Australia’s 17th Prime Minister Proved no Holt on National Progress

Three months after Harold Holt disappeared forever in the tempestuous surf off Victoria’s Cheviot Beach on 17 December 1967, Gough Whitlam told parliament in a poignant eulogy to the late Prime Minister that Holt’s “place in the political annals of our nation remains to be fixed by the perspective of history”. Half a century after his dramatic departure, it is a timely occasion to appraise the contribution and legacy of the affable, sunny-natured man who led …


Cheaper to buy a new phone than recharge its battery?

‘Cheaper to buy a new phone than recharge its battery?’, a headline you would expect to see in the satirical online website the Betoota Advocate crossed our desks this week.

But it wasn’t satire, it was a chart by economists from MLC, reproduced below, comparing electricity price movements to telecommunication equipment and services prices (i.e. mobile phones) from the Consumer Price Index.


Since 2007, electricity prices paid by households have risen 126 per cent …


Myth busting industry super fund 'outperformance'

When we released our research, ‘Guarding your nest egg: restoring independence to industry retirement funds’, earlier this year, we predicted that industry super funds would claim that they outperform retail funds as a standard defense to sensible reforms such as adding independent directors to superannuation trustee boards.

So, we took the time to consider whether they really had a point and made the effort to explain away this myth, and point out that average industry …


Ignoring market forces is a new peak in bank bashing

We have reached peak bank bashing.

Businesses ultimately prosper if they deliver products and services consumers want – and to do this they need the freedom to respond to market forces.

With the expansion of technology in our economy and around the world, consumer demands in terms of service have increased significantly, and the competition to service consumers has also intensified.

We see this in areas such as banking. Digital disruption is clearly playing a role …


Beyond education funding - dealing with social disadvantage

In our submission to the review into the Gonski funding arrangements this week, we challenged the notion that pouring money into schools does much if anything for the most socially disadvantaged children.

We argue that the Gonski Review’s narrow focus on education funding meant that scant consideration was given to the link between social disadvantage and educational achievement. There is abundant evidence, for example, that the life chances of a child growing up in …


Four ways we are paying for Labor's broadband blunder

The reaction to the release of Telstra’s annual results on Thursday is a cold reminder of how long it can take poor government decisions to show up in outcomes.

Telstra shares fell to $3.51 on Thursday, meaning that a cool $25 billion has been sliced off the company’s value in 17 months.

Part of this loss can be attributed to lower than expected margins on the broadband capacity Telstra buys from nbn and sells to its customers.

Shareholders in other broadband …


Cherish Harold Holt’s legacy so the arts can flourish

Original article by Rubert Myer in The Australian:

It is 50 years ago today that Harold Holt announced his government’s decision to support Australian cultural activity by establishing a council for the arts and a national gallery.

In taking those steps, he said he wished to encourage those who had contributed to advancing Australia’s “distinctive cultural activities”, enabling them to “rise to new heights”. Time has shown what visionary decisions they were.


Dream turns into degree-factory nightmare

Nick Cater writes in The Australian:

A week of wandering through the freak shows and distractions of sideshow alley can warp political judgment.

“The worst week experienced by any government in almost 50 years,” was how one commentator — who has been around long enough to know better — summed up the week that was on these pages yesterday.

There’s nothing like a shot of hyperbole to enliven a Monday morning, but really?

Worse than the week Kevin Rudd and Stephen …


Super system needs a level playing field

MRC's Director of Policy & Research Spiro Premetis writes in The Australian:

Australia’s compulsory superannuation system and the Future Fund have the same objective: to ensure Australians have adequate savings for their retirement. And now after 25 years of compulsory super and just over a decade of the Future Fund, it is becoming increasingly easier to make comparisons between the two.

The Future Fund has definitely held its own, and on a 10-year basis appears to …


The great white protection racket: Time for the Minister to cast his net wider

After decades of studying great white sharks in Australia, the CSIRO has admitted, and not for the first time, that it has little information to help Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg decide whether the species should remain protected.

Speaking to the Senate inquiry into shark mitigation strategies in Canberra last Friday, CSIRO senior principal research scientist Professor Nick Bax said the key detail regarding the species was the population trend.

Asked when such a …


The invisible hand: Does anybody know what drives Bill Shorten?

On the wall of the Menzies Research Centre’s Canberra office hangs a framed and signed cartoon, a gift from the late Bill Leak, showing  Bill Shorten as an angry union puppet. This week’s police raids on the union Shorten once ran, the Australian Worker’s Union,  will do nothing to dispel that image.


The opposition’s diversionary tactics have allowed it to dodge two serious questions. First, why did the AWU under Bill Shorten give money to help establish …


No guarantees: Our retirement fund problems will be solved by more competition, not a “Superannuation Guarantee Agency” monopoly.

Australia’s compulsory superannuation system and the Future Fund have the same objective: to ensure Australians have adequate savings for their retirement.

And now after 25 years of compulsory super and just over a decade of the Future Fund, it is becoming increasingly easier to make comparisons between the two.

Here is what it looks like for the Future Fund versus Australian super.

27.10.17NoGuarantees FFvSuperReturnsGraph

The Future Fund has definitely held its own, and on a 10-year basis appears to have …


Labor would rather service misery than solve it

Nick Cater writes in The Australian:

Malcolm Turnbull and his mates are cuddling up to One Nation and attacking poor people, thundered senator Doug Cameron.

“They are shovelling $65 billion out to the big end of town and screwing ordinary working families in this country,” he told the Senate last week, indignation rising like steam

Not for the first time, it was hard to reconcile the senator’s hyperbolic rhetoric with the prudent and pragmatic legislation under …


English and Key: the verdict

Nick Cater writes in The Australian:

“This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper,” wrote the poet TS Elliot.

So it must have seemed for the centre-right in New Zealand late on Thursday afternoon when the capricious Winston Peters snuffed out Bill English’s chance of staying in office and ended three terms of reforming government.

English will be celebrated as much for his eight years as finance minister under John Key as his 10 months as prime …


National Energy Guarantee: The stakes are high

A credible energy policy will reduce power prices for consumers and business in Australia. The ACCC released a report this week that may have been missed due to its proximity to the government’s energy policy announcement, but the report confirmed that consumers and  industry needs sound energy prices to survive.


This risks to Australian industry are particularly worrying, with Master Grocers Australia estimating that they will need to shed approximately 2,200 jobs …

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