Issue 111: 20 Oct to 26 Oct 2022


Has Australia finally got over its embarrassing surplus obsession?
Jason Murphy | Crikey
The best news about tonight’s budget may be the forecasts of the bottom line. There’s not a surplus in sight. That means the debt keeps rising — but it also means Australia might have finally abandoned its absurd obsession with generating surpluses at all costs…Eventually, we want to reduce our debt in real terms. But doing so at the expense of the real economy, doing so on the back of families with unemployed parents, doing so because the editor of The Australian wants you to? That’s not good for the country.

Jim Chalmers’ push for a wellbeing budget
Rebecca Huntley | The Saturday Paper
In talking about wellbeing as part of the budget, Chalmers and his colleagues are trying to appeal to a community transformed by the impacts of a pandemic as much as by current economic turbulence. But they are also trying to speak to a range of groups they have relied upon for electoral success.

Three budget ‘cuts’ we should support
Peter Boyle | Green Left
If you add up 10 years of fossil fuel subsidies at the current rate, the $254 billion cost of stage 3 tax cuts and $170 billion for nuclear submarines, it comes to $540 billion — more than the government’s net debt, which is estimated at $515 billion.

A Budget Without Reply
Michael Pascoe| The New Daily
The problem with this lack of an opposition remotely worth listening to is that there are issues with Jim Chalmers’ first budget, but they are not issues the opposition is capable of dealing with. Dr Chalmers meant this only as a stop-gap budget, just dealing with the most immediate fires.That was demonstrated by his disappointing tap dancing around one of the pieces of low-hanging fruit he has been offered to fill some of that first space – the internal transfer pricing fiddle enjoyed by Big Gas to reduce the PRRT they should pay

The women’s budget statement signals a massive shift in how federal budgets are formulated and framed 
Patricia Karvelas | ABC News
So what happens when you put a gender impact statement on policy? What are the broader implications? Imagine that lens was put over taxation policy, superannuation policy, welfare policy. It has the potential to look at the consequences of policy and investment that make gender inequality worse.

Six graphs that explain the 2022 federal budget: rosy views mugged by reality
Greg Jericho | The Guardian
Households are now the big drivers of the economy, with consumption in 2022-23 expected to grow by 6.5%. …While the government’s budget might be better for the next two years, people’s own budgets are rather more fraught. A slowing economy means higher unemployment (the budget predicts that will rise to 4.5%) and usually worse wages growth. The past decade has really been a bad one for wages predictions. Strong growth is always about to occur, and then reality comes along and laughs at the budget:


Is Victoria renationalising the power industry? No 
Ben Hillier | Red Flag
The first thing to note is that it is not at all the “nationalisation” that the Financial Review declared. Labor’s plan is to set up a government entity that will compete in the electricity generation market in partnership with private capital and, most likely, according to the premier, with superannuation funds (some of which already have large investments in the Victorian electricity sector). Only in Victoria and South Australia are the networks 100 percent private owned. On the face of it, Daniel Andrews’ proposal will transform the Victorian power network from the most privatised in Australia to … the second-most privatised in Australia.

The end of direct action
Mike Seccombe | The Saturday Paper
Whether the laws are deemed constitutional or not, the intent to chill public debate is clear. Nor are these efforts to criminalise protest limited to Australia. Draconian laws have been introduced in Britain, and 45 American states have now legislated against environmental protest, with penalties ranging up to 20 years in jail […I]t is not only right-wing governments, as usually defined, that are bringing in these laws.

The Australian electorate is being misled by its media 
Teow Loon Ti | Pearls and Irritations
The paradigm of Xi’s Road and Belt Initiative includes exports of Chinese services and technology. Detractors have not only presented Chinese technology, e.g. Huawei 5G, as a security threat but the R&BI as a debt trap. Contrary to wild speculations, a World Bank Brief on 29, 2018 indicates that BRI projects have the potential to substantially improve trade, foreign investments and living conditions of citizens in participating countries.

SNACC or NACC? What will be made public by the new anti-corruption commission?
Michael West | Michael West Media
There is far too little appetite for transparency in government, and government secrecy is a deep an enduring problem for our democracy. Transparency is a dull word but absolutely vital. That’s why, when in opposition, the government promised a “transparent” integrity commission. That’s also why the decision to hold NACC hearings in secret is the single most disappointing feature of the proposed legislation

Another step closer to the end of greenwashing
Alex Kelly | Overland
We need to talk about how we will pay for the high costs of addressing the climate crisis as its impacts worsen and our lack of imagination when it comes to public ownership and public funding of public goods, such as the arts. Instead of accepting piecemeal, discretionary grants from corporate giants such as Santos, we could instead just tax them properly and then democratically distribute the money to the services and organisations that will make our communities flourish.

Promises and Threats in the new Middle East
Amin Saikal | Arena Quarterly
Even if a US–Iran rapprochement were to materialise, it could cut both ways. It carries the risk of either reducing or escalating Iran–Israel tensions. On the one hand, it could insert a strategic buffer between the two regional foes. On the other, it could irritate Israel to the point of orchestrating a confrontation on its own. At any rate, while the threats and possibilities of the past and present Middle East are relatively discernible, predicting the region’s future has always been risky, its complexity frequently defying predictions.


Academics strike as wage theft spreads, uni executive salaries soar 
Michael Sainsbury | Michael West Media

The rent is too high! Victorian renters call for action 
Elizabeth Bantas | Green Left

Plibersek told to save WA Murujuga rock art
Bill Mason| Green Left

Victoria underwater, but Flemington dry
The Guardian | CPA