Home' Policy Magazine : Policy Vol 32 - No 2 Contents The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) is Australia’s
leading independent public policy institute. Its major
concern is with the principles and institutions underlying
a free and open society.
CIS believes in:
• individual liberty and choice, including freedoms of
association, religion, speech, and the right to property
• an economy based on free markets
• democratic government and the rule of law
• the importance of an autonomous and free civil society
CIS promotes its vision by fostering public debate about major
social, constitutional, and economic issues.
To remain independent of government influence on
its activities and direction, the Centre relies on untied
contributions from individuals, companies, and charitable
trusts, and income from the sale of its publications.
For information on CIS membership, Policy subscriptions, and
other CIS publications and events, please visit our website at
ph: +61 2 9438 4377 • fax: +61 2 9439 7310
POLICY is a publication of
The Centre for Independent Studies.
Ph: +61 2 9438 4377 • Fax: +61 2 9439 7310
ISSN: 1032 6634
Please address all advertising enquiries and
Level 1, 131 Macquarie St,
Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
Editor-in-Chief & Publisher: Greg Lindsay
Editor: Susan Windybank
Assistant Editor: Karla Pincott
Design & Production: Ryan Acosta
Subscriptions: Kerri Evans and Alicia Kinsey
© 2016 The Centre for Independent Studies Limited
Level 1, 131 Macquarie St, Sydney, NSW
ABN 15 001 495 012
Cover images: © Davidrey | Dreamstime.com
Printed by Ligare Pty Ltd
Distributed by Gordon & Gotch Australia
and Gordon & Gotch New Zealand.
The Editor welcomes unsolicited submissions. All full-length
articles (other than reproductions) are subject to a refereeing
process. Permission to reproduce articles may be given upon
application to the Editor.
Editorial Advisory Council
Professor James Allan, Professor Ray Ball,
Professor Jeff Bennett, Professor Geoffrey Brennan,
Professor Lauchlan Chipman, Professor Kenneth
Clements, Professor Sinclair Davidson, Professor David
Emanuel, Professor Ian Harper, Professor Wolfgang
Kasper, Professor Chandran Kukathas, Professor Tony
Makin, Professor R.R. Officer, Professor Suri Ratnapala,
Professor David Robertson, Professor Razeen Sally,
Professor Steven Schwartz, Professor Judith Sloan,
Professor Peter Swan, Professor Geoffrey de Q. Walker.
Policy is a quarterly publication of The Centre for
Independent Studies in Australia and New Zealand. Views
expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect
the views of the Centre’s staff, advisers, directors, or officers.
his issue of Policy continues a long tradition of questioning conventional wisdom
with two lead articles that challenge widely-held a priori beliefs in business and
education circles. It also maintains a longstanding concern with the values and
institutions that underpin a free and open society with articles on the rule of law in
international affairs, the separation of powers, the idea of a fiscal constitution, and the
right to free speech.
In our cover story, finance professor Peter Swan refutes the current thinking in business
circles that company board independence—a central focus of contemporary corporate
governance—increases firm value and leads to better performance.
Since 2003, the ASX Corporate Governance Council has required all listed Australian
companies to adopt majority board independence, or explain ‘if not, why not’. The
Council’s rules defined ‘independence’ as directors with no substantial shareholdings
or links to management and instead favoured directors with a negligible stake in the
business or no specific firm or even industry knowledge. Yet—as Swan argues—the
effect of these rules when implemented has been to progressively deprive boards of
the two groups of directors who are most likely to create wealth for shareholders. In
a recent study of Australia’s largest listed companies since the ASX Council's rules
were introduced, Swan found that almost every aspect of company performance has
deteriorated and that compliance destroys shareholder wealth to the tune of billions of
dollars. He concludes by arguing that the ASX Corporate Governance Council should be
Our other lead feature also challenges another widely-held belief that more funding
for Australian schools will lead to better performance. This belief has become almost
an article of faith in some circles since the 2011 Gonski report on school funding.
Gonski linked alleged underfunding of Australian schools and declining performance of
Australian students with the claim that a significant increase in funding was required
across all school sectors. Yet nowhere in the Report was there any specific test of the
relationship between spending and performance in Australian schools.
Former education professor Ken Gannicott has since examined the Australian evidence.
He finds that whatever else explains declining educational performance, there is no
evidence from either primary or secondary schools that across-the-board increased
funding is necessarily associated with improved academic outcomes. He concludes that
the proper focus should be not on how much money, but how it is spent.
Also in this issue, Patrick Carvalho debunks the most common myths about investor-
state arbitration and the rule of law while Jonathan Crowe makes the case for
constitutional values such as the separation of powers. Robert Carling also revisits
Geoffrey Brennan’s 1988 article ‘from the archives’ on the fiscal rules of the tax-
spending game. Elsewhere, Jim Hoggett asks why we never seem to learn the lessons
from bushfires while Theodore Dalrymple and Jeremy Sammut examine the downside
of the 1960s social revolution that has condemned the lowest rungs of society to its
Last but not least, David Martin Jones reviews Caroline Fourest’s important, if polemical,
defence of secular freedom in her recent book, In Praise of Blasphemy: Why Charlie
Hebdo Is Not ‘Islamophobic’. Fourest explores the themes that Jones illuminated in his
Autumn review of Michel Houellebecq’s (increasingly) prescient novel Submission. That
is, Fourest focuses on what’s wrong with ‘us’ rather than ‘them’—the Western intellectual
and media elites (‘us’) who appease religious fanatics (‘them’) by self-censoring and crying
‘Islamophobia’ to silence critics of Islam, thereby contributing to a climate conducive to
fear and violence and allowing fanatics to decide what is and is not acceptable.
Links Archive Policy Vol 32 - No 1 Policy Vol 32 - No 3 Navigation Previous Page Next Page