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Most readers of this blog have an interest in promoting aid policy change. When considering the big picture strategic contours of Australias aid program, for example, many readers around 85 per cent according to recent Development Policy Centre research would like to see aid spending increased from its current level. And yet, despite the overwhelming consensus regarding the desirability of pursuing this policy objective, differing views prevail about how best to promote it. These disagreements stem from the reality that academics and aid advocates remain poorly equipped to convincingly answer a pivotal question: why does a donor change the trajectory of its aid policy?
In a recently published Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper, I consider this question through the lens of the agenda-setting literature. I find that the lack of political attention typically afforded to aid policy issues fundamentally shapes the rules of the game that regulate the politics of aid. This finding has important implications for aid advocacy. Yet before outlining them, it is necessary to describe the link between political attention and policy change.
Politicians, like the rest of us, can only focus on a limited number of issues at once. However, because we elect politicians to oversee how state resources are directed, their decisions about how to allocate their scarce attention become a decisive factor in driving policy change. Consequently, the agenda-setting literature views political attention as the currency of policy change, with variations in the political agenda the list of issues that political actors devote their attention [to] driving the market.
Politicians are incentivised to pay attention to issues the public deems as important. If their priorities diverge too much from those of their constituents, they can expect punishment at the ballot box. This incentive structure explains why most major policy change is likely to occur via a bottom-up process. In response to variations in public attention, political actors will refocus their attention in turn. And provided levels of political attention change substantially enough for long enough, policy change will result.
In the case of aid, however, this bottom-up model of policy change is very unlikely to operate. The low salience of aid means it simply does not generate enough political attention to get on, let alone stay on, the political agenda. (Note the crucial distinction between high levels of public support for aid and the salience of aid, which concerns the importan...
The DFAT-commissioned independent review of facilities and the management response are available on the DFAT website.
Malawis first female president, Joyce Banda, on how girls become leaders.
China is clamping down on discussion of African swine flu outbreaks, an epidemic which may already have spread far beyond what is indicated in official reports, according to Radio Free Asia.
As the annual production of e-waste continues to grow and countries like India and China crack down on e-waste imports, what is Nepal to do?
Duncan Green looks at the impact of the SDGs in this piece, which has also garnered some great comments.
In Project Syndicate, Jayati Gosh argues that while international trade cops undue blame for rising inequality, the complexities of trade mean it is still a source of problems in ways not predicted by standard trade theory.
Weve previously written about calls by the National Farmers Federation (NFF) for the introduction of an agricultural visa to meet labour shortages in Australian agriculture.
In a 2017 submission, the NFF called for a visa with two streams: a short-term stream (six to twelve months) to cater for seasonal or low skilled work, and a longer-term stream to cater for skilled workers who may move between employers, industries and regions.
The proposal has gained traction more recently. The Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has said the Nationals will continue to push the Coalition for the adoption of such a scheme, describing it as non-negotiable. NFF President Fiona Simson recently mentioned the proposal in a speech to the National Press Club.
However, calls for a new visa category have either dismissed or ignored existing schemes that bring Pacific islanders and Timorese to Australia to work in regional areas.
The newly created Pacific Labour Scheme, which aims to bring semi-skilled workers to regional areas for a period of up to three years where there are employment shortages, does not even rate a mention by the NFF, despite clearly meeting the demands of the NFF for a longer-term agricultural visa.
The Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) is dismissed by the NFF on the grounds that it is primarily a foreign aid program, and due to its lack of focus on the industrys requirements (both strange accusations, given the size of the SWP is driven by employer demand, and given the scheme does not involve foreign aid).
Presumably the fact that the SWP currently brings about 8,500 workers, and that the new Pacific Labour Scheme is currently capped at 2,000 workers, is part of the problem. The NFF...
Last week, Nauru hosted the 49th annual meeting of Pacific Island Forum Leaders, a grouping that includes Pacific island countries, two French territories, and Australia and New Zealand. Australia was represented by Marise Payne, fresh into her new role, just one week after becoming Foreign Minister in the Morrison government. Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Palau were the only other members to send a senior minister instead of their head of government.
Given its location and timing, the 49th Leaders meeting was always likely to be eventful. Naurus hosting of the Australian regional processing centre has delivered plenty of bad press over the years. So has the Nauru governments crackdown on the opposition, and its blatant disregard for the judiciary. The Nauru government has sought to limit such bad publicity by both charging exorbitant visa fees to journalists, and by denying entry to journalists likely to be critical a strategy it also pursued in the lead up to the PIF meeting, when it announced that the ABC would be banned from entering the country. Naurus formal recognition of Taiwan was also expected to rile China, which attends the Forum Dialogue Partners meeting.
Those expecting an eventful leaders meeting were not disappointed.
Pacific island concerns about climate change were, predictably, centre stage. The significance of climate change was underlined by its prominent inclusion in the new regional security agreement the Boe Declaration (more on that below). Climate change was also centre stage in the Leaders Communiqu, which emphasised that climate change presents the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security and wellbeing of Pacific people (a reiteration of wording included in previous Leaders communiqus), and called on countries, particularly large emitters, to fully implement their nationally determined contribution mitigation targets. The Communiqu also singled out the United States, with leaders calling for it to return to the Paris Agreement.
Dissatisfaction toward Australia, which reportedly prevented a stronger statement on climate change, was also evident in post-meeting interviews with leaders. Tuvalus Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga, noted his disappointment that a stronger statement had been scuttled (in response to a journalists question about whether the name of the country that had done so began with the letter A, he replied bemusingly: Youve very, very observant in that. I was hoping nobody would pick it up but its there. That speaks volumes). Vanuatus Foreign Minister later confirmed his account to be both accurate and unfortunate.
As in 2015, it was left to the Smaller Island States Lead...
By Scott Waide | #Inspirational #Papua New Guineans
Twenty years ago, Edith Babuls, young son, collected the seeds of a rather exotic Indian Guava fruit he found smashed on a road.
It was, at the time, a seemingly tiny deed done by a child for his mum. But over two decades, those seeds became a plantation of Indian guava trees whose fruits are now sold in Lae City.
He found the seeds and said, mum likes this fruit and he brought back about 100 seeds, said Edith Babul. From those seeds, 10 survived and those are among the trees we have now.
While Edith loved Indian guava, she didnt know the cultivation methods that would work efficiently.
At first it was all trial and error. I didnt know and I planted the seeds. It took a while.
In 2000, Edith harvested the first fruits from the initial 10 trees she had planted. She sold over 100 fruits and made K300.
Because I was still working, I told my husband and children that the demand for this fruit was good and that we had to carefully manage the trees.
It wasnt all easy. Some of the trees died and fruits were left to rot or succumbed to pest and disease.
As we walked through the guava plantation, Edith spots a large fruit. She pulls down the branch and picks a fruit which is bigger than her hand. Its fruits like this that have made her quite popular within agriculture circles.
Try it, she says, as we cut open the huge fruit. The guava is soft, delicious and far less acidic than smaller local varieties. Guava cultivation has become an art for Edith Babul.
She gives a lecture on insect management as we walk through the grove.
Never cut all the grass. When insect populations pick up in in June and July, you have to give them something to eat. Let them start with the grass first. If you remove all the grass, they will eat your fruits and leaves.
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