Go home. Get outa here. Spend some family time
In a classic Looney Tunes cartoon of the 1950s, Ralph E. Wolf and Sam Sheepdog would clock on at the same time every day at the sheep meadow. When their shift ended, Ralph would stop trying to abduct Sam’s precious sheep and they would both clock off again. Their work done for the day, Ralph
Despite your fears, dumping your bank won’t end in tears
Treasurer Wayne Swan is fond of telling anyone who will listen how much he wants bank customers to “walk down the road and get a better deal”. This sums up the government’s vision for reforming the banking sector: relying on consumers to drive change. Unfortunately, as a senior executive from the Bank of England, Andrew
Searching for transparent online competition
We’ve heard a lot recently about how the internet is changing the retail landscape. Despite the extreme lethargy with which many of Australia’s largest bricks-and-mortar retailers have embraced online opportunities, consumers are increasingly turning to the web to find more products at lower prices, and without needing to go anywhere near a Westfield. What hasn’t
Who has power over the internet?
In 1922 Herbert Hoover, United States Secretary of Commerce, declared at the first National Radio Conference in Washington, D.C: “It is inconceivable that we should allow so great a possibility for service, for news, for entertainment, for education, and for vital commercial purposes to be drowned in advertising chatter.” By the time Hoover became President
Owning an ATM is money in the bank
Each and every day millions of Australians pay financial institutions to access their own money. Some pay more while others pay less, depending on the way they do it. Sometimes, as with EFTPOS transactions, the price consumers pay for their own money is largely invisible, being factored into the prices of goods and services. In
Rebuilding Australia’s retail industry
For the past two or three decades we have been told that globalisation and free trade will speed up the pace of capitalism and deliver innovation and efficiency to the benefit of all. Now we have a classic case study unfolding before our eyes: the changing structure of the Australian retail industry. Change of course
Money and Power
Despite the prosaic origins of our constitution, many of us still treasure the right to vote. We might feel we have little influence over government decision-making, but at least we get a chance to pronounce judgement every three years. Except that we don’t – not like we used to. Because in this election, the voice
Redressing the balance for members
A lot of people in the superannuation industry are very worried at the moment. This is not because they see another market crash on the horizon; things are generally back on track in that sense. They’re worried because things are about to get much better for millions of ordinary working Australians at the expense of
Are your working hours ‘flexible’? Thank goodness for your annual leave, when you can recover from all that flexibility. Unfortunately, your annual leave might be eaten away by the extra hours you work throughout the year.
Most of us like to complain about the banks from time to time, but compared to some parts of the superannuation industry the banks seem like the good guys. That’s because many commercial super funds are profiting enormously through excessive fees on the savings of ordinary workers.
ABC Life Matters and The Australia Institute discuss excessive superannuation fees
Research Fellow and co-author of The case for a universal default superannuation fund, Josh Fear, talks to Life Matters about superannuation fees and how the system could be improved.
Emissions trading: a zero sum game?
Picture this country five years from now, once an emissions trading scheme is fully operational. How will your life be different? Will higher energy prices radically change your approach to work, travel, shopping and leisure?
Selfless winds of change
the ‘cap-and-slice’ proposal actually resembles the public’s perception of how emissions trading works more closely than the CPRS. Three-quarters of respondents to a recent Australia Institute survey said that Australia’s total emissions would go down if every household reduced its electricity use. Only 13 per cent gave the answer that corresponds to the CPRS: that
Setting the record straight on telemarketing
How annoyed does the community need to get before further restrictions can be placed on telemarketing, junk mail and street spruiking? And which is more important, the interests of direct marketing companies or the views of the wider public? These are the kinds of issues that The Australia Institute sought to raise through its research.
Debates about superannuation policy are often ideological in tone.People in finance and investment circles tend to forget that the majority of Australians are profoundly disengaged from their super, at least until they approach retirement. The super system is so complicated that many workers take the simplest option – doing nothing. Governments therefore have a responsibility
Reclaiming your time from telemarketers
Telemarketing is one form of ‘direct marketing’, along with junk mail, spam and face-to-face marketing. Direct marketing differs from ‘traditional’ advertising in making a much stronger claim on our attention. Members of the public have to take deliberate action if they wish to avoid direct marketing, but Institute research indicates that an ‘opt-in’ system would
Credit reform needs to go back to basics
Recent research by the Australia Institute reveals the extent of community mistrust of the financial sector. Indeed, a large majority of adult Australians hold banks and other financial institutions responsible for the current debt crisis. Although many people believe that personal responsibility in financial decision making is important, there is broad consensus that the banking
A borrower nor a lender be
Australia’s love affair with easy credit has turned on itself. The price of credit has reached its highest point in 14 years, and home buyers are feeling the economic pain associated with higher interest rates. The corporate sector has tended to blame individuals for taking on more debt than they can handle, drawing on the
Duty of MPs to stay full term
But is it acceptable for former government members to leave early purely because they have lost government? At the least, there should be recognition of the shirking of responsibility that this entails. There should also be some contribution towards the considerable costs of holding by-elections. Representing one’s constituency for the duration of the parliament is
Clutter the persistent curse of the acquiring class
A study by the Australia Institute, Stuff Happens, found that women in particular find clutter distressing. They don’t necessarily have more clutter than men (the typical suburban garage would dispel that notion) but they tend to notice it more. Women are also more embarrassed by their clutter than men. The alternative to cluttering up our
The Apprentice Dog Whistler
Over recent months, Minister Kevin Andrews has been bringing the new Australian Citizenship Test to fruition. This is a policy destined to fail utterly in its stated intention – “to help new citizens to embrace education, employment and other opportunities in Australia”, according to the Government – but succeed in sending a message to voters
Tanya Martin Office Manager
Jake Wishart Senior Media Adviser