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Simon Cowan

Acting Research Manager & TARGET30 Program Director, Economics Program

cowan-simonSimon is a Research Fellow in the economics program and directs the TARGET30 Program. Simon has also been appointed Acting Research Manager.As well as co-ordinating the TARGET30 program which is focussed on government spending, Simon is working on government industry policy and regulation.

Prior to joining the CIS, he practiced Corporate Law for several years at a top tier law firm in Sydney and London after which he joined the NSW Government industry division. He has degrees in Commerce and Law from the University of New South Wales, as well as qualifications in Project Management.

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Publications by Author

  1. The Age Old Problem of Old Age: Fixing the Pension

    Matthew Taylor, Simon Cowan | 27 Apr 2015 | Research Reports

    The Age Pension is unfair to poorer pensioners, badly targeted, and imposing an unsustainable rising cost on the taxpayer. Pension... Read More...

  2. The Age Old Problem of Old Age: Fixing the Pension

    Matthew Taylor, Simon Cowan | 27 Apr 2015 | TARGET30 Papers

    The Age Pension is unfair to poorer pensioners, badly targeted, and imposing an unsustainable rising cost on the taxpayer. Pension... Read More...

  3. Budget 2014-15: Fiscal responsibility or savage cuts?

    Alexander Philipatos, Benjamin Herscovitch, Helen Andrews, Jennifer Buckingham, Matthew Taylor, Robert Carling, Simon Cowan, Stephen Kirchner, Steven Schwartz, Trisha Jha | 16 May 2014 | Special Publications

    The CIS analyses the Abbott government’s crucial first budget, including significant changes in the key policy areas of... Read More...

  4. Submission to the National Commission of Audit

    Alexander Philipatos, Jennifer Buckingham, Jeremy Sammut, Robert Carling, Simon Cowan, Stephen Kirchner, Trisha Jha | 01 Apr 2014 | TARGET30 Papers

    The federal government’s Commission of Audit (CoA) was established in 2013 to review the performance and role of government.... Read More...

  5. Emergency Budget Repair Kit

    Alexander Philipatos, Jennifer Buckingham, Jeremy Sammut, Robert Carling, Simon Cowan, Trisha Jha | 21 Nov 2013 | TARGET30 Papers

    The federal budget deficit has been described as an emergency. Cutting wasteful programs can save more than $20 billion a... Read More...

  6. TARGET30: Reducing the burden for future generations

    David Murray AO, Maurice Newman, Simon Cowan | 01 Jul 2013 | Policy Forum

    TARGET30 is a campaign promoting smaller government and cutting government spending to less than 30% of GDP in the next 10... Read More...

  7. FEATURE: Target 30: Reducing the Burden for Future Generations

    Simon Cowan | 01 May 2013 | POLICY Magazine

    A campaign to reduce government spending below 30% of GDP within the next 10 years.

  8. TARGET30: Towards smaller government and future prosperity

    Peter Saunders, Robert Carling, Simon Cowan | 06 Mar 2013 | TARGET30 Papers

    TARGET30 is a campaign promoting smaller government, supported by a series of research reports providing policy solutions... Read More...

  9. FEATURE: The Spectre of Protectionism Still Haunts Australia’s Economy

    Simon Cowan | 25 Feb 2013 | POLICY Magazine

    Political parties must resist the siren’s call of protectionism’s cheap popularity.

  10. Future Submarine Project Should Raise Periscope for Another Look

    Simon Cowan | 24 Oct 2012 | Policy Monographs

    Australia should not spend $40 billion to repeat the mistakes of the Collins Class submarine. Nuclear submarines, such as... Read More...

Opinion & Commentary by Author

  1. The Nats aren't happy when the ag industry is treated like any other

    Simon Cowan | 14 Jul 2015

    ‘Agriculture is at the heart of the Australian identity’ or so the government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White... Read More

  2. Pensioners are prudent by relying on taxpayers

    Simon Cowan | 10 Jul 2015 | Newcastle Herald

    Australia is currently having an overdue debate on retirement income policy. However, as the government and opposition both... Read More

  3. Retirement changes focus on the wrong assets, won’t boost incomes

    Simon Cowan | 14 May 2015 | Business Spectator

    The fundamental paradox of retirement is that retiree living standards depend on stable and secure incomes, but most retirees... Read More

  4. The home is key to our ageing future

    Simon Cowan | 28 Apr 2015 | Canberra Times

    The area most obviously in need of reform in Australia today is retirement income.

  5. Driven to budget distraction

    Simon Cowan | 13 Mar 2015 | Open Forum

    Given the growing list of budget blunders (for example Medicare reforms), in one sense it should hardly be surprising that... Read More

  6. Why you shouldn't trust these IGR predictions

    Simon Cowan | 05 Mar 2015 | ABC The Drum

    The fact that the majority of voters in 2055 will be over 50 years old will have a massive influence on future policy decisions,... Read More

  7. The push for a submarine tender

    Simon Cowan | 13 Feb 2015 | The Strategist

    The government doesn’t seem to understand the words it has been saying on submarines.

  8. Don't build subs just to save jobs

    Simon Cowan | 10 Dec 2014 | ABC The Drum

    We shouldn't build submarines in Australia just to provide jobs for a struggling manufacturing industry. The voodoo economics... Read More

  9. Tony Abbott's budget strategy must be about getting back to basics

    Simon Cowan | 08 Dec 2014 | Canberra Times

    It’s not enough to say you want to reset the budget debate, or to blame the carnival sideshow in the Senate.

  10. Comment: ANU divestment: it’s not ‘the economy, stupid’

    Simon Cowan | 16 Oct 2014 | ABC The Drum

    The response to the Australian National University’s decision to divest itself of holdings in certain fossil fuel companies... Read More

  11. Comment: Newman answerable to the voters, not the PUP

    Simon Cowan | 06 Oct 2014 | The Courier-Mail

    The bitter public slanging matches between the Palmer United Party and the LNP in Queensland make it difficult to believe... Read More

  12. The ideological chasm of budget fairness

    Simon Cowan | 17 Sep 2014 | ABC The Drum

    There are growing differences between the left and right about budget fairness stemming from a deeper ideological divide... Read More

  13. Unemployment crackdown: one size doesn't fit all

    Simon Cowan | 01 Aug 2014 | ABC The Drum

    Forrest's solution of extending income management to all unemployed people ignores the fact that people are unemployed for... Read More

  14. You get senators on side by getting voters on side

    Simon Cowan | 11 Jul 2014 | ABC The Drum

    Many of the Abbott government's key reforms seem unlikely to get through the new Senate.

  15. Abbott, Palmer and Gore - a play in three acts

    Simon Cowan | 26 Jun 2014 | ABC The Drum

    Clive Palmer's climate policy announcement was high theatre but was this play a tragedy or a farce?

  16. Keeping the cuts in the family

    Simon Cowan | 14 May 2014 | Business Spectator

    Joe Hockey’s first budget is a hesitant first step towards fiscal responsibility but the age of entitlement hasn’t ended... Read More

  17. Levy and parental leave scheme make bad politics

    Simon Cowan | 12 May 2014 | The Australian Financial Review

    The temporary deficit tax has joined the gold-plated PPL scheme as a policy millstone around the neck of the Prime Minister.

  18. Raising tax revenue just to throw it away is no answer

    Simon Cowan | 23 Apr 2014 | Australian Financial Review

    From troubling deficit figures in recent budgets, to dire predictions of blowouts in health and ageing spending in the intergenerational... Read More

  19. Protectionism no cure for our woes

    Simon Cowan | 13 Feb 2014 | ABC The Drum

    We need to understand why the automotive industry is shutting up shop and avoid resorting to protectionism.

  20. The challenge facing the Abbott government

    Simon Cowan | 21 Nov 2013 | The Drum

    For the Coalition's rhetoric on the 'budget emergency' to mean anything, cuts need to be made to corporate welfare and Family... Read More

  21. Memo to Abbott: Time is money we can’t afford

    Simon Cowan | 04 Nov 2013 | The Australian Financial Review

    The idea that a government needs to point to a specific electoral mandate for each of its actions is a furphy.

  22. Manufacturing votes and hindering business

    Simon Cowan | 30 Aug 2013 | Business Spectator

    Attempts to justify the largesse that goes from taxpayers to the manufacturing industry are not persuasive.

  23. Don't bank on PEFO projections

    Simon Cowan | 26 Aug 2013 | ON LINE Opinion

    The Projection of a surplus in 2016/17 is a chimera, based on long-term averages and unrealistic assumptions.

  24. Smaller government is vital for business growth

    Simon Cowan | 16 Jul 2013 | The West Australian

    Australia is at risk of waking up from the mining boom with nothing to show but a debt hangover and an economic headache.

  25. It's time to put the break on corporate welfare

    Simon Cowan | 23 May 2013 | The Drum

    Corporate welfare for a favoured few - like Australia's car manufacturers - cannot be justified.

  26. It’s time for surgery: the public purse is in dire health

    Simon Cowan | 26 Apr 2013 | The Australian Financial Review

    Reducing inefficient spending may harm vested interests, but meaningful reform cannot occur if no one is ever allowed to... Read More

  27. Cure for a bloated public sector

    Simon Cowan | 05 Apr 2013 | The Canberra Times

    TARGET30 is not a slash-and-burn campaign; it simply asks people to consider what they really need government to provide.

  28. It's time for smaller government

    Simon Cowan | 18 Mar 2013 | ON LINE Opinion

    Federal, state and territory, and local governments currently spend approximately $60 billion more each year than they should.

  29. Need to cut fat before we all pay the price

    Simon Cowan | 11 Mar 2013 | The Australian

    Governments are seemingly incapable of breaking their addiction to increasing spending.

  30. Car industry subsidies a waste of money

    Simon Cowan | 23 Jan 2013 | Australian Financial Review

    Government assistance to the automotive industry has been an expensive failure.

  31. Facts favour nuclear-powered submarines

    Simon Cowan | 05 Nov 2012 | ON LINE Opinion

    Australia must consider nuclear-powered submarines for the Future Submarine project.

  32. Australia’s Nuclear Sub Option

    Simon Cowan | 26 Oct 2012 | The Diplomat

    Australia needs the best submarines it can get, and that means the U.S. Navy’s Virginia Class nuclear-powered attack submarine.

  33. Stop-gap subsidies for the car industry must end

    Simon Cowan | 26 Sep 2012 | Australian Financial Review

    The Government needs to stop throwing money at the car industry and train these employees for other industries.

  34. Casting Australia’s business reputation overboard

    Simon Cowan | 25 Sep 2012 | ON LINE Opinion

    Australia cannot afford to jeopardise access to investment capital in an increasingly scarce global market.

  35. Finger-pointing over power ignores crucial facts

    Simon Cowan | 08 Aug 2012 | The Drum

    The issue of electricity prices is a plague on both houses.

  36. Navel gazing and infrastructure buck passing

    Simon Cowan | 31 Jul 2012 | Business Spectator

    Finding a long-term solution to the problem of infrastructure funding is in the interests of both the federal and the NSW... Read More

  37. It just smelts your heart

    Simon Cowan | 06 Jul 2012 | ON LINE Opinion

    No one seems to question why it's up to government to pick up the cheque to keep uncompetitive businesses running.

  38. Unions could make a difference for workers if they canned the sloganism

    Alexander Philipatos, Simon Cowan | 25 Jun 2012 | ON LINE Opinion

    Union outrage over Enterprise Migration Agreements reveals the damaging contradictions the union movement has employed in... Read More

  39. Only migrant workers can fill the gap

    Simon Cowan | 05 Jun 2012 | Australian Financial Review

    Temporary, skilled migration is the only viable solution for the resources sector.

Ideas@TheCentre by Author

  1. 3 (wrong) attitudes towards ageing

    Simon Cowan | 31 Jul 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    Our population is ageing. This will bring profound economic and fiscal challenges that will require significant changes in... Read More

  2. Contradictions rule in Greece

    Simon Cowan | 10 Jul 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    Part of the difficulty in understanding where the Greek crisis will head is that so many of the actions of the key players... Read More

  3. Greece must deal with its past before its creditors

    Simon Cowan | 19 Jun 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    It may well be true that Greece will never pay back its debts, as Greek Finance Minister 'Aussie' Yanis Varoufakis claims.... Read More

  4. With respect...

    Simon Cowan | 29 May 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    'With respect, that is a nonsense figure that you continue to trot out that you made up yourselves....' those were the blunt... Read More

  5. Three pillars reform needed to fix pension

    Simon Cowan | 24 Apr 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    There are three ‘pillars’ supporting retirement in Australia. Superannuation, the age pension and the family home. If... Read More

  6. Same-sex marriage isn't same-sex parenting

    Simon Cowan | 27 Mar 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    The simple fact is that, for good or ill, society has moved past the ‘traditional’ meaning of marriage.

  7. What lies beneath the waves of government-speak on subs

    Simon Cowan | 13 Feb 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    The government doesn’t seem to understand the words it has been saying on submarines.

  8. Disaster management, not demand management

    Simon Cowan | 30 Jan 2015 | Ideas@The Centre

    The global financial crisis re-ignited a division in economics between those who believe governments should boost demand... Read More

  9. Need a budget 'narrative' - this is it

    Simon Cowan | 12 Dec 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    Forget insider words like ‘message’ and ‘spin’ and avert your eyes from the Senate railway wreckage. If the Abbott... Read More

  10. The third retirement pillar - home equity and pension inequity

    Simon Cowan | 21 Nov 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    The system for supporting retired Australians is said to rest on three pillars: the age pension, superannuation and the family... Read More

  11. Let them divest, but not with taxpayers cake

    Simon Cowan | 17 Oct 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    Unless the ANU’s new strategy mentions an exciting new investment in magic beans, if it’s not imposing greater costs... Read More

  12. Subs project is sinking fast

    Simon Cowan | 19 Sep 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    Nothing to date about the process of acquiring Australia's next generation submarines should fill Australians with confidence... Read More

  13. Senate voting reform won't fix the budget

    Simon Cowan | 29 Aug 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    The permanent entrenchment of these dynamics would be harmful to the long term health of the budget, as significantly reducing... Read More

  14. Independent tax commission won't work in practice

    Simon Cowan | 22 Aug 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    Would a tax commission provide ‘fiercely independent advice’ on tax reform to the government, along a similar model to... Read More

  15. Unemployment - one size fits some

    Simon Cowan | 01 Aug 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    The biggest drawback to recent welfare reform plans on unemployment is in wrongly treating the unemployed as a homogenous... Read More

  16. Will defunding school chaplains mean smaller government?

    Simon Cowan | 20 Jun 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    Why should taxpayers fund the general provision of religious services anywhere?

  17. Minor parties causing a major stir

    Simon Cowan | 23 May 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    How do we reform the system to stop the gaming of the preferences system without eliminating the voices of minor parties... Read More

  18. Puncturing our naive bubble

    Simon Cowan | 02 May 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    We now have a choice: smaller government or bigger taxes. We can only hope the Treasurer picks the right option.

  19. Closing the government gaps

    Simon Cowan | 04 Apr 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    Two gaps are putting pressure on government budgets and closing these gaps will be key to addressing short-term budget problems... Read More

  20. Foreign ownership of Qantas is a smokescreen

    Simon Cowan | 07 Mar 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    It is well worth exploring what is in the Qantas Sale Act and why some are fighting to keep it.

  21. Alcoa exposes false promises of protectionism

    Simon Cowan | 21 Feb 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    With the collapse of the car manufacturing industry and the fall of Alcoa’s smelting operations, we must examine the costs... Read More

  22. Forget ABC bias, its crowding out that's the problem

    Simon Cowan | 07 Feb 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    A review of public broadcasting should address what needs ABC and SBS are fulfilling, and whether they are duplicating or... Read More

  23. The Senate inquisition

    Simon Cowan | 17 Jan 2014 | Ideas@The Centre

    The Commission of Audit Commissioners were subjected to an inquisition this week, before they’ve even delivered their report... Read More

  24. Of debt ceilings and Commissions of Audit

    Simon Cowan | 25 Oct 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    The government can’t wait for the Commission of Audit to report on the size of government, it must tackle the budget deficit... Read More

  25. One 'last' bailout for Holden

    Simon Cowan | 04 Oct 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Government should ignore calls for one ‘last’ bailout package for Holden and cut wasteful corporate welfare.

  26. Australia's leaky submarine program

    Simon Cowan | 27 Sep 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Taxpayers are entitled to know whether the Collins Class submarine represents value for money and whether the service life... Read More

  27. You get the politicians you vote for

    Simon Cowan | 06 Sep 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    We can demand better from politicians because they need our votes.

  28. Don't bank on PEFO projections

    Simon Cowan | 16 Aug 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Unrealistic assumptions manufacture a surplus in 2016/17, not any expected economic prowess from the government.

  29. Co-investment is corporate welfare

    Simon Cowan | 09 Aug 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    So-called ‘co-investments’ to the car industry are really just cash handouts and cannot be considered ‘investments’... Read More

  30. Productivity is more than industrial relations

    Simon Cowan | 26 Jul 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    The biggest impediment to productivity growth in this country is the government.

  31. Why we should support car workers (find new jobs)

    Simon Cowan | 12 Jul 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Government should support workers transition to competitive industries and abolish corporate welfare.

  32. Freedom and smaller government

    Simon Cowan | 28 Jun 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    The issues that we as a society face have only arisen because government has moved away from its core roles.

  33. Corporate welfare still milking government cash cows

    Simon Cowan | 14 Jun 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Industry assistance doesn’t achieve the goals it’s supposed to, and should be reduced.

  34. Tax rises are not savings

    Simon Cowan | 17 May 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    This budget is further evidence that governments remain addicted to spending, and that is why it is time for TARGET30.

  35. The end of austerity?

    Simon Cowan | 19 Apr 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Saddling future generations with lower growth and higher taxes while they repay debts incurred to fund our short-term consumption... Read More

  36. Promoting the benefits of smaller government

    Simon Cowan | 08 Mar 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Obvious areas of government inefficiency and waste should be cut immediately.

  37. The protectionist field of dreams

    Simon Cowan | 22 Feb 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    Politicians don’t seem to know a lot about what businesses need to succeed.

  38. Governments aren’t economists

    Simon Cowan | 25 Jan 2013 | Ideas@The Centre

    What does the failure to achieve a budget surplus actually mean?

  39. Will taxes on the super-rich solve budget woes?

    Simon Cowan | 07 Dec 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    It’s time to get serious about the economy.

  40. In Soviet Australia defence is welfare

    Simon Cowan | 23 Nov 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    In Soviet Australia, it seems defence is welfare for some groups.

  41. Four more years of Obamanomics

    Simon Cowan | 09 Nov 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    Obama is likely to continue his big government approach, backed by new taxes.

  42. Facts favour nuclear-powered submarines

    Simon Cowan | 26 Oct 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    Australia must consider nuclear-powered submarines to get the best submarine for the money the government is willing to spend.

  43. Fiscal discipline isn’t austerity but good government

    Simon Cowan | 12 Oct 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    Demonising austerity will result in a continuation of the reckless government-funded spending spree.

  44. Protectionism is socialism

    Simon Cowan | 28 Sep 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    Australia has had a long history of protectionism but the onus to support Australian production should lie with the consumers... Read More

  45. A plan with no plans

    Simon Cowan | 07 Sep 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    The NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan isn’t a plan at all but a collection of concepts and colourful pictograms that... Read More

  46. For the love of gold, let’s find a better way to fund sport

    Simon Cowan | 16 Aug 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    Rather than lining up more athletes to suckle on the government teat, we should explore innovative new funding models for... Read More

  47. The nanny state is responsible for all business success

    Simon Cowan | 27 Jul 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    Success in business is primarily about ideas and risks.

  48. The state budget – motorways at 10 paces

    Simon Cowan | 15 Jun 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    There are several components of the recent NSW budget that should pique your interest.

  49. Drop the protectionist rhetoric and do more for your members

    Alexander Philipatos, Simon Cowan | 01 Jun 2012 | Ideas@The Centre

    If unions are serious about standing up for working families, they ought to be working with mining companies to improve prospects... Read More