Author Archives: Michael Keating

Michael Keating

About Michael Keating

Michael Keating is a former Secretary of the Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Finance and Employment, and Industrial Relations.  He is presently a visiting fellow at the Australian National University. 

MICHAEL KEATING. The Gaetjens Report: a footnote

The Government has refused to release the Gaetjens report which purportedly exonerates the former Minister, Bridget McKenzie, and thereby the Government from charges of political bias in the distribution of the Community Sport Infrastructure grants. But why this refusal to … Continue reading

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MICHAEL KEATING. Scomo and the Public Service: How Bad Can It Get?

The Report by the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Phil Gaetjens, into Bridget McKenzies’ handling of the Community Sport Infrastructure grants fails to address key questions and raises serious concerns about the relationship between the Government … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 16 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. Scott Morrison’s Policy Agenda

As is frequently observed, Scott Morrison’s Government has a remarkably thin policy agenda. This article explores why this lack of ambition – indeed resistance to change – makes perfect sense from Morrison’s point of view.  

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MICHAEL KEATING. Dwelling construction is still falling despite record low interest rates.

Monetary policy has lifted the prices of the most expensive dwellings, but this impact is yet to flow through to the rest of the housing market. This experience reinforces doubts about the effectiveness of monetary policy when inflation and therefore … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Housing | 1 Comment

MICHAEL KEATING.-Trump’s fantasies and trade realities.

Trump’s trade war with China cannot and has not succeeded. But Trump risks doing major damage to the rules-based global trading system and the future of the world economy.

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

MICHAEL KEATING. Policy Advice: The Thodey Review of the APS and the Government’s Response

This article discusses the key role that the Australian Public Service (APS) should play in the development of government policy and the recommendations that the Thodey Review of APS makes to restore that role. Unfortunately, the Government is not interested, … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING.-The Budget surplus: is it believable and at what cost?

The Government is triumphing its prospective Budget surplus, but are the economic forecasts for economic recovery realistic, and can the surplus really be achieved while “guaranteeing the essential services on which Australians rely”.

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MICHAEL KEATING. Economic stagnation continues

Last Wednesday’s release of the national accounts for the September quarter confirmed what we already knew – economic stagnation continues. Most importantly, it is hard to see why the economy will ever improve under present policies. Instead we need a … Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 3 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. Retirement Incomes Review: Part 2

The Government’s independent Review of the retirement incomes system has identified four criteria against which that system should be judged: adequacy, equity, sustainability and cohesion. Yesterday I reviewed the performance of the Australian retirement income system against the criteria of … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 1 Comment

MICHAEL KEATING. Retirement Incomes Review: Part 1

The Mercer Global Pension Index rates the Australian retirement income system as number three in the world. Nevertheless, the Government has commissioned an independent Review, and this article and another tomorrow discuss whether and how our retirement income system might … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING-Trump’s Re-election Prospects and the Economy.

The secular stagnation of the American economy over this century helped propel Donald Trump into the White House. So far President Trump is popularly credited with achieving some improvement in the US economy, but the economic outlook may well have … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

MICHAEL KEATING-Morrison Fiddles While Australia Burns

I personally had the privilege of serving closely all of the Prime Ministers from Whitlam to Howard. In my experience each of them sought this office because they wanted to pursue a policy agenda that they thought would make Australia … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. Australia’s Political Fault Lines.

This article takes issue with a recent article by John Menadue which argues that a largely unchallenged and powerful oligarchy is wielding untrammelled political power. Instead, a number of other reasons are proposed as to why our political parties have … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 15 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING . Economic Growth ,Redistribution and Climate Change.

Many pundits are arguing that if Labor is to become competitive at the next election it must focus on economic growth and jobs and abandon or at least downgrade its policies for income redistribution and to combat climate change. The … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING- Scott Morrison and the ‘Quiet Australians’

Prime Minister Morrison says that he will make sure that government services are reliable and responsive to the needs of those “quiet Australians” whose legitimate expectations are consistent with past practice and social conventions. What that means for the growing … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

MICHAEL KEATING. The Official View on the Economic Outlook.

The last twelve months has seen GDP per capita fall in Australia, but the Government and its key advisers still expect the economy to recover to trend rates of growth in the current financial year. Nevertheless, the Reserve Bank is … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. Key Questions about Snowy Hydro 2.0

The Morrison Government has reaffirmed its commitment to expand the Snowy Scheme as a key part of its strategy to meet its target for carbon emissions. However, independent estimates suggest that the cost and completion date is blowing out dramatically. … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 8 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. The Increasing Divergence between Income and Wealth

Although economic growth, inflation and nominal incomes have all been sluggish for the last several years, asset prices have increased substantially. One consequence of this much faster rate of increase in asset prices than incomes is that wealth, rather than … Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 2 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. The Future of Monetary Policy

For the last forty years or more, economic orthodoxy has assigned the principal responsibility for macroeconomic demand management in the advanced economies to monetary policy. In recent years, however, inflation targets have been under-shot and incomes have continued to stagnate, … Continue reading

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MICHAEL KEATING. What’s Wrong with The Economy?

The headline economic news this week is that the IMF has revised down its forecast for the Australian economy. That should not have come as a surprise; it has been obvious for a few years that the Australian economy is … Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 12 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. Drought Assistance: Is it efficient? Is it fair?

Australia is currently experiencing a severe drought; possibly the most severe on record. Not surprisingly there have been calls for governments to do more. Some have even claimed that Australia lacks a proper drought policy. This article discusses the key … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 8 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING The Fiscal Outlook: Is the projected Budget surplus sustainable and should it be? Part 2

With a stagnant economy, there are strong arguments for a fiscal stimulus package that would almost certainly postpone the return to Budget surplus for a couple of years. But what of the longer term? This article uses the Medium Term … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 1 Comment

MICHAEL KEATING. Economic Update Part 1

The recent release of the National Accounts data confirms that the Australian economy is stuck in secular economic stagnation. This article argues that current policies are unlikely to restore economic growth sufficiently to allow Australia to realise its economic potential. … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 2 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. The US-China trade relationship:Why Trump’s policies are doomed to fail.

Donald Trump is deluded if he thinks that raising tariffs will reduce the US trade deficit. That deficit represents the fact that the US is spending more than it earns. Unless this fact is altered – and Trump has increased … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. How good is Scott Morrison?

By any standard, Scott Morrison’s Government has a very threadbare policy agenda. Furthermore, the Government seems resistant to new ideas, whether they are from its backbench or the public service. According to Scott Morrison the role of the public service … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. Can we trust Scott Morrison?

  Scott Morrison is on record as saying that no programs or services will be cut to pay for the tax cuts. The evidence, however, suggests that real government outlays will decline on a per capita basis, which would seem … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING Why the Stage 3 tax cuts will need to be revisited.

In previous articles I argued that Stage 3 of the Government’s proposed tax cuts should be opposed (see Pearls & Irritations, 30 May and 24 June). However, the Government appears to have the numbers to pass its proposed tax cuts … Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 1 Comment

MICHAEL KEATING. Urban and Regional Policy

Spatial inequality has risen dramatically over Australia in the last forty years, and our cities are in many ways becoming less liveable. This article draws on the recent CSIRO report on the Australian National Outlook to summarise the major policy … Continue reading

Posted in Housing | 3 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. Australian National Outlook

  A very significant new report was released last week on the Australian National Outlook. In this article, I summarise the report’s discussion of the key challenges and policy choices that Australia faces, which will affect our future over the … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

MICHAEL KEATING. Lies, Damned Lies and [tax] statistics.

Last Saturday the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) published an article, which purported to show that “Middle and high-income earners will face some of the highest tax rates in the English-speaking developed world unless the Morrison government’s $158 billion tax plan … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 6 Comments