What economic trouble in China could mean for Africa


Chinese investment on the African continent is huge. This in itself is not news. Further, China as a global economy is huge. By one measure in recent times, it has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest economy. Yet, it is also a reality that Beijing began January 2016 by sending tremors of fear throughout regional and global stock markets, and so it need be considered what a continuation of this would mean for African nations. First, an overview of recent events is necessary.

Upheaval on the Chinese share market is not new. Foremost among the turmoil of recent times is perceived inexperience of new Chinese ‘mom and pop’ investors combined with the Chinese government’s need to maintain a positive economic outlook at all costs to ensure its ongoing legitimacy. Though investors may have traded before believing it a manageable risk Beijing could be artificially fabricating figures, the rate in which the economic slowdown in China has occurred – with this month’s figures showing annual growth the lowest in 25 years – has meant there is growing concern the risks of doing business in China right now outweigh the rewards.

Yet, it Click to continue reading

• • •

The growing importance of Germany to Africa and the world


Recent years has seen ample discussion of the growing trade and economic relationship of China with numerous African nations. Accordingly, this has led to debate surrounding the USA’s ongoing status as a trade leader on the African continent; and how this may change with China’s rise. Yet, thus far there has been little in-depth coverage of the capacity for growth in trade and political links with African nations and Germany, and the EU more broadly. All signs show this will change fast.

Germany offers the African continent an array of advantages.  While ongoing challenges remain with Greece and the Euro, domestically Germany has enjoyed a long and sustained period of economic growth in recent years, and this has largely occurred alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s record ten-year tenure as Germany’s leader. Stability in a nation’s politics generally encourages confidence in its economics. Further, Eurozone crisis has shown Berlin’s leadership in maintaining a (relative) cohesion in the EU, and increasingly viewed as the de-facto leading nation of Europe.

Further, while much has rightfully been written of China’s growing presence across Africa, it is undoubted Beijing main priorities reside within Asia. This is evidenced by its territorial skirmishes in the South Click to continue reading

• • •

Trans Pacific Partnership a powerful shift against China’s economic power in Asia

2.03 PM Saturday November 7 2015

by Ed Kennedy

For all the deeper and in-depth aspects of the Trans Pacific Partnership – with the full text released this week showing there are gains and losses dependent on where you reside – this is undoubtedly a deal that has signified a powerful victory for the United States of America in Asia.

Accordingly, so too has it done so for Washington’s allies – though granted amidst a far more complicated region faced by Canberra, Tokyo, Seoul and Manila than just a decade ago.

The full list of participating nations; the United States of America, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam certainly represent a diverse bunch of nations. Yet, within them can be seen either stalwart US Allies (such as Japan and Canada) or nations with a tradition of greater fluidity in the foreign policy – such a New Zealand and Vietnam – that share concerns over what China’s potential rise to the most powerful nation in Asia (and down the line, the entire world) could mean for them.

This is especially true of Vietnam – who while in decades prior could hardly been regarded Click to continue reading

• • •

Billboard on Nepean Highway looms large over TPP debate

A prominent sign to the sight of any Baysider commuting along the Nepean Highway recently between South Road and Cummings Road.
A prominent sign to the sight of any Baysider commuting along the Nepean Highway recently between South Road and Cummings Road.


7.00pm Tuesday May 26 2015

by Ed Kennedy

Plans for a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) by the Abbott government may seem at first something of a far off concern for Baysiders in their day-to-day lives in our seaside suburbs. Yet, any Baysider commuting along the Nepean Highway recently would have seen the following sign over North Avenue between South Road and Cummings Road.

The poster by civic activist group Get Up implores Andrew Robb, local MP and Member for Goldstein, to alter his policy direction on the planned TPP that would involve 14 nations including the United States and New Zealand alongside Australia.

A view of the sign from a distance across the Nepean Highway
A view of the sign from a distance across the Nepean Highway

Mr Robb, the Minister for Trade in the Abbott government has been a key player in Australia’s negotiations on the proposed TPP. Though the proposed trade agreement between the United States and a number of participating Asian and Latin American nations has not yet been enacted – nor finalised therefore – by participating nations, it has garnered an inordinate amount of controversy and

Click to continue reading
• • •

A new debate about the old: Vintage and replica furniture


Gary and Rachel Lewarne. Nook. SKN. May 2015.

Gary and Rachel inside Nook St Kilda

by Ed Kennedy

What Gary and Rachel have cannot be manufactured. You’ll never find the British-expats who have come to Melbourne via Perth selling goods of which they cannot detail in-depth. The history, the significance and quality of craftsmanship that underpins an item in the vintage goods store can routinely be listed off-the-cuff by this couple.

Gary and Rachel represent one side of the coin in a furniture and goods industry that is facing a growing challenge to the ‘ways of old’ by replica furniture salespeople.

The existence of ‘new’ enthusiasts for old goods is becoming more common in modern commerce, as evidenced by the current debate surrounding replica furniture in Australia and the wider international market.

With copyright laws difficult to enforce internationally – combined with the rise of globalisation and online shopping – the idea of furniture pieces being unique, distinct and one-off is being challenged.

For Rachel, the issues within the industry are clear.

“Replicas are everywhere and it’s an insult to the second hand industry”, she said.

Having opened Nook’s first store at 258 Johnston St in January 2010 – and established a warehouse in North Fitzroy during … Click to continue reading

• • •

Bayside City Council announces SSAGD social group

11.07am Friday April 20 2015 

By Ed Kennedy

Bayside City Council has announced the establishment of a Same Sex and Gender Diverse (SSAGD) social/support group, with the first meeting to be held next week.

The group will provide social interaction and support services to young people aged 14-24, who identify as same sex attracted, sex gender diverse or who are questioning their sexuality.

Emily Buttriss, a Youth Worker with Bayside City Council indicated the group shall be easy going and inviting to those who wish to attend.

“There is no pressure for a young person to say or do anything they are not comfortable with when they attend meetings”, Ms Buttriss said.

“This is a group for people with similar interests and experiences and a great place to meet like-minded people.”

In particular, while participation is voluntary, Emily feels the conversational nature of the group shall be a core benefit to those who come along.

SSAGD shall “provide young people with the opportunity to come together to learn about the discuss topics that are of interest to them”, Ms Buttriss said.

Such conversations could be “about ‘coming out’, the transgender community, SSAGD affiliated youth organisations and so on.”

Emily also

Click to continue reading
• • •

Tracy Connelly’s death highlights dangers in sex industry

A candle light vigil held in Tracy's honour. Image: St Kilda News

A candle light vigil held in Tracy’s honour. Image: St Kilda News

by Ed Kennedy

The death of sex worker Tracy Connelly found dead July 21, 2013 in Greeves St, St Kilda has reignited debate surrounding the dangers of the illegal sex industry and how it can be best addressed.

The social issues surrounding the legality of prostitution have a lengthy history and remain hotly debated. Following Ms Connolly’s death a number of voices in the community insist changes must occur to ensure not only a death such as Ms Connelly’s isn’t repeated but also ongoing abuses in the wider sex industry do not continue to occur.

Professor Shelia Jeffreys a lecturer in the Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne feels the death of Ms Connelly has highlighted the industry remains unsafe and unregulated.

“The death of Ms Connelly shows the reality of the industry, the violence that takes place in the industry and it undermines the glossy view of the industry that is often put across in the media; this idea men shall always use women in this way, and that there shall always be danger and that there was nothing that can be done about … Click to continue reading

• • •