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Australia21’s work on inequality just became even more important, with the Senate this week passing the Government’s budget tax cuts, a change the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says is ‘thoroughly fair’.

‘It is fair. It rewards and encourages enterprise. It encourages and enables aspiration. That is what this is all about.’

But many claim the new tax cuts will increase inequality, further weaken Australia’s ‘fair go for all’ landscape, and adversely affect Australian society and the economy.

A new report from The Australia Institute, released as part of the Australia21/The Australia Institute Inequality Roundtable held just days before the tax cuts were passed, shows inequality is getting worse in Australia.

“The government and policy makers should be working to reduce inequality. Unfortunately, the government is doing the opposite. It is proposing income tax cuts that undermine the progressive nature of our income tax system,” said Matt Grudnoff, Senior Economist at The Australia Institute.

“Inequality in Australia is getting worse faster than other developed countries. Our ranking among OECD countries has fallen. Australia used to be below average for inequality, now we’re above average and rising still. “At a time when the government should be focused on reducing inequality it is instead handing out a large income tax cut that will make inequality worse.” The Roundtable, co-chaired by Australia21 Director Em Prof Bob Douglas, brought together more than 30 leading thinkers including eminent economists, policy advisers, academics, social scientists, union representatives and politicians at Parliament House in Canberra. Government MPs were among those invited, but did not attend. “We hope and expect politicians and ordinary Australians everywhere will pay serious attention to the report from the Roundtable, to be released in the run up to the federal election,” said Professor Douglas. “Now it’s even more important for everyone to become informed about inequality and what it means.” Climate wars heat up As the Coalition celebrated on tax, the internal heat over the National Energy Guarantee was suddenly turned up to high, with the disunity going on full display. Meanwhile, the Climate Council reported Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions increased for the third consecutive year in 2017, approaching all-time highs, and once again criticised the NEG for doing little to abate emissions and for making no engineering or economic sense.

Commentators also pointed out that the latest energy outlook from Bloomberg New Energy Finance says, regardless of whether the government gets the NEG through the party room, renewable energy such as wind, solar, batteries and hydro storage will be at least 45 per cent of generation by 2030.

“This year’s New Energy Outlook confirms that cheap renewables combined with improved battery storage will eventually mean the demise of Australia’s coal-fired power plants,” said Leonard Quong, senior associate at BNEF.

At Australia21 we find ourselves returning to the evidence when analysing the NEG: what we know is that we need to get our greenhouse gas emissions down, fast. Unquestionably electricity prices are a serious problem, but emissions reduction must not be sacrificed on that basis.

Fighting fake news and spin

Climate change and inequality are just two of the problems being tackled by Australia21.

We address real-world social, economic, health and environmental issues that defy simple solutions – so-called ‘wicked problems’ – using sound research, honest evidence and fresh ideas to come up with fair, sustainable and inclusive laws and policies. We think that’s vital in an era of fake news and spin.

Right now we’re helping to shape fairer, more effective laws that will reduce the health and social harms of drug use. We’re connecting Australians across political divides with police, health professionals and families affected by drugs to come up with a better approach. You may recall hearing about our joint statement signed by health and social service providers and policy leaders in March, calling for all Australian governments to treat drug use primarily as a health and social issue and to remove criminal sanctions for personal use and possession.

We’re also:

We don’t receive any large government or corporate funding and we’re not allied to any political party. We rely primarily on donations and philanthropic grants to do our work.

At Australia21 a little goes a very long way. With the equivalent of just one funded full-time position, and the expertise of a hands-on volunteer Board, we mobilise around 2600 hours of pro bono work each year including contributions from hundreds of external experts and policy-makers from around the country.

This end-of-financial-year, we’re aiming to raise a very modest $40,000 by June 30. If we hit our target of $40,000 we’ll unlock another $40,000 in matching donations from generous core supporters. With the full $80,000, we’ll be able to complete our current work and start three more collaborative projects. In 2018-19 we’re aiming to build on our research and initiatives in drug harm reduction, PTSD, inequality, future of work and the Mindful Futures; we’re also planning a renewed focus on environmental issues and other risks to human survival.

We need just 1000 people to donate $40 each to reach our target.

So please click on the link — All contributions, large or small, will be put to very effective use.

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