By any measure, it’s been a big year for The Australia Institute. As the government sought to make sweeping changes, we worked with politicians across party lines to safeguard important policies and to shape public and parliamentary debates. Here are some of our highlights from 2014.
We worked to protect the RET We helped secure the support of the Palmer United Party, Senator Ricky Muir, and in turn a majority of the senate, to protect the Renewable Energy Target, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the Climate Change Authority. By protecting the RET and these leading climate agencies, the senate safeguarded more than $11 billion worth of government investment in renewable and clean energy, and up to an additional $35 billion worth of investment in clean energy, leveraged from the private sector. In June, Clive Palmer and former Liberal leader, John Hewson, launched our report Fighting Dirty on Clean Energy.
We revealed billions in subsidies for mining We challenged the idea that mining is good for humanity and generated enormous political attention about the downsides of coal and coal seam gas through 2014, continuously enraging the industry. Our report Mining the age of entitlement revealed for the first time the extraordinary extent of state government subsidies to the mining industry – $17.6 billion per year!
We made superannuation exciting
Our ground-breaking work on superannuation tax concessions is leading an unstoppable public discussion for tax inequality reform. Just this week, the OECD echoed our findings that Australia’s superannuation tax concessions, which are set to reach $50.7 billion by 2016-17, are overly-generous and unsustainable. Even the Murray Review, led by former Commonwealth Bank boss and the inaugural Chair of the Future Fund, David Murray, has called for action in this area.
We reframed the divestment debate and backlash In October, when the government lashed out at the Australian National University’s decision to divest from seven mining companies, we enlisted your help to publish an open letter of support to the ANU in the Canberra Times and the Australian Financial Review. The letter defended the ANU’s right to divest on social and environmental grounds, and was signed by dozens of investors, senior business representatives and other high-profile Australians including Malcolm Fraser and John Hewson. A further 10,000 people signed our online petition!
After the open letters, IPA, CIS, journalists and column writers had to work “of course institutions have the right to sell shares whenever they want” into their attacks on ANU. Even former Treasurer Peter Costello was forced to concede “it’s no big deal to sell a stock.”
We revealed millions in subsidies for Tasmania’s logging industry Our work on forestry has played a key role in overcoming the common misconception that the Tasmanian logging industry is a big employer, and in highlighting that the state government is overcharging electricity consumers while paying subsidies to Forestry Tasmania. We helped position forestry subsidies as a key issue in the Tasmanian state election. Without that work, there is no way the Tasmanian Liberal Opposition would have promised an end to forestry subsidies – a promise they must now deliver on in Government.
We eroded the ‘budget emergency’ We busted myths about the government’s ‘budget emergency’, and helped lead the effort to block $12 billion worth of Federal Budget funding cuts. We audited the auditors following the National Commission of Audit, revealing that their report was deeply flawed.
To all of our supporters, we thank you for coming on the journey with us. All in all, it’s been a great year, and we look forward to getting stuck right in again in 2015!
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season, and all the best for the New Year.
The TAI team
TAI in the media
We’ve had a lot of fun getting our faces on TV and our ideas in print throughout the year, sharing research and contributing a unique perspective on the politics of the day.