· Australia farewells 2013 with a bang
· New Year’s resolutions to kickstart your finances
· Bit dusty? Here are six tried and trusted hangover cures
· GALLERY: New Year celebrations around the nation
Canberra takes the long view
Politics is a blood sport. Just ask Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, both now lost to public life after an unhappy period in power. While the ALP soap opera kept the evening news bulletins busy, it was the wrong kind of political contest – noisy, selfish, a national distraction. While we can’t deny the demands of electoral politics, it’s time for Canberra to refocus on the job description – nation building. Big ideas, the kind that shape our future, should be hotly contested. We expect arguments, but they should be arguments of substance. Both side of politics have recent experience of winning elections on reformist agendas. John Howard won an election on the GST, another on border security. Paul Keating showed that economic reform requires some biffo, but it also delivers lasting prosperity. So in 2014, we’d like our politicians to listen to their better angels. A constructive and engaged opposition will be rewarded by voters tired of spite. And a government which prefers an inclusive policy vision over partisan sniping might be granted two wishes – another term in power and a shot at a proud and lasting legacy.
A conscience vote on gay marriage
It’s time. Whether a conscience vote on gay marriage delivers a yes, or simply denies it yet again, the Australian public is entitled to know where their MP stands on the issue. The only way to do this is with a conscience vote. Last month (December 2013), communications minister Malcolm Turnbull not only said he believed it ‘very likely’ that MPs would be granted a conscience vote, but that there was a ‘reasonable prospect’ of a same-sex marriage bill passing this parliament. That position appeared to be scuppered by Tony Abbott, who was unwilling to commit to a conscience vote, particularly in view of the past failure of legislation to legalise same-sex marriage. Seriously … the only way this issue is going to be settled is if MPs are allowed to throw party lines out the window and vote with a view to their constituency. Agree with us? You can put pressure on the government to allow a conscience vote by filling out the online petition at the Australian Marriage Equality website.
Australia, the next chapter
In the first decade of this century, Australia’s national trousers were weighed down by all the gold we pocketed from selling our minerals abroad. But as the resources boom cools, we’re in danger of losing our pants altogether if we fail to harness the opportunities of the new century. As the national economy rebalances away from mining, now is the time to lean on our other natural advantages. By that we mean using our smarts, our stability and our location to seed the industries of the future. In a carbon-constrained world, can we solve the problem of storing and redistributing solar energy? What about water management? On such a dry continent, can we develop and export technology that better manages clean water in the developing world? The opportunities are myriad. Over the next 12 months, we’d like to see Australian businesses and governments turning their minds to how the nation will earn a living, not in 2014, but in 2040.
More sport on the field, not off it
Anyone else sick of drug scandals, off-field violence and social media slips? Yes, we are too. Both the AFL and NRL have been on the front pages for all the wrong reasons in the past 12 months, particularly for the drug scandals engulfing both sports. Footy fans … wouldn’t it be nice, just for one year, to be able to read about Essendon’s exploits in finals football, instead of reading about James Hird’s pay packet or the latest allegation that “potentially illegal supplement x may have been injected into Bombers players”? Well, if you’re a Hawthorn, Collingwood or Carlton fan, probably not, but you get our drift. For the benefits of concentrating on the game, look no further than Australian opening batsman Dave Warner. Just seven months ago, he found himself in a Twitter war with a News Corp journalist, then he punched English cricketer Joe Root and found himself dropped from the Aussie team. To his credit, he pulled in his head on social media, stopped going to pubs at all hours of the morning in favour of staying home and playing scrabble with girlfriend Candice Falzon … and what happened? He became Australia’s most dominant batsman in the 2013/14 Ashes series, smashing 491 runs at an average of 70.14. Problem solved … ON the field.
A World Cup campaign that isn’t a complete disaster
We’re realists, we get it. With the Socceroos drawn alongside Spain, the Netherlands and Chile in Group B in Brazil, it would take a very optimistic football fan to imagine anything other than three heavy defeats and an early flight home. So, knowing our team is undermanned and outgunned, we’ll settle for any positives we can get. Some nice displays from the next generation, a few embryonic flourishes of Ange Postecoglou’s passing game, a thundering Tim Cahill header – all should be welcome sights for Socceroos’ supporters, as the side prepares to host the AFC Asian Cup in January 2015. But more than the 3-0 defeat of Spain, followed by a tight 1-0 victory over the Netherlands, and an unlikely appearance in the semi-finals, what we’re really hoping is a sign that Australian football is maturing, that we’re more than just easy-beats, and that since 2006, the world game has seeped deeper into the national sporting consciousness. That’s the measure we’ll be applying to Ange and his men.
Daniel Ricciardo on the F1 podium
With perennial bridesmaid Mark Webber hanging up his helmet at the end of the 2013 season, some Australian motorsport fans may have thought their late nights glued to coverage from some of the world’s most exotic locations were over. Alas, they may have more reason than ever to burn the midnight oil, with Perth-born racer Daniel Ricciardo taking over Webber’s old seat with Red Bull, F1’s premier team for the past four seasons. Ricciardo, who turns 25 in July, will partner the peerless Sebastian Vettel, who in October wrapped up his fourth successive world title. While a title may be stretching things with Vettel in his current form, Ricciardo has no shortage of confidence in his abilities and will be pushing hard for wins in 2014. After 39 races for Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso over the past two seasons without a podium finish, Ricciardo’s time is now.
Please, oh please, oh PLEASE give us some flexibility in our television choices in 2014! The long-awaited Australian launch of Netflix may well come in 2014 … and if it does, that will mean Australia will join the rest of the world in being able to stream the television programs we want, when we want it. A flexible on-demand service, priced around the same as it is in the US ($79.99 per month), will also put pressure on the likes of Foxtel and Austar to become more competitive with their pricing and package options, which at the moment, force subscribers to pay for channels they don’t want, simply to access the programs they do. Now, all we just need is a National Broadband Network that works! (Okay, maybe we’ll leave that one for 2015.) To read more about Netflix, read Mark Gambino’s guide here.
More great Aussie movies, please
Is there any reason why 2014 shouldn’t be a year that we see more great Australian stories told, and told well, on screen? We’re not saying avoid the outback, or choose the sounds of inner city latte slurping over outer suburban slang, but whatever the venture, we’d like to see us, as we are, on the big or small screen. We’d like to see stories old and new. There are commercial realities to making screen art, but as we saw with the TV version of The Slap, the best-selling novel by Christos Tsiolkas, it’s possible to tell stories about middle Australia that capture the nation’s imagination. We want dramas like the quality production of the Kerry Packer-Ita Buttrose story – not a surprise success. We want the acerbic, yet heartwarming The Rosie Project to make it to the big screen (Eric Bana in Full Frontal mode would be perfect as the lead). There’s a cracking movie in the Thai-Burma railway story as told in Richard Flanagan’s new novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North. And while a comeback for Ozploitation might not be on the cards (mercifully), wouldn’t it be nice to produce a movie in the present day that’d inspire the likes of Quentin Tarantino?
More social, less media
At the risk of sounding like our grandparents, we’d like to see more face-to-face and less Facebook-to-Facebook in 2014. Don’t get us wrong. We love technology, but are we the only ones who can live without another conversation being interrupted by a mobile phone? Technology seems to have made us accessible to everyone except the person sitting opposite, who is often too busy Instagramming their coffee (#latteart) to notice we’ve been reading a magazine for the last 10 minutes. We’ve had enough of quick catch-ups with friends who are busy catching up with someone else via text. We like to get back to things like eating and talking without anyone at the table live-blogging their risotto. So we are dreaming of a year in which everyone present is present. To help make your 2014 rewarding in all the right ways, how about NOT filming that concert/dinner/baby/lunch/busker – just enjoy it. How hard can that be?
Dear Chefs – get some of your own ideas!
In the next 12 months, let’s stop slavishly reproducing obvious food trends. This means less artisan brioche, inferior American BBQ, “concept” menus, aloof staff with neck tattoos, cheap truffle replacements, sparsely covered pizzas, $5 takeaway coffee, low-rent dumpling houses, toast soldiers, cats-piss Sauvignon Blanc, smashed avocado, artery clogging Korean fried chicken, chipotle everything, tiny $21 sandwiches, water in jam jars, “pop ups”, freebie-hungry bloggers, cynical Tweeters, heartless Instagrammers, kale, ash, smears (still!), negronis, producer name-dropping (“Woodside goats curd with Istra bacon on Woolworth’s Choice pide”), wagyu beef, cash only and no bloody bookings. And that’s just for starters.
Just relax, everybody
Oh, the outrage! Whether it’s the perpetually angry news columnists, shock jocks, almost everyone on Twitter, your relatives on Facebook, that fella on the train or the lady a couple of tables over whose soup was too cold, we are appealing in 2014 for a sense of reason. Deep breaths, count to ten, whatever works. Zen detachment might be difficult to achieve in same situations, but calmly, persistently getting your point across beats inflammatory rage any day. So please, in 2014, let’s aim for an informed, respectful debate instead of misinformed vitriol.
Strike a blow for public health – outlaw cigarettes … and a few other things
It’s likely that more people resolve to quit smoking at the dawn of a new year than at any other time. So here at The New Daily, we think it’s time to get real. Cigarettes will be banned altogether soon, so why not do it RIGHT NOW? The libertarians will raise their cigarillos in protest. They’ll argue that people should have the right to slowly kill themselves and poison others using whatever method they like. It’s their rapidly-shortening life, after all. But we say it’s time to act. While we’re at it, here are a few other things which, if banned, would make life better in Australia during 2014: reality television, junk food, soft drinks, big prams, crop tops, cars that go faster than 110 kmh, Miley Cyrus, plastic bags, bottled water, cyclists, public transport delays, cold weather, open-toed shoes in the office, stretch Hummers, sunbeds, live exports, car subwoofers, live imports, children, ringtones older than two years, phosphates in laundry detergents, and Grease The Musical. Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments section.
Stop illegally downloading stuff
If you aren’t doing it yourself, then you know someone who is. In vast numbers, Australians are firing up their FTP programs to download TV shows, movies and music owned by someone else. We agree to pay the ticket price for everything else we want – a restaurant meal, a T-shirt, a holiday. Yet if it can be converted to bits and hosted somewhere online, we are all too willing to steal it. But if we respect property rights, as we seem to in just about every other aspect of our lives, stealing entertainment from the people who invested the time, money and talent needed to create it is unfair. But 2014 could be different. As Mark Gambino wrote in The New Daily in December, the world of digital content supply is about to get a whole lot stricter. And besides, are we happy being known as the world’s biggest content thieves?