Who is to blame for interest rate increases?

Evidence this morning adding to what we already have that the economy is neither the electoral asset nor the electoral liability it once was, and that interest rates are not a major political issue.

A Galaxy Poll reported in the News Ltd tabloids asked

If interest rates rise again in the near future, which of the following do you believe is mainly to blame?

The political answer, John Howard, received blame from only 12% of respondents – 17% of Labor voters and 3% of Coalition voters. The other responses were ‘international factors’ (37%), the Australian economy (30%), and the Reserve Bank (14%).

Free to know?

I recently experienced my own little frustration with getting information out of the government. I’m writing a CIS paper on private providers of higher education, and one of the arguments I planned to make was that the FEE-HELP provisions of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 are protectionist, in restricting access to the loans to institutions with their ‘central management and control’ in Australia.

In the course of doing various company searches on private higher education providers, I found that two of them with FEE-HELP access are foreign-owned. Perhaps ‘central management and control’ was being intepreted so broadly that it wasn’t as much of an issue as I thought. I needed to know how it was being defined.

I sent an email to the bureaucrat responsible for this area, asking her how it was defined. A couple of weeks later I received a one-line email from a Departmental media person informing me that ‘central management and control’ was not defined in the Act, ie telling me what I already knew and what had prompted the inquiry in the first place.

If the very useful Report of the Indpendent Audit into the State of Free Speech in Australia (big pdf, short html summaries here) is a guide, my experience is far from unusual. Continue reading “Free to know?”