As students from Monash and Melbourne converged on the heart of Clayton campus for the inaugural ESSA Monash versus Melbourne Economics debate, the tension crackling in the air was palpable. For the Melbourne team, losing to the new kids on the block would be an irrevocable stain on their self-perception. For the Monash team, the desire to reign supreme on their turf was a powerful driving force. The topic ‘The Eurozone Project is a Failure’ provided ample scope for intellectual sparring.
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.
George Megalogenis’ quarterly essay titled ‘Trivial Pursuit: Leadership and the end of the reform era’ highlights the worrying lack of political leadership on both sides of the parliament in the aftermath of the 2010 Australian federal election. It argues that political short-termism and party politics has become the order of the day, leaving proper policy debate and detailed analysis out of the picture. It means that governments are focussing on winning the next 24-hour news cycle, or the next opinion poll rather than focussing on creating an enduring economic reform agenda that builds on our prosperity in Australia. Many prominent Australian journalists, including Megalogenis and Annabel Crabb of the ABC, have vowed not to discuss opinion polls to reflect their distaste of the current political atmosphere.