Gina. And other reasons we do what we do

Why we do what we do

Democracy is all about getting the numbers. Put simply, if you don’t have them in the parliament, you won’t be able to turn your ideas into laws. 

With the Prime Minister announcing a raft of new spending measures, the numbers she has on the floor of parliament and amongst her COAG colleagues are going to matter even more. 

And with plenty of people asking “how will you pay?” it seems odd that there is one number the PM is so reluctant to talk about. 

As The Australia Institute has been pointing out for a while now superannuation tax concessions, which are overwhelmingly skewed towards upper-class welfare, will cost the budget $45 billion in 2015-16. (For links to our research papers and recent op-eds on this issue click here.)  

Yep, $45 billion! Put another way, that’s enough money to pay for the Gonski education reforms, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Denticare, with quite a bit of change left over. We could even afford to increase the Newstart Allowance. 

To date, super tax concessions have been a protected species in the political debate but we’re pleased to see that might be changing. 

On this issue, The Australia Institute has been a loud, clear voice for progressive Australians. In August alone our research has featured more than 650 times in the media on issues as diverse as bank profits, access to our courts system, the adequacy of Newstart Allowance, super tax concessions and Tasmania’s forestry industry (click here for media highlights). 

But don’t you wish that our ideas were that visible every week? If you do – can you chip in $8 a week towards more ‘research that matters’? 


Independent ideas can only come from independent funding, so we can’t do it without people like you. Another 50 people giving us just $8 per week (tax-deductible) would raise $20,000 which can be used to hold bad ideas to account and promote good ones instead. 


Thanks for caring about progressive ideas that create a fairer Australia. 

Richard and The Australia Institute team 

P.S. Even if you can’t help us financially, please help us share progressive ideas via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or YouTube and by encouraging your friends to sign up to this monthly e-bulletin.

Gina: another reason we do what we do

If you haven’t heard Gina Rinehart’s latest foray into the political debate around Australia’s productivity, here is an extract we found particularly shocking:

“… Business as usual will not do. Not when West African competitors can offer our biggest customers an average capital cost for a tonne of iron ore that’s $100 under the price offered by an emerging producer in the Pilbara …. Furthermore, Africans want to work and its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day. Such statistics make me worry for this country’s future.”

This follows on from her comments last week advocating a cut in the minimum wage.

Here at The Australia Institute we’re deeply concerned about the direction of the debate when someone whose business is subsidised by government criticises low-paid workers under the guise of productivity. For some in business, productivity camouflages an argument that is much harder for them to discuss; the argument that business wants more profit at the expense of wage earners.

The consequences of Gina’s policy prescriptions deserve serious attention.

For The Australia Institute, it is these sorts of debates that reinforce why we do what we do. If you are in a position to help fund our research and ideas that can combat this type of spin, please consider donating to our Research Fund.


To read Richard’s op-ed, A bit rich: Gina’s call a hard act to follow, published in The Canberra Times, click here 

Media highlights for August


Carbon price floor scrapping raises questions of cost, 7:30, 29 August

Time to clear the haze of carbon price charges, The Canberra Times, 22 August

How our courts are pricing justice out of public reach, Crikey, 22 August

Tasmania’s forestry sector akin to ‘work for the dole’, Crikey, 21 August

Calls for more reporting of CSG emissions, ABC Bush Telegraph, 20 August

Dole debate, Today Tonight, 20 August

Woodside: whales do not breed in these waters. Memo to calving whales: you are not here, The Global Mail, 16 August

Big four’s fine-tuning of rates ‘cute’, The Age, 20 August

Forestry Tasmania must face reality, Australian Financial Review, 20 August

Fat cats that got cream in super tax deal are breaking the bank, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 August

Report questions benefits of Kimberley gas hub, ABC The World Today, 9 August

Woodside ‘will burden West Australian taxpayers’, The Australian, 9 August

‘KPIs’ have little relevance in managing our health system, The Canberra Times, 7 August

TAI research on super tax concessions


Research papers

Can the taxpayer afford ‘self-funded retirement’?, R Denniss and D Richardson, 15 August 2012

What price dignity?, R Denniss and D Baker, 1 October 2011

The great superannuation tax concession rort, D Ingles, 24 February 2009

Recent op-eds

Political cowardice on ‘self-funded’ super, Australian Financial Review, 4 September 2012

Super subsidies: a budget spending secret, Public Sector Informant, 7 August 2012

Super rort for wealthy, The Canberra Times, 3 February



Saturday 8 September 5pm Canberra premiere screening of the documentary Bimblebox. For details click here.

Monday 10 September 5.30pm Sydney Richard Denniss will participate in a panel discussion Austerity and Growth.  For details click here

Wednesday 19 September 7.15pm  Canberra Politics in the Pub with Australian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale.  For details click here.

Thursday 20 September 6pm Canberra In Conversation with Brian Schmidt and Richard Denniss. For details click here

Friday 21 September 7pm Canberra TAI joins with Sustainable Population Australia (Canberra) to host a talk by the Post Carbon Institute’s Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg. For details click here.

Tuesday 9 October 8.30am Canberra The Future of Homo sapiens. For details click here.

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Jake Wishart Senior Media Adviser

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