July 2012

KPIs’ have little relevance in managing our health system

‘KPIs’ have little relevance in managing our health system. There is an old saying that for every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong. The modern delusion that the creation of simple “key performance indicators” can solve complex problems like the management of the health system, the performance of our

June 2012

Politicians rarely know best

by Richard Denniss in The Australian Financial Review

The latest tragic loss of lives as asylum seekers literally risk everything to make a better life for their families highlights both the consequences and the absurdity of some of the policy positions adopted by Australian politicians. Politics, like democracy, often has more to do with compromise than with consistency. But building a nation does

May 2012

Self-serving regulation

by Richard Denniss in The Australian Financial Review

The economics of deregulation is supposed to be straightforward: business groups support it, community groups oppose it, and governments “get the balance right”. The recent push to streamline state and federal environmental and planning laws has followed exactly that script. The push to remove so-called “green tape” has the appearance of a philosophical position based

March 2012

Action trumps ‘vision’

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

The left side of politics needs to get over its obsession with vision and leadership. While it may be hard for some on the left to admit it, it is pretty clear that John Howard was a radical, transformative and long-lived prime minister. He was never lauded, even by his own party, as visionary. But

February 2012

When the powerful buy into the media, can the media still scrutinize the powerful?

by Richard Denniss in The Conversation

The mining industry is used to having its voice heard in Australian public debates, so it should come as no surprise that mining billionaires such as Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer would consider buying up a bigger slice of the Australian media. While the estimated $20m spent by the mining industry on television advertisements opposing

October 2011

Rise of the ‘glibertarians’

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

Nobody gets an easier run in Australian political debate than the modern “libertarian”. You know, the politicians and commentators who are the first to cry “freedom of speech” in the face of what they see as political correctness and the first to say “individual responsibility” when someone proposes regulation such as those designed to make

August 2011

Searching for transparent online competition

by Josh Fear in ABC The Drum

We’ve heard a lot recently about how the internet is changing the retail landscape. Despite the extreme lethargy with which many of Australia’s largest bricks-and-mortar retailers have embraced online opportunities, consumers are increasingly turning to the web to find more products at lower prices, and without needing to go anywhere near a Westfield. What hasn’t

Who has power over the internet?

by Josh Fear in On Line Opinion

In 1922 Herbert Hoover, United States Secretary of Commerce, declared at the first National Radio Conference in Washington, D.C: “It is inconceivable that we should allow so great a possibility for service, for news, for entertainment, for education, and for vital commercial purposes to be drowned in advertising chatter.” By the time Hoover became President

The right gets it very wrong

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

The concepts of economic rationalism and market liberalism seem to have been abandoned by the Liberals. Whatever happened to the term economic rationalist? It wasn’t that long ago that the favourite insult hurled by the left was the badge of honour worn by the right. The arguments were hilarious. “You’re nothing but a self-serving economic

June 2011

Walking both sides of the street

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

It can’t be only nine months since the last federal election. It feels like an eternity. That, of course, is the objective of Tony Abbott who has worked 24/7 to argue that the election result, the formation of the minority Gillard Government, and in turn, any legislation it proposes, is illegitimate and undemocratic. But this

May 2011

March 2011

Let the shopping spree begin

by Richard Denniss in The Canberra Times

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s decision to give U.S. President Barack Obama an iPod of Australian music speaks volumes about the ongoing evolution of the strong relationship between Australia and the United States. While successive leaders have demonstrated their warm commitment to the international relationship, it is hard to imagine John Howard, or even Kevin Rudd,

January 2011

August 2010

Money and Power

by Josh Fear in On Line Opinion

Despite the prosaic origins of our constitution, many of us still treasure the right to vote. We might feel we have little influence over government decision-making, but at least we get a chance to pronounce judgement every three years. Except that we don’t – not like we used to. Because in this election, the voice

July 2009

February 2009

January 2009

Reclaiming your time from telemarketers

by Josh Fear in Analysis & Policy Observatory

Telemarketing is one form of ‘direct marketing’, along with junk mail, spam and face-to-face marketing. Direct marketing differs from ‘traditional’ advertising in making a much stronger claim on our attention. Members of the public have to take deliberate action if they wish to avoid direct marketing, but Institute research indicates that an ‘opt-in’ system would

May 2008

Shifting debate of personal freedom spells trouble for Liberals

by Richard Denniss in The Age

Under John Howard, the Liberal Party was able to walk both sides of the philosophical street. On “economic” issues they were opposed to government interference in the individual’s “right to choose”, but on “social” issues the Liberals seemed comfortable with the idea that government knew best. The real issues, though, such as whether people should

March 2008

Duty of MPs to stay full term

by Josh Fear in The Canberra Times

But is it acceptable for former government members to leave early purely because they have lost government? At the least, there should be recognition of the shirking of responsibility that this entails. There should also be some contribution towards the considerable costs of holding by-elections. Representing one’s constituency for the duration of the parliament is

February 2008

October 2007

September 2007

April 2007

From Bambi To Bimbo

by Emma Rush in Sydney’s Child, Melbourne’s Child, Canberra’s Child, Adelaide’s Child

As parents and professionals who work with children point out, the time and energy that they currently spend in trying to protect children from the advertising and media onslaught (as well as in healing the damage it causes) would be far better spent on the positive aspects of caring for children. In short, if government

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