March 2021

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,

January 2021

Save lives or save the economy? That’s a false choice – and it’s obscene

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

For the past year Australians have heard politicians, business leaders and conservative commentators argue that we need to balance the benefits of protecting Australians from Covid-19 with the costs of those protections to “the economy”. Should we close down risky venues or keep them open? Should we worry about the elderly who might get sick

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

Which jobs and what growth?

by Richard Denniss in The Monthly

We need to talk about the economy For decades we have talked about the size of the economy, but it is time we talked about its shape. For decades we have been told that if the economy grew faster it would solve all our problems, but it’s time we talked about which parts of the

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

Stop believing in fairytales: Australia’s coal industry doesn’t employ many people or pay its fair share of tax

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

Just as people in the Middle Ages mistakenly believed the sun revolved around the Earth, many modern-day Australians mistakenly believe our economy revolves around the coal industry. Of course, such misunderstandings aren’t an indictment of those who have been misled, but those who did the misleading. Galileo was imprisoned for life for the “heresy” of

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

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

Gas-fired recovery a massive employment dud

by Richie Merzian and Mark Ogge in The Newcastle Herald

by Richie Merzian & Mark Ogge[Originally published in the Newcastle Herald, 18 November 2020] A gas-fired recovery from the economic damage caused by Covid-19 will not help the Hunter region.  In fact, a gas-fired recovery will struggle to employ anyone, except the gas executives that proposed the idea. The bottom line is, creating jobs in

Until recently, pressure on Australia to drop carryover credits had little impact. But times change

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss [Originally published by Guardian Australia, 09 December 2020] Political pressure makes the impossible inevitable. Unfortunately, so much has been written about how democracy is broken, that it can seem churlish to point out that sometimes it works just as it is designed to: slowly, imperfectly and then suddenly. Take, for example, Scott

November 2020

Australia’s diplomatic approach needs a major revamp

by Ben Oquist in The Canberra Times

by Ben Oquist[Originally Published in the Canberra Times, 28 November 2020] Suddenly it seems diplomacy is important.  The Foreign Minister has praised the role Australia’s diplomats played in the release of Kylie Moore-Gilbert; the Prime Minister is defending the use of an Air Force plane to help get Mathias Cormann elected to the plum post

Instead of taxing electric vehicles, heavy vehicles should pay more for the damage they cause

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published on the Guardian Australia, 25 November 2020] The purpose of the tax system isn’t just to collect revenue, it’s to shape society in ways we see fit. It’s no accident that fresh food is excluded from the GST and it’s no accident that the tax on alcohol is higher than the

Australia’s leaders are lagging behind on climate

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

by Ebony Bennett[Originally Published in the Canberra Times, 14 November 2020] Australia is experiencing climate change now and warming is set to continue, according to the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO’s 2020 State of the Climate report released yesterday. This news won’t come as a galloping shock to most Australians – we can see the evidence of global warming

The best way to help Australian manufacturing? Stop exporting gas

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published on the Guardian Australia, 12 November 2020] While it might seem heretical to suggest we stop exporting gas, it’s important to remember that we only started exporting gas from Australia’s east coast in 2015. But since that fateful day, the wholesale price of gas has risen from around $3 to $4 per

Working from home, once a novelty, is now wearing thin

by Alison Pennington [Originally published in The Age, 05 November 2020] Lockdowns in Victoria have made job polarisations starker than in other states. Entire layers of workers, previously interacting in the flows of the daily commute, the morning coffee, dropping kids off at school, were suddenly pulled apart and isolated from each other. Connected only

Biden as president would pursue climate ‘cheaters’ – and Australia could be among them

by Richie Merzian in The Guardian

by Richie Merzian[Originally published on the Guardian Australia, 04 November 2020] Whether Donald Trump loses or wins the presidential election, the US will officially withdraw from the Paris agreement on Wednesday. The US intention to withdraw was announced in mid-2017 and, exactly one year ago, formal notification was sent to the United Nations. It caps

Is Scott Morrison angry that public servants got Cartier watches – or that the public found out?

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published on the Guardian Australia, 29 October 2020] Cartier watches, free rent and taxpayers picking up the tab for $118,000 worth of personal tax advice — Australia’s best paid public servants have been on quite the spending spree and the prime minister has made it clear that he is very, very angry.

Kean’s ‘radical’ thinking is good for climate and politics

by Ben Oquist in The Canberra Times

by Ben Oquist[Originally published in the Canberra Times, 31 October 2020] When NSW Liberal Minister Matt Kean invoked Menzies’ forgotten people this week, he flipped climate politics on its head. Speaking at the launch of the Australia Institute’s annual benchmark report on attitudes to climate change, Climate of the Nation, the Energy and Environment Minister charted

October 2020

Austerity Would Damage Queensland’s Economic and Social Recovery

by Dan Nahum and Jim Stanford in Medium

by Dan Nahum & Jim Stanford[Originally published via Medium, 26 Oct 2020] Like governments around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession knocked a huge hole in Queensland’s state budget. Big losses in revenues from the recession, combined with extra costs of fighting the pandemic, turned a planned $234 million operating surplus for this

Andrew Barr and Shane Rattenbury have become a formidable duo in Australian politics

by Ben Oquist in The Canberra Times

by Ben Oquist[Originally Published in the Canberra Times, 21 October 2020] It takes a lifetime to become an overnight success and after 19 years in government the ACT Labor-Greens thumping win felt like it had been years in the making. Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury are surely two of Australia’s best

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