our own White Paper submission (though note there is no increase in total aid). There are a few subtle shifts on strategy: with the objective of economic growth giving way to one of inclusive growth, a new emphasis on the SDGs, and a renewed emphasis on climate change. Overall though, on aid strategy, the 2017 White Paper seems like a missed opportunity. Neither Foreign Minister...

08:14

Winning Silverbacks rugby sevens team to promote ACT NOW! campaigns "IndyWatch Feed Politics.pg"

The Silverbacks rugby sevens team has been presented with training tops and t-shirts bearing the ACT NOW! name and logo in recognition of their successful run through several Port Moresby tournaments.

The team will be wearing the tops at training and in their pre-game warm ups to promote ACT NOW! and it campaigns to the rugby crazy community in the Nations capital.

The team were presented with their new clothing by Campaign Coordinator Eddie Tanago and Administration Manger, Gary Iga at training last Friday.

06:17

Submissions open for April 2018 Australian Aid Evaluation Forum "IndyWatch Feed Politics.pg"

We are still accepting submissions of evaluations for the next Australian Aid Evaluation Forum, to be held in early April 2018.

If your organisation has an evaluation it would like discussed in a constructive, public forum involving aid and evaluation experts, this is for you.

Devpolicy and DFATs Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE) co-organise a twice-yearly forum on aid evaluations. Each forum runs for three hours, covering two or three evaluations, and is held at ANU in Canberra.  The discussion of each evaluation involves a presentation from the evaluator, followed by a presentation from a person involved in running the aid activity that was evaluated, and finally a presentation by a discussant with aid evaluation expertise.

Are you proud of your aid program evaluation? Would you like it to be part of the next Australian Aid Evaluation Forum?

If you are interested in being part of the next event (in April 2018) please email an expression of interest to Terence Wood (terence.wood@anu.edu.au) and Sachini Muller (sachini.muller@anu.edu.au) before 30 November. Please email us if you have any questions, or if your evaluation wont be ready by April but you would like to engage in the future.

Some funding for domestic travel is available to bring participants to Canberra from other parts of Australia.

If you would like to listen to some examples of presentations from a previous forum please click here.

The post Submissions open for April 2018 Australian Aid Evaluation Forum appeared first on Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre.

Wednesday, 22 November

22:08

O'NEIL AVOIDS QUESTION ON EVIDENCE OF FRAUD "IndyWatch Feed Politics.pg"

by BRYAN KRAMER MP

This morning I put the question to Prime Minister Peter O'Neill who I should submit evidence to establish he had misused public funds.

On account I had material evidence supporting the view he was guilty of conspiring with the former Member of Madang and a key member in his party to commit bribery and undue influence during 2012 General Elections.

My question was in response to O'Neill's statement the day before in Parliament when responding to Member of North West Sir Mekere Moratua. O'Neill announced to Parliament that he would resign should the opposition produce a single shred of evidence that he has misused or benefited from a single toea of public funds.

In March 2012 Peter O'Neill signed a letter in his capacity as Prime Minister to the then Chairman of Gaming Board instructing that the Board consider funding Yagaum Rural Hospital's project submission.

Gaming Board issued a K300,000 cheque payable to Yagaum Rural Hospital. The former Member Madang Open Nixon Duban who was then General Secretary of Prime Ministers People's National Congress Party and staff member of Prime Minister used the cheque to bribe and unduely influence voters during the 2012 General Elections for Madang Open Seat.

Duban was declared the winner of the election. I filed an election petition challenging the result.

On 3 June 2013 the National Court found Duban guilty of bribery and undue influence. The Court made the following findings

para 108 "A relevant matter to note is that the funds were secured personally by Prime Minister from the Gaming Board" The special relationship between the Prime Minister and the first respondent (Duban) lends supports to the view that presentation of the cheque to Yagaum Hospital on the eve of the general election was politically motivated."

para 109 "Further, the cheque was secured personally by Prime Minister under whose party the first respondent (Duban) stood for the 2012 general elections. All these factors point to one conclusion, viz the presentation of the K300,000 cheque to Yagaum Hospital on 11 June 2012 was to induce voters"

para 116 This in my opinion, was a act of Fraud by the First Respondent (Duban) in that he deliberately and dishonestly did not disclose the source of K300,000 cheque. This inference is sup...

20:00

Health security: part two "IndyWatch Feed Politics.pg"

It is striking that a government that merged AusAID so deeply into DFAT that Heads of Mission are now the chief aid decision-makers has subsequently created two aid centres within DFAT that have very distinctive and separate identities. The innovationXchange has very little DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) branding on its website, and the new Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security has none. Its an odd way to run an aid program.

In my first post on the new Centre and the equally-long-named program it is responsible for implementing the Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific Region I questioned the coherence of singling health aid out for cuts and then giving a small amount back for a new health initiative. The cut in annual aid health funding between 2013-14 and 2017-18 is $260 million, almost equal to the budget of the new initiative over five years.

In this post, I put those questions of intertemporal consistency aside, and look at how the funds will be spent, and whether the new Centre should have been set up within DFAT, as it has been, or outside the department.

One reason for setting up a new centre would be to promote a new focus on global medical research, something which the Australian aid program has only dabbled in to date. In my recent paper with Camilla Burkot, we prosecuted the case for an increase in global medical research funding, and argued that a dedicated centre outside of DFAT should be given the responsibility for overseeing a scaled-up spend on medical research. So a key question for me is: how much of the focus of the new centre is on research?

When you look at the language around the new health security centre and initiative, the main focus is in fact on operations. The centre is charged with the goal of driving change and innovation in health security policy and practice. (In passing, note how over-ambitious this goal is. At best, aid programs can nudge and facilitate. They can drive very little when it comes to recipient policy and practice.)

Medical research is just one of four components under this overall goal. It is included under accelerating access to new products. The other three are promoting global and regional cooperation, capitalising on Australias strengths, and catalysing international support. There is some social science research under the objective of capitalising on Australias strengths, but otherwise the other three are a...

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