Home' Policy Magazine : Policy Vol 33 - No 4 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.
In an interview with Paul Kelly almost two years ago to mark the 40th anniversary
of CIS—see the Autumn 2016 issue of Policy—founder and executive director Greg
Lindsay reflected on past successes and future challenges, before noting:
What occupies my thinking now is that there are limits to what governments
can do. We’ve lived through a whole generation of government overreach, of
government trying to do things that it is not suited to doing and doing things that
it shouldn’t be doing. We have not won that argument yet.
In this issue, Mont Pelerin Society president Peter Boettke takes up this argument in the
wake of the populist revolt against establishment elites that Brexit and Trump signalled.
He begins by warning that ‘being anti-establishment should never be enough to bring
intellectual joy to a true liberal’. While the populist critique of expert rule is an area of
overlap, he points out that populists do not want to limit government—as true liberals
do—but merely want to put different people in power.
Yet paradoxically, it is government overreach that has ‘pushed politics beyond the limits
of agreement in the democratic West’, explaining both ‘political dysfunction and populist
disillusionment’. ‘Growth of government’, he notes, ‘leads to the erosion of a contract-
based society and to the rise of a connection-based society, entangling government,
business and society.’
Rebuilding the liberal project must start by recognising these problems. True liberals
need to convince the establishment elites and populists that the issue is not just ‘erring
entrepreneurs’ but ‘bumbling bureaucrats’. The main difference is that in government
nothing succeeds like failure. So we just get more of the same.
An answer is to restrain the public sector and unleash the creativity of the private sector
within an institutional structure of competing jurisdictions and a liberal framework of
general rules that agree on the means by which a diversity of ends can be pursued.
People need simple rules. As Jessica Borbasi argues in our lead feature on end-of-life
autonomy, the confusing maze of differing state requirements for advance care directives
(known as ‘living wills’) has led to an unsurprisingly low uptake among older Australians
and hence deaths without autonomy. Consistent nationwide legislation is needed.
Also in this issue, Oliver Hartwich examines four key factors that have made Switzerland
one of the most successful countries in the world, yielding important insights into how
policy settings could be improved in New Zealand. Meanwhile Simon Cowan explains
why he thinks Universal Basic Income is an unbelievably bad idea.
Elsewhere, Erik Jacobs urges Australia to take advantage of a fortuitous combination
of political factors in Tokyo that augurs well for closer bilateral ties with Japan. Sara
Hudson explores the ideal world of classical liberal principles and the real world of
Indigenous policy, while Charles Jacobs discusses the need for balance when it comes
to symbolism in Indigenous affairs.
In other commentary, Jeremy Sammut explores how the ‘history wars’ have fed the rise
of identity politics in divisive and damaging ways, as we are now seeing on university
campuses. Frank Furedi argues that student protests over controversial speakers and
demands for safe spaces reflect the therapeutic turn in the culture at large, while Steven
Schwartz reminds us of the true mission of universities.
Finally, in our review section, Michael Potter finds much common ground in Andrew
Leigh’s timely paper on why global engagement is best for Australia, with Potter
stressing that openness should go hand in hand with adjustment policies and targeted
assistance to help those left behind by change. Peter Kurti takes a dispassionate look
at the recent ‘safe schools’ scandal, while Sara Hudson is inspired by Warren Mundine’s
new autobiography. Jeremy Shearmur sets the record straight about ‘public choice’
Nobel laureate James Buchanan in a thoughtful critique of historian Nancy MacLean’s
controversial book, while Rob Forsyth weighs up a thesis that argues secularism has
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