Opinions

Public Sector Informant: National cabinet secrecy hurts energy policies

by Bill Browne in The Canberra Times

Last week, Senator Rex Patrick challenged the secrecy of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s National Cabinet. In the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, parties argued whether the National Cabinet belongs to the Westminster tradition, with its expectations of cabinet confidentiality, solidarity and collective responsibility. The controversy cuts to the core of our system of government. Eventual court decisions

May 2021

Artificial intelligence must enshrine fairness

by Peter Lewis in The Australian

The Human Rights Commission’s call for a pause on the development of Facial Recognition Technology and the placing of guardrails around the development of other AI products could be the kickstart the Australian tech sector desperately needs. While Australia plays perpetual catch-up with the tech superpowers of the US and China, scrounging for government support

Not all doom and gloom: let’s celebrate the wins we’ve seen recently

by Ebony Bennett in Canberra Times

It’s easy to feel like achieving change is impossible. After all, the federal government just delivered another $2.6 billion in post-budget handouts to the fossil fuel industry. Despite promises from the Attorney General, Australia still has no federal independent anti-corruption commission. The national vaccine rollout is way behind schedule and the Prime Minister isn’t in

Australian subsidies give oil refineries the whole carrot farm while electric vehicles get the stick

by Richie Merzian in The Guardian

The only viable long-term solution to our liquid fuel insecurity is to get off fossil fuels. Instead we are giving them taxpayer handouts When I was a kid, every year in early December we would go to the Geelong oil refinery in Corio. The refinery’s fire engine would cruise around, flash its lights and hand

Josh Frydenberg’s wages trap

by Richard Denniss in Australian unions

Josh Frydenberg is playing us all for mugs – and I’m not talking about those ridiculous “Back in the Black” coffee cups he had made in 2019. With his third Federal Budget, Frydenberg has delivered on Matthias Corman’s strategy, which he revealed when he let the mask slip in an interview with Sky News on

The government’s embrace of ‘clean hydrogen’ helps no one but the fossil fuel industry

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

Nothing captures prime minister Scott Morrison’s approach to climate change better than his embrace of “clean hydrogen” – a BS marketing term that delivers nothing but obfuscation and helps no one but the fossil fuel industry. Tellingly, this approach isn’t even new: Morrison has simply dusted off an old polluter playbook and changed a few

Federal budget 2021: What will Treasurer Josh Frydenberg deliver?

by Ebony Bennett in Canberra Times

Last year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered what was described as a “Bloke’s Budget”, that targeted stimulus spending in male-heavy industries, while neglecting investment in industries that support women’s employment-including healthcare, education and social services – even though women bore the brunt of last year’s recession. But the fact is every budget is biased towards men

April 2021

Scott Morrison’s climate summit speech was littered with downright dodgy claims

by Richie Merzian in The New Daily

I have sat through countless speeches on climate change from world leaders, both working for the government and outside it, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s rant at President Joe Biden’s climate summit last night was one of the worst performances I have ever seen. Technical glitches and the dreaded mute button were the least of Morrison’s worries,

This Anzac Day, lest we forget the brave Afghans who supported our military venture

by Allan Behm in Sydney Morning Herald

On ANZAC Day we remember lives lost in the strategic failure that was Gallipoli – a salute to Churchillian hubris and a newly emerged ex-colony only too keen to prove itself in defence of the “mother country” and her Empire. On this ANZAC Day, we prepare ourselves for another strategic failure, just as we did

How can NSW allow new coalmines while committing to net zero emissions? It’s bizarre

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

New mines won’t boost world demand for Australian coal — but they will cannibalise jobs from existing coalmines The New South Wales government is simultaneously committed to a net-zero emissions target for 2050 at the same time as new coalmines in the Hunter Valley with the capacity to produce 10 times more coal than Adani’s

We should be funding stress leave and high-quality PTSD care for all victims of abuse

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

Australian ministers suffering stress are provided with more taxpayer support than victims of violence Practical support for the thousands of Australian women who are sexually or physically assaulted by men is not simply woefully inadequate, it is nonexistent. If you are a casually employed woman in Australia who is raped or assaulted you are entitled

Is Malcolm Turnbull the only Liberal who understands economics and climate science – or the only one who’ll talk about it?

by Richard Denniss in The Conversation

Yesterday, former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was unceremoniously dumped as chair of the New South Wales government’s climate advisory board, just a week after being offered the role. His crime? He questioned the wisdom of building new coal mines when the existing ones are already floundering. No-one would suggest building new hotels in Cairns to help

Right now we’re choosing not to solve our biggest problems

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

It’s incredible what can happen in a year. This time last year Australia was heading into lockdowns and recession. The Treasurer was still sipping on his “Back in Black” mug and clinging to the idea that any stimulus spending would be small, targeted and temporary, and hundreds of thousands of Australians were still recovering from

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

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

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

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

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,

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