5 Years in the Making | Between the Lines


The Wrap with Richard Denniss

The amendments to the Stage 3 tax cuts that passed through the Senate this week marked the culmination of more than five years of work from the team at the Australia Institute.

In 2018, literally the day after Scott Morrison announced the biggest and most inequitable tax cuts in Australian history, we had already modelled how unfair they were, and the then Treasurer was asked to defend them.

In Scott Morrison style, he smirked, dissembled and tried to laugh off our conclusions, but this week, we had the last laugh.

We are very proud of all the research, events, speeches, opinion pieces and tweets that kept the public and our politicians informed about the depth of concern with the Coalition’s plan to give more than $9,000 to those earning over $200,000 per year and absolutely nothing to those earning under $45,000.

It clearly wasn’t easy for the Prime Minister to break a promise not to amend Stage 3, but as I said at the National Press Club, breaking promises when the circumstances change is what adults have to do.

Thank you to all who donated to support our research, signed on to our petitions, came to our events and shared our social media. We literally couldn’t have done it without you, and likewise, we won’t be able to win more change without you.

As you might have seen this week, we have already begun highlighting that the Commonwealth Government gets more money from HECS repayments than from the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax, including this full page ad in the Australian Financial Review:

If you think the gas industry should pay a lot more tax, please consider signing our petition or donating to support our research.

As you’ll read below, in addition to Stage 3 passing, the team are busy highlighting the role that profits continue to play in pushing up the cost of living, including a big story in the Daily Telegraph about AGL charging its residential customers far more for electricity than its business customers and the role supermarket price gouging plays in pushing up grocery prices.

During March we’re hosting and supporting exciting events across the country, including welcoming both Yanis Varoufakis and Anote Tong. Visit our events page to see everything we have coming up.

— Richard Denniss, Executive Director of the Australia Institute

The Big Stories

Stage 3 Passes the Senate

The Albanese Government’s changes to the Stage 3 tax cuts passed the parliament on Tuesday evening – something many people said was impossible only weeks ago.

As Greg Jericho writes, the changes to Stage 3 show that good policy is good politics, and we at the Australia Institute will always fight for good policy.

Read Greg’s analysis and reflections on one of the most progressive tax changes in decades.

Tax to Grind

“I think tax is good,” writes Richard Denniss in the March edition of The Monthly.

“…it’s the price we pay to live in a civilised society, and…we need to collect more of it from the fossil fuel industry so we can expand health, education and renewable energy.”

In Tax to Grind, Richard discusses how tax reform should not centre on what we want, but on who we want to be – and that, ultimately, such reform is about democracy, not economics.

Households Paying More than Big Business for Electricity

Households have been paying two times more for electricity than big business.

From 2023 to 2024, households electricity prices increased by $97.30/MWh, an increase of 34.3%. In comparison, prices for big companies increased by $29.80/MWh, just 19.6%.

This resulted in households paying $1000 a year more than big businesses, for the same amount of electricity.

Dave Richardson’s research landed on the front page of the Daily Telegraph, in print, radio, television and online across Sky, ABC, Channel 9 and Channel 7.

Feeling the Squeeze | Judy Horacek

Without the threat of serious action, the big supermarkets can keep pushing prices up, up, up. Should the people have the power to break up the duopoly?

All cartoons © Judy Horacek

Supermarket Price Gouging (Industry Clean Up in Aisle 3)

It’s no secret that the major supermarkets have been making huge profits while the rest of the country struggles through a cost of living crisis.

While they have been taken to task by everyone from Allan Fels to the Australia Institute, some companies are still insisting that the practice of price gouging is just the price of business.

As it becomes commonly accepted knowledge that the supermarkets are not engaging in ethical business practices, their excuses as to why are getting wilder, Richard Denniss explains.

Read more: Coles accused of gouging shoppers as they struggle to put food on the table

Questions hang over Biden-Trump rematch

As the United States primary season heads towards next week’s ‘Super Tuesday’, a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump looks inevitable.

But as Dr Emma Shortis writes in The Conversation, neither candidate faces an easy path, with Donald Trump facing half a billion dollars of legal debt and several court cases and Joe Biden facing persistent concerns about his age from voters and his party.

Yanis Varoufakis: Livestream of Melbourne Event

If you have missed out on tickets for sold out event of Yanis Varoufakis at Melbourne Town Hall, you are still able to purchase tickets to the livestream!

Buy Tickets

Dr Kate Luckins Book Launch: Live More with Less

There is a way to live life without eco guilt, says Dr Kate Luckins, author of Live More with Less, a guide to upgrading your life without costing the Earth.

Nina Gbor, Director of the Circular Waste & Economy Program at the Australia Institute joined Kate on stage, alongside other eco impact experts, Natalie Isaacs of 1 Million Women, Tamara Dimattina founder of The New Joneses and Buy Nothing New Month, and Julia May founder of Visibility co at the book launch on Tuesday.

You can attend a sustainable clothes fair, organised by Dr Luckins as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival. It’s free, but registering is recommended!

You can purchase Live More with Less here.


Follow the Money

Independent MP Helen Haines has introduced a bill to Parliament designed to prevent pork-barrelling, where taxpayer money is allocated according to where it is needed to win votes, not where the public needs it most.

Listen now: The Push to Stop Pork Barrelling

Dollars & Sense

Wages are up over the past year, for the first time since 2021! Which means your real wage has increased as well, but by a small amount. Also this week, the Bureau of Statistics looked at restraint clauses, or non-compete clauses. So what do they mean for workers, and the economy as a whole? Lower wages, funnily enough.

Listen now: Wages are up! And, why non-compete clauses are bad for the economy

The Quote

Australia’s hardworking teachers, nurses and retail workers pay more income tax and GST than the tax paid by the entire fossil fuel industry, according to the Australia Institute.

 — Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest citing Australia Institute research during his address to the National Press Club on 26 February 

The Win

Helen Haines Introduces Bill to Target Pork Barrelling

Helen Haines, Member for Indi has introduced a new private members bill designed to stamp out the practice of pork barrelling, Accountability of Grants, Investment Mandates and Use of Public Resources Amendment (End Pork Barrelling) Bill. 

It’s a welcome idea for an election year, and echoes Australia Institute research calling for similar forms of integrity legislation.

Helen Haines says she wants to put an end to government wasting money for votes.

“I’m laying down the gauntlet to this government. Today I’ve introduced a private members bill … It’s a clear bill that shines a light on where grants are distributed. It puts accountability back in the hands of the parliament by dealing the parliament back into the administration of grants….”

The Bin

Tasmanian Premier Wants to Log Native Forests

Tasmania’s Liberal Premier Jeremy Rockliff will walk away from the 2012 Tasmanian Forest Agreement and log 40,000ha of protected native forests if re-elected in the March 23 election.

Tasmania should be ending native forest logging, not expanding it.

This damaging environmental move comes as Victoria and WA phase out native forest logging and puts this issue front-and-centre in the Tasmanian election campaign.

The Australia Institute Tasmania is hosting a “Pathway Out of Native Forest Logging” public forum in Launceston on Friday 1 March, with Richard Denniss and Dr Sophie Scamps MP, hosted by Vanessa Bleyer, to discuss this critical issue.

What’s On

To mark 2024 – the Australia Institute’s 30th anniversary year – we are inviting some of the world’s leading thinkers to Australia and hosting exciting events around the country, as we celebrate 30 years of big ideas.

We have exciting events taking place throughout March – both in person and online. Visit our Events Page for more information and to book your place.

Thank you for supporting the Australia Institute. We’re ready to tackle some massive issues this year and we couldn’t do it without supporters like you.

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