Category Archives: Legislation and regulation

Ducking tough policy questions won’t do the PM any good

Original article appeared on 30 October 2019 in the Australian Financial Review

The Morrison government needs to break away from its bad habit of failing to consider reform options because of political reasons.

A pompous consultant once said you should never ask a question you don’t know the answer to, and nobody dared ask “why?” because they didn’t know the answer to the question.

Not asking hard questions has become a bad habit in politics. The political game of ruling out politically difficult policy proposals has escalated into refraining from even asking if there is a better way to do things. In an attempt to project “stability and certainty”, the government risks ossifying into stasis.


Policy stasis: Scott Morrison has immediately shut down discussion on the NSW government’s plan for tax and GST reform.  Alex Ellinghausen

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The Drum, Tuesday 3 September 2019

The Drum 3 Sept 2019

Host: Ellen Fanning
Panel: Parnell McGuinness, Peter Hartcher, Rabia Siddique, Adam Carrel
Guests: John Quiggin and Brian Toohey

The panel discusses a parliamentary inquiry set to examine the potential for nuclear power in Australia, foreign investors’ influence on Australian politics, governments and secrecy, and how old is too old to be a boss?

Full episode here – ABC’s The Drum, Tuesday 3 September 2019

We need a minister for common sense

Original article published 7 August 2019 in the Australian Financial Review

Hiring and paying staff reveals an error-generating nightmare of red tape that is ripe for sensible reforms.

The big reforms of the Hawke-Keating era may be in the bag, but there’s plenty of room for improvement in the Australian economy.

Australia has one of the most complicated award systems in the world, says workforce software company Kronos. There are  112 Modern Awards, as well as company-specific enterprise bargaining agreements. The Australian Payroll Association estimates that it costs the average business with under 200 employees about $36 per payslip, or $86,000 a year based on a monthly pay run. Even just getting these employees into the system is an odyssey of paperwork, prone to human error, which costs businesses and employees valuable head hours. And then each employee’s rate is affected by changing variables like the time and day of the week that employees log on and off, their breaks, their age, and their attainment of various certifications.

Payroll software is big business, used by about half of all employers; that very fact points to the difficulty of working out the exact entitlements for each employee. Even once the software is in place, Kronos warns it’s not a matter of set and forget. New regulation and changes to awards mean that the settings have to be constantly updated by an expert.

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