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Monday Message Board

June 14th, 2004

Time as usual for the Monday Message Board. Post your thoughts on any topic (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Following up the holiday theme, I’d be interested to hear suggestions for new and better public holidays.

It’s time, as usual, for the Monday Message Board. Post your thoughts on any topic (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please).

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  1. Tom N.
    June 14th, 2004 at 16:18 | #1

    WHO IS YOUR MODELLER OF PREFERENCE?
    THE LATEST ON THE A-USPTA

    The Australian reports today that the Senate Committee modelling exercise has found that the A-USFTA (sic) will bring net benefits of around $53 million – in contrast to the $6 billion that the DFAT-commissioned CIE study nominated. Philippa Dee (ex-Productivity Commission) did the Senate numbers exercise.

    Although details in the article are scant, it seems inter alia that the famed equity risk premium doesn’t rate a mention and that, in contrast to the CIE study which, as I recall, did not address the rules or origin (ROO) issue, the Dee exercise did and it appears to have found that the restrictive nature of these rules will reduce the goods trade benefits to Australia. This would be consistent with the recently released PC study on the CER ROO – as well as with its earlier work on PTAs. The Dee study also suggests that the extended IP protections will have impacts on the price of pharmaceuticals to Australia over the longer term.

    Whatever the merits of the different studies, the politics is interesting. I was surprised that CIE chose to produce a (much) bigger number in its second report than its first, and to put as much weight as it did on the obviously contentious equity risk premium point. In doing so, the CIE went out on a bit of a limb and put its previously apolitical reputation in danger. A more credible way through may have been to go for a more conservative published bottom line, whilst noting that given the equity risk issue the actual gains could be much larger.

  2. Jason Soon
    June 14th, 2004 at 17:39 | #2

    I would endorse Richard Dawkins’ idea of a Charles Darwin Day (at least it also has an Australian connection)

  3. John Quiggin
    June 14th, 2004 at 17:58 | #3

    An additional point on IP is that Dee came up with a long-run cost for the copyright extensions which CIE had set at zero.

    At this point it would be a cop-out for Latham to let Howard push the FTA through. Best for Labor would be to push the whole thing into committee until after the election. But the cumulative pressure on this and Iraq may be too much.

  4. Geoff Honnor
    June 14th, 2004 at 18:12 | #4

    “I would endorse Richard Dawkins’ idea of a Charles Darwin Day (at least it also has an Australian connection)”

    Jason, it would fuel a never-ending stream of British and NZ comic observations about the appropriateness of that commemoration given that Australians always seem uniquely representative of the origin of the species, etc, etc. I’d feel more inclined to support a Darwin Awards Day myself….

  5. Harry Clarke
    June 14th, 2004 at 19:01 | #5

    I think that seeking more frequent public holidays (on Fridays and Mondays) is a desirable Australian public policy goal equivalent in intent to the French Government’s actions in legislating for a maximum 35 hour working week.

    These are good restrictions since they prevent us collaborating in a Prisoner’s Dilemma ‘rat race’ to outdo the other worker in terms of effort, income and consumption. This is the old ‘keeping up with the Jones’ nonsense that propels us so forcefully to overwork even though our incomes are rising and leisure is a normal good. The externality here, the cost of my extra work effort in creating incentives for you to incur increased marginal disutility of effort to ‘keep up’ with me, can be internalised by heftily taxing incomes or by a regulatory restrictions such as limiting working hours.

    On this rare occasion I prefer the restrictions as a means of internalising the externality since I would prefer to hang onto the reduced final income rather than hand it over to the pollies. But the tax proposal isn’t stupid either since public goods are not envy-creating (we all get them).

    The French reforms referred to have had a bad press. In a recent Business Week article the claim was made that the lazy Germans were coming to their senses and no longer working ‘wimpy hours’. Even the French who have a legally set 35 hour week have relaxed their laws for very small businesses. This article argues the nonsensical proposition that the easiest way to increase European productivity was to make European workers work harder!

    In Australia our full time working hours have increased from 42-44 hours and in 2002 35% of male full-time workers were working 50 hours or more per week which is up from 23% in 1982. Proposals to award more public holidays would offset this insidious trend in the face of rising living standards.

    Let’s increase public holidays from about 8 to 16 so that roughly one weekend in 3 belongs to us as a long weekend in addition to annual leave. This doesn’t go as far as a legislated 35 hour week maximum but there are economies of scale in enjoying our leisure so that more long weekends are in some respects better than small reductions in working hours each week. I haven’t got far in suggesting names for these extra holidays (Warne, Gough and Kylie Days should be there for sure but if this proposal was accepted one might even suggest Harry Day in recognition of one of its early proponents.

  6. cp
    June 14th, 2004 at 20:39 | #6

    I think the spread of public holidays should be improved. In Queensland, the last public holiday for over six months (unless you cound a Wednesday for the EKKA if you’re in Brisbane) is the June one just done. Contrast that with the first five months of the year when they come thick and fast. If not more, then at least more usefully timed.

  7. wmmbb
    June 14th, 2004 at 21:02 | #7

    In the spirit of inclusiveness and societal cohesion, public holidays should apply to the army of casual employees. The names given to such wholesome occasions are irrelevant.

  8. michael
    June 14th, 2004 at 21:39 | #8

    As a Victorian I (and perhaps most others in the Aussie Rules states) wouldn’t mind the Friday before the AFL Grand final off. It’s culturally the biggest event behind Christmas in Victoria (at least for the anglo/european population). If we can have the Melbourne cup day off – why not bundle another sporting event?

    This is Australia after all.

    And may I suggest we suspend retail trade on more public holidays?

  9. June 14th, 2004 at 22:15 | #9

    I thought maybe I could make a cheap trash point by advocating a holiday on Oliver Cromwell’s birthday.

    Unfortunately it is April 25th.

    Given that Easter is really a spring festival, the Southern states at least would benefit from something around late september, which is already a favourite fly-away time to the rejuvenating north.

    While holidays may be a drain on urban business they make a huge difference to tourist resorts. The more the merrier. The best is a Tuesday or Thursday so people take the intervening day off.

    Mind you, to self employed people, journalists and the hospitality industry the whole thing is pretty meaningless in many ways.

  10. Blair S. Fairman
    June 14th, 2004 at 22:25 | #10

    There needs to be Public holidays in the middle of the week. That way you chuck a sickie between the holiday and the weekend and have really long weekend. It works here in Melbourne on Cup Day.

    (The only problem with the Cup Day holiday I have had was when Melbourne Uni used to not have the Day off but still held the exams at the Show Grounds which are next to the track. You could never find a park.)

  11. Brian Bahnisch
    June 14th, 2004 at 22:35 | #11

    David, in Brisbane here we only have the Brisbane Ekka holiday (August) between now and Christmas, so I’d favour a holiday about mid-October to get us through, preferably a Monday. A three day weekend every week would be about right, though.

    I suppose things stop a bit for the Melbourne Cup. I usually try to ignore it and once tried to get service in a shop. The guy thought I was mad!

  12. sylvia
    June 14th, 2004 at 22:36 | #12

    I’d like to propose Alan Jones’ birthday be celebrated as a Public Holiday – he’s obviously very important.

  13. Peter Murphy
    June 14th, 2004 at 23:16 | #13

    A couple of years ago, I was dating a pre school teacher from the Redlands. As cp said, the EKKA holiday in Brisbane falls on Wednesday. According to her, Redlands has its EKKA holiday on A Monday. Sounds like a more sensible arrangement, as people can get another long weekend out of it.

    (For non-Queenslanders, Redlands is a local government authority that borders Brisbane City to the East.)

  14. June 14th, 2004 at 23:19 | #14

    Let me second cp’s call for if not more holidays then at least a redistribution of the existing ones.

    The first one I think should be moved is Australia Day (the last thing I need in January is a holiday).

  15. Jill Rush
    June 14th, 2004 at 23:50 | #15

    I am happy to celebrate the Queen’s birthday – it’s the best bit about the monarchy. The problem is that it heralds a long period in the dreariest of weather when there is no public holiday to lift the spirits. We need a public holiday in August and the 2nd Tuesday in November. It does wonders for those parts of the economy which need people to have free time.

  16. Jill Rush
    June 14th, 2004 at 23:51 | #16

    Is the Australian Crime Commission the place that criminals go in order to commission crimes which they don’t want discovered?

    Is this organization just the latest in a long string where as long as the bad news can be suppressed by the Howard government there is no bad news?

  17. June 15th, 2004 at 01:17 | #17

    Unno, but taking the American adoption of MLK day, perhaps something similar day commemorating Aboriginals – though definitely not “Sorry Day”, maybe the Monday of NADOC Week – wouldn’t be a bad idea. It might also stop them getting all thingo about Australia Day.

  18. June 15th, 2004 at 01:50 | #18

    Whatever holidays we have need to be advertised better. I hate going to run some errands and finding everything closed, and it takes me half a day to figure out that it’s Patriots’ Day* or Columbus Day or some such thing.

    *Random Massachusetts holiday

  19. June 15th, 2004 at 13:03 | #19

    Stentor has caught the freelance mindset very well. Zipping out of the home office to do an errand to find the world strangely silent and realising: cripes, that’s right, its a holiday.

    I think John Hardy is caught neatly on the horns of a cultural dilemma. As a proprietor of a business he needs the production economy chugging along and focused; at the same time for the rest of us Australia Day has the important function of symbolising the end of the summer holidays.

    I think there’s been a significant change in holiday patterns over the last decade which has undermined this. More and more people are working the January and taking their holidays later in February. The result is not such a sharp dip in productivity, but more a sustained period of casualness. You can see it in the period in which you can’t necessarily assume people will be there for projects or decisions.

    Academics, of course, are just becoming slaves. What evil mind invented the summer school?

  20. June 15th, 2004 at 14:02 | #20

    Harry: while I am all for a public holiday every third week I’m afraid that a Harry Day would probably bring to mind a different Harry for most people…

    What about a Diversity day?

  21. Harry Clarke
    June 15th, 2004 at 17:33 | #21

    You could call it Harry Clarke day. That would narrow it down.

  22. kyan gadac
    June 16th, 2004 at 00:44 | #22

    There’s actually a suggestion in the current issue of the Koorie Mail(2/6) for a holiday to mark the Wave Hill walkoff which ultimately led to the successful outcome of the Gurindji land claim first lodged in 1966. The suggestion came from Renee Brown a Nunuccal person from Quandamooka.

  23. June 16th, 2004 at 15:23 | #23

    You’ve got to be making those up. They’re too much like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld place name “Didjabringabeeralong”.

  24. June 17th, 2004 at 00:02 | #24

    Why just 16 public holidays? Let’s make every second day a public holiday, and ban any form of work at all on those days, not just retail! All our problems would be solved, there’d be world peace, and we could all sign songs while waiting for our UN food aid deliveries…

  25. Anthony
    June 17th, 2004 at 00:20 | #25

    NO holidays for you yobbo! Next!

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