Policy snapshots


Every fortnight the Centre for Policy Development Policy will link to five recently published items – reports, commentaries, discussion papers or submissions to parliamentary inquiries – that inject bright ideas into current policy debates.

This fortnight's pick:

  • Public returns on Public Private Partnerships
  • Building a progressive values movement
  • Petrol sniffing inquiry concludes
  • Understanding Howard's attitude to NGOs
  • New ideas for health service financing

Public returns on Public Private Partnerships

A CFMEU-commissioned report Reform of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) proposes a new model for funding infrastructure projects, geared towards public return.

Sydney commercial radio stations are currently running a drive-time ad, in which a ‘typical tradie' extols the virtues of the handy Cross City Tunnel. The beleaguered tunnel inevitably gets a few mentions in the report's assessment of PPPs. It proposes an alternative model: a National Infrastructure Financing Corporation (NIFC) which could raise funds, in equal share, from the Future Fund and pooled superannuation funds. The NIFC could then bid to partner with state and territory governments in infrastructure projects. And there's a backlog of work to be done. Instead of excessive profits for merchant bankers, returns would flow to a broad base of super fund members. The Centre for Policy Development has obtained permission to republish the report, which you can download here.

Building a progressive values movement

The Rockridge Institute argues that progressives need to focus on the moral system that unites them, instead of the different priorities and approaches that divide them, to create a progressive values movement.

Conservatives cooperate. Progressives form temporary coalitions around particular issues. How can progressives emulate conservative strategies and successes? Local commentator David McKnight echoes the US-focussed Rockridge Institute in arguing that the right gets it right because they have a coherent belief system. According to Rockridge, progressives also need to articulate a shared set of values. Progressives may have different priorities, but empathy and responsibility are central tenets of most progressive movements.

Petrol sniffing inquiry concludes

“We do not want to lose our children… to this poison,” Mrs Ngitji Ngitji Mona Tur told the Senate inquiry into petrol sniffing, which released its report and extensive recommendations this week.

The report documents Aboriginal communities wracked by purposelessness. It identifies the availability of non-sniffable Opal fuel as a priority, as other media outlets have noted. However, community-based solutions are given just as much emphasis. Tony Abbott won't want to hear it, but the most successful anti-sniffing program, at Mount Theo/ Yuendumu, works because it's “community controlled and community operated”: http://www.mttheo.org/

Understanding Howard's attitude to NGOs

Joan Staples explains the theories behind the Howard Government's hostility to the NGO sector in this Democratic Audit of Australia discussion paper.

Staples outlines the mechanisms that the Howard Government has used so far to limit the role of NGOs as advocates and critics: de-funding; forced amalgamations; confidentiality clauses; and outsourcing ‘good works' so that NGOs come to perform government functions. Staples stresses that these changes are all consistent with public choice theory — championed by the Institute of Public Affairs — which holds that NGOs are self-interested, predatory and bad for democracy.

New ideas for health service financing

Writing on Australian Policy Online, Stephen Leeder draws on American expert research to offer ten suggestions for Australian health service financing.

Leeder's list includes treating patients at home rather than in hospital where appropriate; financial incentives to reduce the medical error rate; and a more personalised doctor-patient relationship that prioritises prevention and management. Leeder also urges a review of the private health insurance subsidy, and a reaffirmation of government commitment to our universal public health insurance scheme, Medicare.

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