What does it take to save a species? | Between the Lines

Still from the Australia Institute's new video report, 'The Carbon Credit Grift Destroying Koala Habitat' on the mid north coast of NSW.


This edition: Dutton’s misguided attempts to attack the Right to Disconnect, a win for Duty of Care in Switzerland, an egregious carbon credit grift in NSW and more.

The Wrap with Ebony Bennett

What does it take to protect endangered animals?

When we:

  • Have a Government that promised to act
  • Know exactly what is causing the harm
  • Know exactly what we need to do to stop the harm

How is it that there is still a failure to act?

That’s the question we set out to answer in the case of the promised-yet-undelivered Great Koala National Park on the NSW North Coast, where koala habitat is still being logged, and koalas dying as a result.

The answer is as appalling as it is direct, straight from the mouth of NSW Premier, Chris Minns. In a new video report, which you’ll read about in this edition of Between the Lines, the Australia Institute’s Stephen Long investigated on the ground in northern NSW to show exactly what’s at stake, and the cost of the NSW Government’s delay.

We coordinated an open letter signed by more than 100 political leaders, academics, environment and climate experts, calling on the NSW Premier to immediately end all logging of koala habitat in public native forests.

I want to say a huge thank you to the supporters who helped us publish the open letter as a full-page ad in the Sydney Morning Herald.

You can help save this invaluable ecosystem by adding your name to the open letter, and sharing it with your network to help us get the word out.

And this Friday at 11am, join me for our Australia’s Biggest Book Club webinar series, chatting to Lech Blaine about his Quarterly Essay ‘Bad Cop: Peter Dutton’s Strongman Politics’, and what happened to the Liberal Party. See you then!

— Ebony Bennett, Deputy Director of the Australia Institute

The Big Stories

Video report: The carbon credit grift destroying koala habitat

Despite a decade-long commitment to establish the Great Koala National Park, the NSW Labor Government is delaying its creation to exploit the forests for carbon credits. It’s a decision with disastrous consequences for the koalas and the climate.

In this video report from the Australia Institute’s Walkley Award-Winning Senior Fellow Stephen Long, we talk to people fighting to save the native forests and peel back the curtains on why the koala habitat on the mid-north coast is still being logged.


Apart from the obvious issue of the forest and koala habitat lost while logging continues, the carbon credits the NSW Government are planning to create are likely to be a sham.

Using carbon credits to ‘offset’ emissions is essentially a license to pollute. Without stringent laws requiring polluters to cut emissions before turning to offsets, the credits can be used to maintain or increase emissions, exacerbating global warming.


We don’t need to monetise the forests; we need to recognise and preserve their intrinsic values.

Add your name to the open letter calling on the NSW Government to stop native forest logging in NSW.

Read more >

Who gets access to MPs offices?

Australians are not told which lobbyists are meeting with government ministers or what those lobbyists tell the government.

In most states, ministers publish their diaries – it is time federal ministers were required to do so as well.

The Australia Institute’s Bill Browne and Vivien Clarke gave evidence at the Senate Inquiry into lobbyist access to Parliament House.

“If we’re talking about decisions that were made a year ago or months ago, and you’re only just finding out in few weeks that the minister has had all kinds of meetings with specific lobbyists or interest groups – it’s not good enough to find out 18 months later,” said Vivien Clarke, reported in news.com.au.

Watch >

The academic publishing rort

Every year, academic publishers make up to $1 billion by profiteering from research funded by the Australian public.

Dr Kristen Scicluna explores ways to stop taxpayer money from being funnelled into the pockets of giant, for-profit publishers so that Australia can get the most out of its research funding.

Read more >

The tax the gas industry loves

The Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT) is one of Australia’s main taxes on the gas industry, a special tax designed to capture some of the massive profits that gas producers and exporters tend to make.

Does it work? Well, it depends on who you ask.

If you are a gas executive, you’d probably really enjoy the various loopholes that allow gas companies to avoid paying even a sliver of tax each year.

If you’re a regular person, you may feel ripped off.

In this explainer, we dive into what exactly the PRRT is, how it works, and what can be done to fix it.

Read more >

The Right to Disconnect is NOT bad for productivity

The Right to Disconnect legislation attracted criticism from Opposition leader Peter Dutton and business groups, who say it’s bad for productivity.

Using some basic maths, Dr Jim Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work, explains why they are wrong.

Video >

The Senate’s new role in protecting our democracy

The Australian Senate, the upper house of Parliament, provides a diversity of voices and backgrounds, and has the power to hold the government of the day to account.

In 2022 for the Australian Senate Lecture Series, Bill Browne and former Executive Director Ben Oquist presented a report on how the Senate – with its unique powers and proportional voting system – could be key to restoring the electorate’s apparently diminishing faith in our democracy.

The report, The Senate’s new role in protecting our democracy, has now been published and available to be read in full.

Read or watch the lecture >


Minority retort | Follow the Money

Who’s afraid of a minority government?

The major parties claim that minority and coalition governments are chaotic and unworkable, but are they actually more effective? History shows that, when they’re forced to share government, they can get a lot done.

In the wake of the Tasmanian election, Australia Institute Executive Director Richard Denniss joins Follow the Money to discuss why the need to negotiate can make minority and coalition governments better at lawmaking.

Listen now:

The big budget con | Dollars & Sense

With budget night a little over a month away, Greg tees off on Australia’s political obsession with budget deficits. He argues it’s not a good measure of the health of the economy or of who is a better ‘economic manager’ – and the forecasts are often wildly wrong anyway.

Listen now:

The Quote

A country joining pillar two in partnership or on a project-by-project basis … is explicit support for Australia acquiring nuclear-powered submarines and a certain kind of strategic outlook on the region.

— Dr Emma Shortis spoke to SBS News about the implications of Australia considering Japan as a “pillar two” of the AUKUS agreement.

The Win

Swiss women win landmark climate case at Europe’s top human rights court

Europe’s top human rights court ruled on Tuesday that the Swiss government had violated the human rights of its citizens by failing to do enough to combat climate change, in a decision that will set a precedent for future climate lawsuits, writes Reuters.

In Australia, politicians and policy makers still aren’t acting in the best interests of young people and future generations when it comes to climate change. Senator David Pocock’s Duty of Care Bill seeks to address this.

The Bin

The CSIRO’s “alliance” with foreign-owned gas companies

The CSIRO’s GISERA “alliance” now includes US fracking giants Empire Energy Group Limited and Tamboran B2 Pty Ltd.

“It’s a blatant conflict of interest undermining CSIRO’s integrity,” said Mark Ogge, Principal Advisor at the Australia Institute.

What’s On

Australia’s Biggest Book Club: Lech Blaine | 11am Friday 12 April 

Who is Peter Dutton, and what happened to the Liberal Party? In Bad Cop, Lech Blaine traces the making of a hardman – from Queensland detective to leader of the Opposition, from property investor to minister for Home Affairs. This is a story of ambition, race and power, and a politician with a plan.


Unparliamentary with Karen Middleton | 1pm Tuesday 16 April

Unparliamentary is the Australia Institute’s fortnightly show that gives you the scoop on what’s happening in federal politics.

On Tuesday, Karen Middleton, Political Editor at Guardian Australia, joins Ebony Bennett to unpack the latest political and policy issues.


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