September 2011

August 2011

Searching for transparent online competition

by Josh Fear in ABC The Drum

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?

by Josh Fear in On Line Opinion

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

Carbon tax: for Abbott it’s appalling policy or appalling hypocrisy

by Matt Grudnoff in Crikey

A rather small convoy of constitutional confusion today rolled into Canberra calling for a double-dissolution election. The impending carbon price, the ban on live exports and the imminent threat of one world government were all cited by participants as motivating their demands. But no matter how sincere their confused calls for a double-dissolution election, they

Big has become beautiful

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

For all the talk about the rising cost of living in Australia it is amazing that there isn’t more concern expressed at the high mark-ups that big Australian retailers charge. Australians pay far more for clothes, computers and most other consumer goods than customers in the rest of the world. There are two main reasons

Abbott reads from Mao’s little green book of nonsense

by Richard Denniss in The Punch

Australian politicians have spent more than 20 years thinking up reasons not to tackle climate change, but the latest from Tony Abbott really must take the cake. According to the Opposition Leader, it now seems that until Communist China introduces a market-based mechanism to reduce their emissions, Australia shouldn’t either. That should buy us some

The right gets it very wrong

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

The concepts of economic rationalism and market liberalism seem to have been abandoned by the Liberals. Whatever happened to the term economic rationalist? It wasn’t that long ago that the favourite insult hurled by the left was the badge of honour worn by the right. The arguments were hilarious. “You’re nothing but a self-serving economic

July 2011

Direct Action: Good politics, bad policy

by Matt Grudnoff in Analysis & Policy Observatory

Last week Tony Abbott branded the Government’s target to reduce emissions by five per cent by 2020 as ‘crazy’, but the crazy thing is that the Coalition has the same target. Was this just Mr Abbott getting over excited in his attacks on the Government? A slip of the tongue similar to when he told

Debating Lord Monckton

by Richard Denniss in ABC The Drum

If your doctor told you that you had cancer and Lord Christopher Monckton told you to ignore their advice would you listen to him? What if he told you not to immunise your children or drink fluoridated water? It’s interesting how many people are unlikely to trust him for personal advice but who seem willing

Denniss: My tactics for debating Monckton

by Richard Denniss in Crikey

The House of Lords says that Christopher Monckton is not entitled to claim he is a member of that House, but he disputes this. The internet is full of scientists carefully debunking the claims about climate change made by him, but he is similarly impervious to correction. Put simply, Lord Monckton is a case study

Economic road map failure

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

Economics is often called the dismal science. The accusation was justly made after Thomas Malthus predicted that “misery and vice” were the only check on world population growth. Of course these days many economists argue the exact opposite and suggest that population growth is essential for community wellbeing, but despite the U-turn the dismal tag

June 2011

Walking both sides of the street

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

It can’t be only nine months since the last federal election. It feels like an eternity. That, of course, is the objective of Tony Abbott who has worked 24/7 to argue that the election result, the formation of the minority Gillard Government, and in turn, any legislation it proposes, is illegitimate and undemocratic. But this

Lost in a budget charade

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

Once upon a time the justification for delivering the federal budget speech at 7.30pm was so that the stock market and money market would have time to absorb the information before the next day’s trading began. But these days, with many Australian shares listed on international stock exchanges and the Australian dollar traded just as

Targeting meaningful change

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

What is the point of Canberra’s 40 per cent emission reduction target? If you thought it was to help reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions then you should probably be far more concerned with the current negotiations between the Gillard Government, the Greens, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor. Put simply, unless those negotiations result in a

Why the obsession with a budget surplus?

by David Richardson in ABC The Drum

Budget one-upmanship in Australia has moved beyond the balanced-budget obsession of the 1990s to the new aim of producing an ongoing surplus, the bigger the better, under which it is taken for granted that everyone will be better off. Despite the recent natural disasters offering good reasons for the Gillard Government to reassess its commitment

Accounting for a super mystery

by David Richardson

We’ve all heard that the Australian Public Service’s superannuation schemes are generous, and a look at the budget papers would seem to confirm this, revealing that the Government is spending $14.1 billion on this entitlement. Put another way, public servants’ super appears to be a staggering 73 per cent of the $19.2 billion spent on

May 2011

Green jobs’ won’t save the debate

by Richard Denniss in The Australian

There has been a lot of talk about the need to ‘reframe’ the debate about climate change among the Australian environment groups who have tasked themselves with persuading our politicians to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, their attempts to reframe the debate have been as unsuccessful as their attempts to persuade our politicians. The

April 2011

High risks in carbon gamble

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

The only thing that big business in Australia wants more than certainty is the certainty that they will get their own way. When they aren’t certain about that, it’s amazing how much uncertainty they are willing to tolerate. It seems it’s better to have a chance of a win than be certain of a loss.

Supermarkets too big to fail

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

Picking teams in Australian policy debates used to be as simple as picking sides in old movies; the good guys wore white, the bad guys wore black, and the audience knew where everybody stood. But life just isn’t that simple especially when we consider the milk price war that is raging at the moment. Am

March 2011

Let the shopping spree begin

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s decision to give U.S. President Barack Obama an iPod of Australian music speaks volumes about the ongoing evolution of the strong relationship between Australia and the United States. While successive leaders have demonstrated their warm commitment to the international relationship, it is hard to imagine John Howard, or even Kevin Rudd,

February 2011

Good politics, good policy

by Richard Denniss in The Australian

Julia Gillard’s multi-party committee on climate change (MPCCC) has achieved what the Rudd government should have relied on its cabinet for – a good political outcome likely to deliver a good policy outcome on that wicked problem of climate change. While there is still plenty of room for negotiations to go off the rails, the

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