Professor John Quiggin, a contributing author with the Centre for Policy Development, has suggested the Australian electorate has grown distrustful of the word ‘reform’. In an opinion piece for The Guardian, Quiggin suggests that since the 1980s the idea of ‘reform’ has been tied to a tough-minded, micro-economic reconfiguration – one that often disregards opinions of the electorate. This was seen under the Hawke-Keating government, and then continued under Howard. The fruit of that agenda, Quiggin suggests, has since dried up.
“More than 30 years later, the term ‘reform’ still refers to the 1980s agenda“, Quiggin writes. “But everything worthwhile in that agenda was implemented decades ago. What is left are the dregs – policies like privatisation and individual employment contracts – that have failed to deliver improvements in living standards, and on which the Australian public has long since rendered its final, negative verdict.”
The piece concludes observing the importance of ‘reform’ turning its gaze to the “big issues of the 21st century“: climate change; the information economy; growing inequality; and the instability of the global financial system.
“What Australia needs now is a policy agenda focused on enabling Australians to take their place in an economy and society where universal access to knowledge and information is the key to prosperity.”