NEWS AND VIEWS
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
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Australia 's share of the Afghanistan burden
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the would-be international leader, was lecturing the world again yesterday about the need for other nations to take an increased share of the burden of fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan . At a press conference where he expressed his condolences to the family of Lance Corporal Jason Marks, who was killed during engagement with the Taliban the previous night, Mr Rudd said “the key thing is to make sure that other parties engage in effective burden sharing, and furthermore, that there is an effective civilian correlation to the military effort.” It was a continuation of a theme that was central to the recent overseas jaunt which saw him attend a meeting of NATO ministers in Bucharest to suggest that others should send more troops to the region where Lance Corporal Marks was killed. There has not yet been any rush by those nations he pointed the finger at to do so and the table below perhaps shows why. A look at the deaths in Afghanistan per million of a countries population show that Australia comes well down the index of suffering even after this week's fifth death.
Note – the casualty figures are taken from the CNN website .
Once upon a time
The upper echelons of the Commonwealth public service used to be the providers of policy advice to governments but rarely any more. The principal job these days of a mandarin is to provide secretarial services for someone else to come up with the bright ideas. The 2020 summit was a prime example of how the public service has lost its role as the principal adviser to government but there were two more yesterday. The Minister for Housing Tanya Plibersek bypassed her bureaucrats for the very basic task of assessing current and future demand for housing across Australia by setting up the National Housing Supply Council under the chairmanship of Dr Owen Donald who she described as “an expert in housing policy and research, social housing management and housing supply planning”. The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, joined in the game of getting third party endorsement for policy proposals by announcing an independent committee of seven eminent Australians to review the citizenship test introduced in the last year of the Howard Government.
The Pick of this Morning's Political Coverage
Citizenship test 'spooks' would-be Aussies – Jewel Topsfield, Melbourne Age
Tax net to snare business leaders - Susannah Moran and Elizabeth Gosch, The Australian
Call to lift beer and wine taxes by 300pc – Sue Dunlevy, Adelaide Advertiser
Tough new crime laws target parents, youth – Nick Calacouras, Northern Territory News
PM says he's lost control on rates – Peter Martin, Canberra Times
Inquiry told to dump patch-up laws – Patrick Drummond, Australian Financial Review