Publications

More power to the people

A country the size of Australia could be better served if it tried to delegate more tasks to lower tiers of government. Federalism is one way of achieving this, and many have cogently argued that it should be strengthened. Yet the very same arguments in favour of federalism also apply to local government. [...]

Rushing to spend like Britain could leave us out in the cold

So is Australia really just a warmer version of England, as the immigration officer suggested to me 10 years ago? Probably not yet, if simply for the fact that in the past decade Australia has avoided the worst mistakes made in Britain. But if Rudd continues his New Labour-like policies, Australia may well become another Britain, if only without the snow. [...]

Defining greed is an indulgence of its own

Complicated times provoke simple answers. As the global financial crisis keeps unfolding, the no less global intellectual elite has readily identified the culprit. Political and religious leaders, artists and even some economists are convinced greed is to blame for our economic problems. A combined Google search for "global financial crisis" and "greed" delivers no fewer than 87,900 results. But is greed really the culprit or just a convenient scapegoat? And is greed an economic category at all? [...]

The end of capitalism?

While there is no denying that markets have failed, there is certainly no lack of government failure either. There is a danger, nevertheless, that governments, the media and special interest groups will seize on the opportunity to use the economic downturn for their own purposes. And that is the challenge of this economic downturn. [...]

Crisis a valuable lesson

Markets have shown remarkable resilience and keep bouncing back. Despite their flaws, they have consistently turned out to be the best way to co-ordinate economic activity. They aren't perfect, but what is? It was Belinda Carlisle who promised that Heaven is a Place on Earth, not free-market economists. [...]

Santa Rudd is coming to town

For Australia’s mayors and shire presidents, Christmas came a bit earlier this year—on 18 November, to be precise. But Santa Claus did not come to town. Instead, the towns went to Santa, played by no other than the prime minister himself. Kevin Rudd clearly enjoyed his new role, handing out a total of $300 million in pre-Christmas giveaways at the inaugural meeting of the Australian Council of Local Government in Canberra. [...]

There’s no such thing as a free bus service, Mr Premier

Nathan Rees promised to make Sydneysiders' lives easier on Wednesday as he launched the off-peak bus service between Circular Quay and Central Station. "Sometimes it can be difficult to know exactly which bus to catch if you're only going a few blocks in the city," he said. The buses will be free to use, courtesy of the Government. But is he making a positive contribution to public transport or is it a politician's pre-Christmas gimmick? [...]

Planning and the economy: a complex relationship

What sounds like a paradoxical experience may not be so much of a paradox after all. House prices, quality of life and economic growth are very much interlinked in Britain's recent history, and it is not always easy to disentangle the three. However, if we want to understand why they are connected, it is necessary to subject them to an economic analysis, and that means analysing the way Britain's built environment has been planned. [...]

Land supply at heart of home-front problems

For policymakers, the lesson is clear. If they are concerned about housing boom and bust cycles, they have to quash the expectation that house prices will continue to rise. To do that, they need to examine property markets with long records of house price stability, and learn from them how to ensure that when more housing is needed, more can be built. [...]