FYI – Pacific Labour Mobility: Social challenges and localised support

SSGM Seminar Series
Next Week’s Seminars
Pacific Labour Mobility:
Social challenges and localised support 

Rochelle Bailey
Research Fellow, SSGM, Australian National UniversityMonday 4 July, 2016
Lecture Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre (130),
corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
3.00 – 4.30pm

This seminar highlights local ni-Vanuatu support structures initiated through workers’ participation in Australia’s Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) and New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme (RSE). It draws on recent conversations with workers, families, recruiters, leaders, chiefs and support groups in Vanuatu. In May 2016, over 600 RSE workers and 64 SWP workers returned to Vanuatu. Leading up to this several workers expressed views regarding not returning to their family homes. Furthermore, during a field trip in April 2016 people argued that RSE and SWP were affecting family social structures and raised a number of social concerns. In last year’s seminar update on seasonal workers I briefly discussed the Strengthening Seasonal Workers’ Families Program. In this presentation I will discuss this network in more detail, including its intensions for the future. I will also discuss other initiatives that communities in the region are involved with and the localised forms of mitigation against potentially negative consequences assoicated with these schemes.

This topic is the largest research gap of these schemes. Social issues relating to these Pacific labour mobility schemes have been discussed in various academic works, however this dicussion has been relatively limited. After nine years of observations and engagement, there are new changes and challenges emerging that require documentation and investigation in order to address potentially negative outcomes that might impede the intended development outcomes of these programs.

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Going Beyond ‘Politics Matters’ in International Development
Samuel Hickey
Research Director, Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) Research Centre, and Professor of Politics and Development, Global Development Institute, University of ManchesterWednesday 6 July, 2016
Brindabella Theatre, Level 2, JG Crawford Building 132,
Lennox Crossing, ANU
12.30 – 1.30pm

That politics has a defining influence over development prospects is now broadly accepted amongst leading development theorists and agencies alike. However, there is less agreement over which forms of politics matter most, how these can be conceptualised and what kinds of policy implications flow from thinking politically about development. This seminar addresses these questions by presenting the key findings of a five-year comparative investigation into the politics of development in Africa and Asia. Employing a version of the ‘political settlements’ framework that has gained popularity amongst development agencies of late, this work examined how power and politics shape inclusive development in a range of policy domains, including economic growth, natural resource governance, social provisioning and women’s empowerment.

In conceptual terms, the analysis emphasises the interplay between political settlements and the politics of specific policy domains, the power of ideas as well as incentives, and of the need to reposition political settlements analysis as a mid-range theory that can usefully explain particular puzzles of development rather than development itself. Policy-wise, the findings suggest the importance of ensuring that policy reform efforts are carefully attuned to the incentives and ideas that flow from different kinds of political settlement, and that normative efforts to promote ‘inclusive’ and ‘accountable’ institutions need to be rebalanced by a stronger focus on building state capacity, particularly through bureaucratic pockets of effectiveness. Although much of this work echoes calls to move beyond the good governance agenda in favour of ‘thinking politically and working differently’, it also draw attention to the perils of aligning development interventions too closely with existing forms of power and politics.

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East Timor’s Fifth Constitutional Government:
A new direction or more of the same?

James Scambary
Visiting Fellow, SSGM, Australian National UniversityFriday 8 July, 2016
Lecture Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre (130),
corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
1.00 – 2.30pm

Since coming to power in 2007, the East Timorese Government, under the leadership of Kay Rala ‘Xanana’ Gusmão, has embarked on an ambitious and often controversial infrastructure spending trajectory. Critics have described such levels of public expenditure as unsustainable, given declining oil revenues, and almost totally lacking in feasibility. They claim there has been an attendant neglect of more pressing needs such as health and education, and scant attention to alternative non-oil based forms of revenue. Less discussed is the nature of procurement decisionmaking and power dynamics in the Government itself. Building on a previous paper on the emergence of clientelist and neo-patrimonialist power relations, this presentation discusses current political developments in the light of the recent transfer of the Prime Ministership from Gusmão to the opposition FRETILIN party member, Dr Rui Maria de Araújo. It also analyses a series of reports released by East Timor’s Audit Chamber on Government Ministry project management and budget expenditure. While there are many continuities in terms of informal and clientelist networks and irregular procurement practices, Gusmão’s centralised control and the influence of Indonesian political culture, the robust independence of the Audit Court provides hope that legal and democratic principles, and the rule of law, are finally gaining traction.

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