We live in times when the need for a politics of conviction, values and credibility has never been more urgent – yet our political leaders don’t seem to be up to the challenge. In the lead up to the 2010 election, CPD gathered together 25 Australian thinkers to come up with policy ideas to fill the void left by populist electioneering. We decided to fight the politics of fear with positive visions of the future, instead of more doom and gloom.About The Book
First came the website – http://morethanluck.cpd.org.au – a living, breathing, work in progress where we set our own agenda rather than respond to the spin and point scoring that were sadly all too common in the media coverage. It became a place where our thinkers were given permission to think big, long term and imagine the kind of Australia we’d like to live in.
Still recovering from the ‘mule-trading’ that characterised the campaign, our supporters have also recognised it’s time for new thinking. Because we cannot make this happen for nothing, we have turned to them to help fund the printing and distribution of CPD’s first-ever hard copy book.
In a country accustomed to getting by on luck, and in spite of its leadership, the ideas in More Than Luck are much needed. We are now launching the ideas to Australia – to spark the debates that may lead us out of our current impasse.
The Authors and The Ideas – A Snapshot
Mark Davis is a well-known cultural and political commentator and Miriam Lyons is the Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Development. From the introduction:
‘There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new.’
Jennifer Doggett is a health policy analyst who believes the Government’s approach to
healthcare reform has notable gaps. In her Getting health policy into shape chapter, Jennifer argues for a sharper focus on addressing the issues which matter most to consumers: out-of-pocket expenses, co-payments and unequal access to health-care providers.
‘Trying to get our current health system to provide longer-term and more complex care is like using a typewriter to twitter.’
Larissa Behrendt is a Eualeyai/Kamillaroi woman and the Professor of Law and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney. In Closing the evidence gap, Larissa outlines how essential it is to include Indigenous Australians in the development of policy and the design and delivery of programs into their communities to really ‘close the gap’.
‘Indigenous policy needs a complete rethink. As Kevin Rudd said during his historic speech apologising to the stolen generations, we have to stop making the same mistakes that we made in the past. Fine rhetoric – but Indigenous communities now need that sentiment to guide policy makers.’
Chris Bonnor is the President of the NSW Secondary Principals Council. In How to end social apartheid in schools, he challenges the market principles dominating current schools funding and argues that the ability for schools to pick and choose students is creating a social and academic apartheid.
‘The flipside of consumer choice – where schools either passively or actively choose desirable students – is now a big feature framework of schools.’
Eva Cox AO is the former Program Director, Social Inquiry at the University of Technology Sydney, and a strong advocate for women’s issues. In Strengthening our social fabric, she considers rethinking tax & income policy practices to make our society more civil.
Kate Gauthier, a well known refugee policy lobbyist with the Refugee Council of Australia, argues that the Labor Government has set itself up for failure by upholding the view that asylum seeking is a national security threat. In It takes a bleeding heart… she says that to gain community support for humane policies they’re going to have to humanise their rhetoric too.
‘To stop asylum seeking, the Australian system would have to be worse than the places that people are fleeing – worse than extra-judicial killings, torture and persecution.’
Phil Lynch is Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Resource Centre. In Human rights at the cross-roads, Phil argues that Australia’s recent asylum freeze brings our human rights credentials into doubt. He calls for bold leadership from the Australian government in the form of a Human Rights Act.
‘The basis upon which a Human Rights Act was rejected – that it would be contentious and divisive – was an abdication of leadership. That conclusion failed the test of political leadership, vision and resolve.’
Elizabeth Hill and Barbara Pocock co-convene the Australian Work & Family Policy Roundtable. In Work and care, they suggest a range of targeted policy measures to help parents, part-time workers, women and carers get a fairer and more equitable deal in Australia’s work/family regime.
Ben Eltham, a writer and musician, and Marcus Westbury, a broadcaster and festival director, argue Australia’s fragmented cultural policy needs to move beyond its ‘funding paradigm’. In Cultural policy in Australia they call for the abolition of the Australia Council and creation of a new cultural agency, with a contemporary brief.
‘Reliance on the Australia Council as the primary agency for cultural policy is inherently unsustainable’
Fiona Armstrong is a journalist with a Masters in Politics and Public Policy. Her chapter Shifting from hope to fear calls for a new national narrative to allow us to feel confident in our solutions to combat climate change, and positive about our country’s future.
‘The renewable energy revolution is not only possible – it is happening already. Global employment in renewable energy is outstripping direct employment in the oil and gas industries’
Peter Newman, a member of the Board of Infrastructure Australia, believes the ‘big Australia’ and housing affordability debates have focused our collective consciousness on the need to improve the liveability of our cities. In Sustainable cities, he calls on the government to establish a clear and active role in delivering better infrastructure, urban planning, and sustainable cities.
Ian McAuley is an economist who lectures in public sector finance at the University of Canberra. In Living off our resources, Ian says true economics deals in the use of scarce resources – and our environmental capital is fast-becoming our scarcest resource of all.
‘We have come to see our prosperity as a by-product of economic good fortune, and have come to believe that attending to environmental concerns is a luxury we can afford only if we put the economy first…The reality is that we are living off our (and the planet’s) capital.’
Ray Ison is a Professor in Systems for Sustainability at Monash University and has established an international reputation in Systems scholarship. In Governance that works, he considers why public service reform needs systems thinking.
Ian Dunlop, the Chairman of Safe Climate Australia, identifies Australia’s great strategic error: protecting our carbon-intensive industries in the misguided expectation that global markets will continue to demand coal in large volumes over the long-term. They won’t – and this colossal error of judgment, he says in Facing our limits, will only be compounded unless we undertake a root-and-branch restructure of our environmental and energy policies today.
‘A decade hence… it is likely the incremental demand for our high carbon products will evaporate. Australia at that point will be left with a large inventory of stranded assets, minimal investment in low carbon alternative energy and little resilience to weather the impact of both climate change and peak oil.’
Marian Sawer, Kathy MacDermott and Norm Kelly are experts in public sector governance. Their Strengthening democracy chapter calls for the end of union and corporate political donations; more stringent oversight of tax-payer funded ad campaigns; and smarter and more flexible electoral enrolment processes for the 21st Century.
‘In these days of electronic rolls, automatic enrolment largely removes any need to ‘close’ the rolls before an election. There is no reason why new enrolments and updates can’t continue up until election day.’
John Quiggin, an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow in Economics and Political Science, thinks Australia’s resilience in the face of the GFC was part good management, part luck. Surviving the next crisis calls for a careful examination of vulnerabilities in our financial system – if only to see ‘where we went right’.
‘An important element of any reform should be a tax on financial transactions, low enough that it does not interfere with ordinary borrowing and lending, but high enough to ensure the massive short-term speculation that still dominates financial markets ends once and for all.’
Ben Spies-Butcher, a lecturer in economic and political sociology, and Adam Stebbing, a PhD student in Sociology, both at Macquarie University, say that, while both sides of politics claim to care deeply about cost-of-living issues, both support policies which increase the expense of essential items like housing and childcare. In Getting public value for public money, Ben and Adam urge our leaders to adopt more direct funding models to maximise the services delivered for each government dollar spent.
‘Current policy gives parents more money to spend on childcare without sufficiently increasing supply of places. This tends to push up the price of childcare and reduce value for money.’
Tani Shaw, current CPD Sustainable Economy Fellow & PhD student with the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the UTS Sydney, explores alternative ways to measure Australia’s progress in What does ‘progress’ mean to you?