The Australia-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry
of New South Wales






Last updated: 24 November 2015

Except for a few newspaper articles that appeared late in 2013, the links previously on this page are now at:



Asylum-Seekers and Immigration Policy

Australia’s Cities –Issues and Policies

Civil Liberties

Climate Change

Defence Policy and National Security

Economic Management


Federal-State Relations

Financial Sector Reform

Foreign Policy

Free Trade Agreements

Government Marketing

Grants and Subsidies

Health Care

Inequality in Income and Wealth

Infrastructure Development

Leadership Struggle within the Coalition

Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis

Motor Vehicle Industry in Australia

Pensions and Superannuation

Resource and Productivity

Science Policy

Shifts in Government Priorities

Unions and Workplace Reform

Wages, Prices and Employment

Other issues

Earlier links are at the top of each section




Asylum-Seekers and Immigration Policy

Mark Kenny, “Tony Abbott on Syrian Crisis: We Can and Will Do More,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 September 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-on-syrian-crisis-we-can-and-will-do-more-20150907-gjh0k9.html.  “Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated Australia is now likely to take in more refugees from Syria than the current humanitarian cap would allow while also stepping up its military commitment via bombing raids on Islamic State targets and supply lines within that war-torn country.

Nick O’Malley, “US Conservatives Like Abbott’s Refugee Stance,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 September 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/us-conservatives-like-abbotts-refugee-stance-20150906-gjg7ku.html.  “After being castigated in The New York Times for Australia’s “brutal” treatment of asylum seekers, Tony Abbott has won support from the conservative American website Breitbart News.

Richard Ackland, “Europe’s Boat People Numbers Make Ours Look Minuscule,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 June 2014.  Available at:  http://www.smh.com.au/comment/europes-boat-people-numbers-make-ours-look-minuscule-20140605-zryze.html.  “It's the summer boat season in Europe.  Everyone's out on their boats, including tens of thousands of refugees from Africa making the trip across the Mediterranean.  Not all of them make it. … The UN data shows we took 8367 onshore asylum seekers as refugees in 2012, which is 0.61 percent of the global total recognised as refugees. “

Mark Kenny, “Morrison’s Conviction in the Face of Anger,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 January 2014.  Available at:http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/morrisons-conviction-in-the-face-of-anger-20140131-31szj.html.  The author suggests that the” Abbott Government believes its uncompromising border protection policies are popular - that they are ‘controversial’ only within a narrow band of the Australian community. A band which, by-the-way, doesn't vote conservative.  But Morrison's conviction appears to run deeper than mere electoral politics.  His ability to absorb the slings and arrows of outrageous indignation day in and day out suggest a man on something approaching a sacred mission.”

Sarah Whyte, “New Asylum Seeker Campaign ‘Distasteful’ and ‘Embarrassing’”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/new-asylum-seeker-campaign-distasteful-and-embarrassing-20140212-32h04.html.  The Australian Director of Human Rights Watch is reported to have said that the campaign to dissuade asylum seekers from making the journey to Australia by boat is not likely to be successful and should be replaced by more practical information about how and where people should safely claim asylum.

Australian Associated Press, “Operation Sovereign Borders:  Health Panel Sacked over Fears of Media Leaks,” The Guardian, 13 February 2014.  Available at:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/13/operation-sovereign-borders-health-panel-sacked-over-fears-media-leaks.  According to government documents, the Immigration Department sacked an export health panel in December and replaced it with a sole advisor, military surgeon Paul Alexander.  The reason was reported to be fears that the panel would leak information to the media.  Further comment by Mark Fletcher, “I’m a Conservative, but This Asylum Seekers Comic is Disgusting,” The Guardian, 13 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/13/asylum-seekers-graphic-campaign.

Darid Wroe and Daniel Flitton, “Indonesia Steps Up Protests Against Australia’s Border Protection Policies,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/indonesia-steps-up-protests-against-australias-border-protection-policies-20140214-32rdo.html.  The lead sentence of the article states: “Indonesia has added to its protests against the Abbott government's border protection policies, hauling Australia's ambassador into the foreign affairs ministry for a dressing down.

Mark Kenny, “Flawed Manus Island Polity Is Now an Embarrassment,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 2- February 2014.  Available at:  http://www.smh.com.au/comment/flawed-manus-island-policy-is-now-an-embarrassment-20140219-330px.html.  Kenny suggests that “it took Rudd's boundless ambition to backflip by signing the deal with PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, but it has taken a special kind of focus from Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison to see the policy through to its current horror.  Details of the latest violence that motivated the remarks are available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/manus-island-violence-interpreter-claims-detainees-attacked-by-locals-there-was-blood-everywhere-20140219-3315g.html.

Waleed Aly, “The Whole Point of Detention for Asylum Seekers Is Horror, Whether It Is Acknowledged or Not,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/the-whole-point-of-detention-for-asylum-seekers-is-horror-whether-it-is-acknowledged-or-not-20140220-333yw.html.  The author’s viewpoint is as follows: “The truth is we've never really come to terms with why it is people get on boats, and why it is that, faced with hopeless inaction once they're detained, they protest.  In fact, our public conversation isn't even terribly interested in knowing. That's why, when we do finally discover the facts of [the recent rioting at] Manus, they will mean nothing.

Philip Wen, “China Criticises Abbott’s Policy on Asylum Seekers,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/china-criticises-abbotts-policy-on-asylum-seekers-20140220-334bl.html.  China's vice-minister of foreign affairs, Li Baodong, said he was concerned about the ''very important issue'' of the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, especially children, who arrive in Australia by boat. … The concerns were raised in the context of a regular human rights dialogue between Australia and China, this year held in Beijing.”

Malcolm Fraser, “Manus Island: So Many Questions, One Simple Solution,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/manus-island-so-many-questions-one-simple-solution-20140220-333sn.html.  The former prime minister of Australia (1975 to 1983) suggests that “there is a humane, efficient and affordable approach.  If only we would try it.”  The “Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers,” referred to in the article as the Houston committee report, 3 August 2012, is available at: http://expertpanelonasylumseekers.dpmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/report/expert_panel_on_asylum_seekers_full_report.pdf.

Bianca Hall, “Scott Morrison Admits Information He Gave on Manus Riot Was Wrong,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 February 2014.  Available at: 22 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/scott-morrison-admits--information-he-gave-on-manus-riot-was-wrong-20140222-339hs.html.  The article reported that “In an extraordinary statement issued late last night, Mr Morrison admitted that much of the information he had given to the Australian public since Monday’s riot was now in doubt.”

Lindsay Murdoch, “Australia Asks Cambodia to Take Asylum Seekers Amid Violent Crackdown,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australia-asks-cambodia-to-take-asylum-seekers-amid-violent-crackdown-20140223-33amf.html.  The article reports the reaction of the Australian director at Human Rights Watch to the announcement of the Abbott government to send some asylum seekers to Cambodia. 

Oliver Laughland and Paul Farrell, “Asylum Seekers Across Australia Launch Legal Appeals Following Data Breach,” The Guardian, 8 March 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/08/asylum-seekers-launch-legal-appeals-data-breach.  The article reports that: Government faces slew of federal court appeals after details of every asylum seeker on the mainland was accidentally published.”

Elaine Pearson, “If Australia Wants to Stop the Boats, It Must Stand Against Abuses in Sri Lanka,” The Guardian, 25 March 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/25/australia-sri-lanka-human-rights-united-nations.  The author suggests that the “Abbott government is obsessed with preventing refugees reaching its shores.  Instead of cosying up to Sri Lanka, it should help stop the human rights violations which make people leave.”

Claire Higgins, “Australia Should Resume Processing Refugees in Their Own Countries,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 November 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/australia-should-resume-processing-refugees-in-their-own-countries-20141030-11ebre.html.  It is hard to imagine Australia's refugee policy was ever brave, principled and an example to the world of our commitment to human rights. But there was a time when Department of Immigration officials went into countries to process would-be refugees before they had to flee, and resettled them in Australia.

Lenore Taylor, “Clive Palmer Sends ‘Please Explain’ Note over Temporary Protection Visa Deal,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 November 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/02/clive-palmer-please-explain-temporary-protection-visa-deal.  “PUP leader concerned after committee finds the government’s proposed new migration laws breach Australia’s human rights obligations.”

Lenore Taylor, “Scott Morrison May Be Forced to Give 31,000 Asylum Seekers Chance of Settlement,” The Guardian, 27 November 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/27/scott-morrison-may-be-forced-to-give-31000-asylum-seekers-chance-of-settlement.The government would be forced to provide 31,000 asylum seekers with the possibility of a permanent visa or else abandon sweeping new asylum laws under a plan being negotiated by Labor, the Greens, the Palmer United party and other crossbench senators.

Ben Doherty, “Asylum Seeker Children from Christmas Island to Lose Visa Appeal Rights,The Guardian, 5 December 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/dec/05/asylum-seeker-children-from-christmas-island-to-lose-visa-appeal-rights.  “New ‘fast-track’ assessments that have been criticised by the UN will apply to children due for mainland transfer under Senate deal.”

Amanda Meade, “Academics and Law Bodies Warn Attack on Gillian Triggs Threatens Democracy,” The Guardian, 16 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/15/academics-and-law-bodies-warn-attack-on-gillian-triggs-threatens-democracy.   Group of 50 academics, as well as the bar association and law council have written in support of human rights commission president following attacks on her by Coalition over the report into children in detention.  See also Richard Flanagan, “Triggs Was Attacked for Defending the Powerless – And One Day Another PM Will Apologise for It.” The Guardian, 26 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/26/triggs-was-attacked-for-defending-the-powerless-and-one-day-another-pm-will-apologise-for-it.  More comment: “Charles Waterstreet: PM Has Thrown Everything Overboard in His Treatment of Gillian Triggs,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/charles-waterstreet-pm-has-thrown-everything-overboard-in-his-treatment-of-gillian-triggs-20150228-13r7tt.html.

Graeme Innes, “Ruddock Asked Me To Do My Job ‘Without Fear or Favour,’ Brandis Ended that Tradition,” The Guardian, 27 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/27/ruddock-asked-me-to-do-my-job-without-fear-or-favour-brandis-ended-that-tradition.  The author was a human rights commissioner under five attorneys-general from December 2005 to July 2014.  He states that Brandis is the only one to question his integrity.

Khalid Koser, “Australia’s Asylum Policy Pushes Ethical Boundaries,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 April 2015. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/australias-asylum-policy-pushes-ethical-boundaries-20150430-1mwwek.html.  The author argues that the implementation of the 1951 Refugee Convention is failing the interests of both states and refugees and Australia is well placed to lead an international effort for reform.

Michael Gordon, “Tony Abbott Abdicates Leadership on Refuge Crisis with Negative New Slogan,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/tony-abbott-abdicates-leadership-on-refugee-crisis-with-negative-new-slogan-20150521-gh6xuq.html. “Tony Abbott’s three-word slogan, crafted in response to appeals for Australia to resettle some of the thousands of refugees facing death [at sea is flawed because] it assumes the Bay of Bengal refugee crisis is identical to the one he face when he came to power – and can be handled with the same unsustainable tool of deterrent and the same resort to simplistic ‘front door/back door’ language.  It can't.”  More comment: “The Asylum Debate We Have to Have,” Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/the-asylum-debate-we-have-to-have-20150522-gh7jat.html.

Robert Tickner, “There’s No Legal Queue.  And Three Other Facts Australians Get Wrong about Asylum Seekers,” The Guardian, 15 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/15/theres-no-legal-queue-and-three-other-facts-australians-get-wrong-about-asylum-seekers.  “Despite Extensive Coverage of Asylum Seeker Issues, Australians Remain Remarkably Uninformed about the Facts.”

Michael Gordon, “Labor’s Turn-Back Leaves Bill Shorten Exposed,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/labors-turnback-leaves-bill-shorten-exposed-20150616-ghpg1n.html.  The author comments on the opening phase of what might be a state of siege in Australia’s Parliament with past transgressions catching up with the present.  See also Daniel Hurst, “People Smuggler Payment Claims: Labor Backs Away from Pursuit of Coalition,” The Guardian, 16 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jun/16/people-smuggler-payment-claims-labor-backs-away-from-pursuit-of-coalition.





Australia’s Cities – Issues and Policies

Daniel Flitton, “Cabinet Reshuffle: Malcolm Turnbull Appoints Jamie Briggs Minister for Cities, The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 September 2015.  Available at:
http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/cabinet-reshuffle-malcolm-turnbull-appoints-jamie-briggs-minister-for-cities-20150920-gjqzk2.html.  The new Prime Minister uses the announcement of his ministry to outline his vision of a more innovative economy, better cities and a culture that embraces change.”

Grattan Institute, First Book Launch, City Limits: Why Australia’s Cities Are Broken and How We Can Fix Them, by Jane-francis Kelly and Paul Donega.  Details and transcripts of speeches made at the book launch are available at: http://grattan.edu.au/events/city-limits-book-launch-melbourne-and-sydney-events/.




Civil Liberties

Elaine Pearson, “Australia's counter-terror laws will restrict our free speech and free press.” The Guardian, 22 September 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/22/australias-counter-terror-laws-will-restrict-our-free-speech-and-free-press.  Australia already has a raft of measures in place to limit the disclosure of classified information including strict penalties for terrorism and espionage.  Amendments that chill free expression will not protect Australia’s democratic values but undermine them.

Michael Bradley, “Press Freedom Sidelined in Pursuit of Security,” The Drum, 23 September 2014.  Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-23/bradley-press-freedom-sidelined-in-pursuit-of-security/5761364.  “One of the most profound consequences of the new round of national security laws will be a major loss of press freedom.  And that's passing through almost without protest, even from the media itself.”

Raymond Bonner, “Civil Liberties in Peril Down Under,” The New York Times, 27 November 2014.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/28/opinion/civil-liberties-in-peril-down-under.html?ref=opinion.  Australian anti-whistle-blower laws, [similar to] President Obama’s anti-leak investigations, is certain to have a chilling effect.  Of course, such steps are always explained as a result of a careful balancing between national security and civil liberties.  What is becoming increasingly clear is that political self-interest — which serves no one except the powers that be — is just as important a factor.




Climate Change

Gregor Peter Schmitz, “Green Fade-Out: Europe to Ditch Climate Protection Goals,”Spiegel Online, 15 January 2014.  Available at:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/european-commission-move-away-from-climate-protection-goals-a-943664.html.  As an example of the changing global reaction to climate change, “the EU's reputation as a model of environmental responsibility may soon be history.  The European Commission wants to forgo ambitious climate protection goals and pave the way for fracking -- jeopardising Germany's touted energy revolution in the process.”

Oliver Milman, “CSIRO Scientists Say Warmer World Wager with Maurice Newman a Safe Bet,” The Guardian, 17 January 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/17/csiro-scientists-say-warmer-world-wager-with-maurice-newman-a-safe-bet “Some of Australia’s top climate scientists, including those from the CSIRO, have said they will be willing to bet Tony Abbott’s business adviser Maurice Newman $10,000 that the world will warm over the next 20 years.

Lenore Taylor, “Tony Abbott ‘Launching a Full-Frontal Attack’ on Renewable Energy Industry,” The Guardian, 6 February 2014. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/06/tony-abbott-launching-a-full-frontal-attack-on-renewable-energy-industry. “Labor accuses Coalition of backtracking on election promise as industry grows fearful renewable energy target may be abolished.

Peter Wilson and Jonathan Swan, “IMF Chief Christine Lagarde in Veiled Criticism of Government’s Climate Role,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/imf-chief-christine-lagarde-in-veiled-criticism-of-governments-climate-role-20140214-32r9u.html.  Speaking in Paris before her first visit to Australia as IMF chief next week to attend a G20 meeting, Ms Lagarde said previous Australian governments had played an important role in international debates about climate change” and urged the Abbott government not to abandon Australia’s role as “what she calls ‘a pioneer’ in the debate on climate change.”

Tom Arup, “Climate Sceptic Dick Warburton to Head Tony Abbott Review into Renewable Energy Target,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/climate-sceptic-dick-warburton-to-head-tony-abbott-review-into-renewable-energy-target-20140217-32vve.html.  “The Abbott government has launched a formal review of Australia's 20 per cent renewable energy target, choosing senior business figure and climate change sceptic Dick Warburton to head it.”  The review is expected to focus on the impact to targets on electrify prices, the renewable energy sector generally and on manufacturing.

Lenore Taylor, “Ross Garnaut: Climate Debate Has become a Martian Beauty Contest,” The Guardian, 7 March 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/07/ross-garnaut-climate-debate-martian-beauty-contest.  The article reports on a submission to a Senate committee investigating the government’s direct action policy in which Garnaut urged the Senate “to stick with a floating carbon price until the Coalition comes up a sensible alternative.”

Lenore Taylor, “Carbon-Taxed Companies Cut Emissions by 7% in Past Year, Investor Group Says,” The Guardian, 7 March 2014. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/07/carbon-taxed-companies-cut-emissions-by-7-in-past-year-investor-group-says.  Information brought before the Senate committee investigating the government’s direct action policy suggests that funding for low-carbon projects is “going abroad” since the direct action policy is not “investor grade.”

Suzanne Goldenberg, “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report: Climate Change Felt ‘on All Continents and Across the Oceans,” The Guardian, 28 March 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/28/ipcc-report-climate-change-report-human-natural-systems.  The article reported that a leaked copy of the IPCC’s report (still waiting for nearly 500 people to sign-off on the exact wording of the summary) concluded that climate change has already been felt.

Peter Hannam, “Wilder Winds, Less Rain, as Roaring Forties Become Furious Fifties,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 May 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/wilder-winds-less-rain-as-roaring-forties-become-furious-fifties-20140511-zr9b1.html.  “The Roaring Forties, the Southern Ocean winds which once bore European sailors to Australia and the East Indies, are becoming more like the Furious Fifties as climate change triggers a shift in key weather patterns poleward, an Australian-led team of scientists has found.”

Justin Gillis, “A Price Tag on Carbon as a Climate Rescue Plan,” The New York Times, 30 May 2014.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/30/science/a-price-tag-on-carbon-as-a-climate-rescue-plan.html?hpw&rref=science.  The articles describes how the state of California is initiating a “cap and trade” scheme and a system of carbon offsets within its jurisdiction.  A feature of the process is how the state is benefiting from the mistakes of other attempts at carbon reduction.

AAP, “Climate Unity Dealt Blow as Australia and Canada Take Issue with US Stance,” The Guardian, 10 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/10/climate-unity-dealt-blow-as-australia-and-canada-take-issue-with-us-stance.  The article reports that “Prime ministers Tony Abbott and Stephen Harper say they do not want to harm economy in the fight against climate change.”  See also Tom Arup, “Tony Abbott Missing Signs of World’s Switch to Carbon Trading, Experts Say,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-missing-signs-of-worlds-switch-to-carbon-trading-experts-say-20140609-39t8q.html.

Editorial, “PM Tony Abbott’s Australia Out in the Cold Over Climate Change,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/pm-tony-abbotts-australia-out-in-the-cold-over-climate-change-20140611-zs3ko.html.  The editorial comments on the remarks made by Tony Abbott while in the USA and Canada, which appear to “spin the line that solutions to climate change other than ‘Direct Action’ will, in [his] words, "clobber the economy".

Peter Hannam, “China and the UK Declare Global Warming Is ‘One of the Greatest Challenges Facing the World,’” The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/china-and-the-uk-declare-global-warming-is-one-of-the-greatest-challenges-facing-the-world-20140618-zsb6k.html.  The article describes a joint statement by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his visiting Chinese counterpart, Premier Li Keqiang, which said climate change was already happening, “much of it as a result of human activity.”  They called on all nations to reveal their action plans well ahead of a major climate summit set for Paris in late 2015. 

Brian Robins, “Is Carbon Policy Too Tangled to Unweave to Satisfaction of All?” The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/is-carbon-policy-too-tangled-to-unweave-to-satisfaction-of-all-20140622-3amab.html.  Politicians rarely let “common sense get in the way of a cheap headline, and the implications of a prolonged delay in effecting the plan to scrap the carbon price, and return monies paid to those who have paid, is not their concern.”  But perhaps it should be since anything that adds to concentration is the supply of energy in Australia is likely to be harmful to the consumer.

Editorial “How Tony Abbott Can Tackle Climate Change Without a Carbon Tax,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 June 2014.  Available at: 23 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/how-tony-abbott-can-tackle-climate-change-without-a-carbon-tax-20140623-zsij0.htm.  The editorial suggests that beneficial policies could emerge from the new Senate over the desire of the Abbott government to scrap the carbon tax. 

Peter Martin, “Both Clive Palmer and Tony Abbott Will Get What They Want,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/both-clive-palmer-and-tony-abbott-will-get-what-they-want-20140625-3atp6.html.  Peter stated: “Clive has saved the furniture. If he gets his way (and he is almost certain to), the architecture of the emissions trading scheme will stay in place. Negotiated over seven years and running to hundreds of pages, the design of the scheme was a massive intellectual effort about to be rendered useless.”

Peter Martin, “How Tony Abbott Made the Carbon Tax Work,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/how-tony-abbott-made-the-carbon-tax-work-20140630-zsqj4.html.  The author notes that “for more than a century, through two world wars and the Great Depression, Australia used more electricity each year than the year before.  Then, in 2010, something changed. Ever since 2010, we’ve been using less each year than the year before.” This, he suggests is attributed more to Tony Abbotts’s insistence that electricity prices would rise than to the rises themselves – the “scare factor.”

Oliver Milman, “Zero-Carbon and Economic Growth Can Go Together, UN Study Says,” The Guardian, 10 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/10/zero-carbon-and-economic-growth-can-go-together-un-study-says.  The top 15 emitter countries could make deep cuts to emissions while also tripling economic output, according to the study

Matt Grundorff, “Abolishing Renewable Energy Target Rewards Rich Polluters,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/abolishing-renewable-energy-target-rewards-rich-polluters-20140710-zt2v7.html.  The author reports on his research for The Australia Institute that indicated a renewable energy target is likely to “decrease electricity prices, not increase them,” though there may be small price increases in the short term, until the industry adjusts to the increased competition that will emerge as a result of the more complete development of alternative energy sources.

Ross Gittins, “Carbon Tax Merely a Blip in Power Price Scandal,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/carbon-tax-merely-a-blip-in-power-price-scandal-20140715-zt7na.html.  The author’s lead-in statement is:  Prime Minister Tony Abbott is right about one thing: the price of electricity has shot up and is now a lot higher than it should be.  It's a scandal, in fact.  Trouble is, the carbon tax has played only a small part in that, so getting rid of it won't fix the problem.

Mark Kenny, “Battle Lines Drawn: Carbon Politics Are Not Going Away Any Time Soon,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/battle-lines-drawn-carbon-politics-are-not-going-away-any-time-soon-20140717-3c3s6.html.  Kenny offers an opinion of post-carbon-tax-repeal politics.  See also John Connor, ”Tony Abbott’s Carbon Tax Outrage Signals Nadir of Post-Truth Politics,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/tony-abbotts-carbon-tax-outrage-signals-nadir-of-posttruth-politics-20140717-ztz2b.html.  John Connor is the CEO of the Climate Institute (http://www.climateinstitute.org.au) but even those who are unsympathetic to the work of the institute may benefit in reading Connor’s view as to what might be achieved without the carbon tax.

Julia Baird, “A Carbon Tax’s Ignoble End,” The New York Times, 24 July 2014.  Available at: https://www.google.com.au/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=julia+baird.  The article summarises the events leading up to the repeal of the carbon tax and also touches lightly on the lack of a replacement policy.  The article was written mainly for American readers and is accompanied by comments mainly from Americans.  

Oliver Milman, “Australia’s Investment in Renewable Energy Slumps 70% in One Year,” The Guardian, 3 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/oct/03/australias-investment-in-renewable-energy-slumps-70-in-one-year. “Australia’s investment in renewable energy projects has slumped below that of Algeria, Thailand and Myanmar, new figures have shown, with the sector “paralysed” by the government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target.”

Oliver Milman, “Sea Level Rise Over Past Century Unmatched in 6,000 Years, Says Study,” The Guardian, 14 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/14/sea-level-rise-unmatched-6000-years-global-warming. “Research finds 20cm rise since start of 20th century, caused by global warming and the melting of polar ice, is unprecedented.”

James Massola, Peter Ker and Lisa Cox, “Coal Is ‘Good for Humanity’, Says Tony Abbott at Mine Opening,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/coal-is-good-for-humanity-says-tony-abbott-at-mine-opening-20141013-115bgs.html.  “Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australia's coal industry has a "big future, as well as a big past" and predicted it will be the world's principal energy source for decades to come.” For additional comment, see Mark Kenny, ‘Coal Comfort for Tony Abbott,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/coal-comfort-for-tony-abbott-20141013-115h8x.html.

Mark Kenny, “Tony Abbott May Yet Be on the Wrong Side of History on Climate Change Debate,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/tony-abbott-may-yet-be-on-the-wrong-side-of-history-on-climate-change-debate-20141016-116ngz.html.  “Abbott began this week talking about coal as "essential for the prosperity of Australia and … the prosperity of the world … for many decades to come".  True enough, but he may end his first term talking about much stronger action on climate change whether he likes it or not after being "reverse Copenhagened" in Brisbane, Lima, and Paris.”

Priyamvada Natarajan, “What Scientists Really Do,” The New York Review of Books, 23 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/oct/23/what-scientists-really-do/?insrc=whc. The two books reviewed by Nararajan are not focused specifically on climate change, but rather they examine current misuses of scientific findings and the relative poor public understanding as to what scientists do.  This has direct implications on assessing the nature of climate change.

Mark Kenny, “Deal on Direct Action Spells End to Emission Trading,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 October 2014.  Available at:  http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/deal-on-direct-action-spells-end-to-emissions-trading-20141030-11e763.html. “The federal government is crowing about the deal it stitched up to get its friendless Direct Action policy through a hostile Senate while killing off forever Labor's carbon price-cum-emissions trading scheme.  Meanwhile, Clive Palmer, with whom said deal was hammered out, is simultaneously positioning himself as the last sentry against environmental neglect, and arguing his terms have secured what the government would not, and the Green/Labor axis could not, the retention of emissions trading as a live option in Australia.  They cannot both be right.  Additional analysis by Lenore Taylor, “Emissions Trading Will Be Back in the Game if Direct Action Proves Ineffective,” The Guardian, 30 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/30/emissions-trading-back-in-the-game-direct-action-proves-ineffective.

John Quiggin, “Direct Action is Here:  Now Tony Abbott Can Finally Move on from Doomed Tribalism,” The Guardian, 30 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/30/direct-action-is-here-now-tony-abbott-can-finally-move-on-from-doomed-tribalism.  There are really two debates on climate change: one on action, the other on the semantics of carbon pricing. Both have been resolved, albeit in an unfortunate way.”

Lenore Taylor, “Tony Abbott Keeps Digging Himself in Deeper, and It Makes No Sense,” The Guardian, 21 November 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/21/tony-abbott-keeps-digging-himself-in-deeper-and-it-makes-no-sense.  The Abbott government is in untenable positions on climate change and broken election promises and it’s time it took stock.

Tom Switzer, “Abbott Will Soon Look Like a Genius for Refusing to Drag Australia to Yet Another Climate Fiasco,” The Guardian, 18 November 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/18/abbott-will-soon-look-like-a-genius-for-refusing-to-drag-australia-to-yet-another-climate-fiasco.  “Defensive, embarrassing, insular, cringeworthy – this is just a sample of media comment on Abbott’s performance at the G20.  But look Deeper and a Different Picture Emerges.”

Peter Hannam, “Australia Ranked Worst-Performing Developed Nation on Climate Performance,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 December 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/australia-ranked-worstperforming-developed-nation-on-climate-performance-20141208-122nk4.html.Australia ranked 57 out of 58 nations reviewed by the survey, which has been done each year since 2005 by Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch.  Only Saudi Arabia fared worse.See also, Peter Hartcher, “Tony Abbott Must Shift with the Tide on Climate Change, The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 December 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/tony-abbott-must-shift-with-the-tide-on-climate-change-20141208-122ie7.html.  See also: Mark Kenny and Gareth Hutchens, “Budget Blowout Preferable to Dent in Confidence, Hockey Decides,” Sydney Morning Herald, 15 December 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/budget-blowout-preferable-to-dent-to-confidence-hockey-decides-20141215-127mza.html.

Michael Safi and Shalailah Medhora, “Tony Abbott Says Repealing Carbon Tax His Biggest Achievement as Minister for Women,” The Guardian, 22 December 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/22/tony-abbott-repealing-carbon-tax-biggest-achievement-minister-for-women.  Women are particularly focused on the household budget and the repeal of the carbon tax means a $550 a year benefit for the average family,’ the PM said.”.

Oliver Milman, “Fall in Greenhouse Emission Due to Economy Not Carbon Tax, Coalition Says,” The Guardian, 29 December 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/28/fall-in-greenhouse-emissions-due-to-economy-not-carbon-tax-coalition-says. “Mathias Cormann says below-trend growth was responsible for the 1.4% drop in emissions during the second year of carbon pricing.”

Peter Martin, “Climate Change: Why Some of Us Won’t Believe It’s Getting Hotter,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 January 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/climate-change-why-some-of-us-wont-believe-its-getting-hotter-20150110-12koa1.html.  The author concludes: “It is getting hotter. […] Warming is a fact.  The Bureau of Meteorology accepts it; the government accepts it and it shouldn't be beyond our abilities to accept it.  Then we can talk about what to do.”

Oliver Milman, “Still No Modelling to Show Whether Direct Action Will Meet Emissions Target,” The Guardian, 24 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/24/still-no-modelling-to-show-whether-direct-action-will-meet-emissions-target.  Environment department head tells [Senate] estimates he cannot say whether climate policy can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5% of 2000 levels by 2020.”

Oliver Milman, “Amazon Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef Need Better Care, Say Scientists,” The Guardian, 20 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/19/amazon-rainforest-and-great-barrier-reef-need-better-care-say-scientists.  “Protecting places of global environmental importance such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest from climate change will require reducing the other pressures they face, for example overfishing, fertilizer pollution or land clearing.  The study referred to is available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150319143325.htm.

Editorial, “Energy White Paper Has Some Huge Black Holes,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/energy-white-paper-has-some-huge-black-holes-20150412-1mjflr.html.  “Was it an accident or wilful blindness? The federal government's 74-page energy white paper, released last week, contained just a single reference to climate change. Given the Abbott government's self-imposed blindness on this issue, we have to suspect it was the latter. The omission renders the document deeply flawed.”  See also Clancy Yeates, “Coal Makes a Comeback Thanks to Carbon Price Repeal, Emissions Rise,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 April, 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/coal-makes-a-comeback-thanks-to-carbon-price-repeal-emissions-rise-20150412-1mifs6.html.

Hunter Lovins, “The Climate Denier’s Guide to getting Rich from Fossil Fuel Divestment, The Guardian, 14 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/14/the-climate-deniers-guide-to-getting-rich-from-fossil-fuel-divestment. “Whether you believe in climate change or not, there’s no denying the figures – taking your money out of oil, coal and gas makes good financial sense.”

Lisa Cox and Tom Arup, “Australia Should ‘Get Off Sidelines’ with 30 Per Cent Emissions Cut by 2025: Report,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australia-should-get-off-sidelines-with-30-per-cent-emissions-cut-by-2025-report-20150421-1mq1fe.html. For comment read Tom Arup at: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change-authority-presents-a-compelling-case-for-deeper-australian-emissions-cuts-20150421-1mpqwe.html.  The Climate Change Authority’s “First Draft Report of the Special Review: Australia’s Future Emissions Reduction Targets” is available at: http://www.climatechangeauthority.gov.au/special-review/first-draft-report.

Justin Gillis, “New Study Links Weather Extremes to Global Warming,” The New York Times, 27 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/28/science/new-study-links-weather-extremes-to-global-warming.html.  The moderate global warming that has already occurred as a result of human emissions is responsible for about 75 percent of daily heat extremes, and about 18 percent of precipitation extremes.”

Lenore Taylor, “Greg Hunt Hasn’t a Lot to Show for $660m Spent on Reducing Greenhouse Emissions,” The Guardian, 4 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/no-more-shortcuts-to-budget-surplus-20150503-1myets.html. “While the environment minister is proclaiming a ‘stunning’ result, the money monstly went on projects begun under the previous government.”

Lisa Cox, “New Renewable Energy Target Will Mean $6 Billion Cut to Investment: Analysis,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/new-renewable-energy-target-will-mean-6-billion-cut-to-investment-analysts-20150518-gh4ffd.html.  “Bloomberg's Australian head Kobad Bhavnagri said the organisation forecast that investment by 2020 would be 29 per cent lower under the new target ‘but no resolution to the impasse meant the industry was uninvestable’”.

Giles Parkinson, “The Benefits of Solar Do Outweigh Its Costs. Some Have a Hard Time Accepting It,” The Guardian, 25 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/25/the-benefits-of-solar-do-outweigh-its-costs-some-have-a-hard-time-accepting-it.  A new Grattan Institute report on rooftop solar says its economic costs exceed its benefits by $9bn. That’s true only if you don’t include all the benefits.” A summary and a link to the full report by the Grattan Institute is available at: http://grattan.edu.au/report/sundown-sunrise-how-australia-can-finally-get-solar-power-right/.  Grattan Institute’s response is available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/29/we-didnt-demonise-solar-the-grattan-institute-responds-to-its-critics.

Peter Hartcher, “Green Power Success Stories Take the Wind Out of Tony Abbott,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/green-power-success-stories-take-the-wind-out-of-tony-abbott-20150525-gh9bd6.html.  “If Abbott wanted to, he could help Australians cut their power bills by much more than 9 per cent. The way to do it, as the German event demonstrated, is with more renewable energy.

The Editorial Board, “The Case for Carbon Tax,” The New York Times, 6 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/opinion/the-case-for-a-carbon-tax.html?ref=opinion.  The editorial makes the claim that a carbon tax would be much easier to administer than some of the other climate change policies that many leaders have backed, but noted that getting lawmakers to adapt a carbon tax will be difficult.  “Just last year, Australia repealed its carbon tax after a new conservative government came to power.

Oliver Milman, “Coalition’s $2.55bn Emissions Reduction Fund Could Run Our Next Year – Analysts.” The Guardian, 6 July 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/06/coalitions-255bn-emissions-reduction-fund-could-run-out-next-year-analysts.   “The direct action fund is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by just 11% by 2025, far less than the expected target the government is soon to unveil.”

Daniel Hurst, “Solar Power Industry Vows to Step Up Campaign to Topple Abbott Government,” The Guardian, 14 July 2015. Available at:  http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/14/solar-power-industry-vows-campaign-topple-abbott-government.  Vow to expand marginal-seats campaign against Coalition comes after ban on Clean Energy Finance Corporation from financing wind and small-scale solar.”

Ross Gittins, “Time to Get the Economics of Environment Right, “The Sydney Morning Herald,” 17 July 2015.  Available at:  http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/time-to-get-the-economics-of-environment-right-20150717-giejry.html.  The government's role is to support the development of voluntary, industry-based sustainable certification of farms and to ensure such schemes are trustworthy. The government should also be active in the development of international sustainability standards so our exporting farmers can participate and benefit.”

Editorial, “Climate for Change: Abbott’s Cheap and Nasty Political Zombie,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 July 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/climate-for-change-abbotts-cheap-and-nasty-political-zombie-20150717-giebq3.  “The real-life zombie that returned to horrify Australians this week was not Labor's carbon tax or even a triple-whammy version of the walking dead as Prime Minister Tony Abbott claimed.  Rather it was the terrible spectre of cheap and nasty politics over good policy.”

Daniel Hurst, “Bill Shorten Recommits to Emissions Trading, Opposing ‘Abbott’s Society of Flat-Earthers,’” The Guardian, 24 July 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/24/bill-shorten-emmissions-trading-climate-change-labor-conference. “Labor leader’s address to party conference includes a vow not to succumb to ‘ridiculous scare campaigns’ and to insist an emissions trading scheme.”

Lenore Taylor, “Hysterical Bill Shorten Headlines Miss the Point, No Credible Climate Policy Exists,” The Guardian, 24 July 2015.  Available at:  http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/24/hysterical-bill-shorten-headlines-miss-the-point-no-credible-climate-policy-exists#img-1.  “It’s been hard to miss the hyperventilating news coverage about Labor’s new emissions ‘aspiration’, but neither major party has a plan for climate change.”

Graham Readfearn, “How Australians Were Ready to Act on Climate Science 25 Years Ago … and What Happened Next,” The Guardian, 6 August 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2015/aug/06/how-australians-were-ready-to-act-on-climate-science-25-years-ago-and-what-happened-next.  New book investigates how corporate interests and ideologues worked to make Australia doubt what it knew about climate change and its risks.”




Defence Policy and National Security

Defence White Paper 2013
was released on 3 May 2013 by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith. and is available online at: http://www.defence.gov.au/whitepaper/2013/docs/WP_2013_web.pdf.  The 2015 Defence White Paper Expert Panel has been appointed, the membership of which is available at: http://www.defence.gov.au/whitepaper/.

Alan Dupont, “Abbott Must Back Wide-Ranging Reform of Defence,” The Lowy Institute for International Policy”, 11 March 2014.  Available at: http://www.lowyinstitute.org/publications/abbott-must-back-wide-ranging-reform-defence.  The author offered the opinion that “when Tony Abbott and his colleagues on the National Security Committee of cabinet sit down to have their first serious look at defence this week they will find a dispirited and disjointed department in need of direction and renewal.

Ben Doherty, “Australia Buys Up, Enters Asian Arms Race,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australia-buys-up-enters-asian-arms-race-20140615-3a5xk.html.  The author uses the database made available by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute to show that “Australian imports of major arms – large-scale military materiel such as warships, fighter planes and tanks – jumped by 83 per cent in the five years to 2013, a reaction to increasingly volatile Asian relations and fears the region is set on the path of a dangerous arms race.  The database is available online at: http://milexdata.sipri.org/files/?file=SIPRI+military+expenditure+database+1988-2013.xlsx.

Andrew Carr and Harry White, “Japanese Security, Australian Risk? The Consequences of Our New ‘Special Relationship,’” The Guardian, 8 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/08/japanese-security-australian-risk-the-consequences-of-our-new-special-relationship.  “Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe's speech to the Australian parliament was a move towards a de facto alliance. Will it involve us in a war we could have otherwise avoided?”

Peter Hartcher, “To Discredit Islamic State, Take Away Their Naming Rights,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 September 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/to-discredit-islamic-state-take-away-their-naming-rights-20140908-10e2i6.html.  “A powerful draw for many of the [IS] recruits is the belief that this is not just any ordinary war against the infidels but the fight foretold in prophecy to be the battle at the end of time.”

Arthur Moore, “Australia Losing Its Middle-Power Status – Analysis,” Eurasia Review, 22 January 2015.  Available at: http://www.eurasiareview.com/22012015-australia-losing-middle-power-status-analysis/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+eurasiareview%2FVsnE+%28Eurasia+Review%29.  The analysis by Geopoliticalmonitor.com concluded that “current trends [in defence spending] indicate that Australia will soon lose the ability to behave like a middle power on the world stage, and even regionally, in military matters, and instead come to rely more on diplomatic initiatives.

Dennis Richardson, Secretary of the Department of Defence, ”Blamey Oration: The Strategic Outlook for the Indo-Pacific Region,” presented to the Royal United Services Institute’s 3rd International Defence and Security Dialogue, 28 May 2015.  Text of the speech is available at: http://www.theage.com.au/national/defence-secretary-dennis-richardsons-blamey-oration-20150528-ghbf7w.html.  The speech underscores two global developments.  The first is the increasing geographic dimensions of ungoverned space which we see from South Asia to the Middle East, to relatively large parts of Africa, into which have tended to flow groups with extremist ideologies. The second is the “changing power relativities, and the shape of our own region.”

Lenore Taylor, “Tony Abbott’s National Security One-Upmanship Is About Winning –at Any Cost,” The Guardian, 12 June 2015.  Available at:  http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jun/12/abbott-unleashed-on-terror-is-set-to-win-the-next-election-whatever-it-takes.  “The national security ‘debate’ is a response to Isis but it’s also a way for the prime minister to back Bill Shorten into the untenable position of being ‘weak on terror.’”




Economic Management

During 2015

Latika Bourke, “Govt to Tackle Head-On Claims It Is Unfair and Say Borrowing Against Our Kids Is the Most Unfair Act of All,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 January 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/govt-to-tackle-headon-claims-it-is-unfair-and-say-borrowing-against-our-kids-is-the-most-unfair-act-of-all-20150103-12gtum.html. “Former Howard government Minister Peter Reith has attacked Tony Abbott for ‘not lifting a finger’ on industrial relations and job creation, as the federal government attempts to reset the economic debate about the fairness of its budget.

Peter Martin, “Low 10-Year Bond Rates Are the Deal of the Century but Abbott's Not at the Table,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 January 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/low-10year-bond-rates-are-the-deal-of-the-century-but-abbotts-not-at-the-table-20150120-12tq4j.html.  A $15 billion drop in infrastructure is forecast for 2015, despite Tony Abott’s self-proclaimed status as the “infrastructure Prime Minister.  Peter Martin rubs the proverbial salt into that wound by noting that “the 10-year bond rate of interest is currently fixed at 2.55 per cent – an all-time low.”  We missed out on the opportunity to restore and replace old and ineffective infrastructure because the Coalition remains a “prisoner of the silly things it said about debts while in opposition.”

Vanessa Desloires, “Top CEOs Raise Concerns over Abbott Government's Lack of Control, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 January 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/top-ceos-raise-concerns-over-abbott-governments-lack-of-control-20150120-12tz5u.html.  A survey of 44 of the nation's leading chief executives indicated that over-regulation, the government's response to the fiscal deficit and debt and the increasing threat of rising taxes were the biggest threats to business growth.

Editorial, “A Timely Warning that Australia’s Inertia Must End,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 January 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/a-timely-warning-that-australias-inertia-must-end-20150128-12z7fd.html.  The text of Jennifer Westacott’s Australia Day Speech, referred to in the editorial, is available at: http://www.bca.com.au/newsroom/australian-unity-great-australia-day-breakfast-2015-speech-by-jennifer-westacott.

Gareth Hutchens, “Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg Says Australia Needs to Double Its Efforts to Fix the Budget,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 January 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/assistant-treasurer-josh-frydenberg-says-australia-needs-to-double-its-efforts-to-fix-the-budget-20150127-12z3wi.html.  “Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says he is much more concerned about the state of the global economy after his trip to the World Economic Forum this week, and he is determined to reinforce the case for budget repair when he returns to Australia.”  Commentary is available at: http://www.accci.com.au/CommentonFrydenberg.pdf.

Peter Martin, “The Economic Case for Changing Leaders,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economic-case-for-changing-leaders-20150206-1385jc.html.  Peter Martin uses the Reserve Bank of Australia’s rule of thumb that two interest rate cuts would boost economic growth by about 0.25 per cent after a year to eighteen months.  “It means that the associated forecasts of economic growth could be as low as 2.75 per cent for that period.  “They [the forecasts] would have made Abbott’s promise of half a million new jobs in five years impossible to achieve and would have seen unemployment rate steadily rise.  Note that charts outlining a similar scenario are available in the PDF commentary cited immediately above.

Ross Gittins, “RBA Channelling Hopes for Economy,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/rba-channelling-hopes-for-economy-20150213-13dptk.html. Why did the Reserve wait 18 months before cutting interest rates to a new low? Because it knows it's running a high risk of sparking a housing boom and bust. But with the economy now so weak, it felt it had no choice.

Heath Aston, “All Eyes Turn to Treasurer: Budget Do or Die for Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/all-eyes-turn-to-treasurer-budget-do-or-die-for-joe-hockey-and-tony-abbott-20150213-13dwoj.html. “This week Hockey told the Coalition joint party rooms that the country ‘may never get back to surplus’ the way things are going.  That was before the unemployment rate jumped to its highest level in 13 years and evidence emerged that budget cuts were not even covering higher spending under the Abbott government.”  Additional comment: Peter Martin, “It’s a Matter of Trust. Why Confidence is Our Biggest Economic Problem,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/its-a-matter-of-trust-why-confidence-is-our-biggest-economic-problem-20150213-13e787.html.

Mark Kenny, “Treasure Joe Hockey Hangs Tough Despite Jobs Slump,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2015. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/treasure-joe-hockey-hangs-tough-despite-jobs-slump-20150213-13eaov.html.  Treasurer Joe Hockey says his second budget will take account of a sharply slowing jobs market but has affirmed there would be no change from his tough spending cuts approach, arguing it is confidence the economy needs, not stimulus.

Ross Gittins, “Don’t Fix Budget while Economy Weak,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/dont-fix-budget-while-economy-weak-20150215-13es44.html.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/dont-fix-budget-while-economy-weak-20150215-13es44.html.  Ross underscores the importance of establishing a priority when a mixture of economic policies is on the table, and favours one that is opposite to the Coalition’s.

Editorial, “Joe Hockey’s Intergenerational Report vs Voter Trust,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/joe-hockeys-intergenerational-report-vs-voter-trust-20150306-13vs32.html.  “Get more people into jobs, work smarter, shore up budget revenue and get a bigger bang for the taxpayers' buck in spending.”  The “2015 Intergenerational Report” is available at: http://www.treasury.gov.au/Policy-Topics/PeopleAndSociety/Intergenerational-Report.

Ross Gittins, “State Governments Need to Step Up,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/state-governments-need-to-step-up-20150306-13wrao.html. “With monetary policy (interest rates) now less effective in stimulating the economy, it would be better if fiscal policy (budgets) was doing more to help, not less.

Greg Jericho, “Intergenerational Report: Assumptions about Government Spending Are a Confusion of Idiocy,” The Guardian, 9 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2015/mar/09/intergenerational-report-assumptions-about-government-spending-are-a-confusion-of-idiocy.  “The report happily assumes that the government would not change any spending policy for 40 years and debt by 2055 would reach 122 per cent of GDP.”

Editorial, “Tony Abbott’s Government by Shambles: Something Has to Change,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/tony-abbotts-government-by-shambles-something-has-to-change-20150319-1m2kzx.html.  “The government must think people are mind-readers or, worse, plain gullible.”

Tim Dick, “Australia’s Luck Ran Out When It Came to Leaders,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/australias-luck-ran-out-when-it-came-to-leaders-20150412-1mj7y8.html. Australia is immensely rich, incredibly desirable and lucky enough to have two dud leaders at the same time, continuing the truth of Donald Horne's ironic observation in 1964: "Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second-rate people who share its luck."

Lenore Taylor, “Who Will Lose Most from the 2015 Budget (Apart from the Government?”  The Guardian, 14 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/apr/13/who-will-lose-most-from-the-2015-budget-apart-from-the-government.  “There remains a disconnect between the PM’s new positive messaging, as it applies to the budget, and what his economic ministers are saying.”

Gareth Hutchens, “IMF Warns Reserve Bank May Have to Keep Cutting Rates,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/imf-warns-reserve-bank-may-have-to-keep-cutting-rates-20150414-1mkpy9.html.  “The Reserve Bank has been warned it may have to keep cutting already historically low interest rates to prevent Australians from becoming fearful of falling wages and weaker employment prospects. […] Financial markets believe there is a 100 per cent change the cash rate will be 2 per cent by September or October this year.

John Edwards, “Tony Abbott’s New Budget Strategy – and How Bill Shorten Will Respond,” Inside Story, 14 April 2015.  Available at: http://insidestory.org.au/tony-abbotts-new-budget-strategy-and-how-bill-shorten-will-respond. “Fixing the federal budget might not be as hard as we think, argues the author.  “And the Intergenerational Review shows we have the breathing space to choose how to do it.”

Jessica Irvine, “We Have to Raise Revenue, Not Just Cut Spending,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/we-have-to-raise-revenue-not-just-cut-spending-20150417-1mn16h.html. “To balance the books, Australians will have to pay more tax, the only questions being what will be taxed and how high the rate.”

Katharine Murphy, “Labor Plans to Rein in Super Concessions for Wealthy in Bid to Raise $14 Billion,” The Guardian, 22 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/apr/21/labor-plans-to-rein-in-super-concessions-for-wealthy-in-bid-to-raise-14bn.  “Retirees would have to pay 15% on super income over $75,000 and workers earning more than $250,000 face paying more tax on contributions,”

Peter Martin, “Negative Gearers Are the Opposite of Battlers and They Don’t Build Many New Houses,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/negative-gearers-are-the-opposite-of-battlers-and-they-dont-build-many-new-homes-20150427-1msy10.html.  “It is disturbing that the policy advice of the Property Council is preferred to that of the Reserve Bank.

Ross Gittins, “No More Shortcuts to Budget Surplus,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/no-more-shortcuts-to-budget-surplus-20150503-1myets.html.  The most obvious lesson – one to be learnt not just by politicians but by all those who care about fiscal responsibility – is that if you manage to con the pollies into proposing blatantly unfair "reforms" you run a high risk of actually setting back the cause of reform.

Nassim Khadem, “Tax the Rich and Save the Budget $1 9.5b a Year, The Australia Institute Urges,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/federal-budget/tax-the-rich-and-save-the-budget-195b-a-year-the-australia-institute-urges-20150504-1mz7h4.html.  According to the Australia Institute If Tony Abbott stopped giving superannuation tax breaks to the rich, restricted negative gearing, scrapped the capital gains tax discount and slapped a minimum tax rate on high-income earners, he could raise up to $19.5 billion in annual revenue.”

Malcolm Maiden, “What’s Holding the Australian Economy Back?  Companies,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/whats-holding-the-australian-economy-back-companies-20150508-ggwvip.html.  There's nothing inherently wrong with companies sweating their assets, and boosting earnings by cutting costs, jobs, and investment.  They become more productive in the process.

Heath Aston, “Federal Budget 2015: Budget 2.0 Will Determine Future of Joe Hockey-Tony Abbott Partnership,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/federal-budget/federal-budget-2015-budget-20-will-determine-future-of-joe-hockeytony-abbott-partnership-20150508-ggx5si.html.  “Coalition backbenchers see the budget as the opportunity for Abbott and Hockey to revive the government's fortunes.”  See also: Peter Martin, “Federal Budget 2015: Reserve Bank Says Growth Will be Lower, Recovery Slower,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/federal-budget/federal-budget-2015-reserve-bank-says-growth-will-be-lower-recovery-slower-20150508-ggxk1c.html.

Greg Jericho, “The Budget to Repair the (Poll) Damage Done by the Last Budget – in Graphs,” The Guardian, 12 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2015/may/12/the-budget-to-repair-the-poll-damage-done-by-the-last-budget-in-graphs. “The 2015 Australian budget smacks of a government that has targeted spending towards improving its polling rather than growth.”

Peter Hartcher, “Bipartisan Convergence There Is – but Not on What Really Matters for the Economy,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/bipartisan-convergence-there-is--but-not-on-what-really-matters-for-the-economy-20150515-gh2rah.html.  Hartcher brings out some of the hidden motives, as well as the hidden cuts, in the budget for government action during the incoming fiscal year.

Peter Martin, “Federal Budget 2015:  Cut Income Tax, says Treasury Secretary John Fraser,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/federal-budget/federal-budget-2015-cut-income-tax-says-treasury-secretary-john-fraser-20150515-gh2zcs.html.  The head of the treasury believes that the easy days of high economic growth are over and that Australia will need big personal income tax cuts to remain competitive.  See also, James Massola, “Bringing Home the Bacon, Saving the Base,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/bringing-home-the-bacon-saving-the-base-20150515-gh25qc.

Ross Gittins, “Don’t Trust the Knockers of Treasury Forecasts,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/federal-budget/dont-trust-the-knockers-of-treasury-forecasts-20150517-gh37i3.html.  Treasury and the Reserve Bank – whose forecasts are essentially a joint exercise – put an enormous amount of time and expertise into their forecasts […].  That doesn't mean their forecasts are likely to be right, of course.  Far from it.  But it does mean that, on average over time, they're likely to be less wrong than their critics.”

Michael Pascoe, “Small Business Myths Work Budget Miracles,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/small-business-myths-work-budget-miracles-20150518-gh42qq.html.  The budget seems to have miraculously achieved what it set out to do: restore the political fortunes of the Prime Minister and Treasurer. It's done so by playing upon a couple of popular myths and carefully targeting some spending.

Ross Gittins, “Low Interest Rates Mean It’s No Longer Business as Usual,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/low-interest-rates-mean-its-no-longer-business-as-usual-20150522-gh7by8.html.  Gittins comments on a recent speech by Phillip Lowe, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, concerning the often-forgotten disadvantages of low interest rates.  Links to this and two other related comments from the RBA are shown here. 

Editorial, “Tony Abbott Builds Australians a Tax White Elephant,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/tony-abbott-builds-australians-a-tax-white-elephant-20150527-ghae4n.html.  We should be examining how to simplify and expand consumption taxes. […]  It's a sad reflection of the state of political discourse when the Coalition – and Labor on issues other than superannuation taxes – feels incapable of or unwilling to explain to voters the benefits and drawbacks of important policy options.

Mark Kenny, “Deficit Decade: Tony Abbott’s $100 Billion Black Hole,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/deficit-decade-tony-abbotts-100-billion-black-hole-20150529-ghckxn.html.  Australia faces more than decade of uninterrupted deficits according to an updated assessment by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office that shows Senate intransigence will carve a $100 billion black hole out of revenue between now and 2025-26.

Malcolm Maiden, “GDP: Better but Still Not Good Enough,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/gdp-better-but-still-not-good-enough-20150603-ghg019.html.  “This economy won't  be motoring until private sector investment picks up, and when the building bulge in the housing market is stripped out, investment is weak.”

Greg Jericho, “Joe Hockey May Call Me a Clown, but GDP Growth Hasn’t Been ‘Terrific,’” The Guardian, 4 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2015/jun/04/joe-hockey-may-call-me-a-clown-but-gdp-growth-hasnt-been-terrific.  “The treasurer talked up the DGP figures, suggesting that those who believe there are ‘dark clouds’ are ‘clowns’   However, quarterly growth numbers hide economic concerns – here is what you need to know.”

Greg Jericho, “The Dark Clouds of Australia’s Largest Ever Trade Deficit Have a Silver Lining,” The Guardian, 8 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2015/jun/08/the-dark-clouds-of-australias-largest-ever-trade-deficit-have-a-silver-lining.  “Our exports drastically decreased due to a drop in iron ore and coal exports, and imports drastically increased due to equipment imported from Korea.”

Peter Martin, “Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens: More Infrastructure Spending Now, Please,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/reserve-bank-governor-glenn-stevens-more-infrastructure-spending-now-please-20150610-ghl1ri.html.  After months of hinting the Abbott government isn't doing enough to lift the economy, Glenn Stevens has come right out and said it.”  See address to the Economic Society of Australia in Brisbane, 10 June 2015 at: http://www.rba.gov.au/speeches/2015/sp-gov-2015-06-10.html.

Peter Ker, “Rio Tinto’s Mike Fitzpatrick on the RBA, BHP and Managing a Mining Boom,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/rio-tintos-mike-fitzpatrick-on-the-rba-bhp-and-managing-a-mining-boom-20150623-ghuzxj.  Fitzpatrick commented in an interview on the two-speed economy in Australia during the recent boom in mining activity.  “While some blamed the miners for the strong currency, Mr Fitzpatrick believed the Reserve Bank ‘left interest rates too high for far too long.’”

Ross Gittins, “Tony Abbott’s National Security Scare Campaign Hides the Truth: He’s Making a Hash of the Economy,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/tony-abbotts-national-security-scare-campaign-hides-the-truth-hes-making-a-hash-of-the-economy-20150630-gi16ie.html.  “Tony Abbott and his minister are more interested in diverting our attention to exaggerated threats to national security than in fixing our economic threats.”

Katherine Murphy, “Shift from Stamp Duty to Property Levy Could Raise $7bn a Year for States – Report,” The Guardian, 14 July 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/14/shift-from-stamp-duty-to-property-levy-could-raise-7bn-a-year-for-states-report. “ Grattan Institute report proposes levy of $2 for every $1,000 of unimproved land value, or $1 for every $1,000 of capital-improved property value.” The report is by John Daley and Brendan Coats, “Property Taxes,” Grattan Institute Working Paper, 14 July 2015.  Available at: http://grattan.edu.au/report/property-taxes/.

Daniel Hurst, “Australian Tax Reform: Options on the Menu for Abbott and Premiers at COAG,’ The Guardian, 22 July 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/jul/22/australian-tax-reform-options-on-the-menu-for-abbott-and-premiers-at-coag.  “Increasing or broadening the base of GST? Hiking the Medicare levy? Scrapping negative gearing? Who supports which measures as political leaders gather for the COAG meeting in Sydney?”

Tom Wesland, “Is Joe Hockey Going to Bust Some Monopolies?  His IP Referral Gives Us Hope,” The Guardian, 19 August 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/19/is-joe-hockey-going-to-bust-some-monopolies-his-ip-referral-gives-us-hope.  “A Productivity Commission review into intellectual property is welcome news – it could help prevent Australia being fleeced in future trade agreements.”

Andrew Leigh, “Joe Hockey’s Tax Disclosure Wind-Back Is a ‘Reform’ Nobody Asked for,” The Guardian, 21 August 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/21/joe-hockeys-tax-disclosure-wind-back-is-a-reform-nobody-asked-for.  “The Coalition is changing laws that require the top 2,000 companies’ tax affairs to be reported. I’m sorry – who demanded this reduction in transparency?”

Gareth Hutchens, “Abbott Government to Take Personal Income Tax Cuts to the Election,” The Sydney Morning Herald,” 24 September 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/abbott-government-to-take-personal-income-tax-cuts-to-the-election-20150823-gj5rgg.  “Mr Hockey will on Monday set out a comprehensive economic case for personal income tax cuts in a speech to the Tax Institute and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand in Sydney.

Mark Kenny, “National Reform Summit: Recession Wake-Up Call from Ex-Treasury Head Martin Parkinson,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 August 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/national-reform-summit-extreasury-head-martin-parkinson-warns-of-recession-20150826-gj8byi.html. “A former Treasury head has told a historic coalition of business, unions and welfare lobbyists that the equivalent of a recession is looming in the next decade unless Australia boosts productivity.”

Peter Martin, “Liberal Leadership: The Malcolm Turnbull Doctrine – Telling the Truth about the Economy,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 September 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/liberal-leadership-the-malcolm-turnbull-doctrine-telling-the-truth-about-economy-20150914-gjmfyc.html.  “Malcolm Turnbull has promised to tell us the truth.  He says he is offering a new style of leadership that respects people’s intelligence, that explains complex issues and then sets out a course of action”.

Greg Jericho, “Equality Is Built into Our Tax System – That's Why Morrison's Sums Don't Add Up,” The Guardian, 9 November 2015.  Available at:  http://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2015/nov/09/equality-is-built-into-our-tax-system-thats-why-morrisons-sums-dont-add-up.  “Unless the government wants to increase inequality, it’s almost impossible to keep revenue the same without increasing spending.”

Peter Martin, “Tax White Paper Will Target Superannuation, Not the GST,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/tax-white-paper-will-target-superannuation-not-the-gst-20151122-gl4xbc.html. Forget the GST – it's tackling the burgeoning problem of superannuation that will show whether the Treasurer is serious about fixing tax.”





Daniel Hurst, “Universities Sector Renews Call for More Public Funding after Deregulation Fiasco,” The Guardian, 7 October 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/oct/07/universities-sector-renews-call-for-more-public-funding-after-deregulation-fiasco.  “Universities Australia has sought to draw a line under its support for the government’s ill-fated plan to deregulate student fees, resuming its long-standing calls for greater public investment in the sector.”

Daniel Hurst, “Student Visa Applications Rise Strongly After Tough Three Years,” The Guardian, 17 January 2014. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/17/student-visa-applications-rise-strongly-after-tough-three-years. “A large increase in international student visa applications in Australia has raised the sector’s hopes of moving on from the slump caused by a ‘perfect storm’ of a series of migration rule changes, bad publicity about the nation’s safety, and the strong dollar.

Matthew Knott, “Education Minister Christopher Pyne: Set Universities ‘Free’ to Create a US-Style System,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 April 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/education-minister-christopher-pyne-set-universities-free-to-create-a-usstyle-system-20140428-zr0vc.html.  The author reported that “in a speech to a London think tank on Monday night, Mr Pyne said a new wave of deregulation was needed to stop Australia's universities falling behind the rest of the world.”  Note that not all of the US-style system is considered by Americans to be ideal.  Editorial Board, “Tightening Rules on For-Profit Colleges,” The Washington Post,” 28 April 2014.  Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/tightening-rules-on-for-profit-colleges/2014/04/27/2b80630e-cca4-11e3-95f7-7ecdde72d2ea_story.html.

Ross Gittins, “University Fees To Be Regulated under Pyne’s Reforms,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 May 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/university-fees-to-be-regulated-under-pynes-reforms-20140530-399pd.html.  Gittins begins his article with this statement: “The greatest economic puzzle in the budget is Tony Abbott's intention to ‘deregulate’ university fees in 2016.  There's a lot more to it than many people imagine.”

Daniel Hurst, “Australia’s Top Eight Universities Push for Higher Fees, Fewer Students,” The Guardian, 30 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jul/30/australias-top-eight-universities-push-for-higher-fees-fewer-students.  The author reports that “Australia’s prestigious Group of Eight (Go8) universities are likely to reduce the number of people they enrol while increasing fees for each student after deregulation, a key backer of the reforms has predicted.

Jane Caro, “Pyne’s Education Policies Hurt Women – But the Men in Cabinet Don’t Seem to Have Noticed,” The Guardian, 11 August 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/11/pynes-education-policies-hurt-women-but-the-men-in-cabinet-dont-seem-to-have-noticed.  “Recent measures would have forced women to pay much more than men for degrees that were worth far less to them.  With only one woman in cabinet, it’s heads men win, tails women lose.”

Jewel Topsfield and Matthew Knott, “Education Review: Overhaul of ‘Bloated’ National Curriculum Widely Supported,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/education-review-overhaul-of-bloated-national-curriculum-widely-supported-20141012-114zkz.html.  “The Abbott government's controversial review of the national curriculum has failed to reignite the culture wars as expected with its recommendations receiving widespread support across the country.”

Jamie Miller. “Don’t Turn to US for University Reform When They Look to Us,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January, 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/dont-turn-to-us-for-university-reform-when-they-look-to-us-20150123-12vok9.html.  The author observes that the educational funding system in the US is in crisis, yet the Coalition government is seeking to replicate it in Australia.  He suggests that the government “should take its user-pays model to an election and explain why it wants more of the University of Phoenix and less of the University of Sydney.”

Daniel Hurst, “Government Based University Fee Modelling on ‘Invented’ Figures, Says Official,” The Guardian, 25 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/25/government-based-university-fee-modelling-on-invented-figures-says-official.  “The education department’s associate secretary, Robert Griew, cast doubt over the calculations in a statement to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal opposing the release of internal government documents on the impact of the government’s higher education reform.”

Daniel Hurst, “Higher Education Bill: Abbott Government Trades Away $3.5 Billion Budget Savings,” The Guardian, 3 December 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/dec/03/higher-education-bill-abbott-government-trades-away-35bn-budget-savings.  Christopher Pyne’s latest legislation reveals significantly scaled-down estimated savings, cutting four-year impact from $3.9bn to $451m.”

Kevin Carey, “Here’s What Will Truly Change Higher Education: Online Degrees That Are Seen as Official,” The New York Times, 5 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/08/upshot/true-reform-in-higher-education-when-online-degrees-are-seen-as-official.html.  “In the long run, massive open online courses will most likely be seen as a crucial step forward in the reformation of higher education.  But their true impact won’t be felt until students and learners of all kinds have access to digital credentials that are also built for the modern world.”

Daniel Hurst, “Senate Blocks University Deregulation for the Second Time,” The Guardian, 17 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/mar/17/senate-blocks-university-deregulation-for-the-second-time.  “‘We will not give up,’ vows Christopher Pyne after most crossbench senators vote against the government’s legislation to remove limits on student contributions.”

Matt Wade, “Joe Hockey:  Why Isn’t He Being Grilled About the Unemployment?” The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/joe-hockey-why-isnt-he-being-grilled-about-unemployment-20150426-1mtb66.htm.  The number of people looking for a job has now been over three quarters of a million for the past nine months – it's 18 years since Australia had that many people out of work. Last month's count of the unemployed – 768,600 in trend terms – was 60 per cent more than before the global financial crisis.”

Peter Martin, “Federal Budget 2015: ‘Glacial’ Wage Growth Puts Budget Forecasts in Doubt,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/federal-budget/federal-budget-2015-glacial-wage-growth-puts-budget-forecasts-in-doubt-20150513-gh0s5l.html.  Budget forecasts for wages growth and interest rates on government debt are assessed as optimistic.  As a consequence projected revenue for government is likely to be lower than expected for the coming financial year.

Gareth Hutchens, “Small Business Tax Cut ‘Will Not Be as Effective’ as Abbott Government Thinks,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/small-business-tax-cut-will-not-be-as-effective-as-abbott-government-thinks-20150521-gh6vwx.html.  According to Saul Eslake, a leading business economist, “almost 63 per cent of small companies will derive no benefit from [the 1.5 percentage point tax cut] because they are neither profitable nor taxable.

Pete Goss and Jordana Hunter, “One-Size-Fits-All Past Its NAPLAN Use-by Date,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 August 2015. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/onesizefitsall-past-its-naplan-useby-date-20150805-gis9zk.html. A new approach to teaching the five-year-olds who start school in 2016 won't show up in year 3 NAPLAN results until 2019 or in year 9 results until 2025.  We do know that if we keep doing the same things, we are likely to get the same outcomes. For the sake of our children, we need a better approach.”

Editorial, “ABS and NAPLAN Shows Why We Need Gonski,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 August 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/abs-and-naplan-shows-why-we-need-gonski-20150814-gizbe3.html.  “School funding must be needs-based. The Abbott government must restore the final two years of Gonski funding, which NSW intends to spend mostly on disadvantaged schools.  Unlocking the true potential of each child.”




Federal-State Relations

Ted Mack, “The State of the Federation,” The Henry Parkes Oration 2013, Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts, Tenterfield, 26 Octover 2013.  Available at:

Katharine Murphy, “States Should Be Given Access to Income Tax, Audit Report Says,” The Guardian, 1 May 2014.  Available at:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/01/states-should-be-given-access-to-income-tax-audit-report-says.

Greg Jericho, “Colin Barnett’s GST Rhetoric Is Finding Blame for WA’s Shambolic Budget, 13 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2015/apr/13/colin-barnetts-gst-rhetoric-is-finding-blame-for-was-shambolic-budget.  “The state premier ignores that for most of the past 100 years the rest of Australia has actually propped up WA.”

Daniel Hurst, “GST Debate Fires up Again with Proposal to Distribute on Per-Capita Basis,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jun/23/gst-debate-fires-up-again-with-proposal-to-distribute-on-per-capita-basis.  Discussion paper setting out range of tax options is released after government faced criticism of leaks on health and education changes.”




Financial Sector Reform

Elizabeth Knight, “Banking Sector Reform Will Affect Every Australian,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 December 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-sector-reform-will-affect-every-australian-20141207-1222d6.html.  “The massive overhaul of the Australian financial system is aimed to act as a bulwark to secure the system in the event of a future shock such as the global financial crisis.”




Foreign Policy

David Wroe, “Let’s Wait and See: Julie Bishop,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 May 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/world/lets-wait-and-see-julie-bishop-20140523-38ud8.html.  “If Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is guided by precedent as she considers Australia's response to Thailand's 19th military coup, there are likely to be strong words of condemnation from Canberra but no punitive action such as sanctions.”

Bob Carr and Gareth Evans, “Australia Hinders Progress in Middle East Peace Process,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/australia-hinders-progress-in-middle-east-peace-process-20140608-zs15x.html.  The authors express the view that “Australia’s new policy of refusing to describe East Jerusalem as “occupied”, confirmed by a statement made by Attorney-General George Brandis in consultation with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, will not be helpful to Australia’s reputation, the peace process or Israel itself.”

Richard Gowan, “Australia’s Battle at the UN,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/australias-battle-at-the-un-20140610-zs36b.html.  The author describes a number of somewhat surprising successes of Australia as a temporary member of the United Nations Security Council.

Peter Hartcher, “Julie Bishop Speech to Declare Australia’s Full Support of US,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/julie-bishop-speech-to-declare-australias-full-support-of-us-20140617-3abla.html.  The article foreshadows a speech by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop that is expected to “declare exuberant confidence in the future of US power and commit to continue intensifying the [Australia-US] alliance in new realms including space.”

David Wroe, “Foreign Aid Overhaul to Squeeze More Value for Money,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/foreign-aid-overhaul-to-squeeze-more-value-for-money-20140617-3abn5.html.  The author reported the following:  “A fifth of Australia's aid budget will be geared towards driving economic growth in developing countries - known as ‘aid-for-trade’ - under a radical restructure to be unveiled by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.”

Michael Bachelard, “Australia Has Indonesia ‘Phobia’, Says Presidential Candidate,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/world/australia-has-indonesia-phobia-says-presidential-candidate-20140623-zsi97.html.  The author reports on the comments by presidential candidates for the approaching election in Indonesia, who generally agree that the relationship between the two countries is poor, and suggest that the problem is Australia’s, not Indonesia’s.”

Peter Hartcher, “Occupied Territories Dispute Another Mark Against Brandis,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/occupied-territories-dispute-another-mark-against-brandis-20140623-zsjc7.html.  Hartcher reported that “it started as just another tetchy, tedious argument over semantics in one of the eight committees of the Senate. […] Brandis told colleagues that the whole thing was much ado about nothing, "journalist-led confusion of an innocuous statement.  But they couldn’t have done it without Brandis.”

Damien Kingsbury, “Australia’s Foreign Policy Clumsiness Is Losing Us the Asia-Pacific,” The Guardian, 25 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/25/australias-foreign-policy-clumsiness-is-losing-us-the-asia-pacific.  The opening statement to the article is as follows: “The odd arrangement between Tony Abbott and foreign minister Julie Bishop is manifesting as a poor feel for the nuances of foreign policy.  The consequences for the region are real.”

Julie Bishop, Minister of Foreign Affairs, “Crawford Australian Leadership Forum: Keynote Dinner Address,” Australia National University, 30 June 2014.  Available at: http://www.foreignminister.gov.au/speeches/Pages/2014/jb_sp_140630.aspx?ministerid=4.  For comment see David Wroe, “Julie Bishop Evokes the Spectre of WWI in Warning Asian Territorial Dispute Could Erupt,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/julie-bishop-evokes-the-spectre-of-wwi-in-warning-asian-territorial-dispute-could-erupt-20140630-zsrhw.html.

John Garnaut, “Australia Will Stand Up to China to Defend Peace, Liberal Values and the Rule of Law: Julie Bishop,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australia-will-stand-up-to-china-to-defend-peace-liberal-values-and-the-rule-of-law-julie-bishop-20140709-zt1rf.html.  The lead-in of the article states: “In the Coalition government’s clearest statement yet on how to handle China, Ms Bishop said it had been a mistake for previous governments to avoid speaking about China for fear of causing offence.

Peter Hartcher, “Partisan Divide on China Comes at a Dangerous Moment,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/partisan-divide-on-china-comes-at-a-dangerous-moment-20140711-zt4oq.html.  Hartcher notes that the previous national consensus on how Australia should deal with China “fell apart after the leader of Japan, China’s arch-rival, came to town.  [This] means that relations with the world’s great rising power are not open to domestic politics and Labor and the Liberals each seek partisan points.”

David Wroe, “Julie Bishop Stares Down Russia Over MH17 Tragedy,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 August 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/julie-bishop-stares-down-russia-over-mh17-tragedy-20140812-103c8f.html. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has dramatically stepped up Australia's condemnation of Moscow over the flight MH17 tragedy, accusing it of trying to use humanitarian help as a pretext for an occupation.

Peter Hartcher, “Julie Bishop:  A Firm Gaze and Straight Talk from an Unflappable Foreign Minister,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/julie-bishop-a-firm-gaze-and-straight-talk-from-an-unflappable-foreign-minister-20140815-104nca.html.  Hartcher considers the government’s foreign policy standing and concludes that despite some “early bungling […] on the evidence to date, Australia under Abbott and Bishop has struck a foreign policy stance as the plucky country.”

Xinhua, “Chinese, Australian Foreign Ministers Hold New Round of Diplomatic, Strategic Dialogue,” People’s Daily, 8 September 2014.  Available at: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/n/2014/0908/c90883-8779628.html.  “Before the dialogue, [Chinese Foreign Minister] Wang told the media that China may not be Australia's closest friend at the moment but China can surely become the most sincere friend of Australia.  He added that China likes Australia to play an active role as a bridge and as a link between the East and the West.

Su-Lin Tan, “Mistake for Australia to Snub China’s New Infrastructure Bank, Says Former Ambassador Geoff Raby,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/g20/mistake-for-australia-to-snub-chinas-new-infrastructure-bank-says-former-ambassador-geoff-raby-20141028-11d7lg.html.  The article notes that concerns over the China-led infrastructure bank, involving governance, environmental standards and debt sustainability were expressed by the US and Japan.  Raby suggested that “if we have concerns about the governance, we should get in there and fix it. Not being a founding member of something like this is a very big call.  Additional comment by Editorial, “The Guardian View on the Asian Infrastructure Bank: The US Should Work With It, Not Oppose It,” The Guardian, 26 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/26/guardian-view-asian-infrastructure-bank-united-states-work-not-oppose.

Peter Hartcher, “Major International Matters Get Lost in Political Point-Scoring,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 November 2014. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/major-international-matters-get-lost-in-political-pointscoring-20141030-11eaeo.html.  In reference to Australia’s world-view strategy, Hartcher suggests that “it is often been Australia's bantam boast that it 'punches above its weight'.  However, a punch is not a good idea in a neighbourhood bristling with latent aggression.  Creative ideas and powerful persuasion would be much more useful.

Mark Hearn, “Australia Must Adjust to a Shifting Centre of Gravity,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 November 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/australia-must-adjust-to-a-shifting-centre-of-gravity-20141101-11eufd.html.  The author considers the apparent reluctance for Australia to participate in the foundation of the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank that has been proposed by China, and supports the view expressed by Paul Keating that “Australia can only influence the rules and investment strategies of the AIIB by participating.”

Bruce Grant, “Leaders Must Choose the Right Mindset for 21st Century Asia Pacific,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/leaders-must-choose-the-right-mindset-for-21st-century-asia-pacific-20150101-12fz7g.html.  According to the author, “the Asia-Pacific region is shaping as the economic powerhouse of the 21st century. If it is prosperous and peaceful, the world is likely to be prosperous and peaceful. It would seem obviously in Australia's national interest in 2015 – the centenary of Gallipoli – to be a little less like a warrior and a little more intellectual.

Malcolm Fraser, “America: Australia’s Dangerous Ally,” National Interest, 16 December 2014.  Available at: http://nationalinterest.org/feature/america-australias-dangerous-ally-11858.  It is Malcolm Fraser’s opinion that “it is time for Australia to end its strategic dependence on the United States.  The relationship with America, which has long been regarded as beneficial, has now become dangerous to Australia’s future.”

Michael G Roskin, “Balancing Rivalry and Perspectives in the Asia Pacific,” East Asia Forum, 21 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/02/21/balancing-rivalry-and-perspectives-in-the-asia-pacific/.  The author comments on the opinions expressed by Malcom Fraser, Hugh White and Elbridge Colby, who follow John J Mearsheimer’s view of US-China relations.

Stuart Harris, “A New Vision for China-Australia Relations,” East Asia Forum, 17 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/03/17/a-new-vision-for-china-australia-relations/. “Asia’s regional dynamics are changing.  While the US is a Pacific power, it’s an outsider in Asia.  To complicate the picture, the region features a China that is the largest trading partner of all Asian nations, including Australia.  Australia’s future relations with the region, in Northeast Asia and with ASEAN particularly, will depend upon its relations with China as well as with the US.

John Garnaut, “Chinese Diplomats Run Rings around Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/chinese-diplomats-run-rings-around-australia-20150326-1m833l.html.  “Successive Australian governments have failed to talk with honesty and nuance about China, making challenges posed by the rising power look more daunting than they are.

John Garnaut, “Our Shining Foreign Minister Needs to Focus,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/our-shining-foreign-minister-needs-to-focus-20150422-1mqla7.html.  Bishop is Australia's most effective foreign minister in two decades and a leading candidate for higher office, should Abbott come unstuck. On the question of her capacity for strategic leadership, however, she should focus tightly on her portfolio while the jury is still out.

James Laurenceson and Hannah Bretherton, “What Australians Really Thing about a Rising China,” East Asia Forum, 27 May 2017.  Available at: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/05/27/what-australians-really-think-about-a-rising-china/.  “In April 2015, the Australia–China Relations Institute surveyed more than 1500 Australians to better understand their attitudes towards China’s rise.  The big finding was that on most questions it was the middle ground that had the greatest support.

David Wroe and Philip Wen, “South China Sea Dispute: Strong Indication Australia Will Join Push Back on China’s Island-Building,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/world/south-china-sea-dispute-strong-indication-australia-will-join-push-back-on-chinas-islandbuilding-20150531-ghdjyy.html.  Defence Minister Kevin Andrews has issued the Abbott government's strongest signal yet that Australia is prepared to join the United States and other countries in pushing back against China's island-building and militarisation in the South China Sea.




Free Trade Agreements

Peter Martin, “ISDS: The Trap the Australia-Japan Free Trade Agreement Escaped,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 April, 2014.  Available at:
http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/isds-the-trap-the-australiajapan-free-trade-agreement-escaped-20140407-zqrwk.html.  Peter emphasises the value to Australia of avoiding the investor-state dispute settlement procedures that are set into a number of recent free trade agreements.

Michael Pascoe, “Trade Deal: Japan Wins, and Why That’s Good for Australia,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 April 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/trade-deal-japan-wins-and-why-thats-good-for-australia-20140408-36ach.html.  Michael suggests that the immediate advantage Australia should enjoy will not last long as a result of global competitiveness in the agricultural products that will enter Japan more freely as a result of the agreement.  Japanese consumers will continue to benefit from lower prices of these products.

Nick Dearden, “Bring on the Defeat of the EU-US Free Trade Deal,” The Guardian, 2 September 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/eu-us-free-trade-deal-ttip-transatlantic-trade-investment-partnership.  “So the [UK] government is now down to its last defence: suggesting that those opposed to the treaty are motivated by “anti-American” sentiment.  But it is precisely in the US where opposition to the TTIP, and its sister treaty the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has been most vociferous. Democrat opposition in Congress has even prevented President Obama from getting special “fast track” negotiating authority.”

Gabrielle Chan and Michael Safi, “WikiLeaks’Free Trade Documents Reveal ‘Drastic’ Australian Concessions,” The Guardian, 17 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/oct/17/wikileaks-trans-pacific-partnership-drastic-australian-concessions.  “Secret negotiations over the Trans Pacific Partnership have been apparently revealed, and experts are concerned about what they show.

Gabrielle Chan, “China-Australia Free Trade Agreement: What’s on the Table and Who Will Benefit,” The Guardian, 11 November 2014.  Available at:  http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/11/china-australia-free-trade-agreement-whats-on-table-who-benefits.  “Tony Abbott says service industries – tourism, finance, education, law and accounting – will be big winners, but critics warn against rushing to a deal.”

John Garnaut, “Australia Wins Good Trade Deal, Reassurance from China Despite our Friendship with US, Japan,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 November 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/australia-wins-good-trade-deal-reassurance-from-china-despite-our-friendship-with-us-japan-20141117-11oiqf.html.  “Australia was supposed to pay a heavy price for the Abbott Government sidling closer to the United States and Japan, while pushing back against Chinese territorial misbehaviour.  Instead, President Xi Jinping delivered Australian farmers and service professionals the most ambitious bilateral free-trade agreement.

Christoph Pauly, “Free Trade Faults: Europeans Fear Wave of Litigation from US Firms,” Spiegel Online, 26 January 2015.  Available at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/eu-fears-ttif-free-trade-agreement-could-spur-litigation-a-1015013.html.  “With broad public resistance and a European Parliament majority against it, EU officials are rethinking their positions on the proposed free-trade agreement with Washington. Many fear investor protection rules will wreak havoc on national laws.”

Shiro Armstrong, “The Costs of Australia’s ‘Free Trade’ Agreement with America,” East Asia Forum, 8 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/02/08/the-costs-of-australias-free-trade-agreement-with-america/.  “Ten years after the Australia–United States free trade agreement (AUSFTA) came into force, new analysis of the data shows that the agreement diverted trade away from the lowest cost sources.  Australia and the United States have reduced their trade by US$53 billion with rest of the world and are worse off than they would have been without the agreement.

Peter Martin, “Trans-Pacific Partnership:  What’s the Deal Being Negotiated in Our Name?” The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/trans-pacific-partnership-whats-the-deal-being-negotiated-in-our-name-20150220-13jci9.html.  The agreement has been “bubbling along below the radar for half a decade, it's about to become solid. It is set to deliver much more money and power to US pharmaceutical companies, to criminalise the use of technology in ways that presently don't attract jail time and to set up outside tribunals to reconsider decisions already made by Australian courts.

Elizabeth Warren, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership Clause Everyone Should Oppose,” The Washington Post, 25 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kill-the-dispute-settlement-language-in-the-trans-pacific-partnership/2015/02/25/ec7705a2-bd1e-11e4-b274-e5209a3bc9a9_story.html?hpid=z4.  “The provision, an increasingly common feature of trade agreements, is called “Investor-State Dispute Settlement,” or ISDS. The name may sound mild, but don’t be fooled. Agreeing to ISDS in this enormous new treaty would tilt the playing field in the United States further in favour of big multinational corporations.”

Peter Ker, “Chinese Iron Ore Subsidies Raise Doubts about Free Trade Agreement,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/chinese-iron-ore-subsidies-raise-doubts-about-free-trade-agreement-20150409-1mhh5m.html.  Federal Labor has challenged the Abbott government to clarify the terms of Australia's free trade agreement with China, after the survival prospects of Australian iron ore miners were further imperilled by China's decision to cut the tax rate imposed on its own iron ore miners.”

Leon Berkelmans, “Gold Standard Trade Deal Is Littered with Pitfalls,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/gold-standard-trade-deal-is-littered-with-pitfalls-20150414-1mkktf.html.  Trade deals were once about securing global trade. So, a shift towards negotiating issues other than trade is troubling.”

Jonathan Weisman, “Trans-Pacific Partnership Puts Harvard Law School Rivals on Opposite Sides, Again,” The New York Times, 27 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/28/business/trans-pacific-partnership-puts-harvard-law-school-rivals-on-opposite-sides-again.html.  The battle of over the Trans-Pacific Partnership is multi-faceted, as this article indicates.  For more comment on trade negotiations see: http://www.accci.com.au/CommentonTPP.pdf.

Philip Dorling, “WikiLeaks Reveals New Trade Secrets,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 June 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/wikileaks-reveals-new-trade-secrets-20150603-ghfycx.html.  Highly sensitive details of the negotiations over the little-known Trades in Services Agreement (TiSA) published by WikiLeaks reveals Australia is pushing for extensive international financial deregulation while other proposals could see Australians' personal and financial data freely transferred overseas.

Peter Whish Wilson, “Australia’s Treaty-Making Process Is Broken: The China Free-Trade Deal Is a Case in Point,” The Guardian, 11 September 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/11/australias-treaty-making-process-is-broken-the-china-free-trade-deal-is-a-case-in-point.  “By the time a free trade agreement like Chafta reaches parliament it has already been agreed to. Democracy demands more than a ‘take it or leave it’ approach.”  See also Gabrielle Chan, “Confused about the China Free Trade Deal?  Here’s What You Need to Know.” The Guardian, 3 September 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/sep/03/confused-about-the-china-free-trade-deal-heres-what-you-need-to-know. 

Heath Aston, “Experts Cautious of Robb’s Trade Deals Exuberance as They Anticipate Trade-offs,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 October 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/experts-cautious-of-robbs-trade-deals-exuberance-as-they-anticipate-tradeoffs-20151008-gk4zqr.html.  The author reports on views expressed by economists and legal experts that recently negotiated trade agreements may not be as beneficial to the Australian economy as was announced by the trade minister and his department.  See also “Ross Gittins, “Trade Pact Is No Big Deal,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 October 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/trade-pact-is-no-big-deal-20151008-gk4s7j.html.

Peter Martin, “Trans-Pacific Partnership: We’re Selling Economic Sovereignty for Little Return,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 October 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/transpacific-partnership-were-selling-our-sovereignty-for-little-return-20151011-gk6fhw.html.  The author argues that the “trade deal’s benefits may be exaggerated.”

Guardian Staff, “TPP Trade Deal: Text Published Online,” The Guardian, 6 November 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/nov/05/tpp-trade-deal-new-zealand-releases-text-online.  “Release offers first detailed look at 12-state Trans-Pacific Partnership, world’s largest free trade agreement.”




Government Marketing

Heath Aston, “Joe Hockey Under Fire for Taxpayer-Funded PR Campaign on Tax Reform,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 February 2015.  Available at:
http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/joe-hockey-under-fire-for-taxpayerfunded-pr-campaign-on-tax-reform-20150226-13pwxr.html.  The author reports that “so far $650,000 has been allocated for focus groups and a slick communications strategy to ‘convince people of the need for reform’, a Treasury official told a Senate estimates committee on Thursday.” This comes after it was revealed that $8 million will be spend ton an advertising blita to promote the government’s proposed higher education reforms.




Grants and Subsidies

Peter Martin, “Line in Sand Washed Away by Ocean of Obfuscation Over Seafoods Grant,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 February 2014.  Available at: 
http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/line-in-sand-washed-away-by-ocean-of-obfuscation-over-seafoods-grant-20140204-31zfm.html.  The lead sentence to the article is:  Within minutes of Treasurer Joe Hockey declaring an end to ‘the age of entitlement’ on Monday, assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs stood on a highway on the outskirts of Hobart and announced a grant of $3.5 million to a Tasmanian seafoods manufacturer, Huon Aquaculture.

Adele Ferguson, “Politics Aside, $22 Million SPC Bailout Might Bear Fruit,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/politics-aside-22-million-spc-bailout-might-bear-fruit-20140213-32nbe.html.  “After watching the killing of the car industry this week, the Victorian government was always going to support an investment plan designed to breathe new life into Coca-Cola Amatil's ailing fruit business, SPC Ardmona.” Further reporting in Associated Press, “SPC Ardmona Deal Proves It Didn’t Need Federal Help, Tony Abbott Says”, The Guardian, 13 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/feb/13/victoria-invests-22m-spc-ardmona-bailout.

Mark Kenny, “The Storm Facing Qantas Was One Joe Hockey Couldn’t Ignore,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/the-storm-facing-qantas-was-one-joe-hockey-couldnt-ignore-20140213-32lkr.html.  Bad luck might come in threes but for the federal government wounded by the SPC-Ardmona debacle, and claims of policy indolence over the car industry’s demise, troubles at Qantas threaten the biggest danger of all.  Additional comment by Matt O’Sullivan, “Treasurer Joe Hockey Lines Up Debt Facility for Airline Qantas,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2014.  Available at:http://www.smh.com.au/business/treasurer-joe-hockey-lines-up-debt-facility-for-airline-qantas-20140213-32n9o.html.

Mark Kenny, “Blueprint to Pick Economic Winners in Push Away from Manufacturing,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/blueprint-to-pick-economic-winners-in-push-away-from-manufacturing-20141013-1159w1.html.  “Knowledge-based industries driving the future economy will be treated more favourably in tax and assistance terms than the old industrial powerhouses under a new competition and investment agenda to be released on Tuesday.” See also Business Council of Australia, “Building Australia’s Innovation System,” October 2014.  Available at: http://www.bca.com.au/publications/building-australias-innovation-system.

Nick Talley, “What’s the Point of Abbott’s Medical Research Future Fund if We Have No Medical Researchers?” The Guardian, 5 December 2013.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/05/whats-the-point-of-abbotts-medical-research-future-fund-if-we-have-no-medical-researchers.  “The federal government’s medical research future fund is a welcome initiative because Australia needs to substantially increase its investment in medical science. But in order for the fund to be effective, we need to attract more clinicians into research.”




Health Care Policies

Catherine King, “The Facts on Medicare Don’t Lie: It’s Affordable and Effective without a GP Tax,” The Guardian, 16 January 2015.  Available at:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/16/the-facts-on-medicare-dont-lie-its-affordable-and-effective-without-a-gp-tax.  “Three reports in recent months put the lie to health minister Sussan Ley’s claim that health spending is unstainable.”

Michael Thorn, “Spending Cuts Imperil the Health of All,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 August 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/spending-cuts-imperil-the-health-of-all-20150804-gir1oc.html.  “Public health activists despair of the prospects of an adequate strategy to tackle chronic disease, described as ‘Australia's greatest health challenge’ by the government's Reform of the Federation White Paper.” A working draft of the White Paper is available at: https://federation.dpmc.gov.au/publications/discussion-paper.

Tim Binsted, “War on Healthcare Costs Hits Tipping Point with Medibank/Healthscope Deal,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/war-on-healthcare-costs-hits-tipping-point-with-medibankhealthscope-deal-20151123-gl5yx9.html.  “The nation's biggest private health fund, Medibank Private, has secured a landmark win in its battle to lower costs in hospitals after inking a new agreement with the country's second-biggest private hospital operator Healthscope.




Inequality in Income and Wealth

Clancy Yeates, “Advance Australia Fair? Maybe Not,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 January 2014.  Available at:
http://www.smh.com.au/business/advance-australia-fair-maybe-not-20140126-31gpz.html.  Yeates commented on an Oxfam briefing paper (http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp-working-for-few-political-capture-economic-inequality-200114-summ-en.pdf) indicating that Australia's wealthiest 1 per cent of households had had a rise in income second only to their peers in the US between 1980 and 2012,  and noted that this appears to be a global trend that was recognised by corporate members of the World Economic Forum in Davos (http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2014.)

Arthur C Brooks, “The Downside of Inciting Envy,” The New York Times, 1 March 2014.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/02/opinion/sunday/the-downside-of-inciting-envy.html?hp&rref=opinion.  The author expressed concern with what he perceives to be an increasing amount of envy and anger aimed at those who “have more than they deserve” and suggests that the underlying problem cannot be met effectively by a large scale redistribution of income.  Rather, we must “increase mobility with a radical opportunity agenda” and we need “aspirational leaders” to do the hard work of uniting the population around a more optimistic vision.  While this was addressed mainly to problems currently experienced in the USA, it has similar applications in less urgent situations. 

Inga Ting, “Freedom and Control Are Why the Rich Really Are Charitable,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 March 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/freedom-and-control-are-why-the-rich-really-are-charitable-20140307-34cb5.html.  The article reports on the results of an analysis of data from the Tax Office:  “It’s a paradox that seems to reinforce every stereotype about greed and wealth: those with the smallest incomes donate the greatest share of their money, while the rich pinch their pennies.

Peter Hartcher, “Healthy, Wealthy and Unfair: Tide Goes Out on Equality in Australia,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/healthy-wealthy-and-unfair-tide-goes-out-on-equality-in-australia-20141013-115fa9.html.  “[T]he world, like Australia, […] needs growth, and it needs a reasonably fair distribution of its benefits. I t's a matter of policy.  That is, it's a national choice and we know how to do it.  What is the purpose of a country's economy unless it is for the benefit of its people?”

Editorial, “The Guardian View of New Thinking on Global Inequality,” The Guardian, 14 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/13/guardian-view-of-new-thinking-on-global-inequality.  “The old Washington consensus is under mounting challenge.  Reducing inequality is morally right and economically necessary.”




Infrastructure Development

Anthony Albanese, “Tony Abbott’s Obsession with Building More Roads Is Dangerously Misguided,” The Guardian, 3 January 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/03/tony-abbotts-obsession-with-building-more-roads-is-dangerously-misguided.  The blame game is on again as Abbott and his team are feverishly laying the groundwork to conceal their absurd refusal to invest in urban public transport.  Australians deserve better.”

Peter Hartcher and James Massola, “Treasurer Joe Hockey Backs Second Sydney Airport,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/treasurer-joe-hockey-backs-second-sydney-airport-20140213-32nd1.html. he article reports that “Treasurer Joe Hockey has declared Sydney must have a second airport, arguing it will be an essential driver of jobs, growth and investment in the city's west.”

Clancy Yeates and Glenda Kwek, “G20 to Act to Unlock Infrastructure Investment, The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/g20-to-act-to-unlock-infrastructure-investment-20140223-33agx.html.  The article announced that the infrastructure investment taskforce within G20 held “very deep discussions on the issue” of funding for global infrastructure needs and mentioned that there is likely to be a document on proposals for the G20 meeting in November.

No author cited, “The Trillion-Dollar Gap: Investing in Infrastructure,” The Economist, 22 March 2014.  Available at: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21599358-how-get-more-worlds-savings-pay-new-roads-airports-and-electricity. The article points to the recognised need for more investment in infrastructure, particularly at the present time when interest rates are, and suggests that “every country needs a competent group of bureaucrats who have the authority and skills to design a pipeline of viable infrastructure deals and the political clout to standardise procurement procedures and other practicalities of getting a road built or a tunnel dug.

Matt Wade, “World Leaders Put Global Infrastructure Hub on the Menu,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 November 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/world-leaders-put-global-infrastructure-hub-on-the-menu-20141121-11qrwo.html.  The article quotes the Treasurer, Joe Hockey: “To have a global centre in Australia is a big event.  We've never had a global hub like this, especially one so important to the world economy.  This will service 85 per cent of the world economy. It's an opportunity that Australian businesses have never had before. We really can become a hub of excellence.




Leadership Struggle within the Coalition

Paul Kelly, “Credible Course Is Key to Aspirants,” The Australian, 3 February 2015.  Available at:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/credible-course-is-key-for-aspirants/story-e6frg74x-1227205638792.  “Tony Abbott’s declaration that It is the people who hire and fire prime ministers Is an effort to recruit legitimacy to his cause.”

Editorial, “Tony Abbott Still Doesn't Get It - and Time's Running Out,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/tony-abbott-still-doesnt-get-it--and-times-running-out-20150202-133mn8.html.  “All voters want is for Tony Abbott to explain why he and Joe Hockey broke promises and included extremely unfair measures in the budget last May, when many more reasonable and even more efficient alternatives are available. 

Lenore Taylor, “Tony Abbott Is Circling the Wagons and Not Going Anywhere,” The Guardian, 2 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/02/tony-abbott-is-circling-the-wagons-and-not-going-anywhere.  “The Prime Minister’s press club’s speech was most notable for what it lacked – recognition of voters’ concerns and determination to address them.”

David Marr, “Tony Abbott Is In Trouble Because He Never Let the Junkyard Dog Go,” The Guardian, 6 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/06/tony-abbott-is-in-trouble-because-he-never-let-the-junkyard-dog-go.  “This week has proved that unlike his political hero, Churchill, the Australian prime minister did nto grow once he had the power he scrapped and fought for.”

Michael Gordon, “Waiting for Malcolm,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/waiting-for-malcolm-20150206-137xiu.html.  “The uncomfortable truth of the crisis that threatens to destroy the Coalition government is that Tony Abbott is only part of the problem, and removing him will not avert the prospect of decimation in 2016.  See also Mark Kenny, “Tony Abbott’s Errors Have Cost Him Support of His Colleagues,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/tony-abbotts-errors-have-cost-him-support-of-his-colleagues-20150205-136t06.html.

Katharine Murphy, “How the Liberal Party Machine Swallowed the Real Tony Abbott Alive,” The Guardian, 8 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/08/how-liberal-party-machine-swallowed-tony-abbott.  The author states: “The Tony Abbott I knew disappeared in 2013 as he sublimated himself to the needs of his party and its backes.  Ultimately the strategy backfired.”

Peter Hartcher, “Tony Abbott Ripe for the Knockout Blow,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/tony-abbott-ripe-for-the-knockout-blow-20150213-13e6ox.html. “All Malcolm Turnbull has to do is wait patiently and the prime ministership will come to him.”

Gabrielle Chan, “Malcolm Turnbull Plays Convincing Role as the Man Who Is Not Tony Abbott,” The Guardian, 17 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/17/malcolm-turnbull-plays-convincing-role-as-the-man-who-is-not-tony-abbott.  “On [the ABC program] Q&A the potential challenger for the Liberal leadership pointedly distanced himself from Abbott, without directly criticising.”

Lenore Taylor, “Promises, Promises … Now It’s Time for Tony Abbott to Focus on the Nitty-Gritty,” The Guardian, 13 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/mar/13/promises-promises-now-its-time-for-tony-abbott-to-focus-on-the-nitty-gritty.  The prime minister can no longer skirt around the things that matter:  hospitals, education, welfare, climate change and the rest.”

Mark Kenny, “Hockey and Abbott Pay the Iron Price as Labor Circles,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 April 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/hockey-and-abbott-pay-the-iron-price-as-labor-circles-20150424-1mrib4.html.Voters are increasingly bemused as the government dissembles its way towards a second budget aimed mainly at over-writing its first, while inevitably falling short of the Magic Pudding promise of lower taxes and surpluses–a–plenty.”

Lenore Taylor, “Balancing the Party and the Public Will Be Turnbull’s Biggest Challenge,” The Guardian, 14 September 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/sep/14/balancing-the-party-and-the-public-will-be-turnbulls-biggest-challenge-yet.  “The new prime minister will need to keep the voters’ faith in his status as a conviction politician, as well as maintaining unity in a fractured party in which many are at odds with his views on climate change and marriage equality.”




Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis

The Editorial Board, “What the Stimulus Accomplished,” The New York Times, 22 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/what-the-stimulus-accomplished.html?ref=opinion.  The article referred to “The Economic Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Five Years Later,” Executive Office of the President of the United States, February 2014.  Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/cea_arra_report.pdf.

Ruth Marcus, “The Stimulus Was a Policy Success but a Political Disaster,” The Washington Post, 19 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ruth-marcus-the-stimulus-debate-continues/2014/02/18/55de6fac-98c8-11e3-b88d-f36c07223d88_story.html.  In reference to the fiscal stimulus package of US President Barack Obama, in a nutshell:  “The treatment helped.  The patient is recovering.  The doctor is still being accused of malpractice.”  She gives reasons why this is so and some of them also apply to Australia.

Robert J Samuelson, “Economists in the Dark,” The Washington Post, 17 February 2014.  Available at:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/robert-samuelson-economists-face-hard-times/2014/02/16/70991824-9599-11e3-afce-3e7c922ef31e_story.html.  Samuelson discussed in the article the main conclusions of a recent OECD study (http://www.oecd.org/eco/outlook/oecd-forecasts-during-and-after-the-financial-crisis-a-post-mortem.htm) and concluded that “the faith in economics was, in many ways, the underlying cause of both the financial crisis and Great Recession — it made people overconfident and careless during the boom — and the basic explanation for the weak recovery, as stubborn caution displaced stubborn complacency.

Gabriel Makhlouf, “Reflections on, and Some Lessons from, the Global Financial Crisis,” New Zealand Secretary to the Treasury, to the Trans-Tasman Business Circle in Auckland on 24 July 2013.  Available at: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/media-speeches/speeches/globalfinancialcrisis.  The author states: I will outline some of the main lessons the Treasury has learned and what we've done in response.  And I'd like to be clear from the start that the effects of the crisis will be with major economies for many years to come, and we have not finished learning from it.”

“OECD Forecasts During and After the Financial Crisis: A Post Mortem,” OECD Economics Department Policy Notes, No. 23, February 2014.  Available at: http://www.oecd.org/eco/outlook/OECD-Forecast-post-mortem-policy-note.pdf.  This is a comprehensive study of the forecasting procedures and results associated with the financial crisis and the results have already led to a number of changes in forecasting procedures and communications, and this will hopefully be of benefit in the prevention of future

Paul Krugman, “Why Economics Failed,” The New York Times, 1 May 2014.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/02/opinion/krugman-why-economics-failed.html?action=click&contentCollection=Europe&module=MostEmailed&version=Full&region=Marginalia&src=me&pgtype=article.  Krugman considered some of the reasons as to why “basic economics got tossed aside” during the past five years.  But  whatever the reasons, “we have, all along. Had the knowledge and the tools to restore full employment.  But policy makers just keep finding reasons not to do the right thing.”

Ross Gittins, “Economists and the Clash of Theories,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/economists-and-the-clash-of-theories-20141017-117i2w.html.  “There's been much mythologising of our experience with the GFC. Many punters' memory is that we thought there'd be a bad recession, the Rudd government spent a lot of money, but no recession materialised so the money was obviously wasted.  This isn't logical. You have to consider what economists call "the counterfactual": what would have happened had Kevin Rudd not spent all that. See also the response from Tony Makin entitled “Rudd’s GFC Stimulus was Unnecessary and Cost Jobs,” The Sydney Morning Herald. 20 October 2014 (scan down the collection of letters) and Paul Krugman’s review, in The New York Review of Books, of a new book by Martin Wolf at:  http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/oct/23/why-werent-alarm-bells-ringing/?insrc=whc.

Robert J Samuelson, “Stock Market Turmoil and the Global Debt Trap,” The Washington Post, 16 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/robert-samuelson-stock-market-turmoil-and-the-global-debt-trap/2014/10/16/301cf330-5568-11e4-ba4b-f6333e2c0453_story.html.  Six years after the onset of the financial crisis, the world still has too much debt. The total in 2013, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, came to about $186 trillion. This includes government debt, corporate bonds and loans to individuals, families and businesses.”

Simon Bowers, “Lehman Brothers’ Former CEO Blames Bad Regulations for Bank’s Collapse,” The Guardian, 29 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/may/28/lehman-brothers-former-ceo-blames-bad-regulations-for-banks-collapse.  Dick Fuld defended the bank’s culture, pointing the finger instead at government failings and hedge funds aggressively short-selling its stock.”




Motor Vehicle Industry in Australia

At end of 2013

Mark Hawthorne, “Taunts in Parliament and Text Brought about General Motors Holden’s Exit from Australia,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 December 2013.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/taunts-in-parliament-and-text-brought-about-general-motors-holdens-exit-from-australia-20131211-2z6i6.html.  The article describes the events leading up to the announcement by General Motors that production in Australia would cease by 1917.  Comment from Peter Hartcher, “Holden Departure Can Be to Joe Hockey What Banana Republic was to Paul Keating,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 December 2013.  Available at:http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/holden-departure-can-be-to-joe-hockey-what-banana-republic-was-to-paul-keating-20131211-2z6c3.html.  See also Lenore Taylor, “Did Holden Deserve Endless Assistance?  A Question the Coalition Failed to Ask,” The Guardian, 11 December 2013.  Available at:http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/dec/11/should-holden-get-endless-assistance.

Editorial, “Car Makers Test Coalition Resolve on Workplace Reform,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 December 2013.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/car-makers-test-coalition-resolve-on-workplace-reform-20131210-2z3vx.html. The editorial suggests that Australia has reached a watershed moment. “With the high dollar, the nation needs to pull every lever to remain competitive.  The two keys are productivity growth and restraint in labour costs.  Australia is lagging in both areas.” The need to resolve these key elements is made clear with the lingering uncertainty over the viability of car making in Australia.

Waleed Aly, “Holden Demise the Price of Global Economy,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 December 2013.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/holden-demise-the-price-of-a-global-economy-20131212-2za89.html.  The main point of the article is summarised by this statement:  The larger story here isn't really about our car industry, or whether we could have delayed Holden's decision to some other day.  “It's about the fact our politics don't match our economics: that the assumptions of a hyper-specialised global free market and its effortlessly mobile labour force don't reflect the more diversified, comparatively static nature of our societies.  Additional comment at: http://www.accci.com.au/CommentonAly.pdf.

At beginning of 2014

Jonathan Swan, “Joe Hockey, Toyota at Odds Whether Union to Blame for Car Maker’s Closure”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 February 2014. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/joe-hockey-toyota-at-odds-whether-union-to-blame-for-car-makers-closure-20140212-32h1u.html.  The article comments on the different versions reported of a private conversation between Treasurer Joe Hockey and Toyota Australia president Max Yasuda.”

Mike Carlton, “Tony Abbott Opposition Leader Bites Tony Abbott PM,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/tony-abbott-opposition-leader-bites-tony-abbott-pm-20140214-32r1i.html.  The author quotes a statement made by the prime minister while visiting a Ford production line at Geelong in 2011 that appears to contradict the actions taken by his government in relation to Holden and Toyota. 




Pensions and Superannuation

Daniel Hurst, “Part-Pension Changes Secure Passage after Coalition Agrees Deal with Greens,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 June 2015.  Available at:
http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jun/16/part-pension-changes-secure-passage-after-coalition-agrees-deal-with-greens.  Greens leader Richard Di Natale says government has agreed to look at superannuation taxes in return for support but Joe Hockey gives no hint of a change of position.”




Resources and Productivity

Editorial, “Australia Must Protect the Asset It Relies on So Much: Trust,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 March 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/australia-must-protect-the-asset-it-relies-on-so-much-trust-20140325-35gca.html.  The editorial states:  the challenge, and the opportunity, is clear.  Australia must continue to refine and improve its transparency, efficiency and governance across the economy, which is increasingly a service economy.

Glenda Kwek, “Asia’s Changing Food Tastes Could Be Australia’s ‘Next Big Story,’” The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 March 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/asias-changing-food-tastes-could-be-australias-next-big-story-20140325-35fv9.html.  The author summarised a recent report by HSBC, indicating that “Asia's growing taste for meat and dairy could see agricultural exports outperform metals and drive Australia's next commodities boom as the unprecedented investment in the mining sector winds down, a global report says.”

Stefan Heck and Matt Rogers, “Are You Ready for the Resource Revolution?” McKinsey Quarterly, March 2014.  Available at: http://www.mckinsey.com/Insights/Sustainability/Are_you_ready_for_the_resource_revolution?cid=resourcerev-eml-alt-mkq-mck-oth-1403.  The authors state that meeting increasing global demand requires dramatically improving resource productivity.  Yet technological advances mean companies have an extraordinary opportunity not only to meet that challenge but to spark the next industrial revolution as well.




Science Policy

Will Grant, “Science Funding Isn’t the Only Problem When Expert Advice Falls on Deaf Ears,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/science-funding-isnt-the-only-problem-when-expert-advice-falls-on-deaf-ears-20141028-11cxfs.html.  “If this government does want to see science and research playing a critical role in Australia's future, then it's going to have to stop thinking of science as a glorified valet, valued for skills but not for advice.  Comment is available at: http://www.accci.com.au/CommentonScienceFunding.pdf.

Paul Harris and Ryan Meyer, “Science Policy: Beyond Budgets and Breakthroughs: Discussion Paper on Enhancing Australian Government Science Policy,” H C Coombs Policy Forum, Australian National University, 2011.  Available at: https://crawford.anu.edu.au/public_policy_community/content/doc/Science%20Policy%20-%20Discussion%20paper%20-%20FINAL.pdf.  “A coherent and comprehensive science policy must go beyond science budgets and the immediate scientific outputs that those investments produce.  Science policy must also address issues of appropriateness, of the connections between public investments in science and the social, economic and environmental outcomes those investments seek to achieve, and also of the appropriate role of science in a healthy democracy.”




Shifts in Government Priorities

Nicky Phillips, “Our Science Suffers from a National Delusion,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 May 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/our-science-suffers-from-a-national-delusion-20140530-399l3.html.  The article reports on concern expressed by scientists and researchers that the Treasurer’s cuts will have an adverse effect on Australia’s ability to collaborate with international researchers, and that, in turn may doom to country to “becoming a backwater.”

James Massola, “Abbott Prepares for Major Shake-Up of Public Service,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 31May 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/abbott-prepares-for-major-shakeup-of-public-service-20140530-399un.html.  The author states that “The Prime Minister is planning sweeping changes to the highest ranks of the public service to make it more responsive to the Coalition government.

Matthew Knott, “Merger with ABC Would Be Death of SBS, Says Fraser,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 May 2013.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/merger-with-abc-would-be-death-of-sbs-says-fraser-20140530-399v0.html.  The article reported on the views of Malcolm Fraser regarding the recommendations of the Abbott government's efficiency review into public broadcasting that SBS vacate its premises in Sydney and Melbourne and move into the ABC's headquarters. 

Bob Carr and Gareth Evans, “Australia Hinders Progress in Middle East Peace Process,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 June 2013.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/australia-hinders-progress-in-middle-east-peace-process-20140608-zs15x.html.  “The Abbott government’s new position shatters what has been for nearly 50 years a completely bipartisan position. Neither Fraser and Peacock, nor Howard and Downer either adopted or even explored taking a similar stance. And for very good reason.

Mark Kenny, “Tony Abbott Puts a Positive Spin on Clive Palmer’s Political Tornado,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/tony-abbott-puts-a-positive-spin-on-clive-palmer8217s-political-tornado-20140710-zt2zy.html.  Kenny summarises the events during the early July period as follows: It “reveals the essential weakness of the government’s negotiating position – a weakness that will extend far beyond the carbon and mining tax repeals to a raft of budget cuts for which the mandate question is entirely contestable.  In its major features, the budget was a very different fiscal prescription from the one Abbott had promised voters.

Mark Kenny, “Has the Pro-Business Party Lost Its Nerve?” The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/has-the-probusiness-party-lost-its-nerve-20150326-1m876h.html.  “Business bodies are concerned that a weakened Coalition leadership is putting political stability ahead of reform.”

Eleanor Robertson, “Does the Coalition Support Families?  After the PPL Debacle, Who Can Say?” The Guardian, 20 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/20/does-the-coalition-support-families-after-the-ppl-debacle-who-can-say.  “The federal government’s paid parental leave and childcare plans are in disarray.  Of course they are: nobody in the Coalition can agree on whether families deserve support.”

Peter Hartcher, “Tony Abbott Rolled by His Own Ministers Over Stripping Terrorists of Citizenship,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/tony-abbott-rolled-by-his-own-ministers-over-stripping-terrorists-of-citizenship-20150529-ghcuxf.html.  “When Monday night's cabinet meeting turned to other business, Tony Abbott had a bombshell waiting.”

Mark Kenny, “Speaker Bronwyn Bishop Bows to Pressure, Leaving Tony Abbott to Clean up the Mess,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 August 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/speaker-bronwyn-bishop-bows-to-pressure-leaving-tony-abbott-to-clean-up-the-mess-20150802-giptzv.html.  “Three weeks into a crisis which has noticeably crippled his government, Abbott has at last acknowledged what almost everyone else had known from the start.  That it is not tenable to have the parliament's most senior officer, its chief guardian of standards, outed as its most egregious abuser of privileges.

Peter Hartcher, “Good Government Needn’t Be a Punchline, Tony Abbott,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 August 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/good-government-neednt-be-a-punchline-tony-abbott-20150814-gizeg8.html.

“The leadership of the most successful conservative government in the Western world had a close-up look at the Abbott government a year and a half ago.”

Peter Hartcher, “Demon of Division Must Be Denied,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 October 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/demon-of-division-must-be-denied-20151009-gk5kwa.html.  Fear and hate retard Australia. The only true winners are hate-mongers. The rise of Islamist terrorism has given them much to work with, but this week is also the beginning of an opportunity to deny the demon the divisions that it craves.”

Editorial, “Malcolm Turbull’s National Makeover,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 November 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/malcolm-turnbulls-national-makeover-20151105-gks6g4.html.  “And for the most part Australia is looking the better for it.”




Unions and Workplace Reform

Anne Davies, “The Union Movement Is Facing Tough Times,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 February 2014. Available at:
 http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-union-movement-is-facing-tough-times-20140131-31sb7.html.  The articles noted that union membership strengthened in education and healthcare but dwindled elsewhere, and considers the impact this is continuing to have on the political influence of unions.

Richard Ackland, “Heydon Royal Commission into Unions Aims for Jackpot,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2014.  Available at:  http://www.smh.com.au/comment/heydon-royal-commission-into-unions-aims-for-jackpot-20140213-32n1q.html.  “Throughout the nation lawyers gasped as they tried to absorb the pages of print that spell out the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into Rotten Unions and their Connection to the ALP.”

Ross Gittins, “The Truth Behind Tony Abbott’s Anti-Union Push,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-truth-behind-tony-abbotts-antiunion-push-20140223-33agu.html.  Ross sees the government’s actions against Australian unions as “motivated more by a search for political advantage than by a desire to free the economy from the scourge of unionism.  Indeed, when the union movement finally expires – which can’t be too many years off – I’d expect the Coalition to shed a private tear at the loss of such a useful whipping boy.”

Lenore Taylor, “Tony Abbott’s Promised Industrial Relations Crackdowns Face Senate Defeat,” The Guardian, 13 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/13/tony-abbott-industrial-relations-unions-crackdown-senate-defeat.  “PM’s pre-election promise to monitor conduct of unions and business groups, and strengthen industrial laws, meets crossbench opposition.”  The legislative history of the “Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2013, as well as the full text of the bill, are available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5126.

Greg Jericho, “Its Nonsense to Believe More Flexibility Leads to Greater Productivity,” The Guardian, 6 August 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2015/aug/06/its-nonsense-to-believe-more-flexibility-leads-to-greater-productivity.  “You’d be hard-pressed to find any evidence that greater flexibility leads to improved productivity, but the Productivity Commission asserts that it does – and recommends accordingly.”  The draft report by the Productivity Commission is available online at: http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/workplace-relations/draft.  Written submissions are invited by 18 September 2015.




Wages, Prices and Employment

Michael West, “Protecting Our Domestic Gas Is Critical,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 February 2014.  Available at:http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/protecting-our-domestic-gas-is-critical-20140209-32a17.html.  
West comments on the consequences of the follow-on of the announcement last week by Stanwell Power Corporation that the gas-fired Swanbank E power station west of Brisbane will close for three years because it has become more lucrative to sell the gas than to burn it and sell electricity.  This rush to export LNG to China, according to West, “has thrown a massive distortion in the market” so that Australia faces a shortage of gas in the domestic market and “prices are spiralling out of control as key players are all scrambling to lock in supply.”

Glenda Kwek, “Jobs Australia’s ‘Achilles Heel’ as Inflation Worries Keep Rates on Hold,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/jobs-australias-achilles-heel-as-inflation-worries-keep-rates-on-hold-20140213-32mnb.html.  The article reports on recent economic indicators that have pointed to “an improvement in some of the non-mining sectors,” but the lack of growth in jobs is a weakness, which, if continued, will have an impact on Australia’s macroeconomic policy.

John Collett, “Nightmare Vision of 2014 Property Crash”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2014.  Available at:http://www.smh.com.au/money/investing/nightmare-vision-of-2014-property-crash-20140213-32kl2.html#poll.  The article reports the recent prediction by Harry S Dent jnr that house prices will fall by at least 27 per cent in Sydney and Melbourne over the next several years and the “trigger for the collapse will be the bursting of the Chinese house bubble.”

Mark Kenny, “Joe Hockey Feels Sting of Shock Rise in Jobless Figures,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2014. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/joe-hockey-feels-sting-of-shock-rise-in-jobless-figures-20140213-32ndm.html.  Kenny’s lead-in sentence is:  Soaring jobless numbers and a raft of soft economic data have forced Joe Hockey to rethink the severity of his first budget with the Treasurer declaring it will now be ''focused on growth''.

Garry Shilson-Josling, “Wages Growth Weakest in 16 Years,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/wages-growth-weakest-in-16-years-20140219-32zyv.html.  The author notes that “economic growth has been too slow to stop the unemployment rate from rising over the past couple of years, and this has had a direct impact of slower wages growth.  This is expected to continue for the “near future.”

Ben Schneiders and James Massola, “Government Pushed SPC to Slash Wages in Return for Bailout, Union Officials Say,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/government-pushed-spc-to-slash-wages-in-return-for-bailout-union-officials-say-20140219-3314e.html.  The article reported that “three union officials told Fairfax Media they had meetings with SPC Ardmona managing director Peter Kelly before Christmas in which Mr Kelly said he was being pressured by the Abbott government to put workers on the award if the company wanted a $25 million subsidy.  Additional comment by Peter Martin, “Don’t Believe the Hype: Wages Growth Is Not Hurting the Economy,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 February 2013.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/dont-believe-the-hype-wages-growth-is-not-hurting-the-economy-20140219-3313z.html.

Michael West, “Study Shines a Light into Dark Corners of Electricity Pricing,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/study-shines-a-light-into-dark-corners-of-electricity-pricing-20140223-33ah7.html. West reports on a recent study that supports the view that “if Tony Abbott truly wants to achieve lower power prices, he will need to be better advised.  He could start by recognising for instance that it is not the carbon tax and renewable energy costs that are primarily responsible for energy price hikes.  The culprit is network costs; and it is his own state governments that are making the killing.

Anne Summers, “Abbott Has Dug Himself into a Hole Over Paid Parental Leave,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 May 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/abbott-has-dug-himself-into-a-hole-over-paid-parental-leave-20140505-zr4r4.html.  Simply stated, Anne’s main point is:  “You would think a government that claims to have a budget emergency would be grateful that we already have an affordable and effective scheme.  Improving it will be far cheaper than Abbott's billions-dollar baby.”

Ross Gittins, “Ending Mining Tax Will Damage Jobs,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 April 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/ending-mining-tax-will-damage-jobs-20140316-34vh1.html.  Gittins believes that the proposed removal of the mining tax will “be an act of major fiscal vandalism, of little or no benefit to the economy and at great cost to job creation.” This arises since the mining industry is about 80 per cent foreign owned so the any increases in dividends to shareholders is not spent in creating jobs in Australia.

Peter Martin, “Very Low Wage Rises Send Many Workers Backward,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 August 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/very-low-wage-rises-send-many-workers-backward-20140813-3dn6k.html.  The author reports the lowest wage rise in Australia since 1997, and it is associated with low growth in employment. 

Peter Martin and Mark Mulligan, “Wage Growth at a Record Low,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 February 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/wage-growth-at-a-record-low-20150225-13onwg.html.  The article reports that the latest figures from the Bureau of Statistics “show wage growth has never been lower - not since the bureau began collecting accurate figures in the 1990s.

Greg Jericho, “The Worst Wages Growth in 20 years is Joe Hockey’s ‘Good News,’” The Guardian, 2 May 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2015/mar/02/the-worst-wages-growth-in-20-years-is-joe-hockeys-good-news.  “The treasurer ignores that fact that the 2.8 per cent growth in average wages he touted in question time is actually the third worst annual growth rate since 1994, […] and no matter how much you spin it, wage rises below the inflation rate do not provide workers with “greater prosperity”.

Greg Jericho, “Is Australia Stuck in a ‘New Normal’ of Low Wages Growth,” The Guardian, 13 August 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2015/aug/13/is-australia-stuck-in-a-new-normal-of-low-wages-growth.  “Labour market flexibility has kept wages growth down while demand was weak, but it remains to be seen whether it will push up wages when demand returns.




Other Issues

Lenore Taylor, “Aid Groups Accuse Coalition of Broken Promise After It Announces New Cuts,” The Guardian, 18 January 2013.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/au.  Jump to notice of media release from the Minister for Foreign Affairs at: http://www.accci.com.au/Announcements.htm#aid.

Lenore Taylor, “Christopher Pyne’s Fury at “Illegitimate’ SA Government Smacks of Sore Loser,” The Guardian, 24 March 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/24/christopher-pynes-fury-at-illegitimate-sa-government-smacks-of-sore-loser.  The author suggests that Pyne’s denouncement of Jay Weatherill’s winning alliance with an independent following the recent South Australian election is a “well-worn Liberal tactic.”

Helen Davidson, “NBN Report Finds Coalition Plan Better than Labor’s,” The Guardian, 27 August 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/aug/26/nbn-report-finds-fibre-to-premises-plan-not-worth-the-expense.  “A mix of technology is cheaper and easier to upgrade than fibre-to-premises, says study by Department of Communications’ panel of experts.  Comment at: Editorial, “Coalition Must Push on with ‘a Slower NBN Sooner,’ but Hurdles Remain for Malcolm Turnbull, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 August 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/coalition-must-push-on-with-a-slower-nbn-sooner-but-hurdles-remain-for-malcolm-turnbull-20140827-1093h0.html.

Mark Kenny, “How Bill Shorten Lifted Labor’s Fortunes,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/how-bill-shorten-lifted-labors-fortunes-20141010-1141ra.html.  “Shorten’s supporters in the Labor caucus – and that means almost everyone – are not complaining.  Nothing sells like success and Shorten, surprisingly, offers some chance of that.”

Anna Patty, “Charities Can’t Cope with Increasing Demands, Says Report,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/charities-cant-cope-with-increasing-demands-says-report-20141012-114w2d.html.  “PricewaterhouseCoopers found 84 per cent of more than 300 chief executives it surveyed in the not-for-profit sector doubted they would have the necessary resources.”

Ross Gittins, “Health Spending Crisis Isn’t Real,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 October 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/health-spending-crisis-isnt-real-20141021-1196j8.html.  Gittins examined the recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and concluded that “it didn’t exactly fir with what the government has been telling us.”

Julia May, “Disability Groups Granted Temporary Funding Reprieve,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 March 2015.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/disability-groups-granted-temporary-funding-reprieve-20150228-13rg8r.html. “Last month the Department of Social Services announced it would cut funding to the disability sector by 40 per cent and support an alliance of just five representative bodies. It left eight bodies representing 200,000 people with disabilities under threat and sparked allegations that the government was in breach of the United Nations convention on the rights of disabled people.