So after four years at the university of Melbourne, studying economics and a bit of politics along the way, it’s suddenly all come to an end. Which feels odd because for the greater part of this year, my Honours year, the focus hasn’t been on finishing the degree, or my time at university for that matter, but instead it’s been on the arduous/dreaded/painful thesis and making sure it got completed by last week’s Monday deadline. You may have noticed a collective sigh go up across the Economics department on Monday afternoon as everyone submitted their papers.
What a joke.
Really, there isn’t anything else that can be said about the latest fiscal crisis in the United States. With the federal government shutting down most operations on the 1st of October, as the House of Representatives (controlled by the Republicans) and the Senate (controlled by the Democrats) couldn’t agree on a Continuing Resolution for the 2014 fiscal year.
Whilst the outcome on Election Night was clear – a decisive victory for Tony Abbott and the Liberal-National Coalition – the likely outcome in the Senate where various minor and micro-parties with specific agenda have won seats, has raised myriad questions about the fate of the incoming government’s policy programme.
This article forms part of an ongoing series looking at economic issues as Australia heads into the Federal Election. More coverage can be found on the Election 2013 page of ESSA’s website.
This election campaign has already seen its fair share of gaffes, negative ads and costings claims. Perhaps it’s time we debated the pressing need to reform our tax system, starting with the GST.
As I watched ABC’s Q&A Monday episode, The National Economic Debate, I sat despairing at yet another missed opportunity to talk ambitiously about policy reforms in Australia. After an excellent question from the crowd about the merits of reforming the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to broaden its base and potentially increase the rate (whilst concurrently reducing and eliminating other inefficient and distortionary taxes), both Treasurer Chris Bowen and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey manoeuvred their way out of discussing what is a sensible reform. It was arguably the most disappointing element of what was a very entertaining and substantive debate between Bowen and Hockey that covered the breadth of economic issues facing Australia.
Christopher Weinberg sheds light on the worrying plight for American politics, set in motion by the clashes between Democrats and Republicans. Whether the role President Barack Obama has in achieving bipartisan consensus is an achievable one is certainly something that Weinberg causes one to call into question.
In an affirmation of the natural order of things, on Thursday night out at Monash University, the University of Melbourne team (composed of myself, 1st-year student Emad, and the incomparable Prof. Jeff Borland) took out a closely fought debate to determine whether the Eurozone has been a success or a failure. Across both teams there was much spirited debate over economic theory, the optimal design for policymaking interlaced with a great deal of jibing back and forth between two of the country’s most elite universities.
Whilst the reputation for the intern experience is one of fetching coffees for superiors and photocopying a litany of documents, the experience I was fortunate to have at the Grattan Institute over Summer 2012/13 will be one to remain with me for years to come.
Founded in 2008 with financial endowments from the Federal and State governments, BHP Billiton and in kind support from the University of Melbourne, the Grattan Institute has sought to carve out a role as one of Australia’s most significant think tanks, specifically focused on public policy. Since founding, it has released a variety of influential reports on key policy issues with its most notable work released last year concerning the significant reforms that could unleash a new wave of economic growth in Australia.