Category Archives: Australian Politics

Turning Points

I’m fortunate to have been preselected as the ALP candidate for the federal seat of Fraser (AAP report here). I haven’t been discussing the preselection much on this blog, but it’s been the main thing occupying my attention over the … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 29 Comments

Did the Tampa Stop Beazley Becoming PM?

Writing on InsideStory, Peter Brent argues: But it is not clear that boat people really had much effect on the election result. When the Tampa arrived, the Howard government had already been steadily improving its opinion poll position from the … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 1 Comment

Prediction markets, where art thou?

I’ve been writing for nearly a decade (much of it with Justin Wolfers) about the predictive power of election betting markets. So why is it that now I’m running for ALP preselection in Fraser, none of the election betting websites … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 6 Comments

What’s the Evidence on Evidence Based Policy?

Last year, the Productivity Commission ran an event on the topic ‘Strengthening Evidence-based Policy in the Australian Federation’, of which I was one of the participants (my contribution was titled: ‘Evidence-based policy: summon the randomistas?’). The PC has now produced … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally, Randomisation | 4 Comments

Worms, dials and buttons

In yet another insightful post, Scott Steel (aka Possum Comitatus) blogs on the different ‘worm technologies’ used to follow yesterday’s debate. Is anyone sitting on data that contains both a transcript and the worm level? I’d be curious to see … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics

Leaders as Readers (sequel)

In a slight departure, my ABC Radio National Wryside Economics segment today had almost nothing to do with economics. Instead, I spent the time talking about the piece that Macgregor Duncan and I wrote on reading and political leadership. You … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Books | 1 Comment

Leaders as Readers

Macgregor Duncan and I have a piece out today in the Australian Literary Review, looking at what Australian politicians should and do read. Full text here, and results from our survey of federal politicians here. We had a lot of … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 4 Comments

Leaders as Readers (prequel)

Macgregor Duncan and I have written a piece on politicians’ reading habits, which will be out in the Australian Literary Review on Wednesday (at which point I’ll post the full spreadsheet of results on my academic website). In the meantime, … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics

Death and Taxes

In politics, death is a remarkably potent card to play. But its rhetorical power needs to be matched by a bit of substance. Every year, about 130,000 Australians die. Each of these deaths are tragic (I’m not saying this lightly … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 12 Comments

Look at the changes, not at the levels

A few people have asked me recently for my view on “The Spirit Level” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, which is apparently having some impact in policy circles. John Kay’s view in the FT comes closest to my own: … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Health economics, Inequality, Macroeconomics | 9 Comments

Do you see Obama as Black or White?

[Tirta Susilo is a PhD student in psychology, and a co-author of mine on a recent study, published in (appropriately enough) the Journal of Economic Psychology. Tirta has written a guest-post on some fascinating new research about skin colour and … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, US Politics | 1 Comment

Of politics, tax and monetary policy

Ross Gittins gave a fascinating talk on Monday to the Australian Business Economists Annual Forecasting Conference, and he’s kindly agreed to let me post it here. Full text over the fold.

Posted in Australian Politics, Macroeconomics, Tax | 1 Comment

The economics of refugee flows

With some notable exceptions, the Australian public debate over refugees has so far been conducted largely in an evidence-free zone. So I’ve asked my colleague Tim Hatton to send me through his recent writings on the topic. Tim has written … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Trade & Development

Do Household Handouts Help?

My op-ed today is on the touchy topic of stimulus spending. Full text over the fold (with the usual hyperlinks for anyone interested in reading the original research).

Posted in Australian Politics, Macroeconomics | 1 Comment

Did Howard cut poverty? Absolutely (but not relatively)

Peter Siminski (who is coming to ANU for part of his sabbatical next year) has coauthored an interesting paper in the latest issue of the Australian Economic Review. Changes in Poverty Rates during the Howard Era (gated, alas) Joan R. … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Inequality, Low Wage Work | 1 Comment

Will the right be alright?

For politix junkies, I can highly recommend Andrew Norton’s two posts on whether the Posner thesis of conservatism’s collapse applies in Australia as it does in the US (shorter AN: no).

Posted in Australian Politics | 2 Comments

The World's Social Laboratory?

My colleagues at ANU’s Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute are running a series of “Case Studies of Australian Social Policy” seminars. They have an impressive lineup, which I’ve reproduced over the fold.

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally

Public policy by revolving restaurant

Peter Martin has a lovely column in today’s Canberra Times, using a metaphor that will appeal most to his local audience. Pointing out that the Telstra Tower was rendered unnecessary within a few years of its construction, he asks whether Labor’s … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Web/Tech

Market Democrats

Craig Emerson gave a wide-ranging speech to the Sydney Institute on Thursday night, discussing early childhood intervention, trade liberalisation, and innovation. A little unusually for a Labor MP, the speech also contained a robust defence of Adam Smith.

Posted in Australian Politics | 4 Comments

Message to the Coalition: people respond to incentives

I was listening the other day to Tony Abbott claiming that the price elasticity of petrol is zero (Joshua Gans quotes the Coalition’s Greg Hunt making the same claim). It was perhaps the first time that I had heard a … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Environmental Economics | 17 Comments

It's only inflationary if you pay them Australian dollars

As part of its budget cuts, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is scaling back several overseas posts. As the SMH reports it. During the Senate hearings, Mr Chester revealed the department had withdrawn five more diplomatic positions since … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 4 Comments

Belated Budget Broodings

Sitting on the other side of the world, I’ve felt rather removed from budget commentary, though I’ve found much to agree with in Nicholas Gruen’s called for harsher cuts in middle-class welfare (can we means-test the first homeowners’ grant too?), Andrew … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally | 14 Comments

What's Middle Australia?

As we draw near to budget time, there has been plenty of talk about what “middle Australia” will get. But where exactly is the middle? To provide a more precise sense, I’ve tabulated the pre-tax annual income distributions for individuals … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally | 29 Comments

Why give when you can lend?

My opinion piece today is on the multifarious uses for income contingent loans. Full text over the fold.

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally, Economics of the Family | 8 Comments

Summit Roundup

My AFR oped today is on the 2020 summit. Full text below (and remember – contributors don’t write their own headlines).

Posted in Australian Politics | 8 Comments

Save the Stats

Just to echo what other economists have already said, the mooted cuts to the Australian Bureau of Statistics budget seem to me a false economy. As economist Barry Hughes told SMH journalist Jessica Irvine: This is a very bizarre time to … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 16 Comments

Productive in Pink

My AFR oped tomorrow is on the summit. I’ll post it in the morning, but here are a few quick observations. A little to my surprise, I found talkfest 2008 to be a very worthwhile exercise. An exercise like this … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 5 Comments

More 2020 ideas

Former ACER researcher Molly de Lemos just emailed me her 2020 ideas for the education/productivity stream. They’re over the fold. And a regular commenter also drew my attention to the submission from the Catholic Social Service and Justice Agencies, which … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 2 Comments

It’s the environment, stupid

ANU has today released the results of our first ‘ANU Governance Poll’. Full results are on the poll website, but here are a few of my favourite facts: The environment has shot up the rankings. The graph below shows the … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 9 Comments

Imagining Australia – Rethinking Social Policy

Today brings the sixth and final bunch of Imagining Australia ideas: focusing on inequality and social policy. While Australia has long prided itself as a fair, just, and egalitarian nation, the reality is that our social fabric is not what it … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 14 Comments