Government Spending

Governments spend taxpayers’ money on a wide range of programmes from education to defence and from welfare to infrastructure. Yet there can be too much of a good thing, and some government spending is just wasteful. How can we ensure that taxpayers are getting value for money?

Publications

Fiscal Fiction: The Real Medicare Levy
Jeremy Sammut
07 May 2017 | RR27

The Medicare Levy is, and always has been, a fiscal fiction. The revenue raised by the levy is not ‘hypothecated’ – dedicated specifically to fund Medicare – but goes into general government revenue. Moreover, the amount of revenue raised by the levy accounts for a…

Reforming Social Housing: financing and tenant autonomy
Michael Potter
27 April 2017 | RR25

Around 400,000 Australians live in social housing, which includes public and community housing. This sector is ripe for reform, with many public housing dwellings failing adequacy standards, numerous tenants are dissatisfied and live in housing that is too small or too large for their needs.…

Real Choice for Ageing Australians: Achieving the Benefits of the Consumer-Directed Aged Care Reforms in the New Economy
Jeremy Sammut
09 April 2017 | RR24

The consumer-directed aged care (CDC) reforms are an important opportunity to showcase the benefits of market-based reforms to often sceptical and change-averse members of the public. Given the broader implications, this report warns that the CDC reforms could fall short of their promise and fail to…

Report Card on State Finances
Robert Carling
19 February 2017 | RR23

The Commonwealth government’s perilous financial position is well known, but the finances of state government also warrant our attention. In aggregate, since plunging heavily into deficit after 2007, the states’ fiscal position has improved markedly in recent years, marked by a return to net operating…

Politically-Feasible Health Reform: Whatever Will It Take?
Jeremy Sammut, Peta Seaton, Gerald Thomas, Terry Barnes
07 December 2016 | OP153

Despite the ever-escalating cost of health posing severe fiscal sustainability challenges, health reform has been dumped even more firmly in the politically too-hard basket since the ‘Mediscare’ federal election. A politically-feasible reform strategy is required to catalyse much-needed innovation in the health sector and deliver…

Media & Commentary

One impact of the budget: sales of white flags are booming
Michael Potter
19 May 2017 | The Spectator - Flat White

Sales of white flags are going gangbusters, with the Coalition buying out supplies. It isn’t surprising, as they’ve found so many things to wave a white flag over. There’s been…

How we got stuck in the spending ratchet
Simon Cowan
16 May 2017 | Australian Financial Review

If you were digging for a positive spin on the broader fiscal strategy in the budget, the best you could say is that the government is committed to achieving a…

Budget 2017: a housing policy shambles
Michael Potter
12 May 2017 | The Spectator - Flat White

The housing measures in the 2017 Budget present a great case study in how expectations can be mismanaged. The government unwisely created anticipation that it would ‘solve’ housing affordability, then…

What the bank levy says about the budget
Robert Carling
12 May 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

The new levy on selected liabilities — mainly borrowings and non-guaranteed deposits — of selected banks (the big four and Macquarie) is an unexpected tax grab of at least $1.5…

Inflated expectations
Michael Potter
12 May 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

The Budget measures relating to housing are a case study in how to fail in meeting expectations. The government unwisely generated, then inflated, expectations that there would be major solutions…