Why workers are going backwards

While the government boasts daily about its record on job creation, its message doesn’t resonate with the working Australians who were already in jobs when it took office in 2013. For every unemployed person back then 17 were in work. It seems the government expects the already employed to be grateful they still have a job.

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This fight is over standards of living

Amid the myriad political scandals of the recent parliamentary sitting fortnight, a report by the IMF on prospects for the Australian economy was released to a distracted Canberra press gallery. Among the IMF’s many economic projections was one measuring the material living standards of Australians. It received no coverage whatsoever. Yet in that official projection lays Australia’s economic challenge and the Morrison government’s immediate political challenge.

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Trumpism has arrived in Australia

President Trump has arrived in Australia. Well, not physically but certainly in spirit. Throughout his term, Trump has traduced America’s institutions: the public service, the security agencies, the courts and, until the mid-term elections, the Congress – all put in place to curb the excesses of executive government. While Trumpism isn’t yet entrenched in Canberra, it has gained a foothold.  

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It won't be business as usual under Labor

When you change the government you change the country. So said Paul Keating. He was right back then, and he’ll be right again if the Australian people soon elect a Shorten Labor government. For the many company executives asking what that change will mean, Labor will support entrepreneurship and the creation of jobs and wealth while expecting companies to pay their fair share of tax, compete in an open economy and play their part in rebuilding trust in the nation’s institutions. 

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Business needs to get real on climate

The looming election will determine the course our nation takes on an issue of vital importance not only for humankind, but for Australian businesses as well. If business organisations such as the Business Council of Australia (BCA) persist with their support for the Morrison government’s carbon-emissions target of a 26 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030, they will position their members as being opposed to meaningful action on climate change. 

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The price of political madness

Political madness has its price. This year the price will be paid. China’s re-emergence is putting the United States under enormous internal political pressure. The US is crumbling under that pressure, failing the first real test of its global dominance in the post-war era. Europe, too, is struggling to sustain its war-driven commitment to peaceful economic integration, as Britain’s political geniuses execute the idea of leaving Europe to relive the empire’s glory days. Here in Australia, conservatives who yearn for a bygone white, Christian-dominated colonial era have terrorised Liberal Party moderates, carrying out their threat to destroy the Coalition village in order to save it.

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This is a de facto budget designed to fight an early election

If you’re wondering what might be in next year’s budget, you need look no further than yesterday’s mid-year fiscal and economic update. It is designed to give the Morrison government the option of cancelling parliament and going to an election earlier than the May 2019 date built into the parliamentary sitting calendar released three weeks ago. But is this de facto budget, like the economy, built on a house of cards?

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Jerusalem embassy: how a great FTA deal became an albatross

Since before the Wentworth by-election the Morrison government has been insisting it can put Australia’s embassy in Israel wherever it wants. But just as obviously, other countries can react to any decision to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in any way they want. It’s this second ‘obviously’ that seems to have escaped the architects of this reckless announcement. 

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Australia in the firing line as America goes to the polls

Australians usually take little notice of the US midterm elections, especially since they coincide with the Melbourne Cup celebrations. But this time, while racegoers and enthusiasts recover from the race that stops Australia, nothing will stop President Donald Trump if his party retains control of both houses of Congress. America’s most protectionist President of the post-war era will confidently pursue economic and trade policies that can only inflict further long-term damage on the global economy, including ours.

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Venezuela, here we come!

On 22 November 2017, a nation’s government legislated price controls in response to voter dissatisfaction with the rising cost of essential items. On 23 October 2018, the government of another nation announced it would require electricity suppliers to reduce their prices by the end of the year in response to voter dissatisfaction with the rising cost of electricity. The first country was Venezuela; the second was Australia. 

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When Left and Right ensure the centre cannot hold

Advertising a horse race on the Opera House sails, described by Scott Morrison as Sydney's "biggest billboard". What's next? The Emirates Harbour Bridge? Such a pity the traditional owners of Uluru didn't think of it first: they could have arranged lasers beaming Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos at every evening's sunset. If it's good for the economy it's good for the people, according to the Prime Minister and Premier Berejiklian, supported by the Labor opposition.

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Five ways to increase trust in Canberra

During last week, when I lamented the Muppet Show in Canberra, a tweeting critic challenged me to show some gumption and propose a series of reforms to revive Canberra’s standing. “In a tweet?” I queried. My twitter critic persisted: “I have always rated brevity very highly.” Bearing in mind that the most recent Edelman trust index shows a collapse of public trust in Australia’s government, I felt I should give a one-tweet reform agenda a crack.

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Abandoning emission cuts is bad for business

By abandoning any effort to achieve Australia's carbon emissions reduction target agreed at the Paris climate change convention, the Morrison government has sought short-term political gain at the long-term expense of the planet, the nation and business. While this will be cause for celebration among the Turnbull-slayers and a victory for the Abbott-inspired insurgency that demanded as sharp as possible a contest with Labor on energy policy, it has rapidly escalated sovereign risk for business.

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Forget about legislating emission cuts

If proof of the incapacity of the Coalition to deal with climate change was ever needed, it was provided absolutely in the shambles of toppling Malcolm Turnbull from the prime ministership. For the conservative wing of the Liberal Party this was a glorious victory. For investors seeking a predictable policy framework and for the majority of Australians who expect their parliament to guide Australia to a low-carbon future it is a bitter disappointment. 

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Why I Quit Sky News

Yesterday I quit Sky News after five years as a commentator. Giving airtime to neo-Nazi, Blair Cottrell, might be passed off as defending the right to free speech, but former chief minister of the Northern Territory, Adam Giles, was effusive in his praise, wrapping up the interview with: “Good luck. I hope it all goes well for you.” 

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Targeting Bill Shorten has rebounded on Malcolm Turnbull

In the aftermath of Saturday's byelection results Liberal ministers are taking comfort that they lost the Ryan byelection in 2001, suffering a 10 per cent swing, only to win the federal election resoundingly eight months later. It's true that one byelection result – or even five – won't predetermine the outcome of a general election, but it's not true that there's nothing to learn from Super Saturday.

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Taking the partisanship out of power

Policy, like politics, is the art of the possible. And it’s possible to get bipartisan agreement on a policy to achieve the elusive trilogy of electricity affordability, reliability and sustainability. But it will require an end to the hyper-partisanship that has destroyed previous, worthy efforts, such as the previous government’s emissions trading scheme. The only workable policy surviving a decade of climate wars is the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). 

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