The Australian Institute for Public Policy

According to ABC news, Australia is to get another thinktank, with the Commonwealth and Victorian governments announcing the establishment of the University of Melbourne-based Australian Institute for Public Policy. More players in the ideas space must be a good thing, but with the recent establishment of the Lowy Institute and Per Capita (not to mention smaller outfits like the Eidos Institute and the Centre for Policy Development), it’s going to be harder for the AIPP to find a niche than would have been the case five years ago. A quote from John Brumby suggests that he would like to see something like the Lowy Institute on Collins Street. Here’s Lowy’s mandate:

The Lowy Institute is an independent international policy think tank based in Sydney. Its objective is to generate new ideas and dialogue on international developments and Australia’s role in the world. Its mandate is broad. It ranges across all the dimensions of international policy debate in Australia – economic, political and strategic – and it is not limited to a particular geographic region.

And here’s John Brumby’s vision:

“This new think-tank will be non-partisan, it’ll be broadly based. It’ll look at all of the big issues of our times, things like energy policy, things like climate change, things like Australia’s role in the region,” he said.

My own view is that this is the wrong space for AIPP to be occupying – they’d do better to carve out a domestic policy niche, looking at urban policy, crime policy, health policy, schools policy, innovation policy, IT policy, etc.

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7 Responses to The Australian Institute for Public Policy

  1. Dan says:

    My own view is that this is the wrong space for AIPP to be occupying – they’d do better to carve out a domestic policy niche, looking at urban policy, crime policy, health policy, schools policy, innovation policy, IT policy, etc.

    Sounds a bit entrepreneurial there Andrew, if no-one else is doing it, maybe you’ll need to set it up yourself.

    I think you are right – urban planning challenges with climate change, carbon taxes, housing affordability etc… could do with a well placed (and PR saavy) think tank.

  2. Paul r says:

    Seems like a good initiative to me. I note that the Brookings Institute topics brief is much wider than discussed above, including the internet and broadband policy. Being a global network of networks, the internet is of interest to public policy thinkers everywhere. The issues transcent domestic and international spheres. In my view, the AIPP would do well to include research into these areas too.

  3. Sinclair Davidson says:

    In addition to the existing non-governmental think tanks, there is the Productivity Commission, the whole of the public service, and (about) 24 University based think tanks in existence already. The think tank market is becoming cluttered.

  4. Kevin Cox says:

    Perhaps we need some action tanks rather than think tanks

    There is a big difference between “doing research” and “commercialisation”. In the same way I think there is a big difference between discussing policy and in implementing policy. We may be better off to have some places that concentrate on ideas to get things done rather than everyone thinking of what to do. I know it is not as much fun but probably more useful.

  5. Sinclair Davidson says:

    We may be better off to have some places that concentrate on ideas to get things done

    We do. Its called the public service. Yet another government funded think tank tells us what the government thinks of its existing funded think tanks.

  6. As a cynic, I always look to where the money comes from. Both the AIPP and the University of Melbourne are publicly funded. The AIPP smacks of establishment and status quo before it starts. A more interesting model is Demos from the UK which existed on the third fringe of respectability according to Geoff Mulgan when he was in the chair, and before he was invited to join the inner circle. Why do we need another publicly funded institution whose independence is compromised before it even starts? Who will be appointed to the Board and who will be the CEO? People who think like Glynn Davis and Kevin? By definition, new ideas will come from the outer fringes, not the establishment. Just like the 2020 Conference, all the ‘new’ ideas were in fact very old ideas, it is just that people are just waking up to them. For example, what exactly is a republic? Why do we need ‘root and branch’ tax reform, when the ATO is still trying to get systems to properly administer the last 20 years of brainwaves? Can someone tell me why we need ‘microfinance’ initiatives when everyone now has a ‘community bank’ alternative, and there is a lot of disquiet about financial regulation and lending to low credit risks anyway? Perhaps the AIPP could start off by questioning the need for a 2020 Conference where there was no responsibility and no accountability for what happens next. At least it did have many celebrities. What did the 2020 Conference cost anyway, and what is the benefit? Oh dear, I have become a grumpy old man.

  7. Anthony Overmars says:

    I look forward to quite a bit more doing and perhaps the time for thinking and chatting over a Latte is over!

    In particular the water policy space where I see the cost of food coming from regional areas increasing due to the scarcity of water, and the uncertainty of supply. Other inputs to food production such as labour shortages, interest rates and fuel are literary killing off the “greys” in the farming community who’s children have moved off to the big smoke. The removal of water from areas already under stress such as the Goulburn (where I have worked these last two years) and piping it marginal electorates seems a travesty of social justice.

    It takes about 400 litres water to make 1 litre of milk and when the spot price of water exceeds $350 per MLitre food production is not viable. If farmers in the Goulburn walk off the land on mass this coming summer there may not be enough regional demand to support the proposed infrastructure upgrades.

    Who’s idea was it to push 300 Mlitres per day down the Thompson last year, whilst Melbourne metro was on 3a restrictions saving about 200 Mlitres per day?

    And didn’t we have a flood in Gippsland late June last year? I know that damming rivers was unpopular with the Greens for awhile but now that every thing is Brown maybe damming the Mitchell might make sense.

    Quantities of the state’s pure drinking water is being sold at $2.40 per Mlitre for 150Mitres per year by Sunkoshi Limited, a bottled water manufacturer with links to soft drink giant Coca-Cola Amatil, well below the $960 paid by Melbournians. The pure ground water is controlled by State Government authority Southern Rural Water and the application for an extraction permit was approved by Melbourne Water and the Department of Sustainability and Environment.

    The outputs from the 2020 summit regarding water policy were a bit disappointing for me and appeared to have been hijacked by the coal lobby.

    Total water use by electricity generators in 2004–05 was 60,292 GL. This is 10% higher than 2000–01 where total water use was 54,787 GL.
    Water consumption in 2004–05 by electricity generators was 271 GL, or 1% of total water consumption in Australia. This represents a 6% increase from 2000–01 where water consumption was 255 GL. Victoria used 6,073 GL

    One of the world’s largest desalination plants will be built in Victoria. Water bills will double to fund the $3.1 billion plant, earmarked for Wonthaggi, south-east of Melbourne. The plant is part of a drought-proofing package announced by the Victorian government and will generate 150 billion litres of drinking water annually – about one third of Melbourne’s current consumption.

    I guess that this desalination plant will be coal fired so we get 150 Billion litres and we can use this to cool the towers and then some -hmm this makes sense if you’re in power generation and all we have done is generate a whole lot more CO2 which got us into this mess in the first place.

    Allan Myers is possibly one of the few people who might be able to pull this off. Whilst I don’t know him personally his outstanding public record and his generosity of spirit is well known – his appointment does inspire.

    Whilst I support the Australian Institute of Public Policy, I hope that it does not become yet another gentlemen’s club for the well to do, full of best intentions – whilst the rural community prays for rain.

    Latte anyone? (150ml Latte ~60 litres of water).

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