You’ve landed in the bonus online content section for our second edition for 2021: Con/Test! This is where you can read additional pieces to complement our print magazine, extended versions of articles, and diagrams and illustrations in their full glory.
In this post you will find:
Invigilated – Sep Kimiaei
- ECONOMICS & FINANCE
Out With the Old – Linda Pickering
- LITERATURE & CREATIVE WRITING
Meditations on a Suburban Wilderness – Eva Cocks
You lied to yourself last semester, didn’t you?
It was supposed to be a semester of study, a semester of attending all the early morning labs, a semester of compiling flashcards, and, most importantly, a semester of getting all your shit together. You really thought that it would be your semester, huh?
And yet your ears perked up when she said the exam would be done on Examplify because, well, you know, I know – in fact I think we all know…online invigilated exam? No problem – you wondered why they didn’t just give you the degree with first-class Honours already.
Sandra’s intensely studying chapters one to twelve (unit readings as well) while you’re printing out the chapter summaries and carefully placing them behind the monitor, supported by old pieces of blue tack that somehow still have stronger integrity than you. Your method is better than sticking the paper to the monitor itself, you think to yourself. You scoff – amateurs. Open-book exam, closed-book exam – all are incoherent words muttered by the lecturer that have no place in a big man’s game.
You appear in front of the webcam with your game face on as if you’re a seventeen-year-old sneaking into the line for Metros.
And yet the dreaded moment comes: that one business model short answer question that not even your Pandora’s Box of notes can save you from. The camera captures your fear for a short moment as your pupils dart around the backlit panel, each pixel taunting you with each flicker.
Alas, in the corner of your eye you see it: the toilet break. Therein lies the beauty of the toilet break. It is the last artform of cheating, and the only crossover with traditional exams. You thank the previous pioneers as you frantically assault your iPhone’s Safari, desperately hitting it with countless iterative phrasings of that one question, only to find it on a random Turkish Quizlet. It’ll have to do. The toilet break has surpassed 25 minutes now – remember to add gastro to the follow up email.
Don’t forget to flush.
And finally, it’s done. You let out a sigh of relief and move your cursor to ‘Finish and Submit’, waiting anxiously for the upload to finish. You’re worried it might fail – that perhaps something as unjust and unfair as the network dropping out will cost you your hard-earned grades. The green tick glows up on the screen. Sure, this was no Italian Job or bank robbery, but the hours of preparation and resources used in the feat have you begging to differ.
So, where are we now? Sitting half a metre behind a computer desk painted with notes, calculator on your crotch, phone to the side, and your mate Sam to your left.
You look to your own reflection in the dark abyss of the monitor.
God – did you convert the file into a pdf?
Sep Kimaei is probably looking for his wallet and keys right now.
Words by Sep Kimaei
Economics & Finance
Out with the Old
Economics in mainstream Australia has been relatively uncon/tested in recent decades. It’s time for this to change. Some ideas which have been entrenched in Australia’s economic discourse are problematic at best. Unfortunately, the Pelican budget isn’t big enough to print an entire book on this, so I’ll have to be briefer than perhaps I would like.
As neoliberalism reared its ugly head in the 1980s with the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, it brought privatisation with it. A simple and broadly encompassing definition of privatisation is the transfer of public goods and services to the private sector. However, ‘privatisation’ can be deconstructed into three different types:
- Pragmatic privatisation – where governmental efficiency is increased;
- Tactical privatisation – where privatisation is simply a tool used to achieve a separate policy goal; and
- Systematic privatisation – where the expectation of what a government should do is changed.
I would argue that systematic privatisation is the most dangerous. Historically Australia has had a strong state tradition. We were one of the first countries to introduce a minimum wage and our policy of universal healthcare is the pride of many Australians. However, the idea that the state should have little responsibility for its citizens threatens this. It is the role of government to provide certain public goods and services, as well as act as a safety net for its citizens. A recent example of a cautionary tale of privatisation is the privatised hotel quarantine system in Victoria. I’m sure you’re well aware of how its mismanagement has resulted in COVID-19 outbreaks. Here, we can see that the steady hand of the government may have been preferred to the invisible hand of the market.
Another outcome of neoliberalism has been deregulation. Although the reduction of red tape has its merits, the aim of regulation is to ensure fairness within the workings of the nation. The minimum wage is a good example of regulation: the government ensures that employers pay their workers a minimum amount for their work. This regulation is very important. If you work thirty-seven hours a week you would expect to be able to live off your earnings with ease. This is part of the government’s role: ensuring its citizens are living in a fair society. Unions have also historically held an important role in ensuring fair workplace practices. Workers use unions to band together and hold their employers to account when workplace conditions have not been up to scratch. However, union power has recently diminished from what it was – this might be something worth changing.
Another important way that regulation might be used is to ensure markets are competitive. Unregulated markets might allow collusion or monopolies to form which would likely result in consumers having to pay through the nose for goods and services. This is why some basic regulation must be in place in all markets. There are also some markets with additional regulation because of the importance of the availability of the goods and services they supply. A good example of this is the regulation of university fees in Australia. There are caps in place to ensure that the price of a university course in Australia is at least reasonably accessible. The achievement of this goal might be debatable, however that’s the general idea. In 2014, the Federal Government attempted to remove these caps and faced vibrant public backlash. I seem to remember a cardboard cut out of then-Education Minister Christopher Pyne being set alight during a protest.
Focusing on the Future
Going forward, economists should focus on ensuring that essential goods and services are being provided adequately. There are many elements of privatisation which result in a short-term gain, maybe to square up a budget surplus. These sorts of short-sighted reforms should be avoided at all costs. After all, we want to continue to build a society that we are proud to live in and can proudly say provides for all its residents.
Linda Pickering is an economics and politics student who is hoping to change the state of both.
Words by Linda Pickering
Literature & Creative Writing
Meditations on a Suburban Wilderness
There was a time when Darnell wasn’t the way it is now.
Progress, one could call it.
Change, everyone agreed.
It was started by men from the generation before the generation before the parents of today’s youth. They dug the suburb’s wide roads; clawed them out of the teeth of the earth, back when all the way down to the river was bushland. Before it was tamed and packaged into puny, palatable reserves to break up the cul-de-sacs and streetlight forests.
Since then, the council has cautiously continued, scraping off little bits of the bush. Like the wheel of camembert on the girls’ night cheeseboard- everyone cutting away tiny pieces of the already ludicrously small wedge. Nobody wants to be the arsehole that takes it all.
All the life and sound and sandy soil. The blue tongues patrol over the scratchy seed pods, dry leaves crackling as they turn over in the lazy heat.
Going, going, gone.
An auctioneer’s hammer smacks down in the Saturday afternoon heat and he wipes his brow with the glossy pamphlet. Thank goodness, winks his heavy watch in the sun as a heavier paw closes the deal in a sweaty clasp.
A three by two riverside paradise.
Palatial city views and a minute’s walk to the sprawling dog park.
A deal to fight for.
Unbeknownst to the dogwalkers and joggers of Darnell Dog Park, contained beneath their feet are secrets of the past. Only the ones who were here before, in the 80s, know – back when it was a council rubbish tip and Darnell was too far down the freeway. You can see these folks buried in the suburb, their crappy cinderblock houses and cement driveways smothered by glass pool gates and flashy pavers.
I bet that’s how the real estate agent does it. Bury the shit, cover it in grass and turn the suburb into a 21st century flock of mansions with owners who consider themselves glamorous. Cheeseboards go sticky in the summer afternoon’s heat. Such and such Street upgraded to such and such Parade as people compete and extend and primp their tasteless homes, craning their necks for a better view of the sparkling river and the city skyline beyond as it stands regal against the apricot sky.
It’s all a manicured type of lovely isn’t it? Can you see it? Can you smell it?
It isn’t the native wildflowers in spring – sponging yellow and purple over the city and up over the hills. Or the bush that once ran down to kiss the river as it became saltier and saltier, swinging around the bend and out to sea.
It is roses and hedges and flowers of English world, all arranged in a docile row. It is the tropical plants and succulents and fronds from their yearly visit to a Balinese resort. Manageable.
The people who plant them?
All white and all of money, old or new. Painfully white, the type of white reminiscent of looking into the sun for too long and singeing your brain through your eyeballs.
They will never learn.
Endlessly trowelling and weeding these plants ill-suited for our climate, trying to convince themselves that they really belong here.
That they really belong to this wild land.
Eva Cocks is chaotic energy with a pen, who currently aspires to write fortune cookie messages.
Words by Eva Cocks