September 2016

Is this a new low: politicians using a natural disaster to push a fact-free agenda?

by Matt Grudnoff in The Guardian

Unburdened by evidence, anti-wind campaigners used the South Australian blackout to kick off a debate about renewables while others waited for facts. First published by the Guardian Australia – here. Normally natural disasters are off limits to politicking, at least in the period straight after the event. So it was pretty awful watching politicians and

Barnett and Costello: how to waste a boom

Successful investors let their winning bets run while quickly cutting their losses. But while the strategy of “spreading your bets” and “failing fast” might work for venture capitalists, it doesn’t work well for prime ministers. A chief executive that shuts down an underperforming factory is decisive; a PM who abandons Tasmania or regional Western Australia is divisive.

August 2016

July 2016

Batteries beat baseload

Adam Giles, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, should know better than making solar and wind the scapegoat for energy price rises (‘Call for summit on energy crisis’, 18 July).  New energy management technologies will allow renewables to provide cheaper and better power than old ‘baseload’ technologies. As your editorial points out (‘SA energy madness’),

Variable and trustworthy

by Dan Cass

Reporter Michael Owen was a little too emotive when he described renewable energy as ‘untrustworthy’ (‘Warning of an energy crisis to hit nation’, 16 July). The accepted term is ‘variable’ and it has become clear that our energy system can readily handle high levels of variable generation. Variable generation will work better still in our

Mr Coal’s’ super ministry and the challenges of merging energy with the environment

by Dan Cass in The Guardian

Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to merge the environment and energy portfolios could lead to a breakthrough in the toxic climate politics that was unleashed when Tony Abbott rolled him in the December 2009 leadership coup. Or the new super-ministry and its new minister Josh Frydenberg could be set up for failure. It depends entirely on whether

Election 2016: Why the BCA doesn’t deserve public influence

The Business Council of Australia and the Liberal party just lost a debate with Bill Shorten about the economy. Badly. The days where expensive suits and even more expensive modelling were enough to win a public debate about “what the economy needs” are over. The days where newspaper editors could shift votes are over. The days where governments can deliver unpopular

Backroom deals: we can’t govern the nation on a wink and a nod

by Ben Oquist in The Guardian

During the campaign, Labor and the Coalition understandably made strong pitches to win majority government in their own right, ruling out deals with minor parties or independents. In a way, this was a legitimate pre-election pitch from both sides attempting to win government alone. But that was then. This is now: the electorate has, more than likely,

June 2016

Why the IPA and Libs like Brexit

Britain will now decide which Germans can invest in, or travel to, the UK and the circumstances in which they can do so.  The Brexit decision provides clear evidence of the tension within conservative politics between strident nationalism and economic rationalism. And as the business community is discovering, there are enormous economic risks when conservatives

The public shouldn’t trust business groups like the BCA

It is hard to claim a mandate for something you barely mention, but just as the Turnbull government has stopped talking about the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the business community has now made a TV advertisement for the company tax cuts that, wait for it, doesn’t mention the company tax cuts. It wasn’t meant to be

May 2016

Indi feels the power

by Dan Cass in RenewEconomy

The rapid rise of renewable energy technology has taken the world by surprise. Renewables have gotten cheaper faster than expected, while battery storage development is shaping up to radically change the way power our lives, from home, to work to the way we travel.    But this global phenomenon will play out locally, and in

Australia Votes, then it’s the Senate’s turn

This opinion piece originally appeared in the Australian Financial Review. Elections are only the start of policies, that’s why proper scrutiny needs to be given to senate candidates and parties. Technically this election is about whether the parliament should pass two pieces of obscure industrial relations legislation. Politically, of course, the election is more about

Coalition’s company tax cuts claims ignore trade treaties and imputation

The centrepiece of the Turnbull government’s ‘plan’ for the economy, and its plan to win the upcoming election, is based on some heroic assumptions. There is no strong evidence to support the government’s claim that cutting the company tax rate will boost “jobs and growth”. And there is no strong evidence that the public will

Bracket Creep Is A Phoney Menace

by Jim Stanford in New Matilda

For someone who piously bemoans an “us versus them” mentality in political culture, Treasurer Scott Morrison certainly drove a deep wedge into the social fabric with one of the centrepieces of his budget. There are four thresholds in the personal income tax system; Morrison chose to increase one of them, supposedly to offset the insidious effects of “bracket creep.” The third threshold will be raised from $80,000 to $87,000.

When governments outsource political risk

As Transfield Services found out last year, governments don’t just outsource service delivery, they outsource political risk. And while Scott Morrison was promoted from immigration minister to Treasurer because of his “success” in “stopping the boats”, he left the Belgiorno-Nettis family, Diane Smith-Gander and Transfield Services shareholders to take the heat and pay the price. Well played, Scott. Politicians

6 Reasons to Be Skeptical of Debt-Phobia

by Jim Stanford

In the lead-up to tomorrow’s pre-election Commonwealth budget, much has been written about the need to quickly eliminate the government’s deficit, and reduce its accumulated debt.  The standard shibboleths are being liberally invoked: government must face hard truths and learn to live within its means; government must balance its budget (just like households do); debt-raters will punish us for our profligacy; and more.  Pumping up fear of government debt is always an essential step in preparing the public to accept cutbacks in essential public services.   And with Australians heading to the polls, the tough-love imagery serves another function: instilling fear that a change in government, at such a fragile time, would threaten the “stability” of Australia’s economy.

April 2016

March 2016

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