June 2013

Are asylum seekers illegal? > Check the facts

Who: “..more people illegally arrive in Australia on another boat.” Scott Morrison. The Claim: That the people who arrive on boats seeking asylum are breaking the law. The Facts: Asylum seekers who arrive by boat in Australia are not illegal. Under the UN Refugee Convention, which Australia has signed, they have the right to seek asylum

Why we should care about carers

by Richard Denniss in The Australian Financial Review

Imagine if health and community sector workers wore high-vis vests; our streets, our shopping centres and even our airports would be full of them. We might even begin to think of them as the engine of job creation. But they don’t wear such things and we don’t think such things and the result is a

More than just greenies against Newcastle’s T4

by Richard Denniss in The Newcastle Herald

Last month, PWCS management halted development of its controversial T4 coal terminal after downgrading its demand projections, citing falling commodity prices and the shifting global energy market. Considering the opportunistic nature of the proposal, this was always likely to be the case. The company’s environmental assessment used historically high estimates for steaming and coking coal

There’s nothing nostalgic about a budget

by David Richardson in ABC The Drum

A lot of the debate in Australia reflects concern about our future and how budgetary pressures are likely to evolve. The backdrop of the discussion is a profile of the predicted population in 40 years, what that means for expenditure and how we should be preparing for that outcome. The intergenerational reports have provided a

Mining’s real contribution

by Richard Denniss in Gloucester Advocate

Politicians often claim that mining supports local communities such as Gloucester through job creation and attracting investment. However, Gloucester’s experience has been one of sluggish growth, environmental degradation and job losses in agriculture – the town’s biggest industry. Mining companies, including Yancoal and AGL, may tell communities that their business is the key to success,

Can we trust Clive? Commercial in confidence coal mines

by Richard Denniss in The Conversation

Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal claims its Galilee Coal Project, which will create four underground mines, two open-cut mines, and 468 kilometres of railway line in central Queensland, will bring economic prosperity to the region. In its recently-released supplementary environmental impact statement, however, the company refused calls to release its modelling. Without it, the public is

Silence of the logging lambs

by Richard Denniss in The Australian Financial Review

Last week, under the guise of a forestry “peace deal”, the Gillard government committed $350 million of new industry assistance and other handouts in exchange for the Tasmanian government passing legislation that imposes an unprecedented restriction on free speech. There is nothing new about Australian taxpayers subsidising native-forest logging, but there is something unique about the

Imposed silence a threat to…whom?

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

Are freedom of speech, freedom of association and the freedom to protest left-wing or right-wing issues? While Senator George Brandis was thundering away this week about the importance of a free press, I’m not sure his liberalism stretches to supporting Julian Assange and the desire of WikiLeaks to ”let the information free”. Similarly, while the

Tasmanian Forests Agreement: liberal society needs an alternative

by Andrew Macintosh in The Conversation

Fred Gale’s article, Tasmanian Forests Agreement: deeply flawed, worth backing, provides interesting insights into the views of one segment of the Tasmanian community that supports the Tasmanian Forest Agreement. However, he fails to fully grasp many of the fundamental reasons for continuing opposition to the deal and its associated legislation. Most notably, there is no

Silence on peace deal is telling

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

Two weeks ago, I explained the consequences of the Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society and Environment Tasmania support for the so-called ”forest peace deal” in Tasmania. The deal obliges them to cease all protests that might impede the ability of native forest loggers to sell their woodchips, take active steps to help silence other

Hidden ‘costs’ with every choice we take

by Richard Denniss in The Australian Financial Review

Economists are often accused of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. Consumers, on the other hand, are assumed to have good knowledge of both. Indeed free-market economics rests more heavily on the assumption that individuals know what’s best for them than on any other assumption. While it is relatively clear that

May 2013

The real cost of mining exposed

by Mark Ogge in Maitland Mercury

Last week, the former NSW Treasurer and Minister for the Hunter Michael Costa attacked current Opposition Leader John Robertson for his comments suggesting the Labor Party was planning to phase out coal mining. Mr Costa labeled the move a betrayal of the party’s traditional voters. Michael Costa’s concern for the jobs of devout Labor voters

Business hypocritical on government debt

by David Richardson in On Line Opinion

The Chicken Littles are at it again – scaring us about the level of government debt and the deficits that bring about debt. Gina Rinehart has claimed that the present level of government debt ‘is simply unsustainable’ and that ‘Australia had to take action to avoid following Europe into economic misery’. Ms Rinehart should know

Limiting Australia’s ballooning coal exports is good for the economy

by Richard Denniss and Mark Ogge in The Conversation

Last week, Greenpeace released a report calling for a halt to Australia’s burgeoning coal exports and pointing to the catastrophic climate impacts they would cause. In response, Mitch Hooke, chief executive of the Minerals Council of Australia, took a standard industry line: “the proposal to stop Australian coal exports won’t stop global coal use –

In Australia’s New Carbon Tax, A Host of Missed Opportunities

The Australian government will begin imposing a tax on carbon emissions in mid-2012. But large giveaways to industry mean Australia’s scheme doesn’t go nearly far enough in reducing the nation’s CO2 emissions or providing economic stimulus. Another global climate conference has come and gone with little action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which makes efforts

Australians oppose gambling promotion more than alcohol advertising

Australians oppose gambling advertisements during live sport more than advertising for alcohol, a new survey by The Australia Institute reveals. The Australia Institute’s Executive Director Dr Richard Denniss said that nearly two-thirds of Australians oppose the advertising of gambling during sport, while around half oppose alcohol promotion. “It’s been obvious for a while that many

National economies cannot be compared to household budgets

by Richard Denniss in The Australian Financial Review

Contrary to the speeches made by many politicians, national economies are not like households. Indeed, the household management analogies that politicians often use to explain their approach to budgetary policy are rarely useful or appropriate. The way the Coalition is using the analogy is simply bizarre; they seem to have confused micro-economics and macro-economics. While

Can mining survive the Gillard Government?

Claims that the carbon price and mining tax will destroy the mining industry in Australia are at odds with the level of investment that the industry is making. To invest billions of dollars every year you must be confident that your industry has a positive future. As this infographic shows, since the mining tax was first

Those income tax cuts don’t look so good now

by Matt Grudnoff in ABC The Drum

Federal government budgets are always strange affairs. They are billed as fact-based, hardnosed economics, when in fact they are far more about political theatre and posturing. While the budget is supposed to reveal the economic credentials of a government, most economists are left shaking their heads. Take the debate around the surplus. Both the Government

Budget blow out a legacy of tax cuts to the rich

Tonight’s Federal Budget would more than likely have returned a surplus, if the raft of income tax cuts introduced by the Howard/Costello Government had not been pushed through, a new analysis by The Australia Institute reveals. The Institute used NATSEM modelling to calculate the full extent of the structural changes that those tax cuts have

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