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

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…

Economics in One Lesson
Matthew O’Donnell
23 February 2018 | Ideas@TheCentre

Just over 70 years ago, economist Henry Hazlitt wrote an economics textbook, Economics in One Lesson, which is still regarded as one of the best introductory economic texts available to…

Higher minimum wage will lower economic health
Sarah Ray
16 February 2018 | Ideas@TheCentre

Bill Shorten’s proposal to permanently link the minimum wage rate to 60% of the median wage, creating a so-called ‘living wage’, is a desperate appeal to low-income earners, working families…

Even a magic nanny would struggle with childcare policy
Eugenie Joseph
12 February 2018 | THE SPECTATOR: FLAT WHITE

The threat by childcare union, United Voice, to strike next month over low wages reflects a bizarre belief that government is a Mary Poppins who can miraculously produce a 30%…

Big data and welfare
Simon Cowan
09 February 2018 | Ideas@TheCentre

The idea of big data in the welfare system has come to be associated with the reconciliation of ATO pay data with social security income, and the resulting teething problems…