December 2021

Pork-barrelling and the undermining of public institutions is bad for democracy’s health

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

“Democracy doesn’t happen by accident, we have to renew it with each generation”, announced President Joe Biden, opening his global Summit for Democracy. There is certainly an urgent need to renew the health of Australia’s democracy as we head to the next federal election. Pork barrelling has somehow become business as usual, whistleblowers are being prosecuted

November 2021

Audacity of hype: Scott Morrison is betting voters will settle for plans over performance

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

Scott Morrison thrives in the empty space between three-year terms and 30-year plans. Whether it is climate change, nuclear submarines or budget repair – it is no accident the prime minister with the shortest planning horizon in living memory is our greatest announcer of long-run plans. While the vacuousness of Morrison’s net-zero “plan” and his

I’d appreciate it if ministers lost their appetite for decapitation

by Allan Behm in The Canberra Times

NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption has revealed extraordinary amorality and cynicism in how the Berejiklian government, and its predecessors, approached both public policy and the use of public money. The ICAC has also revealed Berejiklian’s vicious approach to imposing compliance, complicity and ultimately connivance on the public servants who advise government. In an extraordinary few

October 2021

September 2021

Morrison and Berejiklian are attempting to shift the blame for Covid on to us

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

In an amazing feat, both leaders shift attention away from their past performances and on to future freedoms to be granted, based on decisions made by the public In the ultimate expression of neoliberal language, prime minister Scott Morrison and New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian are gradually shifting their messaging away from the dangers

August 2021

Richard Denniss: Scott Morrison’s COVID-19 plan is more spin than science

by Richard Denniss in The New Daily

The same Prime Minister who spruiks ‘technology not taxes’ as a climate change strategy is now championing ‘pharmaceuticals not physical distancing’ in the battle against COVID-19. As always, his slogan is more spin than science, and the phoney distinction will be dangerous to our health, our wealth and our society. Just as virtually every economist agrees that

Complacency spells doom, at home and in Afghanistan

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

Things feel like they’ve taken a turn for the apocalyptic lately. Between the fall of Afghanistan, the IPCC report and the exponential growth of Covid cases in NSW, every time you turn on the news things are spinning out of control. Not because there’s no hope, but because of the hubris of some of our

Corruption watchdog kept on a short leash

by Eloise Carr in The Mercury

Almost half of Tasmanians surveyed (48.5%) distrust the Tasmanian Integrity Commission’s ability to uncover and prevent misconduct in public administration, according to Australia Institute research. Only 34% trust the Integrity Commission’s ability to uncover and prevent misconduct. Is it any wonder, given the inability of the Tasmanian Integrity Commission to hold the state government to

June 2021

Australia should look to the Nordics for policy tips

by Rod Campbell and Andrew Scott in Financial Review

Not only are the Nordics among the world’s most prosperous nations, they have also dealt with many of the issues that Australia finds so difficult. As Australia starts to peek at a future beyond COVID-19, where should we look for inspiration on how to take our country, community and politics in a better direction? Scott Morrison’s

The fight for a healthier Murray-Darling must continue

I’m a fifth-generation farmer. My family have run properties alongside the Darling/Baaka River for almost a century. We have watched as the once mighty river system that runs through the heart of our nation has suffered due to government mismanagement and over-extraction upstream. I’ve always said the red dirt of home runs through my veins,

Please watch the rhetoric, Mr Morrison. Or match it

by Ben Oquist in The Canberra Times

Eighteen months after Scott Morrison delivered his “negative globalism” diatribe, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade continues to flout the law by refusing an Australia Institute freedom-of-information request that seeks to get the background and reaction from foreign diplomats to the Prime Minister’s now infamous speech. At this rate, the “negative globalism” doctrine will

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

April 2021

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

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

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