Simon Cowan

Research Manager & TARGET30 Director

Simon Cowan

Expertise: Government industry policy, car industry and regulation.

Simon Cowan is a Research Fellow in the economics program, and Director of the CIS TARGET30 program that aims to reduce government spending to less than 30% of GDP over the next 10 years. He is a leading media commentator on policy and politics, frequently appearing on the Sky network, ABC television and commercial radio. He has also written on government industry policy, defence and regulation and appeared before the Australian Senate discussing the budget and health policy. 

He co-authored the leading CIS research report on pensions and retirement policy, released in 2015, The Age Old Problem of Old Age: Fixing the Pension.


Featured Publication

  • Welfare reform beyond decades of dependence, ‘dole bludgers’ and ‘double dipping’ 31 May 2017 | OP156
    Recent attempts to reform welfare have focused on the wrong elements of the system. In some cases, advocating tightening eligibility for unemployment benefits and single mother payments while simultaneously increasing the scope and cost of family benefits and pension payments.…...
    Recent attempts to reform welfare have focused on the wrong elements of the system. In some cases, advocating tightening eligibility for unemployment benefits and single mother payments while simultaneously increasing the scope and cost of family benefits and pension payments.…
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Media & Commentary

  • Neither Protectionism nor Unionism will hit stagnant wages for six 08 July 2017 | CANBERRA TIMES
    The cricketers united can never be defeated (the Champions Trophy notwithstanding). Perhaps the most interesting thing in the dispute between Cricket Australia and the players represented by their union — the Australian Cricketers’ Association — is how much it resembles…
    The cricketers united can never be defeated (the Champions Trophy notwithstanding). Perhaps the most interesting thing in the dispute between Cricket Australia and the players represented by their union — the Australian Cricketers’ Association — is how much it resembles…
    read more
  • Transactional politicians are on the nose and authenticity is hard to fake 24 June 2017 | The Canberra Times
    The government’s “Gonski 2.0” education reforms passed the Senate but it was hardly the stirring victory it hoped. The process was a mess, and one of the main reasons is there’s no immediate answer to the question: why is it…
    The government’s “Gonski 2.0” education reforms passed the Senate but it was hardly the stirring victory it hoped. The process was a mess, and one of the main reasons is there’s no immediate answer to the question: why is it…
    read more
  • UK election: conventional political wisdom gets it wrong again 10 June 2017 | Canberra Times
    The remarkable UK election results demonstrate yet again that it’s time to abandon unwavering belief in accepted political wisdom. One after another the shibboleths are falling. Labour’s stunning result suggests again that no platform is too radical, left or right,…
    The remarkable UK election results demonstrate yet again that it’s time to abandon unwavering belief in accepted political wisdom. One after another the shibboleths are falling. Labour’s stunning result suggests again that no platform is too radical, left or right,…
    read more
  • Positive externalities vs Public Goods 02 June 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre
    Universal or quasi-universal payments such as parental leave and childcare rebates are sometimes justified on the basis they generate a benefit for the public. At times this argument is used interchangeably but incorrectly with the characterization of these payments as…
    Universal or quasi-universal payments such as parental leave and childcare rebates are sometimes justified on the basis they generate a benefit for the public. At times this argument is used interchangeably but incorrectly with the characterization of these payments as…
    read more
  • We've forgotten why we spend public money 27 May 2017 | Canberra Times
    Why does the government fund university degrees? Why does it fund childcare? What is the purpose of welfare? These may seem like obvious questions but rarely do we see budget decisions reasoned from these first principles. Instead, most commentary focuses…
    Why does the government fund university degrees? Why does it fund childcare? What is the purpose of welfare? These may seem like obvious questions but rarely do we see budget decisions reasoned from these first principles. Instead, most commentary focuses…
    read more

Publications

  • The myths of the generational bargain 01 March 2016 | Research Report 10
    There has been a marked growth in pension cost and cohort. The percentage of people of retirement age has risen from less than 2% to almost 11% between 1911 and 2011, while the percentage of people receiving the pension has increased from around 30% to 75%. This has been driven…...
    There has been a marked growth in pension cost and cohort. The percentage of people of retirement age has risen from less than 2% to almost 11% between 1911 and 2011, while the percentage of people receiving the pension has increased from around 30% to 75%. This has been driven…
    READ MORE
  • The myths of the generational bargain 01 March 2016 | Research Report 10
    There has been a marked growth in pension cost and cohort. The percentage of people of retirement age has risen from less than 2% to almost 11% between 1911 and 2011, while the percentage of people receiving the pension has increased from around 30% to 75%. This has been driven…...
    There has been a marked growth in pension cost and cohort. The percentage of people of retirement age has risen from less than 2% to almost 11% between 1911 and 2011, while the percentage of people receiving the pension has increased from around 30% to 75%. This has been driven…
    READ MORE
  • Principles and recommendations for tax reform - CIS submission National Reform Summit 27 August 2015 | CIS Submission
    The slant towards cutting taxes before 2010 was welcome, but for such an approach to return in the foreseeable future, the growth of government spending will have to be curbed and the size of government as a share of GDP reduced. Although tax reform may be pursued independently of the…...
    The slant towards cutting taxes before 2010 was welcome, but for such an approach to return in the foreseeable future, the growth of government spending will have to be curbed and the size of government as a share of GDP reduced. Although tax reform may be pursued independently of the…
    READ MORE
  • Principles and recommendations for tax reform - CIS submission National Reform Summit 30 July 2015 | The centre for Independent Studies
    The slant towards cutting taxes before 2010 was welcome, but for such an approach to return in the foreseeable future, the growth of government spending will have to be curbed and the size of government as a share of GDP reduced. Although tax reform may be pursued independently of the…...
    The slant towards cutting taxes before 2010 was welcome, but for such an approach to return in the foreseeable future, the growth of government spending will have to be curbed and the size of government as a share of GDP reduced. Although tax reform may be pursued independently of the…
    READ MORE
  • Can we afford old age? 07 July 2015
    Australia is getting older. Rising life expectancy brings with it the prospect of not years but decades in retirement. Can we afford the costs of old age? Will superannuation give retirees the standard of living they want? Is pension spending sustainable if it will triple over the next 40 years?…...
    Australia is getting older. Rising life expectancy brings with it the prospect of not years but decades in retirement. Can we afford the costs of old age? Will superannuation give retirees the standard of living they want? Is pension spending sustainable if it will triple over the next 40 years?…
    READ MORE