AFR: From culture wars back to cold war

You can read the original article published in the Australian Financial Review on 16 April 2019 here or you can read the full text of the article below.

The government is sensibly trying to be re-elected on its delivery of economic opportunity and prosperity, not fringe cultural issues.

What an exquisite feeling, when you finally stop banging your head against a brick wall. But what regret, when you realise the damage you’ve done to yourself unnecessarily.

The government has delivered a culture-war-free budget, largely positively received. Now it has embarked on a culture-war-free election campaign which also shows signs of resonating with the public.

The focus is back on delivering things that matter to all Australians: economic settings for national success, tax cuts to raise wages and encourage individual aspiration, education targeted to employment outcomes, infrastructure to manage growth.

The lessons of the Victorian and NSW “delivery” elections have been well learnt. Labor is also silent on the controversial “cultural” topics which could ruffle small-c conservative voters. It got a reminder in the same-sex marriage referendum that progressive social programs can turn off voters. Everyone is clamouring for the centre ground.

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AFR: Why budget day encourages crony capitalism

You can read the original article published in the Australian Financial Review on 2 April 2019 here or you can read the full text of the article below.

When lobby groups start to spend more on trying to get favourable budget decisions than on their core business you know you’re in trouble.

Are you a winner or a loser in this year’s budget? Do you expect to be promised a better deal in the opposition’s budget reply? Or perhaps you’re looking forward to the Lady budget that will be delivered soon after, like a pink version of the basic Bic pen? The annual scramble for the pot of money scrounged together from the productive activities of individual and corporate taxpayers has become decidedly zero-sum. It’s enough to make you cynical about the whole political system.

And indeed, people are no longer convinced that democratic capitalism, the system of voluntary exchange which has given us widespread health, wealth and individual liberty, is working for them. They are turning to populist parties who promise to “drain the swamp”. A significant portion think we should give full-blown socialism another go, despite its record of crashing out in hardship and starvation.

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