Power off the subsidies: Feel-good renewables hurt everybody, especially the poor

MRC's Policy Director Spiro Premetis writes in Daily Telegraph

Australians have been looking more closely at their energy bills, scratching their heads and trying to figure out why prices rose 108 per cent from 2006 to 2016.

Despite including lots of useless information about comparative consumption and gas emissions, energy bills don’t include the percentage of your account that has been imposed as a result of subsidies such as the Renewable Energy Target (for which we …


Renewable energy subsidies push up bills, says report

Original article by Samantha Hutchinson in The Australian:

Subsidies for renewable energy are behind most power price increases, adding almost $300 to the average electricity bill, according to a report that calls for a “reboot” of the national energy market.

Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will today release the Menzies Research Centre report, which calls for subsidies for renewable energy to be phased out and gas-extraction bans to be lifted to prevent prices …


Reaching for an answer while dealing with fools

Nick Cater writes in The Australian:

If you have a wacky cause to promote in the national capital, Shane Rattenbury could be your man.

Rattenbury, a Greens representative in the ACT’s Legislative Assembly, jumped on Facebook on Saturday to support #BuyNothingDay, the latest way to signal one’s virtue, and one which is every bit as daft as it sounds.

“Canberrans have a problem with stuff,” Rattenbury pronounced. “Reducing the impact of our consumption needs to be …


‘This would see a nuclear arms race’

As North Korea tested another ICBM this week, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop explained the seriousness of the threat from Pyongyangto an MRC National Security Network Breakfast in Canberra. Here is an edited transcript:

Since World War II like-minded countries have sought to create a world out of chaos and ensure that we didn’t again see a world war with the devastating impact of the Second World War.

This international rules-based order has served us relatively …


How to be civilised: Freedom and liberty can be enjoyed by all

How to be civilised: Freedom and liberty can be enjoyed by all

Of the many wonders of western civilisation, the one that frequently amuses us here at the MRC, is that civilisation’s liberty and prosperity are enjoyed even by its harshest critics.

The sight of protesters against capitalism taking selfies on new iPhones or running from police in their new high-tech Nikes are imbued with the sort of irony that is delightfully apparent to anybody who has had even a cursory exposure to one of the other defining characteristics of …


The new Forgotten People: Hard-working, envied and fiercely independent... sound familiar?

When Robert Menzies delivered his famously definitive speech on radio in May 1942, the “forgotten middle class” to whom he referred were mostly families gathered around a wireless. The homes in which they lived constituted, he said, that “one little piece of earth with a house and a garden which is ours, to which we can withdraw… into which no stranger may come against our will”.

The garden might now be smaller and the family more likely to be scattered throughout …


The neighbourly way: Financial aid to Pacific Island nations works best when people, not governments, make the decisions

Australia will dispense around $1 billion worth of aid to its Pacific neighbours this year. If the purpose is to help our neighbours develop into resilient, independent nations, are we really getting value for money?

Most research suggests not. One study by Ghanaian academic Adams Bodomo suggests as little of 10 per cent some of it benefits those most in need.

By contrast, remittances - the money Pacific Islander emigrants send back to family and friends - is a highly …


Ten reasons why Labor lost Northcote

A convincing win last week for the Greens at a by-election in inner-city Melbourne illustrates how polarised Australia has become - politically and culturally.

The Greens contested all 150 seats in the House of Representatives in last year’s federal election, and failed to attract more than 10 per cent of the vote in 92 of them.

But the Greens ended Labor’s 90-year stranglehold in Northcote last week with more than 45 per cent of the primary vote. Here are ten …


Howard’s end? The enduring legacy of ‘Lazarus’

MRC's Research Fellow Dr David Furse-Roberts writes in The Spectator:

With the entrance to The Lodge turning into something of a revolving door since prime minister-elect Rudd bestrode the victory stage a decade ago today on 24 November 2007 there is no question the Howard years are remembered by many Australians as a golden age of political stability. It does not require a pang of misty-eyed nostalgia, however, to realise that the country, by any reckoning, was served …


What's cooking in the Green Zone

Labor's challenge beyond the fringe

Nick Cater writes in The Australian:

How far into the ideological fringe must Labor venture to hold a seat such as Northcote in the Victorian parliament?

Quite a bit further than Daniel Andrews has yet been bold enough to go, judging from Saturday’s by-election. No one could have done more than he to support the LGBTI community, short of making membership compulsory. He has given anti-bullying bullies the run of public schools and banned religious instruction in the …


Here’s to your health: Guidelines for alcohol consumption are more varied than the health lobby thinks

The joys of December for many kick off with the work Christmas party, a chance to unwind with colleagues with the pleasure of beach cricket and family long lunch in prospect.

The common factor in all these life-affirming activities is alcohol, usually served refreshingly cold to complement our wonderfully warm summer days and nights.

But be warned, Australia. The nanny state is increasingly worried about our drinking costs. The Bureau of Statistics reported this month that …


Let the market decide: government intervention in the energy sector has long been counterproductive

Let the market decide: government intervention in the energy sector has long been counterproductive

Is our energy market mega-shambles a case of market failure or government failure?

BHP Billiton chief Andrew Mackenzie told his shareholders on Thursday that it was time governments got out of the way.

“We’d like them to kind of back off a bit,” he told shareholders on Thursday. “Let the market do its business.”

The argument about how far governments should intervene in the gas and electric markets has being going on for at least 150 years, we discovered this …


Feelings are for chickens

“Feelings” are for chickens, says law professor, who finds students surprisingly eager to engage in critical thinking.

During a week characterised by ostentatious displays of feelings, it was a relief to be reminded that calm, rational thought is still encouraged in some parts of the liberal west.

Adam MacLeod, an associate professor of law at Faulkner University in Alabama, US, shared an amusing and inspiring speech he delivered to his first-year students on a


Rent-seekers think Liberals wrong? Well that’s good

Nick Cater writes in The Australian:

“Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain,” wrote Dale Carnegie. “But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

Carnegie’s advice should temper our loathing of the people responsible for wrecking a perfectly good energy market with their ill-judged policy intrusions.

They may claim to be well intentioned, but as Carnegie reminds us in How to Win Friends and Influence People, even …


The NEG is bad news for South Australia: But it’s good news for everybody else

“Coal is dead, long live renewables,” South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill retweeted on Thursday as a power plant that once provided a fifth of the state’s energy came crashing to the ground.

The link between SA’s high power prices, fragile electricity grid and premature closure of every coal-fired power station is yet to sink home to the Premier and his Energy Minister, Tom Koutsantonis.

On Thursday Koutsantonis reaffirmed the SA government’s opposition to …

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