June 2016

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

Beyond the market fetish: Using renewables to build political momentum for climate action

by Dan Cass in RenewEconomy

Dan Cass and Christopher Wright (Sydney Business School) Published on RenewEconomy (17 March 2016)  Following the enthusiasm generated by the Paris climate agreement, the focus for climate action now shifts back to nation states, which is where the hard work begins. Most nations have failed to make much progress on deep emissions cuts. Carbon prices lack

Company Tax Cuts: A Cautionary Tale from Canada

by Jim Stanford in New Matilda

Was it really the Treasury’s economic modeling that convinced Prime Minister Turnbull to abandon his plan to raise the GST and cut income taxes? Treasury simulations indicated the trade-off would have no significant impact on growth. Or perhaps it was another kind of calculation – electoral – that convinced the Coalition to drop the idea, and the economic numbers just provided political cover.

February 2016

Australia should follow Obama’s solar SunShot

by Dan Cass in RenewEconomy

Published by RenewEconomy and Sydney Environment Institute. The US government has announced a US$36 million program to develop technologies that turn solar PV and storage batteries into a new kind of decentralised, virtual power source which some are calling ‘the internet of energy’. This is just the kind of technological shift that excites our new

Paul Keating’s problem is he actually likes Peter Costello’s super tax breaks

First published in the Australian Financial Review – here.  The only thing that Paul Keating likes about conservative economic policy is implementing it. Last week, with trade mark cut-through, he was back to his favourite trick of visibly attacking the right while strategically undermining the left. For decades Keating has stood tall in the crowd by taking the

January 2016

Lipstick on a self-serving economic model

First published by the Australian Financial Review – here.  Economic models are like skin care products: the magic is all in the marketing. Just as honest dermatologists regularly remind consumers that expensive face creams are just “hope in a jar”, honest economists regularly remind politicians and journalists that the “results” of macroeconomic modelling are no more reliable than

Time to remove tax breaks for mansions

No tax concession does less to stimulate innovation or employment than the capital gains tax exemption on luxury homes. Indeed, by encouraging the most wealthy Australians to park billions of dollars in spare bedrooms that gather dust and detritus from Christmases past, the exemption simply diverts capital away from productive uses. A government that is

December 2015

Capital gains tax and pensions assets test should cover homes

First published by The Australian Financial Review – here. The mining boom tax cuts have left the Australian budget unable to collect the revenue needed to fund the services that Australians expect from their government. The Treasurer’s insistence that there is no revenue problem, combined with the received political wisdom that the family home is

November 2015

October 2015

Kiribati to Sweden: Stop Australia’s coal catastrophe

by Richard Denniss in Svenska Dagbladet

As Sweden debates how best to get out of the coal mining business, Australia is debating how best to subsidise the world’s largest export coal mines. Just last week the Australian Federal Government approved the enormous Adani/Carmichael coal mine which, at 40 kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide, is bigger than Gothenburg. The Australian Government

Sorry, but services company Transfield fails ethics 101

After decades in public life some Australian corporate leaders are figuring out what first-year philosophy students grasp in their first lecture: it’s hard to define “ethical”. But as Transfield Services’ chairman Diane Smith-Gander has discovered, the stakes are a bit higher than undergrad debating prizes. Losing the debate over the ethics of running offshore detention centres

September 2015

Tony Abbott’s policy muddle was clear to all

First published in the Australian Financial Review – here It’s bizarre that people blame Tony Abbott’s demise on his inability to communicate. He was a great communicator, and people knew exactly what he stood for. No politician was as relentlessly ‘on message’.  Abbott’s problem wasn’t the clarity of his message; it was the incoherence of

August 2015

Climate Debate’s Next Top Dodgy Model

Australia can’t have a grown-up debate about reform until we stop having juvenile debate about economic modelling. A government that thinks its most persuasive argument begins with “but economic modelling shows” should have as much chance of shifting the economic debate as Bronwyn Bishop had of shifting Australians’ attitudes to the role of helicopters in political

July 2015

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