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Analysis and Comment (18)

Alcoa is to close its Point Henry smelter in Geelong. Alcoa is to close its Point Henry smelter in Geelong. AAP

Australian aluminium outgunned by cheap, coal-free global rivals

Alcoa’s decision to close the Point Henry smelter, at a cost of almost 1000 jobs in Geelong and elsewhere, comes amid a perfect storm buffeting Australia’s aluminium industry. Point Henry will be the second…
Will transmission charges cloud over Germany’s solar industry? Will transmission charges cloud over Germany’s solar industry? Ben Birchall/PA

Grid access tax may cost more in lost renewables than it earns

Germany, one of the world’s leading users of solar power, is set to charge people generating their own solar-powered electricity for access to the national grid. The move is part of the package of reforms…
Can Scotland generate enough energy to go it alone, or is it blowing in the wind? Can Scotland generate enough energy to go it alone, or is it blowing in the wind? Ben Curtis/PA

Scotland benefits by paying for its energy, not UK’s mistakes

Could Scotland benefit from having an independent electricity system? Our report published this week found that it could – if it meant Scotland paying for (and benefiting from) its own renewable energy…
The reasons for compensating emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries have vanished; so should the compensation. The reasons for compensating emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries have vanished; so should the compensation. Dave Clarke

Labor keeps ETS compensation for big power users - why?

With the Rudd government announcing a faster conversion to a market-driven carbon price, it should be time to review the assistance provided to emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industries such as raw…
Do they have any idea what they’re doing? Or is it all an act? Do they have any idea what they’re doing? Or is it all an act? Stefan Rousseau/PA

Osborne won’t usher in a renewable renaissance

In a dramatic flourish of energy policy announcements over the past two weeks, the government’s spending review was merely the first act. Soon after, a British Geological Survey report revealed our huge…
Big farmers win big under agricultural policy, but change is in the air. Big farmers win big under agricultural policy, but change is in the air. Chris Ison/PA

After 50 years, Eurocrats still aren’t sure what the CAP is for

Reforming the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy has never been easy, and that’s hardly surprising. It’s well established that when interests are concentrated together, such as those of farmers…
Ford Australia has announced it will pull its car production out of Australia by 2016, with the loss of 1200 manufacturing jobs. Ford Australia has announced it will pull its car production out of Australia by 2016, with the loss of 1200 manufacturing jobs.

Ford to pull out of car production in Australia: expert reaction

The future of Australia’s auto manufacturing industry is under a heavy cloud after Ford’s announcement that it would cease its manufacturing operations in Australia by 2016. Ford Australia president Bob…
Speedy and decisive action is needed from the government to ensure our future energy security. Speedy and decisive action is needed from the government to ensure our future energy security. Flickr/Cayusa

Nuclear futures: tough decisions needed to keep Britain’s lights on

Our nuclear reactors have reached the end of their lives, North Sea oil is running out, coal is dirty: Britain faces an energy crisis of rising demand and falling supply. In our Nuclear Futures series…
Chapelcross, Scotland: decisions over our future sources of energy won’t wait until the cows come home. Chapelcross, Scotland: decisions over our future sources of energy won’t wait until the cows come home. Magnox Sites Ltd

Nuclear subsidies: a gamble on the price of gas

Providing power to the nation is no small task. It requires considerable forward planning, involves huge costs and considerable risks. More risk and cost, in fact, than most energy providers can stomach…
The body of people and organisations speaking out against fuel and energy subsidies is growing. The body of people and organisations speaking out against fuel and energy subsidies is growing. AAP Image/Penny Bradfield

Subsidies for unburnable carbon need to go up in smoke

More than half of global greenhouse gas emissions come from burning fossil fuels. Reducing and eventually eliminating fossil fuel use is a critical priority. Most of the world’s remaining fossil fuel reserves…
Recent redundancies at Holden have sparked debate over the need for a revised “industry policy”: but is this really the way forward? Recent redundancies at Holden have sparked debate over the need for a revised “industry policy”: but is this really the way forward? AAP/Andrew Brownbill

Industry policy must not second guess markets

The recent GM-Holden redundancies have provoked much comment, in many cases appealing for both state and federal governments to find solutions. But can government solve this dilemma, or is it a (big) part…
The government’s handling of the automotive industry underestimates its potential strategic importance to the Australian economy. The government’s handling of the automotive industry underestimates its potential strategic importance to the Australian economy. AAP

Is supporting the car industry so expensive, compared to our heavily subsidised lives?

Holden’s announcement of job cuts on Monday demonstrates the dual impacts of the strong Australian dollar and import penetration upon the beleaguered domestic automotive industry. 400 jobs will go in Adelaide…
If Tasmania is broken, maybe it’s because Tasmanians have no reason to fix it. If Tasmania is broken, maybe it’s because Tasmanians have no reason to fix it. Gary Sauer-Thompson

Obstacles to progress: what’s wrong with Tasmania, really?

Is Tasmania at a tipping point? Over the next two weeks The Conversation, in conjunction with Griffith REVIEW and the University of Tasmania, is publishing a series of provocations. Our authors ask where…
Asking what higher education students should pay is a deceptively straightforward question. Asking what higher education students should pay is a deceptively straightforward question. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Public vs private benefit: what do subsidies for university fees pay for?

The Grattan Institute’s most recent report Graduate Winners by Andrew Norton has generated valuable debate about what financial subsidy government should provide for university students. But before adjusting…
Who’s paying for this? You, probably. Who’s paying for this? You, probably. Uday Phalgun

Coal curse: the black side of the subsidised resources boom

As we are so often reminded, Australia has abundant reserves of high quality coal. Mining magnates, industry lobbyists and politicians all talk up the value of coal for the Australian economy, with exports…
A behind-the-scenes subsidy is likely to stick around longer than a cash subsidy. A behind-the-scenes subsidy is likely to stick around longer than a cash subsidy. bicyclemark/Flickr

As solar hot water gets axed, what is the logic in industry subsidies?

The sudden cessation of the Federal Government’s subsidies to solar hot water installations illustrates why subsidy-seekers mostly prefer industry assistance to come in hidden forms, rather than cash…
Unveiled: from the fanfare of the new Camry model last year, Toyota has axed 350 jobs this week. Unveiled: from the fanfare of the new Camry model last year, Toyota has axed 350 jobs this week. AAP

It’s technology, stupid: manufacturing’s crucial role in our economy

A week after Toyota announced redundancies at its Altona plant in Melbourne, Holden confirmed the loss of 100 casual jobs at its manufacturing plant in Adelaide. Holden chief Mike Devereux said the cuts…
Australia’s film industry, much like the automotive industry, depends on subsidies to survive. Australia’s film industry, much like the automotive industry, depends on subsidies to survive. phill.d

Protectionism: a matter of national pride

In Australia’s political history, elements of both Coalition and Labor governments have used arguments of cultural identity and national pride to justify policies of economic protectionism. The practice…