August 2020

Unredacted Documents Prove Commonwealth Paid Too Much for ‘Watergate’

The Australia Institute and consultancy firm, Slattery & Johnson, have released research today based on newly unredacted valuation documents about the $80 million ‘Watergate’ scandal. The documents, provided to independent Senator Rex Patrick last week after a two-year battle, contain the commercial valuation commissioned by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) for negotiations

July 2020

The war on populism and the fight for democracy with Thomas Frank

featuring Ebony Bennett and Ben Oquist

Author of the new book ‘People without Power’ Thomas Frank explains why everything you think you know about populism is wrong. [Note: language warning, a mild one] Host: Ebony Bennett, deputy director at the Australia Institute // @ebony_bennett Guests: Wayne Swan // @SwannyQLD Ben Oquist // @BenOquist Thomas Frank // @thomasfrank_ Producer: Jennifer Macey Theme music: Jonathan McFeat from Pulse and

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

Auditor General’s ‘Watergate’ Report Shows Need for Royal Commission

An Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report on the Murray Darling Basin has found “information relating to value for money…was limited” for water purchases worth $190 million. The ANAO found that the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE): Did not consistently apply approved policy, planning and guidance to the assessment of all limited tender

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

Fracking can’t fire up NT manufacturing

Research published today by The Australia Institute highlights that employment in gas-related manufacturing declined while gas in the Northern Territory was very cheap. Fracked gas will be far more expensive, making petrochemical manufacturing in the Territory unviable without massive taxpayer subsidy. Key findings: The NT Government’s Power and Water Corporation had large surpluses of gas

Consumer & Citizen Groups have Serious Concerns About Google Fitbit Takeover

Consumer and citizen groups have significant concerns that Google’s proposed takeover of wearables manufacturer Fitbit would be a game-changer not only for how people interact with the online world but also for digital and related health markets. Regulators around the world – in particular those concerned with antitrust compliance and data privacy – must therefore

June 2020

29 Prominent Australians Call for Truth in Political Advertising Laws By Next Election

An open letter co-ordinated by the Australia Institute and signed by 29 prominent Australians calls for Parliament to pass truth in political advertising laws that are nationally consistent, constitutional and uphold freedom of speech. Signatories to the open letter include former political party leaders and politicians, Dr John Hewson, Cheryl Kernot and Michael Beahan; former

The case for red tape

featuring Ebony Bennett and Ben Oquist

The PM has announced big plans for deregulation, but is ‘red tape’ or ‘green tape’ really impeding economic growth or is it necessary to protect us and our environment? In this episode we talk to Executive Director of the Australia Institute Ben Oquist about the protections offered by good regulation. Host: Ebony Bennett, deputy director of

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

Safeguarding Democracy with Helen Haines

featuring Ebony Bennett and Richard Denniss

There can be no trust in government without accountability, yet its been two years since the Coalition government promised to implement a Commonwealth Integrity Commission and there’s still no draft legislation in sight. Join Independent Member for Indi Helen Haines MP, and former Supreme Court Justices the Hon. David Harper AM QC and The Hon.

May 2020

More Questions than Answers from NCCC at COVID19 Oversight Committee Hearing

National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) Chief Executive Officer Peter Harris appeared to push back or was unable to answer Senate Select Committee questions regarding the appointments, actions and conflicts of interest of NCCC Commissioners and ‘special advisers’. Key points from the hearing: NCCC CEO Peter Harris admitted the Commission process is “opaque” and stated “I’m

Nev Power Should Answer to Oversight Committee on Gas Agenda

The Australia Institute has called for close scrutiny of the Prime Minister’s gas-industry linked National COVID-19 Coordination Commission. It follows news that Nev Power, handpicked Chair of NCCC, is not scheduled to appear for questioning by Senators at the oversight committee hearing on Wednesday. Senators’ questions will go instead to a public servant. “There is

Frackers are slackers: $94 million in subsidies to onshore gas in the Territory

Research published today (Tuesday May 12) by The Australia Institute highlights the extent of taxpayer assistance to the onshore oil and gas industry in the Northern Territory.  NT Government budget papers reveal that over the last decade $94 million in subsidies and assistance measures have benefited the industry.  Key findings: The NT Fracking Inquiry recommended

The view from the Gallery – Politics in the (virtual) Pub

featuring Ebony Bennett and Leanne Minshull

Today we’re changing the pace a little, with our virtual Politics in the Pub featuring Guardian Australia’s political reporter Amy Remeikis and hosted by The Australia Institute Tasmania’s director Leanne Minshull, live from her pub the Fern Tree Tavern in’s political editor Samantha Maiden was also supposed to join the conversation but unfortunately couldn’t

April 2020

Undermining New Investment – Problematic UNGI Program without Legal Foundation

The Auditor General has been asked to investigate the Commonwealth Government’s Underwriting New Generation Investment Program (UNGI), which threatens to undermine investment in the essential power sector. New research by The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program reveals the Government’s flagship program to generate more electricity has no legal foundation, formal guidelines, assessment criteria, procurement

Covid-19: Media in crisis

featuring Ebony Bennett and Richard Denniss

The Australian media industry, particularly journalism, was already going through a major disruption before the pandemic hit. At least 51 news media outlets and newsrooms have closed since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis in Australia, according the The Guardian.This episode features a discussion about the crisis facing the media between Kim Williams, Chair of

Majority Want Increased Funding for ABC as Trust in Public Broadcaster Grows: Polling

An overwhelming 75% of Australians support increased funding for the ABC to reflect its emergency broadcaster role, as new research by The Australia Institute shows the ABC continues to grow as the most trusted news source in Australia and the proposition of privatising the ABC is opposed by 59%. The Australia Institute surveyed nationally representative

How long the lockdown lasts is not just a medical question – it’s a democratic one

by Richard Denniss in The Guardian

by Richard Denniss[Originally published on the Guardian Australia, 15 April 2020] Just as economists should never be used to tell Australians what kind of society we “must” live in, medical scientists, and indeed climate scientists, should never be used to tell us what we “must” do. The role of experts is to inform us about

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