Go Home! | Between the Lines


The Wrap with Ebony Bennett

Today is our annual Go Home on Time Day, when we shine a spotlight on the unpaid overtime of workers across Australia.

This year’s report found that employers were stealing more than 280 hours from workers each year, exposing a heavily uneven labour market rife with insecure work and often insufficient hours for those who need them most.

The exploitation of workers is bad news at any time but is particularly chilling in a cost-of-living and housing crisis.

It’s particularly galling, therefore, to hear RBA Governor Michele Bullock announce that the 4% rise in wages must be countered by higher productivity – an attitude that speaks to the insistence of business as normal, no matter the human cost.

At the Australia Institute, we challenge business as usual.

Whether it’s loudly calling for a long overdue research integrity watchdog, presenting a petition in the halls of Parliament for truth in political advertising, advising the establishment of a comprehensive marine authority in Tasmania, throwing a spotlight on the dirty dealings of fossil fuel companies meddling in environmental legislation or ensuring employees are standing up for their rights, we know business as usual threatens innovation.

We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.

Change can be kickstarted with something as big as a watchdog, or an act as small, yet significant, as leaving work on time.

Ebony Bennett, Executive Deputy Director of the Australia Institute

The Big Stories

Go Home on Time Day

Today, Wednesday 22 November is Go Home on Time Day – an annual reminder to work within your hours and go home when you’re meant to.

It can be easy to go over the clock when you’re working hard, but as those hours add up, you might not realise how much you’re losing.

This year, our report Short Changed by Dr Fiona Macdonald, Policy Director, Industrial and Social with the Centre for Future Work, found by tracking annual work hours and unpaid overtime, that employers steal more than 280 hours from workers every year.

It also found the average worker is losing out on $11,055 a year, or $425 a fortnight, to unpaid overtime.

Visit Go Home on Time Day and use our unpaid overtime calculator to see how much of your time (and money) is stolen.

Read more: Short Changed: Unsatisfactory Working Hours and Unpaid Overtime

Research Integrity Watchdog with Teeth

A new report from the Australia Institute is calling for a research integrity watchdog to properly address allegations of research misconduct in our highest education institutions when they arise.

Despite the high quality of its research, Australia is one of the few countries with a developed research sector that does not have an integrity watchdog, instead relying on research institutions to initiate and oversee investigations into their own researchers.

Dr Kristen Scicluna discusses the need for a research integrity watchdog in Australia

The two-part report, Research Misconduct in Australia finds that over 500 Australian research papers have been retracted over the past 20 years due to concerns about their reliability. It also looks to working versions of research watchdogs in overseas institutions to understand how Australia could model its own.

Author of the report, Dr Kristen Scicluna, said “research misconduct presents risks to patient health, misdirects research funding, and obstructs research progress. It also threatens the reputation of research conducted in Australia.”

Dr Scicluna’s research was featured in The Age, and the international journal Science.

Read more: A Matter of Trust – Research Misconduct in Australia

Listen to the podcast: How to Investigate Research Misconduct

New Podcast

Dollars & Sense with Greg Jericho

Dollars & Sense is a new podcast hosted by our Chief Economist Greg Jericho that aims to demystify the latest economic figures and to help you understand how they impact you and the economy.

In this first episode, Greg unpacks the latest wage price data and why lots of Australians got a payrise in the September quarter.

You can listen to the first episode now: Introducing Dollars & Sense with Greg Jericho

Rate and review the podcast to help other people find the show and don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes to help us reach as many people as possible.

Elsewhere in economics, Greg wrote an Off the Charts discussing how approving new coal and gas projects is leading to rising public infrastructure costs.

Chief Economist Greg Jericho explains how the fossil fuel sector is sucking workers and resources away from public infrastructure

Not only are such projects horrific for the climate and drive temperatures higher due to increased emissions, but they also direct resources and labour away from being used on public infrastructure that improve productivity and the welfare of Australians and drive the decarbonisation of our economy.

Read more: With costs rising for public infrastructure, the government needs to stop approving coal and gas mines

Regional Inequality

Executive Director Richard Denniss spent time in Western Australia this week attending a webinar and a roundtable discussion on inequality in regional Australia, in partnership with the Western Australian Council of Social Services.

The event addressed issues including housing, access to childcare, workforce, cost of living, lack of access to medical and hospital care, lack of access to services, indigenous issues, and examined how to ensure regional communities have access to every resource they need to thrive.

Dr Denniss was a guest on ABC WA Afternoon Drive to discuss the potential of redirecting revenue from the Stage 3 tax cuts to fund regional resource needs.

Look over there! | Judy Horacek

All cartoons © Judy Horacek

How Labor Out-Loved the Coalition in its Embrace of Big Oil and Gas by Stephen Long

Parliament passed a bill last week that paved the way for Santos’ controversial Barossa offshore gas project, which will allow the fossil fuel company to massively expand their operations.

Richard Denniss explains what the Sea Dumping Bill entails and how the Government’s priorities were laid bare

The decision was made to approve the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Amendment (Using New Technologies to Fight Climate Change) Bill after a week of debate, where the Greens and Senator David Pocock mounted a five-day filibuster that delayed Labor’s legislation.

Walkley Award-winning journalist Stephen Long, who recently joined the Australia Institute, wrote a piece about the passing of the bill, and how Labor’s conduct during the process blatantly exposed its loyalty to the fossil fuel companies.

Read more: How Labor Out-Loved the Coalition in its Embrace of Big Oil and Gas by Stephen Long 

Sea Dumping and National Security

As we know, during the debate on Santos’ sea-dumping bill, the government keenly asserted that supporting the gas industry is vital for national security.

In a new piece, Dr Emma Shortis, Senior Researcher in the International & Security Affairs Program, explores how the government and fossil fuel interests continue to argue that Australia needs to export gas in order to ensure our national security. In Emma’s words, this narrative is not new, and it is both wrong and dangerous.

Who Cares About National Security” steps through this argument and exposes its duplicitous nature, as fossil fuel expansion makes climate change – the most significant security threat our world faces – significantly worse.

Read more: Who Cares About Security?

Tasmanian Ocean Summit

A packed-out Tasmanian Ocean Summit, hosted by the Australia Institute last Friday, called for urgent action by the Tasmanian Government to implement holistic, integrated management in Tasmania’s coastal waters.

The Summit brought together a diverse array of marine community members to address Tasmania’s dual crises of conflict over marine resources and climate change impacts. Representatives from across Tasmania’s marine sectors, scientists, economists, management experts and Tasmanian Aboriginal communities issued a statement to the Tasmanian Government:

Participants at the Tasmanian Ocean Summit 2023 called on the Tasmanian Government to urgently implement wholistic, integrated management in Tasmania’s coastal waters/Sea Country, that:

  • includes comprehensive stakeholder consultation;
  • is informed by (assessment of) a diverse range of values;
  • recognises/acknowledges the sovereign rights of Tasmanian Aboriginal People; and
  • has a transparent evidence base.

The Australia Institute Tasmania released It’s TIME: A proposal for a Tasmanian Integrated Marine Estate Act ahead of the Summit, which called for a state-wide Tasmanian marine authority to help target and combat the issues in Tasmanian ocean management.

We also took a look at the economic contribution of the salmon industry and the results may surprise you.

Read more: Small Fish, Big Pond: Tasmanian Salmon Industry Job Numbers & Tax Payments

2023 Production Gap Report

Each year the 2023 Production Gap Report tracks the misalignment between governments’ plans for fossil fuel development and production levels consistent with keeping global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C.

This year’s report found that that global governments plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C, and 69% more than would be consistent with 2°C.

The report not only places Australia among the world’s largest fossil fuel exporters, citing Australia Institute research, but it also demonstrates that Australia has a unique role in reducing global emissions.

“There is no scenario in which new gas and coal mines are compatible with a 1.5°C world. The concept of ‘abated’ fossil fuels is a dangerous fantasy used by the fossil fuel industry and its enablers,” said Polly Hemming, Climate & Energy director at the Australia Institute.

Read more: The 2023 Production Gap Report: “Phasing down or phasing up?

The Quote

It’s this collective act of the suspension of critical thinking to think we can embrace the fossil fuel industry while stopping climate change.

— Twiggy Forrest, former CEO of Fortescue Metals, in his open address to Fortescue shareholders annual general meeting in Perth on Tuesday.

He also used the address to dismiss the role of blue hydrogen as a clean energy source, and to criticise the gas industry for its contribution to exacerbated global heating.

We’re Hiring!

We currently have three positions available within the Australia Institute:

  • Digital Campaigner & Fundraiser | Apply Here | Applications close 4:59 pm, Thursday 7 December 2023
  • Research Manager | Apply Here | Applications close 11:59 pm on 3 December 2023
  • Research Manager, Anne Kantor Fellowship | Apply Here | Applications close 11:59 pm on 3 December 2023

For more information visit ‘Come Work with Us‘ on the website.

The Win

Truth in Political Advertising Petitions

Our truth in political advertising petitions were highly successful adding up to 26,900 signatures!

Bill Browne, Director of the Australia Institute’s Democracy & Accountability Program, presented the 26,900 signatures to Independent MPs Zali Steggall and Kate Chaney in front of the national media this month, as Ms Steggall announced her new bill, Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Voter Protections in Political Advertising) Bill 2023.

The proposed legislation aims to bring much-needed accountability to political advertising in Australia, an objective that our research shows is supported by 87% of Australians.

The legislation is a win not only for the integrity of the electoral process, but for Australia Institute, which has worked tirelessly over three years to keep the issue of electoral reform in the spotlight.

The Bin

Dystopian Lows of Fossil Fuel Advertising

The recent use of influencers by fossil fuel companies to promote their product as wholesome, healthy and family-friendly has drawn ire from customers and commentators alike.

Streaming across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the ads show popular public figures incorporating a trip to the petrol station as part of their daily routine. While they legally have to declare the content is an ad, it’s often not obvious and reiterates the image of fossil fuel companies as friendly, familiar brands.

As South Australian director of the Australia Institute Noah Schultz-Byard explains, this trend of advertising must be treated like any other dangerous product and eliminated from our screens.

What’s On

A Plastics Free Australia | Webinar 11am Thursday 23 November

The Great Divide: Australia’s Housing Mess and How to Fix It | Webinar 11am Tuesday 28 November

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