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The end of good times? The mining boom re-examined

This article is one of two Q&A specials informing the reader on a topic of economic importance to Australia that was discussed by the panel on the night.

In the past few years Australia has experienced one of the longest and largest increases in the value of the mining sector, seeing it grow to account for approximately 52% of all exports produced by Australia and worth $164 Billion a year[1]. Similarly, mining related investments in Australia now comprise some 40% of all investments undertaken, up from 10% before the boom and accounting for $80 billion a year — more than any other country in the developed world.

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Will your children have enough to eat?

I recently read an article featured in our Editors’ Picks about the greatest food in the world (the ‘humble’ McDouble for anyone that missed it), chosen as such mainly because of its affordability and energy content. This got me thinking: will we have enough food to go around in the long run, or will we all be forced to survive on McDoubles for sustenance?

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Uruguayan parliament lights up the legalisation debate

In this coming Australian federal election it is likely that you may come across the HEMP party, whilst you are fulfilling your civic duty at the ballot box. The Help End Marijuana Prohibition Australia Party, claims that marijuana, or more widely known as ‘pot’, contains superior protein to beef, is healthier than alcohol, and can be used for food, fuel, medicine and of course, recreation.[1]

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Why did our banks survive the GFC?

The 2008 global financial crisis (GFC) developed over a long period of time. It included a housing bubble in the United States and then a slow squeeze in liquidity that brought down banks around the world. Europe and the USA, in particular, are still suffering from the crisis.

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Procrastination, Productivity, and an Introduction to Saul Eslake

procrastination

As a student, much of my surroundings comprise haunting visions of people buried under piles of books, papers, cans of V, and suffering from sleep deficits of budgetary proportions whilst attempting to highlight whole textbooks.

Indeed, popular attitudes to studying may or may not be reflected in Urban Dictionary, which defines studying as “texting, eating and watching TV with an open textbook nearby”. A more candid entry simply defines studying as “no homework”.

Studying has become a distracted undertaking and hardly productive. So it’s a little heartening to know that the rest of Australia is getting less productive too.

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Superannuation: an incentive to save or upper-class welfare?

Superannuation reform – how boring, right?

I suspect you aren’t aware of this fundamental loophole though. Consider this. Currently, the Australian superannuation system allows an individual who has (a) reached 60 years of age and (b) decided to permanently retire to simply withdraw all of their funds from super – completely tax free – and then to splurge it all on whatever they like. It’s important to note that this amount could have been just a few thousand dollars or, alternatively, many millions and that despite the lump sum withdrawal ‘belonging’ to the individual, a large part of it would have been brought about through the subsidised nature of Australia’s superannuation framework. Here’s the real kicker though: having enjoyed a period of superfluous spending – potentially with millions of dollars – that same individual, provided that they were now aged 67 or older, would then be eligible to receive a full aged pension (and its many associated ancillary benefits) courtesy of the federal government for the rest of their life as long as they didn’t earn more than about $3,952 in a year (from interest on their now non-existent savings!) or have greater than $192,500 in assets, excluding their home. Does that sound reasonable to you?

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