Are Australian politicians overpaid?


A nice pithy comment, I thought, in the way that a 140 character limit encourages. I didn’t expect it to be too controversial, especially given the low standing of our politicians at the moment. But, as happens on the internets, I found myself pitched as the opponent of meritocracy, attempting to lower the standards of politicians by discouraging our best and brightest from applying.

I have a lot of writing that I’m supposed to be working on at the moment, so I thought the best way to procrastinate (sorry Antoinette and Geoff) would be to explore this question in a blog post: Do we get good value from our politicians? Continue reading

‘Clive’s budget?’ what’s behind the budget response?

ImageI’ve had a co-written article posted on the Overland website. All the smart bits should be attributed to Antoinette.

As flawed economically and politically as this budget has been, it would be a mistake to assume that the space Palmer has managed to occupy was created by this government alone. Incompetence has certainly helped but the government’s inability to sell the budget stems from the same pressures that saw a leader as unpopular as Tony Abbott able to lead the Coalition to victory, and, at a state level, two first-term premiers and a chief minister deposed by colleagues over the last year.

The government’s short-term problem is the budget, but longer term it is relevance.

Would expanding the GST actually be regressive?

gst_toonMartin Parkinson has kicked off another round of speculation about increasing GST revenue through either increasing the rate or expanding the base.

Raising taxes is the number one defence against budget cuts in areas that we want to protect, or new areas of social expenditure. In spite of this, calls to increase the GST are consistently met with opposition from the Left on the basis that they consider the GST to be a regressive tax. A tax that collects a higher percentage of the income of from poor people than rich people is a bad thing.

Given the consistency of these views, it might surprise to read that broadening the GST, or even raising it, is not necessarily regressive. In fact, in one area, broadening the base of the GST is actually create a more progressive tax system in and of itself. Continue reading


This article has failed to find a home, so I thought I would drop it here. I had to use a damp cloth to wipe away the dust first, perhaps it’s time to resurrect Translationsblog.

Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens was reported last week raising the spector of foreign investment in residential housing. It’s amazing that even the  respected analysts at the Reserve Bank have fallen for the housing finance industries rent-seeking nonsense as they try to deflect from the real problems in our housing system.

As a society we need to acknowledge that housing markets are broken and need to be fixed. Courage and leadership is needed from our politicians, lest they break the singular principle underpinning elderly middle-class Australians out of poverty: mass home ownership. Continue reading