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[caption id="attachment_1776" align="alignleft" width="417"] photo: @UN4Ageing[/caption] International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) celebrates the contribution older people continue to make to societies across the world. It also provides a regular opportunity for advocates to raise awareness around key areas of concern in ageing: poverty, the pandemic of loneliness, and the growing incidence of elder abuse. The theme of 2018’s IDOP is to ‘Celebrate Older Human Rights Champions’. It has been 80 years since the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and a generation of older Australians helped drive that agenda, including Australia’s sole female delegate to the UN Jessie Street, who successfully campaigned to change the opening of the UDHR from "All men and brothers…" to "All human beings are born free and equal…" Today’s IDOP will recognise Street’s generation and the role older people continue to play in advancing human rights across the globe. It also provides an opportunity to continue to talk about...

[caption id="attachment_1719" align="alignnone" width="894"] photo: ABC[/caption] Last night’s Four Corners program exploring residential aged care was one of the ABC’s largest, crowd-sourced investigations. The ABC received more than 4000 submissions from concerned staff, families, sector advocates and insiders. It resulted in a compelling account of failure upon failure in our aged care sector. Chillingly, there were no real surprises. Tales of neglect and abuse, control by medication, are almost routine to anyone who follows the sector. That Four Corners uncovered further evidence of cruelty, neglect and lax governance is of no surprise to anyone aware of a 2017 Monash University study into preventable deaths in aged care. Here, choking and falls were almost routine – incredible when you consider how risk-averse aged care environments are designed to be, and that many meals take place in common areas. That the study also found evidence of self-harm, suicide and even murder – a shocking...

"Last night Warwick Smith, Senior economist at Per Capita was awarded the EJ Craigie Writing Award for his piece The big spending Victorian state budget is built on Australia’s worst tax. Warwick quickly laid out the damaging effects of stamp duties and then moved on to show another innovative ACT policy move, with the transition away from stamp duties and towards land taxes. Upon reading his piece, the imperative for such reform seems so obvious." Read more at Prosper Australia...

Address to the 2018 ACTU Congress Panel Discussion: Ending Trickle Down Economics John Kenneth Galbraith once described trickle-down economics as the theory that “if you feed enough oats to the horse, some will pass through to feed the sparrows”. In Australia today, as in so many other developed nations where trickle-down economics has been ascendant for the last three decades, the horses have grown very fat, and the sparrows are starving. Like me, you’ve probably been appalled by recent reports that one in every five Australian children has gone hungry in the past 12 months. A recent survey of 1,000 parents commissioned by Foodbank showed 22 per cent of Australian children under the age of 15 live in a household that has run out of food at some stage over the past year. It’s shocking. And Australia is one of the wealthiest countries on earth. It shouldn’t be happening here. Conventional economic theories tell us that, after...

Please note: this event recap is taken from the proceedings of the Melbourne event. Per Capita also held an event with David Madland in Sydney, where different topics may have been discussed. The latest guest at Per Capita’s Reform Agenda Series was David Madland, in conversation with Tim Lyons. David Madland is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. He has written extensively about the economy and American politics on a range of topics, including the middle class, economic inequality, retirement policy, labor unions, and workplace standards such as the minimum wage. Madland is also the author of Hollowed Out: Why the Economy Doesn’t Work without a Strong Middle Class. David began the session with a breakdown of the organised labour and workplace regulation context in the United States. While Australian workers have been hit hard by stagnant wage growth over the last decade, American workers have been dealing with stagnant wages...

Per Capita has today announced the appointment of two new directors to its board, and the retirement of two members who have served the think tank for many years. Dee Madigan, Director of Campaign Edge, and Tim Kennedy, National Secretary of the National Union of Workers, will join the Per Capita board. With over 20 years’ experience in the advertising industry, Dee Madigan is a creative director who has developed integrated campaigns for some of the world’s largest brands, including HSBC, Coca-Cola, J&J, Unilever and Nestle. She has been a winner or finalist at almost all major advertising awards, including Cannes. Dee understands the need for creativity as a tool to persuade an audience; she understands that effective messages are always based on brand truths and she knows how to develop and roll out a truly integrated campaign, from TV ads and traditional media, through to digital and social media. Dee is one of...

Treasurer Scott Morrison is working hard to sell his make or break 2018 budget, which is centred around tax cuts. The big picture purpose of these tax cuts is keeping the federal government’s tax to GDP ratio (the proportion of the economy the government takes in tax) at or below 23.9%. His ultimate justification comes down to this claim made in his post budget interview on the ABC program 7:30: “Higher taxes weaken your economy. It actually slows your growth, it costs jobs, it makes you less resilient.” There has been a lot of academic research into this issue and, of course, the story is a lot more complicated than Scott Morrison’s simple assertion. For very low taxing countries, there is indeed a relationship with economic growth — lower taxes mean lower GDP growth. After that, the results are all over the place and depend on many factors, not least of which is the mix of taxes. Amongst the most...

The 2018 federal budget included some welcome initiatives for older Australians such as $105m in increased funding for aged care for indigenous peoples in remote areas, $33m extra for nursing home palliative care and a $23 million fund to support the development of physical activity programs for over 65s. This year’s Budget was said to have specifically targeted the older voter with its ‘more choices in later life’ package, but now the dust has settled, did it really warrant the ‘boomer budget’ label that pundits gave it? The first big win for older people in the budget is the expansion of the little-utilised Pensions Loan Scheme. The scheme works as a sort of reverse mortgage, enabling homeowners to receive a fortnightly payment through a loan from the government against the equity in their home. Currently available only to part-pensioners and self-funded retirees, the expanded scheme increases the amount available through the combined pension...

The Victorian state budget revealed a government flooded with cash. Big spending on infrastructure, health, education and regional development, all while running a budget surplus, has largely been made possible by record revenue from stamp duties on housing. Thanks to record house prices and high population growth in Melbourne, stamp duty revenue is expected to rise to a record $7.1 billion. The Commonwealth Treasury department examined the efficiency of all major Australian taxes and found stamp duties to be the worst with an economic loss of over seventy cents for every dollar taxed. The marginal excess burden is the additional cost to the economy of each tax dollar. Stamp duties cost around 70c in additional burden for every dollar of taxation, while land taxes create a 10c benefit for every dollar of tax. From federal Treasury. One of the worst features of stamp duties is that they discourage the efficient use of our existing housing...