Articles on Public policy

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Could charities compete to provide services like nursing? Stefan Rousseau/PA

Limit public service competition to non-profits

The idea that competition is better than monopoly provision in public services is now established wisdom among the British political elite. Since the advent of something commonly called “New Public Management…
We shouldn’t assume hunting, logging or grazing will damage areas like Guy Fawkes River National Park. We also shouldn’t assume they won’t. Ian Sanderson

Stopping hunting, logging and grazing won’t save national parks

Countries create national parks to protect areas of biological, physical, cultural and spiritual significance. In Australia, we generally prefer national parks to be free from activities such as hunting…
If science is excluded from fisheries policy, we’re headed back to the bad old days of overfishing. Greg Bishop

Super trawler gone, but is fisheries policy in trouble?

Last week, the “super trawler” Abel Tasman left Australia, with far less fanfare than you might have expected. Many hail this as good news for Australian fisheries, but we believe it could be a great step…
Peter Shergold, pictured here at COAG with former prime minister John Howard, was Australia’s top public servant from 2003-2008. AAP/Alan Porritt

Peter Shergold: political staffers aren’t killing the public service

In 2007, soon after becoming prime minister, Kevin Rudd found himself unable to attend the Christmas party of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) of which I was the secretary. This…
The Business Council of Australia’s Jennifer Westacott has called for a debate over the role of Australia’s public service.

Improving public policy advice is a debate we have to have

The provocative address by Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott to the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) International Congress in Melbourne yesterday achieved something…
Leave “wicked” to the witches and let’s get on with the job of policy research. Witches image from www.shutterstock.com

Too many ‘wicked problems’: how science, policy and politics can work together

Wicked problems, so we are told, are everywhere. Climate change, conflict, an ageing population, obesity… the list goes on. The debate over asylum seekers, difficult and important and politically charged…
The Wonthaggi desalination plant was proposed as Victoria’s solution to water security, but has been the subject of community concern and protest. AAP/Thiess

Solving water security: don’t ignore the public

What is the best solution to the problem of water security in Australia? Finding an answer to this question is no easy matter. There is still much we don’t know about the nature and impact of climate change…
Efficient water use is ever more important, yet budgets for vital irrigation R&D are declining. A. Campbell

Part One: Irrigation R&D drying up - a looming weakness for Australia

Welcome to a two-part special on the troubling plight of irrigation R&D, by Professor Andrew Campbell of Charles Darwin University. Research into the smartest, most efficient and sustainable ways to…
No such thing as a free lunch: nuclear power can do what many renewable energy systems have not yet done on a large scale - deliver. Flickr/Gretchen Mahan

Low-carbon electricity must be fit-for-service (and nuclear power is)

To paraphrase George Orwell: “All electricity is created equal, but some of its generating technologies are more equal than others”. This is a crucial point – emphasised but typically overlooked – in the…
Beware the hyperbole: Campbell Newman has vowed to axe the Wild Rivers legislation, but what’s the reality beneath the rhetoric? AAP/Alan Porritt

Overturn, axe and bury: the LNP and Queensland’s Wild Rivers Act

Those who follow the Wild Rivers debates in Queensland probably know better than to trust the headlines. When, in January 2010, Tony Abbott announced a federal intervention into the state’s environmental…
Australia’s energy security will fall again after Caltex’s decision to shut its Sydney plant at Kurnell (pictured), but the Federal Government is yet to have a coherent stance on domestic refining capacity. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Oil-slick politics: Canberra slippery on refinery shutdowns

Last week, Caltex decided to close its Kurnell refinery in Sydney. This closure follows a recent decision by Shell to close its refinery at Clyde in Sydney and it will leave the city without any oil refineries…
No simple matter: logging and conservation are not polar opposites, and controlled harvesting can fund the protection of forests. AAP/Greenpeace/Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Can forest conservation and logging be reconciled?

Is there a role for logging in ensuring the future of the world’s tropical forests and their rich diversity of plants and animals? For many this idea is absurd, because timber production achieving conservation…
World of bag people: a million a minute are used globally, with Australians churning through almost one a day on average. Flickr/Heal the Bay

Plastic, like diamonds, is forever: time to use fewer bags

Between 30 million and 50 million plastic bags enter the environment as litter in Australia each year. These environmentally damaging bags - produced to be used once and then thrown away - are a symbol…
Tony Abbott described the carbon tax as a python that would strangle the economy, but it’s more of a lolly snake. Flickr/anenomeprojectors

Why the carbon-tax ‘python’ won’t squeeze the economy

Some critics of carbon pricing have pointed out that, over time, the carbon price will increase to a much higher level and devastate the economy. Indeed, the image of a python squeezing the life out of…
Extinct: the Christmas Island Pipistrelle. Lindy Lumsden

Threat of extinction demands fast and decisive action

When it comes to mammal extinctions, Australia’s track record over the last 200 years has been abysmal. Since European settlement, nearly half of the world’s mammalian extinctions have occurred in Australia…
Time for real change: the Government’s new draft National Food Plan puts the interests of big business ahead of health, equity, and food security. Flickr/mermaid99

The draft National Food Plan: putting corporate hunger first

The Federal Government released on Tuesday the green paper for Australia’s first-ever National Food Plan. According to Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, this plan “will ensure Australia has a sustainable…

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