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

Voting for a living: A shift in Australian politics from selling policies to buying votes?
Robert Carling, Terrence O'Brien
05 September 2018 | PP9

This paper explores the hypothesis that growth of government has become self-sustaining through the emergence of a segment of the population that both enjoys sufficient direct support from government and is large enough that political parties shape policies to curry its favour. The researchers use…

Why childcare is not affordable
Eugenie Joseph
29 August 2018 | RR37

Childcare fees and out-of-pocket costs in Australia have been growing above inflation in recent years, at the same time that more parents are using formalised childcare to support their participation in the workforce. Childcare has been subject to growing and evolving regulation for many years,…

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…

Media & Commentary

Don't spend the surplus
Eugenie Joseph
20 December 2018 | THE GUARDIAN

Resist the urge for any couch-bouncing about the government’s expected surplus from a boom in company tax receipts. A surplus is not like extra cash in the piggy bank for…

Winners and losers of 2018
Simon Cowan
18 December 2018 | SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Is it possible to make sense of a tumultuous year in Australia politics (as if there is any other kind these days)? It’s fair to say that those on the…

Ending homelessness demands real solutions
Carlos d'Abrera
14 December 2018 | Ideas@TheCentre

It’s more than a year since the infamous Martin Place tent city was dismantled, but we are no closer to addressing the real causes of genuine homelessness. Unfortunately, the debate…

Fiscal discipline as a victim of political disruption
Robert Carling
07 December 2018 | Ideas@TheCentre

It is often said that Australians have become complacent about what is needed to maintain the foundations for solid growth in the economy – jobs, real wages and living standards…

Budget surplus?
Simon Cowan
30 November 2018 | Ideas@TheCentre

The government has announced that the next Budget will deliver a surplus: the first in more than a decade. And unlike the “four years of surpluses” Wayne Swan announced in…