March 2021

Roderick Campbell writes: Recommending approval of a mine based on economic assessment that not only lost in court, but lost in court against you, is a new level of crazy

by Rod Campbell in The Newcastle Herald

What would happen in your industry if a judge described someone’s methodology as “inflated”, “lacking evidentiary foundation” and “plainly wrong”? If your industry would stop using that methodology, then you probably are not an economist and you don’t work for coal companies. Exactly this happened in 2019 and, with no change and no reflection, the

Porter’s Federal Integrity Commission Could Leave Ministers Exempt

The Commonwealth Integrity Commission legislation as currently drafted could see Ministers left exempt, according to the Australia Institute’s National Integrity Committee of retired judges. The National Integrity Committee submission, made in the public consultation period for the draft legislation, outlines a number of key shortcomings of the draft legislation. Critical shortcomings of this draft legislation

Australia has shown you can take on big companies – and win

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

Big companies are always threatening to take their bat and ball and leave our shores, and Australian politicians usually beg them to stay. Whether it’s cutting company taxes or promising weak IR and environmental laws, for decades the Australian government has behaved like a lonely kid who worries the cool kids won’t talk to them

February 2021

Bargaining Code a Welcome First Step in Regulating Big Tech

“The legislation creates a safety net designed to ensure that social media platforms recognise the value of public interest journalism,” said Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology. “We know the prospect of the code has led to significant settlements with large media players. We now need to see how it

Canberra’s euthanasia insult weakens democracy for all

by Ben Oquist in The Canberra Times

Much has changed in the 24 years since the Federal Parliament voted to prevent Canberrans from deciding for themselves whether they support voluntary euthanasia. Australia has had six prime ministers, hosted an Olympic Games, participated in four wars, and endured a global financial crisis and a global pandemic. What has also changed is the assumption

Facebook destroying its social license by restricting Australian news content

“Facebook’s decision to prevent users viewing or sharing public interest journalism will make it a weaker social network,” said Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology. “The social network is destroying its social license to operate. Facebook actions mean the company’s failures in privacy, disinformation, and data protection will require a

The Liberals’ agenda is bad for regional Australia – but the Nationals play along anyway

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

The National party represents many electorates which have high rates of unemployment and people receiving government support payments, and a high proportion of workers on the minimum wage. So you can see why they spend so much time attacking industrial laws, renewable energy and “urban elites” – creating blame is a lot easier than creating

Google and the use and abuse of economic modelling

featuring Ebony Bennett and Richard Denniss

In its efforts to avoid regulation, Google commissioned economic modelling showing that Google providing tens of billions of dollars in benefits to Australia – but the figures quickly fell apart on closer inspection from the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology. In this episode, chief economist Richard Denniss talks us through some of the assumptions

Proposed Electoral Reforms Not Good Enough for Good Government

The Gutwein Government has released its report in response to its review into Tasmania’s Electoral Act and associated election laws. “The report and recommendations, while welcome, do not provide enough concrete commitments. The Government has sat on the review for too long to still have such vague plans. Paying lip-service to change does little to

New Analysis: Google’s assessment of Google vastly overstated

New Australia Institute analysis shows Google’s estimates of its economic importance to Australia are vastly overstated, and Google’s claims to generate benefits of $39 billion for businesses and $14 billion for consumers do not withstand even the most basic scrutiny. Nevertheless, the tech giant uses those figures to claim it is as important to the

Facebook and Google having too much market power is a threat to democracy

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

Forget about how much you loathe Rupert Murdoch for a minute. The well-earned ire for the media mogul’s empire is muddying the waters in the huge battle over the news media bargaining code, a battle Australia cannot afford to lose. At stake is the future of public interest journalism, as well as the ability of

Scott Morrison knows setting a net zero target means picking a fight with the National party

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

The prime minister’s initial target of beginning the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines “as soon as January” is in tatters and mid-February is looking shaky. Likewise, the target of “fully vaccinating” some 26 million Australians by October. But just because someone fails to hit a target doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have set it. On the contrary,

January 2021

Australians Want More News, Less Misinformation in Their Social Media Feeds

New research from The Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology has shown that a majority of Australians want social media companies to prioritise journalism from news sites, limit the spread of misinformation and be more transparent about how they choose what content their users see. The research is being released as representatives from Facebook prepare

PM’s Responsibility to Correct Misinformation & Condemn Trump’s Role in Riots

In the era of fake-news, new research by the Australia Institute shows that the majority of Australians think the Prime Minister bears a responsibility to correct & criticise members of his own government who post misinformation online, and to condemn President Donald Trump for his role inciting the US Capitol insurrection. The Australia Institute surveyed

Yes, lockdowns mean lost jobs. But data shows that not locking down causes much more economic damage

by Jim Stanford in Toronto Star

With new stay-at-home orders covering many parts of the province, Ontarians are settling in for a month (at least) of daunting isolation. Restrictions are also being tightened in other provinces to slow the spread of COVID-19, until vaccines can turn the tide of the pandemic. Despite accelerating infection and overflowing hospitals, many oppose the new restrictions on

There is no reason to believe it couldn’t happen here

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

“We love you, you’re very special.” Thus US President Donald Trump addressed the armed insurrectionists looting the Congress in more loving terms than with which one suspects he has ever addressed his own children. But we have come to expect as much from the President who once described neo-Nazis as “very fine people”. It was

December 2020

Now more than ever we should be strengthening democracy. We’re not.

by Ben Oquist in The Canberra Times

by Ben Oquist [Originally published by the Canberra Times, 26 December 2020] On climate policy, both the election of Joe Biden and the acrimony from China should make Australia’s transition away from coal easier, though more urgent. Likewise, the strains that democracies are under around the world, especially in the United States, make the case

Economy, Health, Climate Change Top Voter Issues in 2020

New research from The Australia Institute has shown that the economy, health and climate change were the top three issues of concern for Australian voters in the second half of 2020. The Australia Institute surveyed nationally representative samples of over 1,000 Australians each month from August about what they think is the most important national

War Crimes: Where does ultimate responsibility lie? Only a Royal Commission will determine the answer

by Allan Behm in Pearls and Irritations

by Allan Behm[Originally published in public policy journal, Pearls & Irritations, on 21 Dec 2020] The Brereton report has major deficiencies around where ultimate responsibility lies for war crimes in Afghanistan. To understand this and to eradicate the cultural and systemic causes of the alleged crimes, we need a Royal Commission. War crimes are perhaps

War Crimes Royal Commission Needed, Brereton Inquiry Deficient

The Australia Institute has released a discussion paper, critical of the Brereton Inquiry, and calling for a Royal Commission into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. Key findings: Justice Brereton was given narrow terms of reference to establish matters of fact, not to assign or excuse responsibility or blame. The finding that no information on potential

States are leading the way in the climate power shift

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

by Ebony Bennett[Originally published by the Canberra Times, 12 Dec 2020] 2020 has seen a shift in the balance of power. Not in the Senate, but between the Federal Government and the States.   All last summer during the bushfires—while the Prime Minister was infamously not holding a hose—it was the Premiers and Chief Ministers who

An unprecedented year: reflecting on 2020 with Richard Denniss

featuring Ebony Bennett and Richard Denniss

Let’s face it, 2020 has been a bit of a nightmare. This week, in our final episode of the year, Ebony Bennett and Richard Denniss revisit some of the Australia Institute’s predictions back in March 2020 and reflect on the way Australia’s economy and politics have changed this year in response to the pandemic. Mild

The US Election result and what it means for Australia

featuring Ebony Bennett, Richie Merzian and Allan Behm

In this episode we unpack what a Biden Administration means for climate and foreign policy in Australia, with Richie Merzian and Allan Behm. The Australia Institute // @theAusinstituteHost: Ebony Bennett, deputy director of the Australia Institute // @ebony_bennett Guests: Richie Merzian, director Climate & Energy Program // @richiemerzian Allan Behm, director International & Security Affairs program

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