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

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

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

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

Owning an ATM is money in the bank

by Josh Fear in The Punch

Each and every day millions of Australians pay financial institutions to access their own money. Some pay more while others pay less, depending on the way they do it. Sometimes, as with EFTPOS transactions, the price consumers pay for their own money is largely invisible, being factored into the prices of goods and services. In

January 2011

December 2010

Power to the people, simply

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

Most people when they get back from a week at a tropical resort are usually inclined to want to lead a simpler life. For the planet’s sake, let’s hope the entourage getting back from the latest round of climate talks in Cancun are also in the mood for simplicity. What simpler way could there be

November 2010

More pulp fiction from the banks

by Richard Denniss in Crikey

There is nothing more profitable for the banks than confusion about what they do. As long as they keep talking about acronyms no one has heard of and financial theories that no one understands, they can continue the enormously profitable business of borrowing money at low rates and lending it at high rates. This year

August 2010

July 2010

For the love of profits: Australia’s skills shortage

by Richard Denniss in ABC The Drum

Big business loves rapid population growth for the simple reason that they profit from having more potential customers. Governments seem to love rapid population growth because they benefit from having more taxpayers. But neither big business nor government wants to invest in the essential infrastructure that all those extra customers and taxpayers require. While the

June 2010

Missing out

by David Baker in On Line Opinion

“Welfare cheat” stories have become a staple for tabloid current affairs programs in Australia. We regularly hear about the scourge of dole bludgers and those in the community who are claiming benefits but appear to be healthy. In fact, the recent Budget announced a crackdown on the disability support pension by overhauling the impairment test.

May 2010

Populate or perish

by Richard Denniss in On Line Opinion

Should Australia increase its population to 36 million? In this era of evidence-based policy, it seems strange that for all the government inquiries that have been held there is yet to be a major scientific, social and economic analysis of the impact of rapid population growth in Australia. While it might be hard to agree

Handicap banks to level out the field

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

The big banks now dominate the Australian financial system in the same way that the Melbourne Storm dominated the rugby league. They take the profits they made last year and they use them to fend off new competitors next year. They take the profits they earn in one part of their business and cross subsidise

April 2010

Time for a breath of fresh air

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

Back before the CPRS took the wind out of the community it was common sense to believe that early action was cheaper than delayed action. And back before anyone had heard of ’emission intensive trade exposed industries’ it was patriotic to believe that Australia should lead the world, not lag it. If we are to

March 2010

Redressing the balance for members

by Josh Fear in The Australian Financial Review

A lot of people in the superannuation industry are very worried at the moment. This is not because they see another market crash on the horizon; things are generally back on track in that sense. They’re worried because things are about to get much better for millions of ordinary working Australians at the expense of

February 2010

Taking from the Banks to Give to the Worthy

by Jo-anne Schofield in The Age

Originally printed in The Age.  Nearly 800 years after celebrated rogue Robin Hood and his entourage of bandits launched raids from their Sherwood Forest hide-out – redistributing wealth from a greedy and corrupt aristocracy to the starving peasantry – he has been recruited to a new campaign. This month, 350 prominent economists, including Nobel Prize-winner

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