Seven and Foxtel snag cricket rights, meaning more content but maybe not for free

 A new A$1.182 billion dollar cricket broadcast 
rights deal will be split between Seven and Foxtel. Joel Carrett/AAP

Under a new broadcast rights deal Cricket Australia will part ways with its long broadcast partner, the Nine Network, after more than 40 years.

The A$1.182 billion deal lasts six years and will commence from this coming summer through to 2024. It will be split between Seven and Foxtel.

As part of a new deal, Seven West Media will pay A$75 million per year to broadcast Big Bash League matches (43 of the 59), all home international tests, including the Ashes (2021-22), some Women’s Big Bash League and International matches, along with award ceremonies including the Allan Border Medal and Belinda Clark Award.

Foxtel will pay A$100 million per year and promises to “show every ball of every over bowled in Australia”, also part of the new deal.

Foxtel will have a dedicated cricket channel. Its coverage will include: simulcasting games from Seven, exclusive rights to men’s one day international and T20 games and 16 Big Bash League matches.

A key for part of the deal for Foxtel has been it securing exclusive digital rights.

The Nine Network’s partnership with Cricket Australia had a rocky start when the Australian Cricket Board decided to ignore Kerry Packer’s bid in 1976, in favour of the then partner – the ABC. Packer then changed cricket forever with World Series Cricket.

Today’s new media rights deal is another major shift in Australian cricket history. Not only is it the first time Seven will be involved in cricket, the new deal will also allow Australian cricket fans to have access to more cricket coverage than ever.

While there are more hours, there is a definite shift in what will now be shown on free-to-air television.

The negotiations

The current cricket broadcast rights deal with Nine and Ten is a five year A$590 million deal, ending this year. It was an 118% increase on the previous five-year deal.

Cricket Australia desired a similar increase with its new broadcast rights deal, asking a A$1 billion price tag. While it reached the A$1 billion price tag, the deal is for six years rather than five years.

Despite this, the deal is on par with recent increases in the cost of Australian sports media rights. Cricket Australia’s new rights deal matched the percentage increase from the previous deal, (achieved by the AFL) of 67%.

The winners and losers

The rights for Foxtel are a massive win, as Foxtel has lacked Australian summer sport content. By gaining the cricket it now has a full-year calendar of Australian sport. Its exclusive digital rights will allow Foxtel to expand its streaming platforms and potentially increase subscription across both its cable and digital services.

Foxtel’s exclusive digital rights will also dictate what Seven can do with cricket coverage. In recent years Seven has established a free (with ads) and premium service for its major sporting rights, including the tennis and the Olympics. For the cricket it appears that Seven will not be able to incorporate this approach.

Despite this Seven executives see the cricket rights as a better deal in comparison to the tennis rights, which it recently lost to the Nine Network. This is because the cricket media rights give the company over 400 hours of sport, more than double that of the Australian Open

Previously UBS media analyst Eric Choi had stated that Nine lost A$30-40 million a year on the current cricket rights deal. Nine will still have cricket as part of its schedule as it has rights to the next Ashes series from England and the ODI World Cup in the UK in 2019 and the T20 World Cups in Australia in 2020.

The biggest loser from the broadcasters’ perspective is Ten, that has held the rights and gained high ratings from the Big Bash League. It will now need to find programming to fill a very big void in its summer lineup.

Now Cricket Australia has to play a balancing act to make sure cricket is not placed behind a pay-wall and therefore see levels of participation decline, as seen in the UK.

It has to ask itself, will Australians pay to watch cricket on their screens?


This article was written by:
Marc C-Scott – [Lecturer in Screen Media, Victoria University]

 

 

 

This article is part of a syndicated news program via

 

Australia is one of the world’s best places to retire, or is it?

 Happiness in retirement isn’t the same 
for everyone. Tom Carmony/Flickr

Australia is ranked in the top third of countries in almost all indices measuring the best countries to retire, according to our analysis of nine separate ageing and retirement indices.

The problem is, experts contriving such indices can’t agree about which ingredients should be included and which are most important.

The flaw of averages

While composite ageing indices provide us with what appear as simple comparisons, the underlying methodologies are complex, prone to judgement, and can be tweaked to obtain certain results.

Using indicators that aggregate outcomes for the older population within a country also ignores differences between people within this population. Sub-indices by gender and more granular age-groups do exist, but one improvement could include an inequality adjustment based on outcomes by socioeconomic status or income.

What about just asking people about their life? Studies that compare differences in people’s own evaluations of life across countries show these are substantially explained by social and economic differences across countries. And when comparing individuals in high-income countries such as Australia and Britain, good physical and mental health appear most correlated with life satisfaction, while in middle-income countries like Indonesia, income is more important.

But that doesn’t differentiate by age. When the OECD asked older people across rich countries what mattered to them, they said that “health” and “environment” were most important while “civic engagement”, “community” and “income” domains were less so. By contrast, younger groups attributed less weight to “environment” and more to “income”.

Such indices usually involve scoring a country in several categories and combining these into a composite score and ranking. Done well, these can reveal how life in one location is better than another and in which categories it is lagging.

So what do existing indices suggest is important for older people’s well-being? And which countries come out on top?

Ingredients for a good old age

The ingredients used in an overall index differ, ranging from the employment rates of older people in each country, to their political participation, income, levels of exercise, and life expectancy.

These indicators and weights are often chosen subjectively by experts constructing each index. Some comparisons focus on current standards of living and comprise social, environmental, health, and economic indicators. These are probably more immediately relevant to people.

By contrast, indices that aim to measure the likely future for older people mostly comprise financial indicators and those that relate to retirement income system design, demography, and economic conditions. These are probably of greater concern for those thinking ahead about the impacts of population ageing.

Where to retire?

Despite the flaws with such comparisons, few people can help themselves. So how does your country rank?

European countries – particularly Nordic ones – are consistently highly ranked across ageing indices (see figure below). Such results reflect their high health outcomes, high incomes, generous social welfare, and comparatively well-designed retirement income systems. These are also countries that top the subjective happiness rankings.

Lower and middle-income countries receive lower rankings from the current well-being indices in which they feature. India and China, where there is low public provision for retirement, occupy high rankings among indices that emphasise fiscal sustainability over the quality of life of older people.

Australia is ranked in the top third of countries in almost all indices. It ranks particularly highly in the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index, largely due to the design of its retirement income system.

For what it’s worth, one could take an index of these indices to summarise. Such an index, call it the CEPAR meta-index of ageing, indeed shows Nordic countries taking the top three places, followed by Australia and the US, with the UK coming somewhere in the middle of 25 countries – apparently well ahead of places like France and Italy. Something to ponder when contemplating the good life in old age.

 


This article was co-authored by:

Image of Rafal Chomik
Rafal Chomik – [Senior Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), UNSW]
 and
David Rodgers – [PhD Student in Economics, UNSW]

 

 

 

This article is part of a syndicated news program via

Daylight saving can boost the economy but Australia needs to make it uniform

 

 The easiest way to resolve daylight saving issues would be 
to apply it uniformly across Australia. AAP

When we compare daylight saving across countries, states and territories its economic impact is mostly positive. But this breaks down in the “transition” in and out of it, such as the days before and after, and when people cross borders between states that have daylight saving and those that don’t.

The easiest way to resolve this would be for daylight saving to be applied uniformly across Australia as it is in nearly every other country that has it.

The problem in Australia is unique. While a similar size, the European Union has just three time zones year round, with the shift to and from daylight saving time synchronised throughout since 1996. Likewise the mainland United States has four time zones, with uniform daylight saving everywhere but Arizona.

When daylight saving ends in Australia, the country will revert from five different time zones to three. The time difference between the east and west coast will also change from three to two hours.

Daylight saving time positively affects the economy in a number of ways. It reduces street crime in darkly lit streets, for instance, which means less costly and better targeted policing.

Decreased home energy consumption leads to lower household bills. More people being out and about in the evenings boosts local economies through increased spending in shops and restaurants.

This at least partially explains why there is an ongoing debate about adopting daylight saving in states that do not have it, such as in Queensland and to a lesser extent in Western Australia.

Problems in transition

However, the transitions to and from daylight saving time (setting clocks forward or back, or moving between states with and without daylight saving) has economic costs. Many of these are associated with increased health care, but also include lost earnings and higher insurance costs.

One problem is that there is a “daylight saving effect” linked to changes in circadian rhythms and a (negative) effect on sleep patterns. As with jet lag, the movement to daylight saving time compresses the day, while the movement away stretches it.

Research has linked changes to and from daylight saving time with sudden changes in biological rhythms. Swedish data show a significant increase in heart attacks for the first few days after the introduction of daylight saving time and again, but for a shorter period, following its end.

A United States study found that pedestrians were nearly seven times more likely to be injured following transitions to and from daylight saving. A Canadian study suggested a significant increase (up to 8%) in accident risk on the Mondays following the spring and autumn daylight saving time changes.

In the United States (but not Australia) the daylight saving transition period has also been linked to stockmarket participants suffering greater anxiety, preferring safer investments and shunning risk. This pushes down stock prices and lowers returns, meaning everyone with superannuation loses out.

There is also evidence that the “artificial” daylight saving transition when crossing the Queensland–New South Wales border imposes significant costs on businesses. The study found that Gold Coast businesses lose sales and have higher administration costs because of it.

Businesses throughout Queensland believe that its failure to adopt daylight saving time has a negative influence on the functioning and performance of the state economy.

Simplifying time zones

Ultimately, Australia needs to simplify what is one of the world’s most fragmented national set of time zones.

The administration costs of scheduling business across time zones, and through the transition, are a burden on business. This has an economic cost in terms of lost profits (and therefore taxation), as well as employment.

While technology has no doubt made this co-ordination easier, research in the United States still suggests that economies are more productive when there is greater time co-ordination. This is a strong argument for countries having as few time zones as possible.

In the United States, some are advocating fewer time zones, or even year-round daylight saving time, to avoid the costly transition twice a year.

Here in Australia, introducing daylight saving in Queensland would avoid significant business co-ordination problems with the other eastern states, especially for the highly populated southeast. There would be similar benefits for Western Australian and the Northern Territory.

While getting rid of daylight saving altogether would also remove these transition costs, its economic benefits suggest it would be much better for daylight saving to be adopted throughout Australia.


This article was written by:
Image of Andrew C. WorthingtonAndrew C. Worthington – [Professor of Finance, Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, Griffith University]

 

 

 

This article is part of a syndicated news program via
 
 

Small Business Loan Basics For Australian SMEs in 2018

Hand Putting Deposit Into Piggy Bank

From keeping your cash flowing to expanding your business, there are various reasons why you might need extra finances to run your business. But you already know that getting a loan for your small business is not easy. So what do you do?

The secret to making a successful small business loan application is preparation. Before you begin to fill out forms, there are two important questions you should think about. The answers to these questions will determine how easily and quickly you’ll be able to secure the finances you need – as well as how much you will end up paying for the loan facility.

What Kind of Finance Does My Business Require?

business loan applications

This is dependent on how you intend to use the funds you get. A major buy such as property will require long-term finance such as mortgage. If you are experiencing fluctuations in your operation capital, you should consider an on-demand loan facility like a business credit card or overdraft. It is important that you use short-term finance for short-term need and vice versa – so that you get a high flexibility with repayment and do not end up paying more than you should.

All business finance options have their pros and cons. It is therefore a smart idea to seek professional counsel on the best suited finance option for your business needs.

Big Bank or Alternative Lender?

Many business owners and entrepreneurs automatically opt to turn to big banks for loan facilities – and many a times they end up disappointed. There are some advantages you get from borrowing from a big bank such as competitive interest rates and regulated loan products, that ensures you are safeguarded from unreasonable loan terms and behavior.

However, most Australian banks are very risk-cautious. This means that they mostly tend to lend to large businesses. Unless you can come up with several years of healthy transactions history and provide valuable assets as collateral, there is a huge chance you will not get the finance you need. Moreover, the loan application process for big banks can be tedious and time-consuming.

Alternative lenders, which includes a rising number of online ‘fintech’ organisations, tend to quicker when assessing applications and more flexible with their lending requirements – however, you should expect to pay more money because of higher interest rates and fees, especially if you opt for unsecured loan facilities.

What are the next steps?

looking for business loan on computer

Once you have made a decision on the lender and type of finance, you should take your time to do due-diligence on the various products that meet your criteria. Compare their rates, conditions and terms. Again, if these information is too sophisticated for you to understand, you can seek help from a finance advisor or broker who can help you find a suitable option.

Finally, you will need to gather all the supporting documents you need to make a successful application. These include detailed business plans, forecasts, full business financials, bank statements and any other relevant documents.

Make sure you have compiled everything nicely in order to make the application process easy and quick for your lender to complete.

Why we put money into bizarre cryptocurrencies like ponzicoin and cryptokitties

 CryptoKitties is a blockchain-based game. Shutterstock

Some initial coin offerings seem like scams (and some are), but behavioural research shows our emotions are part of why people buy in to cryptocurrencies for fruits and vegetables or crypto trading even if cool-headed rationality screams at us not to.

An initial coin offering is just like an initial public offering. But, instead of shares, what’s being sold are cryptocurrency “coins” or “tokens”. These are similar to virtual currencies found in computer games, enabling you to buy goods or services within an ecosystem.

Around half of the initial coin offerings launched last year have already disappeared or failed. This has potentially cost investors hundreds of millions of dollars.

The boom in initial coin offerings is a textbook example of how our emotions drive us to be overly optimistic and to become fixated on the spectacular gains made by others. Companies and designers can also appeal to our emotions and our conceptions of ourselves by appearing to adopt moral positions.

This mix of emotions lets “irrational exuberance” over getting rich quick (while doing the world a favour) overwhelm our reason and willpower.

Early investors in initial coin offerings made an absolute killing, which led to a lot of media coverage of newly minted “crypto-billionaires”.

This is a recipe for creating what’s called “optimism bias” because people become fixated on the spectacular gains made by others, playing into a lust for wealth.

Comparing our meagre incomes to these huge profits also means, deep down, we become terribly afraid of losing our chance at riches, stimulating feelings of stress and what’s known as “loss aversion”.

A bananacoin is pegged to the export price of one kilogram of bananas.

But even more striking in the boom of initial coin offerings is how many appear to be about some moral initiative, such as supporting sustainable energyartistsveganism or organic bananas.

In other words, many initial coin offerings tap into a set of emotional impulses associated with morality.

Research in social psychology shows that morals are built on powerful emotions, not reasoning. Signals from our environment go through emotional centres of the brain not only before the reasoning centres, but even before our sensory centres – we “feel” even before we “see”.

Reasoning serves merely to justify emotional reactions. People will justify what they already want to do, or have done, after the fact.

We also know from other research that while reason does give us willpower to resist emotional temptation, it has only a finite capacity to do so and can be overwhelmed.

The moral aspect of initial coin offerings also taps into our conceptions of our own identities. My research shows that if I can find a way that my cryptocurrency (say a cryptocurrency for veganism) would allow you to live out your moral identity (being a vegan) then it’s much easier for me to get the idea into your mind that you should buy it.

Once such ideas are implanted into the mind, they are difficult to restrain.

When we lust for riches, fear being left behind and identify strongly with some moral cause all at once, reason and willpower don’t really stand a chance.

But simply regulating initial coin offerings is difficult. One of the first things you learn in economics is the “law of unintended consequences” – that regulation seldom does only what it was intended to do.

Regulations aimed at protecting individuals from themselves could restrict new technologies and discourage a necessary process – discovering what’s a stupid idea and what is a spectacularly good idea. The line between them is very fine indeed and almost never obvious.

Among all the crackpots and charlatans we might just discover a technology to educate girls in Africa, fund a breakthrough in clean energy technology, or help to stamp out human rights abuses across the world.


This article was written by:
Image of Brendan Markey-TowlerBrendan Markey-Towler – [The University of Queensland]

 

 

 

This article is part of a syndicated news program via

 

Australians support universal health care, so why not a universal basic income?

 More than 40 years ago professor Ronald Henderson 
floated the idea of a guaranteed minimum income. Dean Lewins/AA

In Australia, the idea of a universal basic income has floated in and out of our political arena for years, but remains only that, an idea.

The concept of a universal basic income has always been controversial. This notion – that the government should pay everyone a regular payment to meet their basic needs, despite their income – has been touted as a solution to inequality.

In the 1970s, the idea of a universal basic income looked as though it could become more.

In 1972, the inaugural Director of the Melbourne Institute, Applied Economic and Social Research, professor Ronald Henderson, chaired the Australian government’s poverty inquiry. It was tasked by then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, to investigate all aspects of poverty affecting Australians, including race, education, health and law.

Professor Henderson’s work led to what is now widely referred to as the Henderson Poverty Line, which measures the extent of poverty in Australia in terms of the income of families and individuals relative to their essential living costs; and he advocated a guaranteed minimum income scheme for Australia, similar to a universal basic income .

More than 40 years after professor Henderson began his report of the Commonwealth Commission of Inquiry into Poverty with the line:

“Poverty is not just a personal attribute: it arises out of the organisation of society.”

The suggestion of a guaranteed minimum income scheme

At the heart of the Henderson inquiry’s final recommendations was a guaranteed minimum income scheme, in which payments to pensioners (at a high rate) and payments to all other income units (at a lower rate) would be balanced by a proportional tax on all private income. The report states:

We believe that these reforms are the best way of reconciling the conflicting ends of policy on income support… They recognise that disabilities which hinder the earning of a private income warrant favoured treatment, but also provide support for people without disabilities in this sense, and who may still easily become poor – particularly the large family. Again, support is provided in a way which does not discredit those who claim it… so that income support may be seen as a right rather than a favour.

Professor Henderson was strongly in favour of universality in social policy – as exists in Medicare today in Australia. And that’s tangible in his idea of a universal minimum payment which would have ensured that incomes for individuals and families were in excess of the poverty line.

Ronald Henderson, whose work led to the creation of a measure of poverty. Courtesy of the Henderson family., Author provided (No reuse)

Instead of means testing – which he opposed as it creates a separate system for the disadvantaged that can be stigmatising – he wanted to use the tax system to withdraw income from higher earners, rather than means testing pensions and benefits.

But this didn’t happen.

Instead, the Whitlam government was dismissed in 1975 – around six months after the inquiry delivered its final report, and the new government, headed up by Malcolm Fraser, hardly considered its recommendations.

Far from universality

At the time of professor Henderson’s pivotal work, post-war Australia had pursued the creation of an industrial economy where male workers played the dominant role. For the most part, employment then meant permanent full-time jobs in industry regulated and protected against foreign competition.

But, since that time, the country has pursued a very different course.

The key challenge is how Australia can maintain its commitment to fair and equitable wealth generation and distribution, in a modern world.

The precarious nature of modern labour markets puts enormous pressures on families and households, making it important to create a system that works in the interests of the truly disadvantaged.

Professor Henderson distrusted a targeted social security system, and therefore recommended a basic income so that “income support may be seen as a right rather than a favour” for Australian citizens.

Since then, despite the example of universality in the key public institution of Medicare, to which all are entitled, the social security system has become more conditional, and arbitrary, with benefits now well below the poverty line.

There is growing evidence, for example, that social security payments for unemployed people, like Newstart, now barely meet the necessities of life – let alone cover expenses involved when people are looking for work.

In this country, we increasingly celebrate entrepreneurial self-reliance, but for disadvantaged people, the certainty of an adequate income is a fundamental foundation. It may not be sufficient, but it is necessary.

As professor Henderson said during a speech at a Remembrance Day rally in 1984 “we all have a right to a decent minimum income: to a fair share”.


This article was written by:
Image of Brian HoweBrian Howe – [Professorial Associate in the Centre for Public Policy, University of Melbourne]

 

 

 

This article is part of a syndicated news program via

 

KodakOne could be the start of a new kind of intellectual property

 Former film and camera maker Kodak has launched a 
new blockchain for photography. AAP

It’s easy to be a bit amused about Kodak’s new blockchain and cryptocurrency, the KodakOne. The old photography company is the classic case of a firm that failed to keep up with technological change.

But now Kodak is exploiting one of the most interesting characteristics of the blockchain (the technology behind Bitcoin) to reshape how we understand and manage intellectual property.

Just like Bitcoin demonstrated it was possible to have a digital currency that didn’t require third parties (banks or governments) to validate transactions, KodakOne hints at a future where intellectual property works without the need for third parties to enforce property rights.

Blockchains are a system of decentralised, distributed ledgers (think of a spreadsheet or database that is held on a number of computers at once). Transactions are verified and then encrypted by the system itself.

Kodak’s plan is to use the Ethereum blockchain to build a digital rights management platform for photographs. Photographers will register their photos on the KodakOne platform and buyers will purchase rights using the KodakCoin cryptocurrency.

The platform will provide cryptographic proof of ownership and monitor the web for infringement, offering an easy payment system for infringers to legitimise their use of photographs.

In one sense, KodakOne resembles one of the many supply chain (or “provenance”) applications for blockchain, which track goods and their inputs (think agricultural products or airplane parts).

But photographs are purely digital assets. In a sense, what we’re seeing is a new form of intellectual property.

In KodakCoin, the underlying asset – the thing that is being bought and sold, the thing that has the economic value – is no longer the photograph, per se. Rather, it’s the entry on the global blockchain ledger. Control of that entry constitutes ownership of the asset.

KodakOne only really gets halfway to this idea. Like so many blockchain applications, the question is how this elegant system will interact with the messy real world. It’s one thing to detect infringing uses of a photograph, it’s quite another to enforce terrestrial copyright law on unco-operative infringers. And KodakOne is hardly the only firm working on digital asset management on a blockchain.

A new kind of intellectual property

But there’s another, more pure example of what blockchains can do for intellectual property that is worth discussing – CryptoKitties.

CryptoKitties is a silly little blockchain game, but the economics are worth taking seriously. Players buy digital cats – cryptographically secure, decentralised, censor-proof digital cats – and breed them with each other. Each cat has a mix of rare and common attributes and the goal is to breed cats with the rarest, most-in-demand attributes.

That’s the game. But in fact what CryptoKitties has invented is a new form of intellectual property. Each cat is a completely unique, entirely digital good. And it is completely, cryptographically secure. It can’t be copied.

Usually the protection of intellectual property requires lawyers and courts. But with CryptoKitties, the intellectual property protection is part of the asset itself – it’s baked in.

This is what blockchains were invented to do. Before blockchains, digital goods could be easily duplicated. That’s a great feature – unless you want to create digital money. Digital money won’t work if everybody can just copy their money and spend it over and over again.

The creator of Bitcoin, known as Satoshi Nakamoto, solved this problem with Bitcoin’s blockchain. Previous attempts to solve the double-spending problem had relied on trusted third parties like banks to validate transactions. Nakamoto managed to get the network to validate itself.

KodakOne (and CryptoKitties) show us that intellectual property has much the same problem as digital currency – and may have the same solution. There’s no need for trusted third parties (governments) to enforce property rights. The blockchain does that for us.

Of course, there’s a lot of work to be done before we see real benefits from this sort of blockchain-enhanced intellectual property. CryptoKitties is its own new form of intellectual property – but can we retrofit “traditional” cultural goods like photographs, music and movies onto the blockchain?

Digitisation has challenged the protection of intellectual property like never before. Cultural producers need to find some way to be paid for their work. This is the direction we should be looking.


This article was co-authored by:
Image of Chris BergChris Berg – [Postdoctoral fellow, RMIT University];
Image of Jason Potts
Jason Potts – [Professor of Economics, RMIT University]
and
Image of Sinclair DavidsonSinclair Davidson – [Professor of Institutional Economics, RMIT University]

 

 

 

 

This article is part of a syndicated news program via

 

Like it or loathe it, here’s why Apple doesn’t need a planning permit for its Fed Square store

 An artist’s depiction of the 
new Apple store proposed for Federation Square. Daniel Andrews

Despite the prominent public role played by Melbourne’s Federation Square, Apple’s new “flagship store” to be built within it won’t even require a planning permit.

This is thanks to an obscure planning process that planning minister Richard Wynne has exempted from public exhibition. In this process, town planning’s role has been relegated from guardian of places or a perceived public good, to that of a corporate facilitator.

The project has met with significant criticism, particularly from those who view Federation Square as public space and recognise its importance to Melbourne as both an image and a gathering place.

From ugly duckling to emblem

Federation Square was opened to a mixed reception in 2002. Its angular, edgy design and rolling topography are among the elements that caused consternation. This edgy distinctiveness has helped make the square not just a physical landmark, but an enduring image of the city that one might recognise in the City of Melbourne’s 2009 rebrand.

In a nation of few urban squares, Federation Square has assumed something of the role in Melbourne of an Athenian agora: a place of meeting, of ideas, of assembly, stories and culture; at once a vital repository and transmitter of a city’s identity.

Federation Square is run by a corporation established by the Victorian government. This arrangement notwithstanding, the square’s public role is embedded in a “Cultural and Civic Charter” which positions it as a place of ideas, arts, expression and festivals.

Retail offerings are to contribute to but remain subsidiary to these public ends. This explains the lack of commercial advertising throughout the precinct and the growth of cafes and restaurants on the edges of buildings that form social anchors, encouraging people to linger and meet.

Federation Square’s design has been a controversial topic since its opening. GET UP/AAP

Why so secretive?

Federation Square’s Apple store was announced as planning policy changes were formally gazetted that exempt it from any planning permit requirements that would ordinarily apply to buildings and works on the site.

The coup de grace involved Wynne waiving public notice and exhibition requirements that ordinarily accompany such changes, known in Victoria as planning scheme amendments.

The changes use an unusual provision in Victorian municipal planning schemes (known as Clause 52.03) that allows specific projects at specific sites to be exempt from planning permit requirements or prohibitions that would otherwise apply. As part of the amendment, an incorporated document has also been gazetted that facilitates Apple’s proposal.

In effect, a parallel planning process has been engineered away from public scrutiny to allow Apple to build a store in a public space. Corporate interests have, as with Melbourne’s West Gate Tollway, been put ahead of community involvement.

The first byte

Rumours of the Yarra building in Federation Square’s potential demolition to make way for an Apple store prompted angst in late 2016. The talk came alongside the tech giant’s apparent global drive to co-opt the very idea of a public square so as to physically and symbolically dominate spaces that define local identity.

This may be seen as an attempt to recreate the public realm along the lines of tech corporations’ dominance of the online spaces in which we increasingly dwell. Such strategies ignore at their peril the relationships between people and places like Federation Square, which are informed by entwined ideas of place attachment and distinctiveness.

Place attachment speaks to the bonds that bind people to places. These bonds influence our sense of well-being and belonging, and are often formed by visual or experiential cues – images or stories, that we retain.


Read more: Safe in the City? Girls tell it like it is


Fundamentally, these bonds depend on a place carrying a distinctive meaning that differentiates it from others.

Federation Square’s distinctiveness can be seen in angular imagery (form), cultural/civic role (function) and lived experience and relative lack of commodification (stories).

Apple’s interest in Federation Square, and in co-opting the idea of the public square in general, goes beyond the quest for profit. It involves co-opting the very essence of public life. Could we yet see the quaint idea of the town square morph into the town apple?


This article was written by:
Image of Matt NovacevskiMatt Novacevski – [Research Fellow, Deakin University]

 

 

 

This article is part of a syndicated news program via

 

Older people now less likely to fall into poverty

 The incidence of poverty among people over 65 
is decreasing in part because of increased labour force participation. 
Col Ford and Natasha de Vere/Flickr

The risk of people past retirement age falling into poverty is now decreasing. There has been a substantial improvement compared to 15 years ago, when the incidence of poverty among the elderly was 32.4%.

People past retirement age are much more at risk of poverty compared to people of other ages. In 2014, 23% of people over 65 were identified as experiencing poverty, while among the general population this was 10.1%.

If we look at poverty in older age using three alternative, well-established, definitions: the Henderson Poverty Line, the OECD 50% poverty line and the OECD 60% poverty line, they all lead to very similar conclusions.

The OECD 50% poverty line is defined as 50% of median household equivalent disposable income. Equivalised household income allows for differences in household composition, like the number of adults and children who live in the household. It therefore makes income comparable between households of different sizes. Someone is counted as poor if their equivalised disposable household income falls below this poverty line.

Applying this to data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics Australia (HILDA) survey shows clear differences between ages. There’s a much larger incidence of poverty among people over 65, as well as a larger decrease in the poverty rate among those over 65.

Between 2000 and 2014, the prevalence of income poverty among older people declined by more than 9 percentage points, well above the decline of other age groups.

There are a number of reasons for this decrease in the poverty rate. One is the increase in labour force participation from 6.9% to 12.5% for this older group, whereas for other age groups labour force participation has remained quite stable.

Another reason is the larger increase in pension rates (which is the typical social security payment for people over 65) compared to allowance rates (which is the typical social security payment for working-age people). From an already high base, the payment rates for the oldest age group clearly increased by the most.

These two reasons combined account for over 75% of the decrease in poverty incidence. Increased private pensions account for a further large part of the decrease (nearly 41%), while changes in investment income would have increased the poverty rate.

Why pensions are so important

This shows just how important public and private pensions are for the standard of living of older people. Given that more and more people will be covered by superannuation, we expect that poverty rates will further decline in the future. However, maintaining the value of public pensions is equally important as a substantial proportion of people over 65 will remain dependent on these payments.

Those dependent on the age pension include people with a disability during their working life, and many women, as they remain the ones who are more frequently out of the labour force and working part time to raise children. As a result, these groups have less opportunity to build up sufficient superannuation. However, the age pension may perhaps be better targeted.

Although the largest increases in income support are for those classified as poor (with the largest average increase observed for those over 65), the non-poor population over 65 also receives a substantial increase in income support.

The increase in payments for people who aren’t poor and over 65 is nearly as large as the increase for those classified as poor who are aged 15 to 64. Payments for working-age people have only been increased with inflation, while pensions increased at the same rate as average earnings which has generally been higher than inflation.

To better alleviate poverty for our whole population, government payments for working-age people need to keep up with average earnings like the pensions do. If the government is not prepared to direct more resources to income support payments, they need to treat different age groups more equally. This means better targeting payments among our older population and using any savings to increase payments for the working-age population at a similar rate as pensions.


This article was written by:
Image of Guyonne KalbGuyonne Kalb – [Professorial Research Fellow and Director of the Labour Economics and Social Policy Program, University of Melbourne]
 

 

 

 

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