Home' Policy Magazine : Policy Vol 33 - No 3 Contents The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) is Australia’s
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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.
Will robots take my job? This is a question on many people’s minds, and it’s fuelling
fears that technological advances in automation and artificial intelligence will
lead to widespread unemployment, if not a jobless future. Yet as economist
with Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet David Gruen argues in our cover story on
the future of work, such fears are not supported by historical or current evidence—at least
so far. ‘It is always easier’, he notes, ‘to identify jobs that are at risk of being eliminated by
technology than to identify the new job opportunities that will emerge.’
That said, he points out that there have been distributional consequences from the current
wave of technological disruption including significant job polarisation and a fall in income
accruing to labour as opposed to capital. These trends may continue. Public policy therefore
has an important role to play in helping people at risk of being left behind by technological
advances as well as helping to spread the benefits more widely so that people embrace
change rather than resist it. ‘Recent political events across the developed world’, he warns,
‘reinforce the importance of this endeavour.’
Sam Bowman raises similar concerns from his perch at the Adam Smith Institute in
London. In our lead comment piece, he highlights the parallels between today and the
late 19th century, which was also an era of rapid technological change and globalisation
in the wake of a financial panic (not dissimilar in its effects to the 2008 Global Financial
Crisis) that nonetheless did not produce high real economic growth, leading to economic
dislocation and political backlash. In response to these trends, a small group of people
(himself included) have begun to self-identify as ‘neoliberals’ to avoid a repeat of history,
keep the focus on growth, and defend and extend the global liberal order.
Also in this issue of Policy are three features articles that address the perennial debate
over the shape of necessary welfare reforms that would reduce costs to government and
improve the quality of outcomes.
In our lead feature, former New Zealand finance minister Roger Douglas and economics
professor Robert MacCulloch show how compulsory individual savings accounts can be
established using tax revenues so that a publicly funded welfare system can be changed
into a largely privately funded model that promotes individual choice and responsibility.
They use New Zealand as a case study, before considering how their ‘savings not taxes’
reforms could be applied to Australia.
Our two other features revisit the issues with so-called middle class welfare. Simon
Cowan argues that given the rising costs of government payments to Australian families,
the only way forward for small government advocates is to refocus the system on its
original purpose of alleviating poverty and need. By contrast, Barry Maley argues that
from an institutionalist perspective family payments are a legitimate and socially important
Elsewhere David Gadiel and Jeremy Sammut pick up where Wolfgang Kasper left off in
his Spring 2016 Policy article on state income tax and competitive federalism. They argue
that state income tax and reform of federal-state financial relations is in the states’ own
self-interest ‘to avoid the financial calamity of fundamentally unsustainable ‘free’ hospitals’
under their current Medicare obligations.
Also in this issue, Robert Forsyth talks with leading Zimbabwean political figure David
Coltart, who warns that a ‘perfect storm’ is developing as Robert Mugabe fades. Dyson
Heydon explores the totalitarian impulses of the diversity brigade—or ‘tyrants of tolerance’
to borrow from the title of Peter Kurti’s recent book—while Kurti calls out those he dubs
‘hard’ multiculturalists for fetishising diversity at the expense of protecting liberty.
Finally, in our review section David Martin Jones considers four recent books that explore
what has become a major source of the decline of trust in Western democratic institutions:
the divide between a cosmopolitan globalist elite and the so-called populist nationalist
masses. Gene Tunny picks apart a new book that argues the economic system in Australia
is rigged to favour a well-connected business elite (James) at the expense of the little guy
(Bruce), while Robert Forsyth weighs up a recent book on how universities have been
infantilised (think ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings’).
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