The Wrap with Ebony Bennett
The date for the Voice Referendum has been set and on Saturday 14 October the country will come together to make a choice about the role of First Nations people in Australia’s future.
For me, the choice to vote Yes in the referendum is a simple one.
First Nations people have been here for millennia, and recognition of their culture, history and knowledge is long past due.
The Voice to Parliament is a modest request from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders for meaningful recognition in Australia’s Constitution. If the Referendum succeeds, the Voice will advise Parliament on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The news that a majority of South Australian voters are likely to vote yes is a heartening one, with young women leading the way, according to our research.
The swell of support from young people – at last count 73% – is good news, it is, after all, their future.
But it also drives home how important it is to have conversations with those around us, especially older friends and family, about why a Yes vote is essential, especially for those who might be turning their minds to the Referendum for the first time.
As we think about what sort of future we want to see, we have to think about what sort of future we’re building right now.
Australia’s quarterly greenhouse gas emissions were released recently, and the story is bleak.
There was little fanfare from the media, although the media release accompanying the data did make sure to highlight that “renewables are on the rise.”
That is, as our chief economist Greg Jericho so neatly put it, is “Polishing a rather large pile of excrement”.
In the year to March 2023, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions were higher than they were at the end of last year, and even higher than they were at the end of 2021.
This makes government announcements about a 2030 net zero target hollow.
Nevertheless, climate change was central to incoming Reserve Bank Governor Michelle Bullock’s speech this week, where she noted that risks from climate change are likely to drive insurance premiums higher, squeezing people even tighter during a cost-of-living crisis as insurance companies pass on costs to customers. Similarly, Treasurer Jim Chalmers, in the latest Intergenerational Report, made it quite clear that climate change would cost the Australian economy massively.
As Parliament sits next week, debates about climate and cost-of-living will kick off again, including on the woefully insufficient revenue Australians receive from the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT), well overdue for serious reform.
Eyes will be on decision makers to see if they will continue to protect fossil fuel industry profits or make sure the Australian people—at the very least—get a fair share of the returns from our resources.
— Ebony Bennett, Deputy Director of the Australia Institute
Authorised by Ebony Bennett, The Australia Institute, Level 1 Endeavour House, 1 Franklin St Manuka ACT 2603
The Big Stories
Pacific Elders call for Australia to End Fossil Fuel Approvals and Subsidies
Last week, Climate and Energy Minister Chris Bowen made a last minute trip to Fiji to convene a Pacific Climate Change Ministers Roundtable, with the agenda of trying to secure a partnership with a Pacific country to host UN Climate Conference COP31. But as Australia Institute research has pointed out, the Australian governments, continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry is in conflict with its desire to host COP31.
Pacific Elders appear to agree.
On the day of Minister Bowen’s visit, the Pacific Elders’ Voice – an independent group of former Pacific leaders who provide guidance on future environmental, security and human rights threats – published an ad in the Fiji Times, calling Australia out for continuing to approve and subsidise the fossil fuel industry in Australia, despite calls (including the Port Vila call, just a week prior!) for a fossil fuel free Pacific.
The Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) has also expressed concern about Australia’s bid to host COP31 in light of Australia’s continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry.
And this Honest Government Ad shows just how backwards Australia’s determination to host COP31 is:
Australia’s Emissions are Increasing
Australian’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising and with each month the path to reducing our emissions becomes harder and more costly, analysis of the latest greenhouse gas emissions data has found.
Polly Hemming unpacks the data and the outcome is unequivocal – we must act now.
Check out the latest Off the Charts: As time runs out Australia’s emissions are going in the wrong direction
Judy Horacek Cartoon
All cartoons © Judy Horacek
As heatwaves engulf the Northern Hemisphere and Australia prepares for a horror summer, don’t forget to check out our webinar with New York Times best-selling author Jeff Goodell, and read an extract of his book here.
Our research has also found summers are getting longer and winters are becoming shorter, due to global warming.
Isabella Weber Webinar
The Australia Institute is delighted to welcome celebrated German economist, Isabella Weber as a special guest for our upcoming webinar: The Economics and Politics of Seller’s Inflation.
Isabella Weber will join Jim Stanford for a discussion about the issues with ‘seller’s inflation’ – what happens when the corporate sector passes on a major cost shock to consumers by increasing prices to protect or enhance its profit margins.
Thursday, 7 September 2023 10am AEST
The webinar is free, but registration is essential.
Public School Funding Gap
Our latest research has found that Australian public schools are in need of an additional $6.6 billion per year if they are to meet the nationally established Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).
The report also found that improved funding could lead to great leaps in employment opportunities, a boost to the economy, greater productivity and social savings equal to $17.8 billion and $24.7 billion annually after two decades.
Not to mention greatly improved outcomes for the students themselves.
Read more: The Case for Investing in Public Schools
Analysis of the Intergenerational Report
The Government released its 2023 Intergenerational Report this month.
The report projects a long term outlook of the health of the economy, and provides insight into public policy that could benefit Australia in the next 40 years.
Our economics team checked out the data and came away with four key analysis:
- The Intergenerational Report shows a massive shift towards supporting wealthier individuals’ retirements
- The Intergenerational Report shows we need to talk about revenue
- The Intergenerational Report notes that productivity matters, but we also need to care as much about who benefits
- The Intergenerational Report shows Australia’s population is ageing, but we need not panic
Another Democracy Agenda Reform Ticked Off
Ahead of the 2022 election, the Australia Institute identified over 40 reforms for the incoming 47th Parliament to consider.
This month, the Education Minister Jason Clare announced that he was going to remove political interference from the Australian Research Council grants process, marking the 15th reform item off the list.
The move is a victory for academic freedom, and a testament to the work of Senator Mehreen Faruqi – who proposed the Ensuring Research Independence Bill back in 2018.
Read more in Bill Browne’s piece: Another Democracy Agenda Reform Ticked Off
Follow the Money Podcast
This week’s Follow the Money podcast features Polly Hemming discussing Minister Bowen’s recent visit to Fiji to talk about Australia’s bid to host a United Nations climate summit and why Pacific leaders are skeptical.
For an excellent background to the episode, you can read Rachel Withers’ piece in The Monthly: Rising Sea Leverage.
We are Australia’s allies. Australia’s neighbors. Australia’s ‘family’. We ask that we are treated as such.
— From the Pacific Elders Voice advertisement in the The Fiji Times, referring to the Pacific leaders request that Australia stop the fossil fuel expansion that is causing the climate change endangering Pacific Island nations.
The Date Has Been Set
Prime Minster Anthony Albanese has announced the 2023 Australian Indigenous Voice referendum will be held on Saturday 14 October, 2023.
The Australia Institute supports the Voice referendum and we encourage our supporters to have conversations with those around them, to grow support for the Yes vote.
For those who haven’t had the chance, don’t miss out on reading the Uluru Statement From the Heart, an invitation to the Australian people to walk with First Nations people to create a better future.
And, check out our webinar with Kerry O’Brien and Thomas Mayo on the Voice to Parliament Handbook.
Authorised by Ebony Bennett, The Australia Institute, Level 1 Endeavour House, 1 Franklin St Manuka ACT 2603
Sports & Rec Sector Employs More People than Fossil Fuel Mining
The Matildas’ success story, played out on the world stage, has shown us all the value of sport, and yet, the recent $200 million funding for women’s sport is dwarfed by the $11.6 billion in fossil fuel subsidies last year, despite sport employing four times as many people as oil and gas extraction.
Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor recently supported cutting ‘red tape’ (ie environmental and labour regulations) for new oil and gas projects, because, he argued “since coming to office, Labor and the unions have done everything possible to kill off investment and jobs in the sector.”
However, as Jack Thrower wrote in his analysis of the employment figures, Taylor doesn’t need to worry, as not only has the Albanese government continued to greenlight fossil fuel projects, but the fossil-fuel sector employs relatively few people and the ‘jobs created’ by new fossil-fuel projects are vastly overstated.
Join Our Team!
The Australia Institute is hiring for three new positions:
- Deputy director of the Climate & Energy Program (Applications close Friday 1 September, 2023)
- Anne Kantor Fellow for the Australia Institute South Australia (Applications close Friday 15 September, 2023)
- Anne Kantor Fellow for the Australia Institute Tasmania (Applications close Friday 15 September, 2023)
- Anne Kantor Fellow Legal Placement ACT or Victoria (Applications close Friday 15 September, 2023)
Applications can be found via the links above, on Seek and Ethical Jobs.
Politics in the Pub: From Politics to Paradise – The Villain Edit | 6:30pm Wednesday 6 September 2023, Canberra
Webinar: The Economics and Politics of Seller’s Inflation with Isabella Weber | 10:00am Thursday 7 September
Webinar: War on Waste with Craig Reucassel | 11:00am Wednesday 14 September
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Luciana Lawe Davies Media Adviser