Monthly Archives: February 2019

Women in cabinet: Prime Minister doubles women’s cabinet representation to two

Second woman in cabinet: Sussan Ley. Photo: Andrew Meares Kelly O’Dwyer: “There are lots of very good female colleagues of mine who are ripe for promotion.” Photo: Arsineh Houspian

Morrison lands new super-sized portfolioCabinet winners and losers

It must have been awkward, all this time, commencing cabinet meetings with the greeting: “Good morning, Lady and gentlemen”.

Now the Prime Minister has doubled his number of female ministers, from one to two, he can amend his opening line to reflect the tremendous lady-abundance we now have on the front bench.

In a 100 per cent increase in female cabinet representation, Sussan Ley was promoted from Assistant Education Minister to Health Minister. She will also be responsible for Sport. She joins the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop.

Formerly, Ley was one of the chicks Tony Abbott characterised as “knocking on the door” of cabinet – a sort of cross between a hungry urchin and a desperate political groupie.

Other females have been allowed within knuckle’s reach of the door – the young Victorian MP Kelly O’Dwyer was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, and Queensland MP Karen Andrews, a former engineer, was made Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science.

Women are, of course, notoriously hard to please, but forgive us if we don’t pop the champagne just yet.

In the press conference announcing the changes on Sunday, Tony Abbott said he was “pleased” about the female promotions.

“In the end all of our appointments are on merit. As time goes by and the number of women in the parliament increases, I am confident there will be more women in the ministry.”

This shoulder-shrug response implied that the lack of women in cabinet is a proportional thing. All our intentions are good, but how can we select chicks for the team when there is such a regrettably small pool?

But the numbers don’t bear that out.

Thirty per cent of Commonwealth parliamentarians are women (they account for about 27 per cent of MPs and 38 per cent of senators). If you’re arguing that the representation of female cabinet members is proportional to the overall selection pool, that means there should be roughly six women in the current cabinet.

Even if you re-adjusted that figure down to 20 per cent – because the Coalition has a lower quotient of women in its ranks than Labor – you would still be needing about four female ministers in cabinet for the argument to hold.

Is Abbott saying that the Coalition’s women lack merit – they either don’t have the talent, or the drive, to become cabinet ministers in proportionate numbers to their male colleagues? Or is he simply saying they don’t rise high enough to be considered for ministries? If so, why would that be?

The Prime Minister seems reluctant to admit any institutional bias which might prevent ladies from reaching the top table en masse.

He seems to imply they just need to keep knocking. No matter how red-raw their knuckles may get.

City builds platform for season’s second-half challenge

Two clean sheets, six points out of six and the emergence of a handful of promising youngsters as genuine first-team choices. Has Melbourne City finally discovered its mojo?

If so, it’s been a long time coming and there have been a couple of false starts in a season from which so much is expected of the Manchester City-owned club.

The 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar this month that gave the club its first home win of the season was a trifle fortunate. A lucky penalty gave City a goal, and had Roar taken its chances it could have easily taken all three points.

But Saturday night’s display against a Melbourne Victory side which, admittedly, does seem to have gone off the boil a little, will give coach John van’t Schip and the City fans plenty to be cheerful about as they digest their Christmas dinner and prepare to host league leaders Perth Glory on Boxing Day.

City were industrious, gritty, committed and did not fall away, as they have so often this season. And they got the sort of fortune teams need: their opponents had a goal disallowed on a contentious offside call, and they scored a winner in the last minute of the game.

Still, City worked hard, closed down, ran all night and denied Victory the space needed for them to get the ball on the ground and play the kind of expansive football that had kept them unbeaten up to Saturday night.

Victory’s wide men, particularly Kosta  Barbarouses, have been key players this season but they made little impact in the derby.

City have to prove that this recovery is built on solid foundations and there can be no sterner test at the moment than upcoming visitors Perth Glory, who they face at AAMI Park on Friday afternoon.

But if they can continue this form they will give themselves a platform to charge home in the second half of the season.

The return of Robert Koren, the Slovenian international, for his first game of the season was a boost, as will be the introduction of Socceroo striker Josh Kennedy, who will begin to make a contribution in February, when the Asian Cup is finished.

Van’t Schip has also given chances to young defenders Ben Garuccio (left back) and Connor Chapman (centre half) and the duo look as though they could be the answer to City’s problems in those areas.

Chapman is only now getting to full fitness having missed all the pre-season due to glandular fever, while Garuccio has also had an interrupted campaign and only got his chance in recent weeks.

“The boys were really good in working and fighting and being aggressive, I think we deserved the win,” van ‘t Schip said.

“It was a positive evening, winning a derby is nice, winning a second game in a row is good, getting Koren back on the pitch. The second clean sheet. There are a lot of positives to take out.

“There were some players playing the second game in a row that haven’t played for a long time, like Benny Garuccio and Connor Chapman.

“We still have a lot of things to improve. Keeping the ball and playing possession is something we can do better.”

Van ‘t Schip was full of praise for the aforementioned youngsters, who have both represented Australia at junior level.

Of Chapman, signed in the off-season from Newcastle, he said: “He showed in a big game like tonight he is a player with a lot of future. He is not 100 per cent and has to learn.

“Missing a whole pre-season we still have to modify him during the week as he is vulnerable in his physical activities. But playing 90 minutes last week and now gives  a lot of confidence to us and to him.

“He’s a young promising player, physically strong on the ball, composed, he can read the game quite good. It was his second game and the expectations grow when you play more. He has to prove himself every week as well. That’s what we are looking at this evening.”

James Troisi wants to be the perfect 10 for Asian Cup

Mark Bresciano and Tim Cahill have nothing to prove.

The pair are the last survivors from Australia’s “golden generation” and in all likelihood the upcoming Asian Cup will be their last hurrah with the national team – although in Cahill’s case, in particular, it is never wholly wise to rule him out of anything, given that he says he wants to keep playing while he feels he can make a contribution.

But neither man can go on for ever, and when Ange Postecoglou announces his final 23-man Asian Cup squad on Tuesday  attention will focus on the next generation – players seven to 10 years youngster than the two 35-year-olds who are Australia’s standard bearers. It is they who are expected to  become the mainstays of the national team for the next World Cup cycle.

Some came in and stated their case in Brazil – mid twenty-somethings like Ivan Franjic, Oliver Bozanic, James Troisi, Matthew Spiranovic (whose international career has been reactivated in recent years) and Mathew Leckie, in particular, saw game time in the World Cup either as starters or off the bench. Add to that list Robbie Kruse – a certainty for this squad – who missed out in Brazil because of injury.

Even younger players have come in and been given an opportunity since: names like Trent Sainsbury and Massimo Luongo, the Dutch-based centre half and midfielder from English League One club Swindon Town respectively have been regulars in Postecoglou’s starting line-up as he continues to mix and match to find the right blend, not just for this tournament but the qualifying campaign for Russia 2018.

What Australia really needs is a creative attacking midfielder, a player who can fill what is these days is known as the “number 10” role.

Bresciano has performed that job with distinction for the best part of 14 years now (having made his debut under Frank Farina in a Confederations Cup match against then world champions France in Korea in 2001) but there have been few replacements on the horizon.

Bozanic, who can play as a wide left midfielder or even as a left back, has been given a chance, as has Tommy Oar, the Dutch-based forward who looks more effective as a winger.

James Troisi, another left footer, could be another candidate.

His story should give hope to all those promising youngsters who go overseas at an early age but find that things don’t always go as hoped for.

Troisi spent several seasons with Premier League club Newcastle United, whom he joined as a teenager from Adelaide. He then moved to Turkey with spells at Genclerbirligi and Kayserispor before being bought by Juventus, the Italian giants, who promptly sold half his registration right to Atalanta, another Serie A club for whom he only played a handful of games.

Many players would, in these circumstances, fall through the cracks and drop down the divisions, disillusioned and despairing.

Troisi swallowed his pride – and for a player in his age group and with his football background it would have required a dose of humility to do so – and returned to Australia, signing for Melbourne Victory for the 2013-14 season.

He was so impressive he played his way back into Socceroo contention and when the party for Brazil was named he was on the list.

His career path is an example to many that, if you are still relatively young (Troisi is 26) it is possible to return to the A-League, play well and get another opportunity to rebuild your career.

On the back of his World Cup appearances Troisi landed a deal in Belgium, where he is currently playing with Zulte Waregem,  who are in the top division but sitting 14th in the 16-team league.

He was happy to have used the A-League as a route back to Europe, and the national team, and he is hopeful that he can, if given a chance, stake his claim to be Bresciano’s successor in the national team.

“I had a good season in Australia but the idea was always to go back to Europe and this opportunity came up,” he said last month while with the Australian team in Japan for the pre-Asian Cup friendly.

“There was a few different opportunities but the Belgian league is a very good league to play in and a good shop window for bigger clubs in Europe.

“So I decided to go there and play my football and so far everything’s working out so we’ll see what happens at the end of the season.”

“I’m playing as a number 10 at my club. We play with two 8s (box to box midfielders) and I’m a 10. That’s my best position. Obviously I just want to be on the pitch but ideally my best position is as a 10.”

Privacy will be considered a luxury in 2025: experts

Experts believe the exchange of personal data for online conveniences will soon erode today’s notions of privacy. Today’s notions of privacy will be eroded significantly within the next decade as growing reams of personal data are willingly exchanged for the convenience of living our lives online.

That’s the prevailing view among the more than 2500 industry experts from around the world – including academics, legislators and staff at global companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo – who were quizzed on the future of privacy and security.

Respondents to the study from the Pew Research Center in the US, in conjunction with North Carolina’s Elon University, said they believed living a public life online would be the new default by 2025.

They variously predicted current notions of privacy would soon become “quaint”, “archaic”, a “fetish” and “the new taboo” – something that future generations would fail to understand, let alone appreciate.

“Everyone will expect to be tracked and monitored, since the advantages, in terms of convenience, safety, and services, will be so great,” Google chief economist Hal Varian wrote in his response.

Optimistically, one policy co-ordinator believed internet organisations would reach an international consensus on how best to balance privacy and security with popular content and services.

However, many more foresaw a backlash against the evolving social norms.

One respondent, who wished to remain anonymous, predicted more people would engage in acts of civil disobedience by choosing to “opt out” of online services, rather than be tracked by companies.

Others believed new tools would be created to give citizens greater agency over what information they shared, and with whom.

Some saw encryption tools, which can be used to hide personal information and files, becoming more widely used.

However, researcher Kate Crawford said such service providers would be likely to seek commercial benefit, resulting in the creation of privacy as a “luxury good”, and a new social divide of “privacy rich” and “privacy poor”.

Companies the world over are investing more and more in “big data” and “data mining”, which allows them to trawl through customer data to better tailor and market their products and business.

Professor Michael Fraser, director of the Communications Law Centre at the University of Sydney, said that while individuals legally consented to companies storing their data when signing up to online services, it was not necessarily informed consent.

“Facebook, Google and others, their entire value comes from the exploitation of our personal, private information,” he said.

Professor Fraser also warned of the link between the private sector’s collection of customer data and government agencies’ ability to access such data, saying it was effectively government surveillance by proxy.

In 2013, Australian authorities made more requests to access user data from major technology companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple than any other country except the US, according to “transparency reports” published by the companies.

Legislative changes recently increased the powers of Australia’s top spy agencies, with a plan to force telcos to retain customer metadata for up to two years still in the pipeline.

Professor Fraser said privacy law reform was needed to protect citizens’ personal data as a property right.

Many respondents to the Pew survey were sceptical whether the push for such protections would succeed in the face of large corporate interests and lobby groups.

The study was part of a broader internet research project by the Pew Research Center to mark the 25th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Source: Pew Research Center


Should you diet with your partner?

It can be hard to find the motivation to diet.

That’s why the idea of dieting with a partner can be so appealing. There is someone to share that kale salad with, and it won’t be hard to skip desert if you know your partner is skipping it too.

But dieting with someone you’re involved with romantically might not be as simple as that.

Associate Professor at Colorado State University Dr Jennifer Harman suggests the dieting success of one person in the relationship could be affected  if the other partner does better.

Dr Harman was studying people’s ability to restrict portions while alone and while with others. The spoiler was that most people found it harder while with friends.

She uncovered anecdotal evidence that trying to diet with a partner could be counter-productive.

“We also found that among 50 overweight, romantic couples who made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, the more successful a partner was at restricting his or her diet and eating healthier, the less confident the other partner was in controlling their own food portions,” Dr Harman writes in The Science of Relationships.

She says there are many things that lead people astray from their weight-loss goals, and portion control is a critical piece of the weight-loss puzzle.

“When people strive to reach a goal, being close – in this case romantically – with someone who is successfully reaching the same goal can make the other partner less confident in their own efforts to reach the goal,” Dr Harman writes.

“You heard that right: people feel less confident achieving their goals when they see others succeeding at the same goals.”

Considering men lose weight easier than women, it could be easy to assume that this could be a serious problem for heterosexual couples wanting to shed a few kilos together.

However, University of Western Sydney lecturer Dr Rebecca Pinkus, who studies comparisons in romantic relationships, has a much more positive view of the idea.

“It hasn’t been examined specifically for dieting, but it seems likely people who are in a good, strong relationship and see one another as teammates should be able to diet together, and do well together,” Dr Pinkus says.

“I think this idea of couples dieting together, the fact that they’re entering into that diet together has a positive affect on their relationship.

“We know that things like social support really help people stick to their plan, so having a partner who is supportive and encouraging is probably more beneficial.”

It is possible for couples to be envious of one another’s successes, including dieting, but they can also be happy for the success of the other person, she says.

While theories around couples and dieting need to be tested scientifically, anecdotal evidence and other relationship studies suggest couples should be able to diet together, she says.

“New literature suggests people in strong relationships are able to take on that comparison, and they can be happy as a couple for the success.”

Dr Harman suggests it might be better to try to avoid comparison.

“The take-home lesson is to set my own goals and not compare my progress with my partner,” she says.

“Easier said than done when we eat together as a family regularly, but nonetheless important to at least consider, so that I do not let his progress undermine my own efforts.”