Young voices set sights on foreign affairs

When it comes to engaging with foreign policy, young people are connected to the global community more than any other generation before them, a new report has found.


Politicians and youth leaders assembled in Canberra on Tuesday to launch a report by advocacy network Oaktree outlining a vision for foreign policy.

“Not all young people are apathetic, privileged, smashed avocado-eating, latte-sipping individuals,” Oaktree CEO Sashenka Worseman said.

The ‘Collective Future’ report seeks to capture the values and recommendations of young Australia as the government crafts its new Foreign Policy White Paper.

“Young people are connected to the global community more than any other generation before them,” Ms Worseman said.

“But they are also more acutely aware of the transnational threats that this particular community faces.”

Following consultation with various groups, the report found the global issues young people prioritised were climate change, migration and asylum seeker rights, overseas development assistance and equality.

It also named six crucial values identified by young people as equality, partnership and community, transparency and compassion, open-mindedness and sustainability.

Many young people are quite sceptical of traditional decision-making spaces and Australia needs to tap into the dynamism of its young voters, Ms Worseman said.

In the Brexit referendum last year, 75 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 voted to remain in the EU.

Only 37 per cent of young Americans voted for Trump in the US election last year.

Opposition international development spokeswoman Claire Moore says the government’s foreign policy blueprint needs to reflect the values of young people.

“Happy day it could actually reflect all those things; not so happy day, we’ve got some work to do,” Ms Moore said.

Nationals MP Andrew Broad says he’s an advocate for increasing foreign aid, and Australia has to choose between a selfish or selfless approach.

“We haven’t sold what we have done well enough for long enough,” Mr Broad said.

“Changing the world isn’t free. It isn’t a tweet, it isn’t a ‘like’. It will mean you have to roll up your sleeves. It will mean you have to get involved.”

Labor to vote against citizenship shake-up

Labor says the government’s proposed citizenship changes are a “massive over-reach” and will be opposed in parliament.


Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has proposed migrants wanting to become Australians will have to sit a stand-alone English language test before being allowed to apply for citizenship and demonstrate a “competent” level of reading, writing, listening and speaking.

The government also wants to change the period of permanent residency from one year to four, introduce a new values test, and stronger character checks.

As well, an applicant can be barred for two years if the minister has refused to approve them becoming a citizen on grounds other than failing to meet the residence requirement.

Labor spokesman Tony Burke says the caucus unanimously decided on Tuesday to oppose the bill, meaning the coalition will need to seek 10 crossbench votes to pass it through the Senate.

“The government in its bill has engaged in a massive over-reach … and they have taken some steps, which, put simply, Australia should never take and are inconsistent with who we are as a country,” Mr Burke told reporters in Canberra.

He said it had nothing to do with national security.

“If there is a national security problem for these people, then why on earth does the government have them already living here permanently?” Mr Burke said.

Labor also took exception to the longer time frame for people to wait for citizenship and the English language test.

“Once you set the test at a level by definition large numbers of permanent residents will never reach, no matter how hard they try, that changes our country.”

Mr Burke also took aim at Mr Dutton, saying the minister was playing a “dangerous game” linked to leadership tensions in the Liberal party.

Labor will back a Senate inquiry into the bill.

If the inquiry comes up with any reasonable changes, Labor would support them being included in a new bill.

Property, wages key risks for NSW budget

Australia’s richest state has flagged a cloudy outlook for two of its biggest tax revenue earners, highlighting the broader concerns about the country’s economy that is troubling regulators.


The NSW government’s budget papers on Tuesday pointed to the housing market outlook as the largest risk to its forecasts, given the sector’s capacity for large flow-on effects across the economy.

It also noted concerns about wages growth as an issue that could impact consumption and economic activity.

“A significant slowdown in dwelling approvals could see the pipeline exhausted and activity decline by more than expected in 2018/19. Higher than expected interest rates or a sharp decline in dwelling prices could also bring an end to the cycle,” the budget papers said.

On the other hand, strong population growth or supportive government policies could boost demand and drive higher than expected activity, it said.

NSW’s budget surpluses have been propped up on the back of the booming Sydney property market, with transfer duty on residential property accounting for more than 30 per cent of the state’s tax revenue.

The continuing strength in the property market in Sydney, and Melbourne, has been a key factor in the Reserve Bank of Australia not cutting interest rates despite tepid economic growth.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Tuesday showed housing price gains of 14.4 per cent in Sydney and 13.4 per cent in Melbourne over the year to March were the driving force behind a nationwide 10.2 per cent rise in property prices.

The banking regulator also introduced fresh curbs on investor lending in late March in an effort to cool the overheated property market.

As a result, the state now clearly expects the housing market to moderate and has cut the growth forecast for residential transfer duty revenue to nearly halve to 5.9 per cent in 2017/18, and ease further to average 5.4 per cent over the next three years.

The other issue the RBA has repeatedly highlighted in recent months is weak wages growth and the impact this is likely to have on consumer spending.

On Tuesday, the NSW government signalled its agreement with the central bank’s assessment, saying the outlook for wages growth is a key risk for the budget.

Payroll taxes contribute about 27 per cent of NSW’s tax revenue.

Over the four years to 2019/20, the NSW government has cut its estimate for payroll tax revenue by $512.7 million.

Extra teachers, classrooms in NSW budget

The NSW government will deliver more than 1500 extra classrooms and employ about 1000 extra teachers to address surging enrolments in state schools.


The Berejiklian government’s first budget, handed down on Tuesday, injected $1.6 billion into an ambitious school building program, bringing the total over the next four years to $4.2 billion.

The money will be injected into at least 90 new school projects over the next two years, creating 32,000 new student places.

“This is an investment in the future of our state that will transform public education,” Education Minister Rob Stokes said.

High schools will be built or upgraded at Picton, Sydney Olympic Park and Canley Vale and primary schools in Kent Road, Eastwood, Schofields, Riverbank and The Ponds will benefit.

With the Department of Education predicting NSW will need 164,000 public school places by 2031, Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the budget shows her government was responding to the “once-in-a-generation” spike, with the budget measures representing a 61 per cent rise in education spending.

The government will also spend $747 million over four years on the school maintenance backlog, including an extra $411 million in the 2017/18 financial year.

Another $46 million will go toward boosting wireless access and internet services in about 900 regional schools, while a community languages school program will receive $11 million in new money.

A rebate of $100 will be given to all students per year from January to cover registration and membership for sport. It will not be means tested.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet defended the move against suggestions it was tokenistic.

“It will build our community,” he said.

“To me that initiative is the soul of the budget and it’s also our secret plan to ensure we win the Origin for the next 40 years going forward.”

An anti-bullying strategy will get a $6.1 million boost over three years, while $2.2 billion has been allocated to TAFE NSW and other training providers.

Early childhood services will receive $435 million, while non-government schools will be handed $1.2 billion in 2017/18 to support their 418,000 students.

The government said it will maintain its full six-year commitment to the national education reform agreement until the end of 2019, but the budget papers also highlighted a $1.8 billion funding loss to the state contained within the federal budget.

Lightweight shoes a risk to heavy runners

Lightweight or minimalist running shoes have become popular but they may cause more harm than good for people weighing over 70 kilos.


Australian research conducted at the University of South Australia has shown these style of joggers are associated with an increased risk of injury in heavier runners.

In fact, a 26-week study of 61 trained runners found those who weighed more than 85 kilos were three times more likely to sustain an injury when training in lightweight runners compared to conventional shoes.

“We found the best shoe choice depended on your body weight,” said Dr Joel Fuller at the Sansom Institute for Health Research.

Co-researcher, Professor Jon Buckley says minimalist shoes can help people run faster but heavier runners should think twice about using them.

“Weight produces higher impact forces that increase injury, regardless if this is the result of being a taller and possibly even heavier person, or a person carrying a little more weight than average.

“So it’s not the BMI to be concerned about, it’s the actual weight,” said Prof Buckley.

Sydney-based podiatrist Nicole Reilly says the wrong shoes for a person’s foot type can be detrimental to their health.

Incorrect footwear can cause heel and ankle pain, knee issues and even lower back pain.

“If you are not trained properly to run in these more minimalist shoes your risk of injury is greater,” Ms Reilly told AAP

“Joggers won’t hurt your feet but it depends on what shoes you are running in,” Ms Reilly, a member of the Australian Podiatry Association, said.

Knowing your foot type, she says, is really important when it comes to choosing the correct shoes for running.

While some shoes may look cool they may be no good for the foot, Mr Reilly said.

“Every single foot is so different, so its very broad to say this shoe is going fit 99.9 per cent of the population and you are not going to end up with heel pain.”