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

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

June 2020

Austerity Threatens Women’s Access to Paid Work

by Alison Pennington in The New Daily

Women have suffered the worst labour market impacts since the shutdowns. Gender-unequal impacts have been due to women’s greater exposure to customer-facing industries shut down first by public health orders, higher employment intensity in insecure and part-time positions, and an increased caring burden unmet by the state. But instead of providing countervailing support, the federal government is accelerating women’s work crisis.

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

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

Unleashing a National Reconstruction Plan Fit for Our Era

by Alison Pennington in Newcastle Herald

Our nation is confronting the most significant economic challenge in nearly a century. Australia’s own experience of long-term, sustained public investment during post-war reconstruction shows direct tools of government planning and investment will be essential to our recovery today. Yet Scott Morrison continues to pretend his hands are tied: “if there’s no business, there’s no jobs, there’s no income, there’s nothing.”

Unis must save staff not cash reserves

by Richard Denniss in The Saturday Paper

It’s easy to avoid a hard question by simply saying the government “should” provide more money to the universities. But there’s a long list of things the Morrison government should do: extend the JobKeeper payment to casuals and temporary residents; permanently boost unemployment benefits; provide support to the arts and entertainment industry; introduce a carbon

May 2020

Australia Needs Universal Paid Sick Leave To Get Through the Pandemic

by Alison Pennington

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy recently issued a directive that going to work with the ‘sniffles’ is ‘off the agenda for every Australian in the foreseeable future.’ But with millions of workers without access to paid sick leave, government plans to lift restrictions on economic activity could risk dangerous and costly outbreaks. 

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

Future Fund has a super solution

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

Bank bashing is always popular in Australia and it’s by no means confined to one side of politics. It was the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull who introduced the big bank levy and gave us the royal commission into misconduct in the financial services industry. And, just last week, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg reportedly “slammed” the big banks for being slow to process loan applications from small businesses waiting to receive their share of the promised $130bn jobkeeper wage subsidy payment.

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

April 2020

Scott Morrison needs to target his spending at significant problems or he will only be remembered for debt

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published by The Guardian Australia, 1 April 2020] The Coalition just announced a $130bn wage subsidy when the budget is already in deficit. As that sinks in, try to absorb the fact that the $130bn wasn’t targeted at any vulnerable group and had absolutely no “mutual obligations” attached to it. It was not “funded”

March 2020

Put the jobless on public payroll

by Richard Denniss[Originally published by the Australian Financial Review, 31 March 2020] After a $62 billion shot of adrenalin designed to keep businesses going through the coronavirus crisis, the Morrison government has finally ditched its strategy of “targeted and temporary” measures based on existing policies. Instead, it now wants to put large parts of the Australian

Coronavirus: Telling people to pull themselves up by the bootstraps doesn’t cut it during a public health crisis

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

by Ebony Bennett[Originally published by the Canberra Times, 21 March 2020] After a summer of unprecedented bushfires and a billion animals dying, Australia now finds itself in the midst of an unprecedented public health pandemic with an economic crisis to match. While the $17.6 billion economic stimulus program was welcome for an already sluggish economy,

Responding to the Economic Emergency

by Jim Stanford in New Matilda

The scale and scope of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 will be unprecedented in our lifetimes. Mainstream economists have belatedly realised the pandemic will cause an economic downturn, but they are not yet appreciating the size of that downturn, nor the unconventional responses that will be required. Simply calling for government “stimulus” is sadly inadequate, given the complete shut-down of work and production that is occurring in many sectors of the economy. The task is no longer supporting markets with incremental “pump-priming.” What’s needed is a war-like effort, led by government, to mobilise every possible resource to protect Australians’ health and livelihoods. Money is not an object – and this epic effort should not be held back by normal acquiescence to private-sector priorities and decisions.

Coronavirus is not the villain: Australia’s economy was already on a precipice

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

If you thought the prime minister was slow to respond to the bushfire crisis, take a look at his response to Australia’s ailing economy. Morrison is currently trying to pivot away from the government’s economic inaction using the coronavirus outbreak as cover, but the only reason the coronavirus might push Australia into recession is because the economy has been languishing since the Coalition took office in 2013.

The Treasurer is missing the mark

by Richard Denniss[Originally published in the Australian Financial Review, 02 March 2020] In the summer of 2010, devastating floods hit Queensland killing 33 people, causing billions of dollars in damage, shutting coal mines, and knocking an estimated $30 billion off GDP. The then Labor Government’s promise of a budget surplus was washed away too. Fast

Stimulus is not a dirty word, so why is the government scared of it?

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

by Ebony Bennett[Originally published in the Canberra Times, 07 March 2020] It might be time to panic. Not about running out of toilet paper, the real danger is that the Morrison government will undercook its mooted fiscal stimulus package and risk sending Australia into recession to prove an ideological point. The economy has been weak

February 2020

The inequality of the superannuation system

by Richard Denniss in The Saturday Paper

A part-time cleaner earning $18,000 a year will receive zero tax concessions for their compulsory superannuation contribution; meanwhile, a chief executive of a big bank can get tens of thousands of dollars every year in taxpayer support for their “retirement nest egg”. This is the strange world of Australia’s retirement income system: a world in

October 2019

If economics is a science, why isn’t it being more helpful?

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published on Guardian Australia, 30 October 2019] The Government’s top two economic advisers are in stark disagreement about something straight forward: whether the Australian economy would benefit from a bigger budget deficit or not. The Governor of the Reserve Bank says he is running out of room to cut interest rates any

Scott Morrison is a master at shifting responsibility. But even God can’t help him now

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published in the Australian Financial Review, 16 October 2019] When Barnaby Joyce starts making more sense about inequality than Scott Morrison, you know the Coalition is heading for choppy waters. In July, the former Nationals leader suggested that the unemployment benefit needed to rise significantly. “Certainly $555 or thereabouts a fortnight is difficult, especially

Attack of the clones: Australia’s reign by older white men is an offence on us all

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published on The Guardian Australia, 02 October 2019] Teams full of similar people underperform. While sameness can create cohesion, cookie-cutter teams can’t successfully compete with diverse teams that can draw on a broad range of talents, perspectives and insights. At least that’s what empirical data from lefty organisations including McKinsey, Credit Suisse and the IMF have to

September 2019

Can we have faith in the government’s religious discrimination agenda?

by Ebony Bennett in The Canberra Times

by Ebony Bennett[Originally Published in The Canberra Times, 07 September 2019] Australia has a government in search of an agenda and the religious discrimination bill is a poorly drafted solution in search of a problem. Following the passage of the income tax cuts package, the only policy discussed in any detail by the Coalition during

If Alan Jones is free to speak, in a free market his sponsors are too

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published on The Guardian Australia, 04 September 2019] Are free markets more important than free speech? We aren’t supposed to ask such questions because each of those libertarian goals was supposed to reinforce the other. But they clearly don’t, so it’s time to take a closer look at what “freedom” really means

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