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?


Red tape and Australia’s economic malaise
Michael Potter
07 February 2018 | OP164

Australia is in a period of economic malaise. GDP per person has been growing slowly ever since the GFC. Australia’s performance is mediocre compared to other developed countries; by contrast, we outperformed before the GFC. Household incomes and wages are also growing at slow rates,…

From Reform to Retreat: 30 Years of Australian Fiscal Policy
Robert Carling
10 December 2017 | OP161

Australia entered an era of economic reform in the mid-1980s as policymakers resolved to liberalise the country’s economy and strengthen its public finances. Fiscal reform, which is the subject of this paper, was an important part of the process. These reforms included management of the…

UBI – Universal Basic Income is an Unbelievably Bad Idea
Simon Cowan
05 November 2017 | RR32

The idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), paid by the government to its citizens with few restrictions, has been around for a long time. One of the main justifications for introducing a UBI is the impending changes to the labour market as a result…

Medi-Mess: Rational Federalism and Patient Cost-Sharing for Public Hospital Sustainability in Australia
David Gadiel, Jeremy Sammut
16 July 2017 | RR30

The latest attempt to ‘end the blame game’ between the state and federal governments over health funding was scuttled after state premiers rejected Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘tax swap’ federalism reform proposal at the April 2016 COAG meeting.  The intransigence of the states —and the…

Welfare reform beyond decades of dependence, ‘dole bludgers’ and ‘double dipping’
Simon Cowan
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. Blaming ‘dole bludgers’ will never…

Media & Commentary

Superannuation reform score: maths 1, good intentions 0
Matthew O’Donnell
01 June 2018 | Ideas@TheCentre

The Productivity Commission wants to help Australians get a better return from superannuation, but unfortunately good intentions can’t trump basic maths. In its draft report Superannuation: Assessing Efficiency and Competitiveness,…

Tax cuts story may be overwhelmed
Simon Cowan
12 May 2018 | Canberra Times

It seems the fate of the Abbott/Turnbull Coalition governments to have an uphill fight selling their budgets. For the first time in a number of years the Treasurer has a…

Budget will determine Turnbull-Abbott legacy
Simon Cowan
28 April 2018 | The Sydney Morning Herald

After all the political upheaval of the last nine months — from citizenship dramas to political scandals to the recent revelations of the banking royal commission — the government is…

Ball tampering politicians should back off
Simon Cowan
01 April 2018 | Canberra Times

The great Australian ball tampering affair of 2018 has followed a familiar pattern. Having quickly moved past incredulity — it’s surprising that things can still surprise us at all in…

Private sector will build Indigenous construction industry
Charles Jacobs
02 March 2018 | Ideas@TheCentre

The government’s new  $20 million program to help Indigenous construction businesses stump up the hefty bonds often required to guarantee project delivery creates a significant dilemma. While the announcement is…