Power debate: Complexity turns off consumers, and voters

Consumers are suffering from energy fatigue. This is one of the many conclusions to be drawn from a new report into energy costs by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The behaviour of electricity retailers in the National Energy market (all states and territories except WA and NT) was “unnecessarily complex and confusing” to consumers, the report said, and this behaviour “may be an unintended outcome of existing regulation”.

In other words, …


Mind the gap: The politics of a high-profile contract renewal

Mind the gap: The politics of a high-profile contract renewal

Disgruntled TV star Lisa Wilkinson shone a light on inequality this week, telling Channel Nine during contract renewal negotiations to “close the gap” between her pay and a male colleague’s. When the negotiations broke down, Wilkinson walked.

The irony that she was negotiating over a payrise seven times that of a doctor saving lives in a hospital emergency department seems not to have occurred to her or the many supporters who congratulated her for standing up to the …


Slavery to dogma rife in Victoria

Nick Cater writes in The Australian:

Religious liberty is all very well and all that, but it has its limits in Victoria’s state schools where principals are bound by Ministerial Direction 145.

The determination allows faith-based religious instruction at the principal’s discretion providing no child attends for more than 30 minutes a week, and then only in the lunch break or in the hour before or after school. Parents must complete form CD145 — available in 15 …


A change of climate

The debate about energy and climate change altered dramatically this week. By referring to the RET as “far from perfect”, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg signalled that this 16-year-old policy might soon be discarded. Here are the highlights of his speech to the National Energy Summit in Sydney this week:

“Australia’s electricity prices are high by international standards. A decade ago under John Howard, they were the fifth lowest in the OECD, but as of the …


The shipping news: The remains of the Northern Power Station, which once produced 520MW of power for South Australia, is now scrap metal bound for China.

The 520MW Northern Power Station, near Port Augusta, South Australia, which was decommissioned in May last year after 32 years of service, has been reduced to scrap metal and is sitting on the dock at Port Pirie, bound for China.

The station, once Port Augusta’s biggest employer, was a victim of its own age and the state government’s increasing preference for wind and solar energy. The first of five shipments of the metal was loaded this week. The station relied on …


Tax to grind: Bracket creep to hit all Australians

Middle income Australians are already doing it tough, with high energy prices, expensive childcare, and stagnant wage growth. The cost of living is a threat to the prosperity of many families. But analysis released this week by the Parliamentary Budget Office suggests things are going to get worse.

In the next four years, Australians are expected to pay an average of 2.3 percentage points more in tax thanks to bracket creep. Every income quintile will be affected. Those in …


Super size me: Some industry funds have too many directors

Do some superannuation funds have too many directors? Yes, MRC Policy Director Spiro Premetis told a Senate inquiry this week.

Menzies Research Centre Policy Director Spiro Premetis appeared before the Senate Economics Committee’s inquiry into superannuation fund boards this week. His submission focused on the lack of independent directors on most industry super funds, which also tended to have the highest number of directors per board. He suggested that some of those …


Thought Network event with the Hon Angus Taylor MP | Video & Transcript

The Menzies Research Centre presents

LIFE IN THE CITY: And how to make it even better  

A Thought Network Event with the Hon Angus Taylor MP
Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation 

Thursday, 12 October 2017
King & Wood Mallesons, Melbourne



For me, I feel like I have found an extraordinary opportunity in being an assistant to the Prime Minister focussing on cities, because I have discovered in the …


Josh Frydenberg: "How we are fixing Australia’s energy market"

Speech by Josh Frydenberg to the National Energy Summit in Sydney on Monday:

Just the other day, I got a call from the owner of my local IGA. It’s where my family shop on a weekly basis. His energy bill had increased by almost 100 per cent year on year and he was in despair. The cost increase was the equivalent of a fulltime shelf packer. And given the already tight margins and competitive grocery market, his only choice was to reassess his staffing requirements.

This …


ABC chief Guthrie continues to Peppa us with same excuses

Nick Cater writes in The Australian:

It will come as some relief to the 4000-plus employees at the ABC to learn that the animus towards them is confined to “vested interests” and a few crotchety Pauline Hanson voters.

That, at any rate, is Michelle Guthrie’s story and she’s sticking to it. Seventeen months into her tenure as managing director, Guthrie is looking like just another defender of the status quo rather than the reformer many hoped she would be.

In a …


Defence is our “biggest national policy failure”: WA Senator Linda Reynolds

By Fred Pawle, MRC's Communications Director:  

Defence, the federal government’s most important responsibility, has also been its “biggest single long-standing national failure”, WA Senator Linda Reynolds told an international maritime exhibition in Sydney this week.

Senator Reynolds, a former brigadier in the army reserves who has also written a masters dissertation on systemic dysfunction in Defence since World War I, said Australians tended to ignore …


Baby boomers are spending like there’s no tomorrow. But there is.

By Fred Pawle, MRC's Communications Director:    

Australians are no longer as “young and free” as their national anthem claims, and the implications for their economy are profound.

The key figure regarding the ageing of the population is the “dependency ratio” - the number of working-age people for every one of pension age. In 1975, the ratio was 7.3; in 2015 it had fallen to 4.5. By 2055 it is predicted to be a mere 2.7.

Don’t imagine that …


Let’s face it, recycling is a load of rubbish

Nick Cater writes in The Australian:

We are indebted to the compilers of the ABC website for the do’s and don’ts of recycling plastic.

On no account should “scrunchables” — the technical term for plastic bags — be sent for processing since they get caught in the conveyor belt, which has to be stopped to allow the operators to cut them out.

Punnets and takeaway containers are acceptable, but not the ones made of polystyrene. Plastic bottles can be recycled, but …


Unis have become breeding grounds for victims

Communications Director Fred Pawle writes in The Courier Mail:

UNIVERSITIES used to be where young people went to become adults.

Gone were the uniforms, strict rules, tuckshop food and Saturday sports forced on them during high school.

In their place were op-shop chic, self-discipline, beers in the university bar and Saturday hangovers.

Underpinning this transition was a period of self-discovery, characterised by new-found independence and individuality, which …

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