Pearls and Irritations – Policy Series and Current Affairs.

Fairness, Opportunity and Security.
Policy Series edited by Michael Keating and John Menadue.

With many other people, we are concerned about the policy vacuum and the poor level of public debate on important policy issues. We began a series of articles on policy issues in Pearls and Irritations on 11 May. They have now all been posted.  There are forty-nine articles on fifteen policy areas from over thirty contributors. They are linked to the contributor’s name (below).

This now completes the series. In August, we plan to publish these articles in a book in order to continue the debate for better public policies for Australia. 

We will keep you posted.

To all the contributors – thank you very much for your excellent contributions. John Menadue, Michael Keating.

Introduction.
Ken Henry. ‘I can’t recall a poorer quality public debate, on almost any issue, that we have had in recent times in Australia.
Democratic Renewal
.  Vested interests (John Menadue 2), ‘Vested interests represent a growing and serious corruption of good governance and the development of sound public policy’
.  Loss of trust (John Menadue 1), ‘We need political reform to restore trust in our political system and our polity.’

.  Post majoritarian future. (Ian Marsh 1), ‘It is unlikely that in the future Australian governments will have majorities in both Houses of Parliament’.
.  Policy-making practice. (Ian Marsh 2) ‘Policy reform may well depend on reforms to our political system and decision-making processes.’
The Role of Government
.  The importance of values. (John Menadue), ‘Good government must be based on some broadly shared values that inspire and enthuse us.’
.  Role and responsibilities of government. (Michael Keating), ‘In practice, the responsibilities of governments have changed little in the last thirty years.’
.  Role of government. Ian McAuley‘Australia and similar democracies have done well because economic progress has been a shared venture between the public and private sectors.’

Foreign Policy
.  Security in the region. (Stephen FitzGerald), It is remarkable the headway that Paul Keating and Gareth Evans made in South East Asia … in gaining acceptance of Australia as one of them.
.  Australian foreign policy (Cavan Hogue), ‘Countries don’t have friends, only interests. The United States has always remained fiercely independent and has followed policies which served its own interests first.’
.  An independent Australian foreign policy. (Richard Butler), By relying on ‘great and powerful friends’ we have acted in a way that has ‘substantially compromised our independence and … exposed ourselves to increasing danger.’
.  What Australia’s foreign policy should look like. (Stuart Harris), We must be careful to avoid ‘a choice between the political and economic relationships with the US and China.’
.  Australia, the US and Asia. John McCarthyIn recent years Australia has superceded both Japan and the UK as the US states’ closest ally.
The Economy
.  Fixing the budget (Michael Keating 1)  ‘Why did the government break so many promises and insist that the unfair cuts in last year’s budget were absolutely necessary and any opposition was irresponsible.’, Michael Keating 2The government’s plan to balance the budget by 2019-20 is not credible.

.  Taxation Reform (Michael Keating‘Encouraging unrealistic expectations of tax cuts is only making government more difficult.’
.  Federalism (Michael Keating‘It will be necessary to continue the reforms started by the Hawke-Keating governments.’  (John MenadueOne way to make federalism work better in the health field is to pool commonwealth and state funding and agree to a state-wide health plan in any state that is prepared to cooperation with the commonwealth.’
.  Job Creation and Participation  (Michael KeatingThe best way to promote greater employment participation is to increase the investment in education and training to improve the skill base and employability of disadvantaged people.
.  Productivity (Michael Keating) Most important is the creation of an innovative culture through support of research and development, education and skills and forging close links between the scientific community and industry.
.  Innovation (David CharlesWe need to transform from an economy largely driven by investments in the minerals and energy sector to one which has a wider spread of investment drivers.
.  Transport and Infrastructure (Michael Keating and Luke FraserAustralia is racking up very substantial debts to finance unreformed infrastructure. It is scandalous that infrastructure investment escapes proper scrutiny.
Retirement incomes
.  
A fair, effective and sustainable system. (Andrew PodgerWe need to draw together all the threads of the retirement system, particularly pensions and superannuation.
Population/migration/refugees (Peter Hughes, Arja Keski-Nummi, John Menadue),  .  Immigration Part 1, Australia has a great record in nation-building, but benefits achieved cannot be taken for granted in the future.
.  Refugees Part 2,  How to move from toxic politics to a humanitarian policy once again.
.  Settlement Part 3 Successful nation-building needs good settlement services to support new arrivals.
Communications and the Arts
.  Cultural Identity (Julianne SchultzWe need to draw together diverse cultural policies to better serve our national interests.
.  Arts. (Kim WilliamsWe have eroded the standards and reduced public support for the arts.
.  Media Regulation in Internet World (Terry FlewHow media convergence is driving the need for regulatory and policy change.
.  NBN. (Rob Nicholls) We need to target the NBN rollout in line with what our major trading partners are doing,

Security – internal and Human Rights (Spencer ZifcakWe have draconian laws but inadequate safeguards. (Susan Ryan) We need to revive the Human Rights Act campaign of the 1980s.
Security, both military and soft power
.  (Michael Wesley) The politicalisation of security is endangering our safety
.

Health
.  Part 1 Problems (John MenadueMedicare was established forty years ago but is badly in need of reform. 
.  Part 2 Health reform opponents (John Menadue‘Health ministers may be in office, but seldom in power.’
.  Part 3 Health solutions (John MenadueWe need new processes, governance and policy directions to move us beyond the present inertia, incrementalism and tinkering.
.  Health workforce (Jim McGintyThe emphasis in health workforce reform must mainly be about nurses.
.  Co-payments (Jennifer Doggett) We have amongst the highest out-of-pocket health costs in the world. They lack logic, efficiency and equity.
Development of our human capital in the fields of education, science, innovation, research and development
.  Knowledge capital. (Glenn Withers) Knowledge capital is the real wealth of nations.
.  Eroding Human capital. (Chris Bonnor) Differences in education outcomes seem to be increasingly the result of differences in wealth, income, power or possessions. Let’s hear it for Gonski and My School.
Environment and climate change
.  (Ross Garnaut) It would be wise to supplement an emissions trading scheme linked to Europe with regulatory action. 
.  (Peter Cosier) Ways to combine a productive economy with a healthy environment.
.  (
Jon Stanford) Will Australia rise to the occasion in the Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. 
.  (Brendan MackeyReconfiguring human endeavour to live within the boundaries of a finite planet.
Indigenous affairs
.  (Fred Chaney), Some progress in closing the gap – but a long way to go.
.  (Michael Gracey) Indigenous health requires a much broader definition of the meaning of ‘health’ and local empowerment.

Welfare and families
.  (Andrew PodgerCurrent arrangements are overly complicated, inconsistent and incoherent, overly means-tested, and without sufficient regard for efficiency.
Inequality and the Australian welfare system
.  (Andrew Podger, Peter Whiteford), In reducing inequality, priority should be given to promoting employment and addressing specific weaknesses in the tax and transfer system.
.  (Ian McAuleyThe conservative slogan that a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ is not working for the poor.

Media enquiries. johnmenadue@johnmenadue.com.

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