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The gridlock of the government shutdown in Washington has me thinking this week about money and government in Australia.
In the United States at the moment, just paying government workers is an epic challenge; here’s the latest on failed attempts to end the impasse in Washington.
In Australia, however, I’m often struck by the never-ending flurry of new funding announcements for so many things deemed vital by officials.
Y’all are rich, as some Americans might say, and profligate — especially with an election on the way.
Just this week, Scott Morrison proudly declared that Australia would spend more than A million (.5 million) to mark the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s first voyage to Australia. That includes A.7 million for having a replica of Captain Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, circumnavigate Australia with stops at 39 locations.
And that comes on top of big spending elsewhere.
Money to memorialize the past (in glossy romanticized form) is plentiful. You probably heard about the A0 million gift to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, to upgrade the monument with a bit of recent military history.
But that’s on top of another A0 million set aside for the Sir John Monash Centre in France, along with A.7m for official histories of Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor.
The War Memorial windfall is the one drawing the most scrutiny; how the money will be spent is still something of a mystery. Lots of planes and tanks seems to be part of it.
The rest? Well, good luck: Secrecy, it seems, is another common theme.
Perhaps because this is year 27 of uninterrupted economic growth, public money is sometimes treated like a toy for political toddlers (the ferry-naming contest that briefly yielded Ferry McFerryface comes to mind) and demands for details tend to produce answers only after the cash is spent.
This was also the week, for example, when the Great Barrier Reef Foundation announced its first project since it received A3 million from the government last year. That’s a giant pool of money. It was doled out at record speed, with barely any oversight and no competitive bidding.
And the foundation’s first project — setting aside A4,000 to finance a survey of remote parts of the Great Barrier Reef — has done little to douse the flames of outrage. It came on the heels of an audit that found the administration costs associated with the A3 million grant could be as high as A.4 million.
But it would be a mistake to look only at the winners.
Even a wealthy country still has to make choices so to make sure I wasn’t overly distracted by all that generosity, I looked around a bit for what’s being cut.
The first thing I noticed was the value of scrutinizing spending in context.
Both the Liberal and Labor leadership scrambled this week to take credit for a A million hospital expansion plan in Cairns, but that increase looks less impressive when you consider that the government — with Mr. Morrison as treasurer — shifted more of the health care burden to states in what Labor sometimes describes as a A5 million cut for Australia’s public hospitals from 2017-2020.
The second and more obvious thing that jumped out at me: cuts to higher education.
This was already on my radar — many of our stories have examined Australia’s dependence on full-fee-paying foreign students — but the numbers are staggering.
In December 2017, the federal government announced it would cut A.2bn from universities, mostly through a two-year freeze in grants funding.
Then last month, universities were hit with another round of research funding cuts — A8.5 million reduction over the next four years.
Quality education is never just about money. And in comparison to higher education costs in many other countries, especially the United States, Australia is still a bargain for students.
But when spending outlays and spending cuts are thrown together, you start to wonder: Is it fair to say that Australia’s government is choosing to spend money on a Disneyfied version of British settlement rather than on actual academic research?
Perhaps not. The dollar amounts differ and there are all kinds of examples I’ve left out of my cursory analysis.
And yet, the old journalistic adage borne of Watergate — you know the one, “follow the money” — still rings true in many ways and many places, including Australia.
Yes, for my colleagues in Washington, that simple phrase has a different connotation. Right now it means covering how government workers are surviving without paychecks. It also conjures up images of Robert Mueller and his investigation into President Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
In Australia too, though, it’s worth looking past the announcements promoting dollar signs and grants. If and when a recession does come, and there are signs that it’s around the corner, there will be a lot of questions to be answered about priorities.
Now for a few reads of the week.
P.S. Share your favorite government spending bugbear by emailing us: email@example.com. Or join us in our Facebook group for more discussion.
___Australia and New Zealand
The big news for us this week involved China’s detention of Yang Hengjun, a writer and commentator and former Chinese official who’s been an Australian citizen since 2002.
He’s the third foreigner to have been detained in China — without a shred of evidence — on the ominous charge of “endangering national security” since last month.
We covered his initial disappearance.
We covered the charges and Australia’s response.
Here are a few other stories worth checking out as well.
• Did Australia Hurt Phone Security Around the World? A law passed last month allows the authorities to compel tech companies to build tools to bypass their products’ encryption. It has global implications.
• A Tourist Family’s Bad Behavior Has New Zealand Rethinking Its Welcome Mat A British family’s bad behavior was documented on social media and followed by local news outlets, alarming a country that has struggled with an influx of tourists.
• How to Make Sex Scenes Natural and Nonthreatening? Cue the ‘Intimacy Coordinator’: We observed a class in Sydney designed to ensure the well-being of performers involved in intimate scenes, as the acting industry grapples with a culture of sexual harassment.
___The Australian Open
Watching the tennis and looking for some context? Here are a few deeper and thoughtful reads.
• For Australian Men, Off-Court Drama Overshadows the Tennis: Australia has not produced a male Grand Slam singles champion or a top-10 men’s player in more than 10 years. Instead, men’s tennis in Australia is now a soap opera.
• WTA Brings Coaches to the Forefront (Except During Matches): Women’s tennis is giving coaches more prominence in news conferences, on websites and with a Coach of the Year Award, but it draws a line at in-match coaching during Slams.
• It’s the Late, Late, Late Show at the Australian Open: Eight matches in the first seven days of the tournament ended after midnight, forcing players to adjust their sleep schedules.
Lots of interesting tech coverage this week.
Want to see how businesses are using small satellites to get an edge on competitors? Yeah. The space race has officially gone private.
We also had a big, ambitious piece on how Huawei wooed Europe — with investments and promises. Google, meanwhile, just got slapped with a big fine in Europe for privacy violations.
For more, check out our technology page. The New York Times is pushing hard to make our coverage of technology, in all its forms, both useful and global.
That’s in Opinion too, where the advice of the week for journalists in particular goes like this: Never Tweet.
___Summer Comfort Food
I’ve been meaning to dig into the Cooking archives for a while to find something special and relevant — and so here’s one small example, drawn from NYT Cooking.
It’s our editors’ list of Summer Comfort Food: 22 recipes to cheer you up on those days when the world (or the end of summer) has started to get you down.
We’re giving away 30 double passes to FRINGE WORLD, Perth’s monthlong performing arts festival, which is on now until Feb. 17.
With 700 events programmed at more than 130 venues, it’s truly enormous (it’s actually the third-largest fringe event in the world).
To win a double pass, please select your show preferences in our online form.B:
【第】【一】【次】【全】【勤】【捐】【赠】：1784【元】，（【图】【片】【已】【经】【发】【到】【了】【群】【中】，【可】【以】【加】【群】【查】【看】【稿】【费】622，【捐】【了】311，【我】【要】【做】【手】【术】【了】，【小】【手】【术】，【这】311【就】【当】【营】【养】【费】【了】，【本】【书】【太】【监】【了】，【不】【好】【意】【思】【很】【感】【谢】【大】【家】【的】【支】【持】）马会村长让你稳赚不赔【公】【玉】【长】【元】【撇】【了】【撇】【嘴】，【他】【也】【不】【知】【道】【自】【己】【这】【是】【怎】【么】【了】，【就】【是】【听】【见】【国】【主】【说】【千】【橙】【和】【别】【人】【在】【一】【起】，【他】【就】【非】【常】【的】【不】【舒】【服】，【也】【就】【没】【有】【意】【识】【到】【自】【己】【说】【了】【些】【什】【么】。 【这】【一】【句】，【直】【接】【伤】【了】【公】【玉】**【和】【洛】【君】【婕】【啊】！ 【公】【玉】**【意】【味】【深】【长】【的】【看】【着】【自】【己】【的】【弟】【弟】，【心】【里】【想】【着】，【这】【个】【傻】【弟】【弟】【果】【然】【是】【被】【爱】【情】【冲】【昏】【了】【头】【脑】【吗】？【连】【怎】【么】【说】【话】【都】【不】【会】【了】？ 【这】
【他】【是】【想】【看】【看】【这】【些】【老】【家】【伙】【联】【手】【敌】【对】【李】【青】【亭】【的】。 【这】【李】【青】【亭】【不】【过】【修】【行】【一】【百】【八】【十】【多】【年】，【成】【为】【一】【界】【巅】【峰】，【也】【才】【一】【百】【一】【十】【三】【年】【的】【时】【间】。 【可】【这】【一】【百】【多】【年】【来】，【真】【玄】【大】【界】【二】【十】【七】【个】【大】【势】【力】，【被】【这】【一】【个】【人】【压】【着】。 【魔】【门】【不】【敢】【做】【出】【大】【动】【作】，【只】【能】【小】【打】【小】【闹】，【像】【地】【沟】【里】【的】【老】【鼠】【一】【般】，【东】【躲】【西】【藏】。 【道】【门】【三】【宫】【齐】【齐】【隐】【世】，【再】【也】【没】【有】【传】【人】【在】
【密】【林】【中】，【被】【凶】【灵】【围】【困】【的】【修】【炼】【者】【损】【伤】【惨】【重】，【原】【本】【数】【万】【人】【的】【队】【伍】【极】【速】【锐】【减】【至】【数】【千】。 【百】【万】【凶】【灵】【逐】【渐】【缩】【小】【战】【圈】，【把】【仅】【剩】【的】【修】【炼】【之】【人】【包】【围】【其】【中】。 【经】【过】【这】【一】【番】【血】【战】，【修】【为】【稀】【松】【平】【常】【的】【早】【已】【被】【凶】【灵】【啃】【的】【渣】【都】【不】【剩】，【还】【活】【着】【的】，【无】【一】【不】【是】【龍】【殷】【各】【地】【的】【翘】【楚】。 【一】【剑】【将】【身】【前】【的】【凶】【灵】【斩】【灭】，【青】【林】【抬】【眼】【望】【去】，【心】【中】【一】【沉】。 【数】【量】【终】【究】