Opinions

November 2020

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

This Morrison government decision could set women back generations

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

by Ebony Bennett [Originally published in the Canberra Times, 03 October 2020] Pioneering feminist Susan Ryan sadly passed away this week, not long after United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. While Ruth Bader Ginsburg pursued American women’s equality and freedom through the courts, Susan Ryan pursued it through the parliament, running on a

Thank you, Victoria – Australia as a whole is healthier and wealthier because of you

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

Richard Denniss [Originally published on the Guardian Australia, 01 October 2020] Thank you, Victorians. Your determination to crush the second wave of Covid-19 has delivered me, and the rest of Australia, enormous health, social and economic benefits. Your resolve, your patience and your sacrifice, means that the rest of Australia has been able to open

September 2020

Now we’re cooking (ourselves) with gas

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

by Ebony Bennett[Originally Published in The Canberra Times, 19 September 2020] Gas didn’t even make AEMO’s top five list of potential sources of dispatchable power – but the Coalition is looking to divert taxpayer funds earmarked for clean energy into LNG projects. Picture: Shutterstock  Just months after Australia endured its worst climate-fuelled bushfire season on

Morrison’s tax cuts are not temporary or targeted – they are ideological and inequitable

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published by the Guardian Australia, 16 September 2020] At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic the Morrison government was adamant that – because the economy would “snap back” once the virus passed – their stimulus spending would be temporary and targeted. Well, you don’t hear much about “snap back” anymore and there is absolutely

The government’s lack of transparency can’t go unchecked

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

The Coalition government is handing police and intelligence agencies more and more powers and subjecting them to less and less scrutiny. We should all be alert and alarmed. It’s more than two years since journalist Annika Smethurst broke the story the government was considering draconian new powers to allow the Australian Signals Directorate to spy

Phasing out gas would benefit Australian manufacturers and households

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published by the Guardian Australia, 03 September 2020] Rather than drill new fracking wells into prime farmland, the quickest, cleanest and most economically efficient way to boost the supply of gas in Australia is to stop wasting it. According to the Australian Industry (AI) Group’s budget submission, “Ramping up support for manufacturers to

August 2020

The spread of coronavirus in Australia is not the fault of individuals but a result of neoliberalism

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published by Guardin Australia, 20 August 2020] Neoliberalism is spreading coronavirus faster than any “reckless teenager” ever could. Privatised guards at quarantine hotels, private aged care centres that put profits ahead of staffing levels, and the fact that those in charge neglected to have their health professionals appropriately evaluate the risk of the Ruby

Australia is about to get ripped off by the gas industry, and it’s not the first time

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

by Ebony Bennett[Originally published by the Canberra Times, 22 August 2020] The same geniuses who hiked up domestic gas prices, raked in the profits and left Australia with bupkis to show for it are trying to convince us (once again) that Australia has a gas supply shortage requiring huge taxpayer subsidies. So, let me explain

The Australian government is putting economic storytelling ahead of evidence

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published by Guardian Australia, 05 August 2020] Australian economic debate relies more heavily on metaphors than it does on evidence, experience or expertise. While the prime minister, treasurer and self-appointed business leaders drone endlessly about what the economy “needs”, they simply refuse to provide any evidence that they know what they are

July 2020

ACT should lead way on truth in political advertising

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

by Ebony Bennett[Originally published in the Canberra Times, 25 July 2020] With the ACT election coming this October, Canberrans are already girding themselves for the love-bombing, fear-mongering and vigorous debate that comes along with every election campaign. The press conferences, policy announcements and debates are quite enough for any person to take in. Voters shouldn’t

The Australian government’s decision to cut benefits is based on feelings, not facts

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published by Guardian Australia, 22 July 2020] In Australia, policy is far more likely to be based on feelings than facts. While there is much talk about the importance of evidence-based policy, ironically, there is scant evidence that such an approach exists. Take the government’s decision to cut the incomes of around

When the government prosecutes whistleblowers, it is sending a message

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

[Originally published in the Canberra Times, 11 July 2020] We are in the midst of a public health and economic crisis, and the federal government is regularly making momentous and life-altering decisions, including exerting the authority of the state to limit (sometimes with good reason) basic civil liberties. Just when our need for integrity and

Though painful to admit, conservatives know Australia’s tough Covid-19 response is better than the US

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally publishged on the Guardian Australia, 07 July 2020] Only 16 weeks ago, prime minister Scott Morrison told a bemused Australian public that he was off to the footy to see his beloved Sharks play, and only 15 weeks ago, the same prime minister berated those who went to Bondi Beach for “not

June 2020

My degree taught me to spot the flaws of the university funding overhaul

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Orinigally publsihed by the Guardian Australia, 24 June 2020] If conservatives really believed that the most important thing a young person could do was become “job-ready” then why are they so keen for Australia’s best and brightest students to study the works of Shakespeare and Thomas Aquinas, as part of a degree in

Leverage lazy public balance sheet

by Richard Denniss[Originally published in the Australian Financial Review, 26 June 2020] The Australian Government is, by any measure, significantly under leveraged. The Commonwealth Government’s lazy balance sheet and its underspending on productivity boosting services like preventative health, childcare and environmental protection will harm Australia’s prosperity for decades to come. BHP has been in debt

The COVID-19 and Rio Tinto lesson: regulation is not ‘red tape’, it’s protection

by Ben Oquist in The Canberra Times

by Ben Oquist[Originally published in the Canberra Times, 13 June 2020] While it has been widely observed that all sides of politics become Keynesians in a pandemic, if COVID-19 has taught us anything else it is that strong government regulations are not “red tape” or “green tape”, they are protection. Everyone is a legislator in

The Coalition dishes out jobs for the boys while women carry coronavirus’ economic burden

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally Published on Guardian Australia, 10 June 2020] Not only have women been hardest hit by the response to Covid-19, they have got the least out of government assistance and stimulus packages. Monday’s announcement that the temporary provision of free childcare is about to end was just the latest in a long line

May 2020

Australia’s unemployment figures mask a deeper reality

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

by Ebony Bennett[Originally published by the Canberra Times, 16 May 2020] This week, the federal government announced Australia’s biggest monthly rise in unemployment since the Australian Bureau of Statistics started publishing labour force statistics, shooting up to 6.2 per cent from 5.2 per cent just a month earlier. But, in a classic case of expectations

Australian business can’t lead us out of this recession – the government must step up

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published on Guardian Australia, 13 May 2020] The government is telling us that if we don’t open up the Australian economy soon, we will do lasting harm to it. But the forecasters at Treasury and the Reserve Bank are relying on economic models that assume the deeper the recession we have, the faster our

Here’s how we can avoid the ‘bathtub scenario’

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

by Ebony Bennett[Originally published in The Canberra Times, 03 April 2020] It’s not every day I get up at 6am to talk about inequality with a Nobel Prize winner, but hosting the Australia Institute’s Economics of a Pandemic webinar series afforded me that opportunity this week. Before dawn on Thursday, Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, joined

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