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Defence Minister David Johnston has offshore-produced submarines in his sights. Lukas Coch/AAP

Government in a rush to make the wrong decision on submarines

In the last week, Defence Minister David Johnston has flagged a “capability gap” if the next fleet of submarines is designed and built in Australia. “We are under such time constraints to avoid a capability…
Who’s afraid of a little economic history? johnwilliamsphd/Flickr

Economics hijackers could do with a history lesson

Behind every economic policy initiative lies a narrative justifying that course of action: immigration increases unemployment; public debt is unsustainable; manufacturing is interminably declining; city…
Activists have a range of options available to them to voice their anger at a company’s decisions. Dan Peled/AAP

The 100-member rule may be gone, but shareholder activism is here to stay

As part of its program to cut red tape and bureaucracy, the Australian government is set to repeal the 100-member rule. The rule contained in the Corporations Act forces a company to hold a general meeting…
The performance of ASIC in regulating financial fraud remains under question, despite Chairman Greg Medcraft’s recanted statement that Australia is a “paradise” for white-collar criminals. Britta Campion/AAP

Do the crime, do the time? Not if you’re a banker in Australia

Recently, the head of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Greg Medcraft, called Australia a “paradise” for white-collar criminals. Soon after he recanted, claiming he didn’t want the…
In the lead-up to the London G20 summit in 2009, many businesses were boarded up, and some removed company logos from their premises. Scott Burnham/Flickr

When the G20 rolls into Brisbane, what are businesses insured for?

When the G20/G8 summits moved on from Toronto in 2010, they left an US$11 million bill in business compensation claims. To minimise the effect of preparations on businesses preparing for next month’s G20…
News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch has been given plenty of opportunities to air his agenda ahead of the G20 summit. Jason Reed/Reuters Pool/AAP

Murdoch discovers inequality, but he’s not on ‘Team Australia’

Rupert Murdoch’s special address to an exclusive meeting of the world’s most powerful finance ministers got a second airing this week. In a breathless front-page “exclusive” in The Australian, Paul Kelly…
Punters line up every year to bet on the Melbourne Cup, but why do we overstate our odds? Dean Lewins/AAP

For this year’s Melbourne Cup, consider a charity rather than taking on Tom Waterhouse

In the lead-up to next week’s Melbourne Cup, bookmaker Tom Waterhouse is heavily marketing a “$25 million bet that stops a nation”. All you have to do is give him A$10 and if you place the first 10 horses…
Ian Macfarlane may be making some hasty promises about the jobs created by Australian submarine procurement decisions. AAP/Lukas Coch

Australia’s submarines – the risk of broken promises

Recently, we heard a bold statement from federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, regarding the procurement of Australia’s new submarines. “I can promise you this,” he said, in an interview with ABC…
Tesla’s direct-to-consumer showroom model has been the subject of legal challenge in the US. Paul Swansen/Flickr

When Tesla takes hold in Australia, your car dealer won’t like it

Electric vehicle maker Tesla will soon deliver its cars to Australian roads. This promises to change both the type of cars we drive and potentially the way we buy them. Tesla remains a relative oddity…
The world urgently needs renewable alternative sources of energy. Rolex Dela Pena/EPA/AAP

ANU might be distorting markets, but markets are distorting society

John D. Rockefeller turned in his grave when the news drifted down to Hades that the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is divesting from fossil fuel companies … even from John D’s once very own Exxon. The shrill…
When banks run out of capital, the result can be devastating. Katia Christodoulou/EPA/AAP

Should bank capital levels distress Australian regulators?

Following its stepped up year-long review of European banks, the European Central Bank this weekend failed 25 of the 130 banks it tested on the strength of their capital buffers to protect against a downturn…
Telstra is seeking a new type of connection with its customers. Joel Carrett/AAP

Telstra gets serious about health, but will the public trust it?

Australian telecommunications company Telstra has this week announced its intentions to significantly develop its health business. The latest addition to its portfolio of health services will come through…
Is our car culture soon to come to an end? Jes/Flickr

Self-driving cars will not help the drinking driver

There is an unexpected revolution underway in road safety. True, the highly visible community-wide programs continue, but behind the scenes there are major changes underway in how safety will be managed…
New Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s still unsure about attending the G20 Summit in Brisbane. AAP Image/Eka Nickmatulhuda

To G or Not to G(20): that’s the question for Indonesia’s new president

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott met with newly sworn Indonesian president Joko Widodo after his inauguration in Jakarta, inviting him to attend the G20 Summit in Brisbane. But Jokowi, as the new…
The Abbott governments rush to sign bilateral trade deals with countries including Japan has meant quality has been sacrificed. Alan Porritt/AAP

Australia’s trade negotiating strategy fundamentally flawed

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
Before the Asian Century, it was Gough Whitlam that gave Australians the confidence to enhance their place in the world. Alan Porritt/AAP

Thanks for the confidence, Gough

“Where were you when Gough was sacked?” This of course refers to Remembrance Day, 11 November, 1975, when the elected prime minister Gough Whitlam was sacked by Governor-General Sir John Kerr in cahoots…
Reforming prime ministers don’t always have the luxury of choice. Julian Smith/AAP

Whitlam made the case for reform: an enduring economic legacy

“Men make history,” Karl Marx wrote in 1859 in his Critique of Political Economy, “but not always in circumstances of their own choosing". Whitlam himself would have chosen a different year to be his time…
From Adam Smith to the Australian classroom: a leap too far? angus mcdiarmid/Flickr

How economics lost its identity in Australia, and how to get it back

I will never forget the late summer day on which Johnny Smith (not his real name) came to my office at UNSW full of excitement about his incipient undergraduate career. “I want to work as an investment…
China needs to adopt a productivity reform agenda to avoid falling living standards. AAP

Look to China’s productivity gains, not headline growth figures

China’s economy grew by 7.3% during the third quarter of 2014, meeting market expectations. Polling by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal put the consensus forecast at 7.2-7.3%, the slowest pace in more…
With the progressive delegation of human decisions to machines we need to consider the impact on human autonomy. phloxii/shutterstock

Data mining the new black box of self-driving cars

Autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars, are likely to be seen more widely on roads in 2015. Already, legislation authorising the use of autonomous vehicles has been introduced in the US states of Nevada…
The sale of Medibank private is unlikely to compensate taxpayers for the loss of future revenue. AAP

Undervaluing Medibank Private: taxpayers face a raw deal

The IPO of Medibank Private is set to take place on November 25, and the indicative share price range in the prospectus released today suggests a market capitalisation of between A$4.3 billion and A$5.5…