Agenda: A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform

Articles

Vol. 24, No. 1, 2017

The Lack of Competition in Governance as an Impediment to Regional Development in Australia
IntroductionAustralia is a large and diverse country. This diversity is obvious when we compare the densely populated southeast to the sparse and underdeveloped north, but significant economic differences exist even across rural areas. As the country...
Read preview Overview
Ricardian Equivalence, the Italian Fiscal Tradition and Western Australia's Government Net Debt
IntroductionThe start of the 'millennium boom' can be dated as 2002-03 (Grafton 2012). The Western Australian (WA) Government was a major beneficiary of that boom, with the value of the state's export of iron ore growing hectically in response to China's...
Read preview Overview
The Growth of Knowledge as Grounds against Paternalism
IntroductionOur regulatory system must protect public health, welfare and safety and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness and job creation. It must be based on the best available science (Office of the Press Secretary...
Read preview Overview
Log Rolling as an Explanation of Distortions All Round: A Model À la Buchanan and Tullock
IntroductionSince at least the time of Adam Smith, economists have been alive to the vision of a relatively small number of 'special interests' benefiting themselves at the expense of the public weal. But distortions are today so endemic, it is tempting...
Read preview Overview

Vol. 23, No. 1, 2016

Section 18C, Human Rights, and Media Reform: An Institutional Analysis of the 2011-13 Australian Free Speech Debate
IntroductionBetween 2011 and 2013 Australia was engaged in a sustained debate about freedom of speech. This paper provides an institutional economic analysis of the key public policy issues in that debate. The first issue concerned restrictions on 'hate...
Read preview Overview
The Optimal Size of Local Government, with Special Reference to New South Wales
IntroductionIn the last 20 years, the three eastern Australian states of Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) have significantly reduced the number of local councils. In the mid-1990s, Victoria slashed the number of local councils from 210...
Read preview Overview
Reallocating Australia's Scarce Mental Health Resources
IntroductionThe purpose of this paper is to describe a long-standing problem in the provision of mental health services in Australia,2 and to outline a reform that addresses this problem. By way of background, we describe first some 'big picture' financial...
Read preview Overview
China and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Misfit or Missed Opportunity?
IntroductionThe Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is being sold as a 21st-century free-trade agreement (FTA) involving 12 member countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam....
Read preview Overview
Real-World Economic Policy: Insights from Leading Australian Economists
Jan Libich (ed.), Real-World Economic Policy: Insights from Leading Australian Economists(Cengage Learning Australia, 2015)The book is a treasure trove of economic policy lessons that brings together some of the brightest Australian economic minds. It...
Read preview Overview
The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality
Angus Deaton, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality(Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2013)Professor Deaton's qualification for tackling this ambitious subject is acknowledged by his award of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Economics....
Read preview Overview
A Few Hares to Chase: The Life and Economics of Bill Phillips
Alan Bollard, A Few Hares to Chase: The Life and Economics of Bill Phillips(Auckland University Press, Auckland, 2016)Thomas Carlyle called economics 'the dismal science'. Some aspects of economics may fairly be described as 'dismal'. But it would be...
Read preview Overview

Vol. 22, No. 1, 2015

Australia and the Zero Lower Bound on Interest Rates: Some Monetary Policy Options
Could 'it' happen here?Australia survived the global financial crisis relatively unscathed, despite much higher interest rates than in other developed countries (see Figure 1). But our exceptional status may be short-lived. In May 2015, the cash rate...
Read preview Overview
The Curtin-Chifley Origins of the Australian Bank Deposit Guarantee
In 2008, the Australian government announced it would freely guarantee all retail and wholesale deposits in Australian banks, subsidiaries of foreign-owned banks, credit unions and building societies. Until the global financial crisis, the Australian...
Read preview Overview
The Australian Public's Preferences over Foreign Investment in Agriculture
IntroductionIn a 2012 poll, 63 per cent of Australians said that they were 'strongly against' '... the Australian government allowing foreign companies to buy Australian farmland to grow crops or farm livestock' (Lowy Institute 2012). A further 18 per...
Read preview Overview
Whither Business History? Memory, Message and Meaning
IntroductionI started my Bachelor of Economics at Monash University in 1963. My arrival intersected the publications of Noel Butlin's two seminal pioneering works, Australian Domestic Product (1962) and Investment in Australian Economic Development,...
Read preview Overview
Wider Economic Impacts in Transport Infrastructure Cost-Benefit Analysis - A Bridge Too Far?
IntroductionA conventional cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of transport projects invariably focuses on items such as savings in travel time and fuel costs, as well as on changes in any externalities such as negative environmental outcomes or vehicle crashes....
Read preview Overview
Macroeconomics and the Phillips Curve Myth by James Forder
Macroeconomics and the Phillips Curve Myth by James Forder(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014)In 1958 A.W.H. (Bill) Phillips, professor of economics at the London School of Economics, published a highly influential paper in Economica entitled 'The...
Read preview Overview

Vol. 20, No. 2, 2013

Excellence in Research for Australia: An Audit of the Applied Economics Rankings
AbstractThe Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) Report attempts to quantify the quality of research undertaken in Australian universities in the field of 'Applied Economics'. The paper shows it is difficult to reconcile the ERA rankings with the...
Read preview Overview
Fabricating Invention: The Patent Malfunction of Australian Patent Law
AbstractDespite advice to parliament that patents are granted only for 'a significant advance over what was known and what was available to the public'^sup 2^ the evidence shows this is not the standard used. The actual standard is a scintilla - a marginal...
Read preview Overview
Stimulating Savings: An Analysis of Cash Handouts in Australia and the United States
AbstractAt the onset of the Global Financial Crisis governments around the world implemented fiscal stimulus packages. A key component of many of these packages was aimed at stimulating consumer spending. In Australia and the United States, for example,...
Read preview Overview
Is Policy Too Important to Be Left to Empiricists? Lessons of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics
AbstractFifty years ago, a paper entitled 'College Admissions and the Stability of Marriage' was published in a somewhat obscure journal, the American Mathematical Monthly (currently a 'B' journal, according to the Australian Business Deans Council)....
Read preview Overview
A Critique of the Productivity Commission's Cost-Benefit Analysis in the 'Disability Care and Support' Report
AbstractIn its 2011 NDIS report, the Productivity Commission rationalises its policy recommendation by means of a cost-benefit analysis, claiming that 'the benefits of the [National Disability Insurance] scheme would significantly outweigh the costs'....
Read preview Overview
The Power to Tax, 33 Years Later
AbstractThe basic puzzle about the power to tax is how to limit the capacity of government to exploit taxpayers, while at the same time not overly hampering the government in going about its useful activities. Standard economics fondly believes that...
Read preview Overview
'Why Johnny Can't Regulate': A Reply to Henry Ergas
Henry Ergas is a talented, erudite and articulate economist, and a long-time critic of the ACCC/AER. In a recent paper in this journal2 he raises the possibility that public utility regulation is doomed to end in failure. He draws on the vignette of...
Read preview Overview
A Rejoinder to Biggar
There is much to agree with in Darryl Biggar's comments on my article. Nonetheless, it does demand the examination of a number of issues.First of all, it is illusory to think preventing firms from recouping investments prudently incurred can protect...
Read preview Overview

Vol. 20, No. 1, 2013

Age Bias in the Australian Welfare State
AbstractThis paper uses Australian Bureau of Statistics fiscal incidence figures to track trends across the period 1984 to 2010 in one key aspect of the Australian welfare state - whether welfare policies have favoured the elderly at the expense of the...
Read preview Overview
Management of the Coastal Zone in Byron Bay: The Neglect of Medium-Term Considerations
AbstractThis paper documents the history of coastal management in Byron Bay and its implication for the property rights of landowners and other stakeholders. It finds that, until recently, planning for an uncertain future in a warming climate has overshadowed...
Read preview Overview
Why Johnny Can't Regulate: The Case of Natural Monopoly
This paper examines the difficulties inherent in regulation as a solution to market failure and, especially, to natural monopoly. It highlights the way regulation itself introduces new risks into the supply of natural monopoly services, including the...
Read preview Overview
Evidence-Free Policy: The Case of the National Injury Insurance Scheme
AbstractThe Productivity Commission report 'Disability Care and Support' recommends tort liability be replaced by a compulsory, government-run, no-fault scheme. But theory and evidence indicate moving to a no-fault scheme will increase the accident rate....
Read preview Overview
Universities as Royal Courts: A Fable1
One of the stranger beasts to emerge from education reform in recent decades has been the Australian University. Though there are still about 38 of them left in the wild, they are nevertheless endangered. Indeed, their survival is threatened by self-harm...
Read preview Overview
Beveridge and the Brief Life of 'Social Biology' at the LSE
Introduction2Sir William Beveridge, 1879-1963, was a distinguished figure in the history of public policy. His 1942 report Social Insurance and Allied Services - widely known as the Beveridge Report3 - played a key role in the development of the British...
Read preview Overview
Lionel Robbins
Susan Howson, Lionel Robbins (Cambridge University Press, 2011)Lionel Robbins was one of the most distinguished economists of the twentieth century. For 30 years, from the late 1920s to the late 1950s, he held the principal chair in economics at the...
Read preview Overview
The Age of Equality: The Twentieth Century in Economic Perspective
Richard Pomfret, The Age of Equality: The Twentieth Century in Economic Perspective (Belknap Press, 2011)It is quite a challenge to survey the economic history of the twentieth century in a little over 200 pages. Richard Pomfret deftly charts a course...
Read preview Overview

Vol. 19, No. 2, 2012

For a Charter of Modelling Honesty
The theory of modelling, and fitness for purposeIn a classic discussion of mathematical models in the social sciences, the philosopher Max Black describes models as metaphors, raising the fundamental, and long-debated, question of in what sense (if any)...
Read preview Overview
Modelling as Agit-Prop: The Treasury's Role in Australia's Carbon Tax Debate
AbstractThis paper examines the modelling undertaken by the Commonwealth Treasury of the costs of an Australian emissions trading scheme, published in 'Strong Growth, Low Pollution'. Despite its considerable technical sophistication, we argue that this...
Read preview Overview
The Treasury-KPMG Econtech Modelling of the Excess Burden of Mining Taxation: Some Doubts
IntroductionThe Commonwealth Treasury commissioned KPMG Econtech to model the efficiency of the existing Australian tax system. The report was an input to the 2010 'Henry Review' of the Australian tax system (henceforth AFTS), and proved very influential...
Read preview Overview
The Treasury's Non-Modelling of the Stimulus
In late 2008 the global financial crisis (GFC) sparked a boom in Keynesian economic commentary and activist fiscal policies. The Australian government responded with an immediate $10.4 billion 'cash-splash' to households (Commonwealth Treasury 2008),...
Read preview Overview
Treasury Forecasts of Company Tax Revenue: Back of the Envelope or Back to the Drawing Board?
The last decade has seen Treasury make large forecast errors when forecasting company tax receipts. This paper demonstrates the source of those errors: Treasury does not model the actual company tax base but rather estimates growth rates for aggregate...
Read preview Overview
The Treasury-Reserve Bank ATM Taskforce Report: Would It Pass a Cost-Benefit Analysis?
IntroductionIn December 2010 the Commonwealth Government announced that the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Treasury would establish a joint 'ATM Taskforce' to analyse reforms to Australia's ATM market in 2009 which aimed to improve the competition...
Read preview Overview
Australia's NBN: Come Hell or High Water
Are there projects of such self-evident value that they ought to be exempt from even the most rudimentary cost-benefit analysis? Seemingly so, according to the former Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner, as long as it's the National Broadband Network (NBN)....
Read preview Overview
The Problem of Road Congestion: The Futility of 'Avoidable Cost' Estimates
AbstractThe Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics estimates of the costs of road congestion in Australian capital cities ($9.4 billion in 2005 and projected to more than double by 2020) are widely cited. But these projections appear...
Read preview Overview
Investments in Fire Management: Does Saving Lives Cost Lives?
AbstractThe total cost of structural fires and bushfires in Australia was estimated at around A$18 billion in 2010, or about 1.5 per cent of GDP. This cost includes some A$16 billion devoted to managing the risk. At the same time, Australia's fire fatality...
Read preview Overview
Taming Volatile Capital Flows in Emerging Economies
Just about all economists agree that international trade in goods and services is beneficial and should be unrestricted. There is much less unanimity, however, on the benefits of international capital flows. The volatility and 'sudden stops' experienced...
Read preview Overview
The Academy in Decay
The Academy in DecayThe academy and the agoraOver several decades diverse strategies have been applied to increase the number of university graduates in Australia. In the 1940s, for example, the Curtin Labor government funded an increased number of scholarships,...
Read preview Overview

Vol. 19, No. 1, 2012

Australia's 2009 ATM Reforms: Transparency for Transparency's Sake
AbstractThis paper reviews the effectiveness of the reforms to the Australian ATM of early 2009. Data indicate that consumers have acted on the more transparent display of fees by shifting their transactions towards fee-free ATMs provided by their own...
Read preview Overview
Citations as a Measure of the Research Outputs of New Zealand's Economics Departments: The Problem of 'Long and Variable Lags'
AbstractThe paper explores the merits of utilising citation counts to measure research output in economics in the context of a nationwide research evaluation scheme: the New Zealand Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF). Citations were collected for...
Read preview Overview
Paved with Good Intentions: The Road Home and the Irreducible Minimum of Homelessness in Australia
AbstractDespite public interest and public inquiries as long ago as the 1989 Human Rights Commission and the consequent increase in funding by the Hawke and subsequent governments, the 2006 rate of homelessness in Australia was 32 per 10 000, only marginally...
Read preview Overview
Australia's Defence: A Review of the 'Reviews'
The Australian Defence Force is held in high regard; the Department of Defence is not. Longstanding concerns about inefficiency, compounded by a succession of fiascos and bungles, have entrenched the perception that Defence is poorly managed. Earlier...
Read preview Overview
Keynes Hayek. the Clash That Defined Modern Economics
Nicholas Wapshott, Keynes Hayek. The Clash That Defined Modern Economics (Scribe, 2011)Opinion about the role that government should play in the macro economy tends to conform to a rhythm, an ebb and flow, determined by circumstances and influenced by...
Read preview Overview
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.