What's wrong with economic policy debate in Australia?

21 November 2011

Deakin Policy Forum answers the big question.

Professors Henry Ergas and Judith Sloan will be the keynote speakers at the inaugural Deakin Policy Forum (DPF) on December 2.

The forum, which will look at  ‘The State of the Economic Policy Debate’, with a sub-theme of ‘The State of the Economics Profession and Treasuries’, will be held  at Deakin University’s Melbourne City Centre, Level 3, 550 Bourke St, Melbourne, starting at 7.30am.

Michael Porter, Research Professor of Public Policy at Alfred Deakin Research Institute, will chair the meeting.

“Following the addresses from Professors Ergas and Sloan, there will also be an open discussion involving an invited list of known policy commentators and experts,” Professor Porter said. “This should ensure that the event will be lively, constructive, and relevant. Who knows, we might even get an answer!  

“The Forum will be followed by optional participation in a meeting on the strategy0, structuring and governance of the DPF in 2012 – setting the ground rules for what we see as a major new and independent vehicle aimed at lifting the quality of economic and social policy debate in Australia.”

This and future Forums will aim to make sense of Australia’s current policy predicaments – at home and abroad. 

“We are seeking the engagement of the media, academia and the broad community in assessing and responding to one of the most unusual political, economic, and international settings in many decades,” Professor Porter said.  “We aim to fill what we see as gaps in the policy debate – a new bridge in the market for policy ideas.

“We are advancing an on-going framework for ideas and debate that will attract as well as use resources. The process will be research-reflective and expand on the options within selected policy issues, addressing the underlying economic and governance concerns.”

The DPF is housed within the Alfred Deakin Research Institute, named after Australia’s second prime and minister and the man known as the Father of Federation and one of the nation’s great thinkers on policy.

“An Advisory Council is being formed, with a strong base of economic; labour market, state enterprise and water sector expertise, to which we will be adding energy, finance and technology issues, not least as they affect the education and health sectors,” Professor Porter said.

The Forum will generally target subjects at the centre of the political, economic, and social debates within Australia but also tackle areas of policy failure and emerging concerns and opportunities. It will be a real facility for exchange and evaluation of ideas in public policy.

Other indicative issues include:

  • Health, aged care and hospital policies – including alternative financing structures;
  • Refugees and migration;
  • Europe and the Euro – common currency and uncommon economies;
  • Water reforms and trading; Australia as a food bowl for Asia;
  • China shocks and opportunities;
  • US financial policies, the GFCs, the US$ and derivatives regulation;
  • Climate policy and carbon tax Issues;
  • Uranium exports – leasing and nuclear power.
Alfred Deakin Research Institute Alfred Deakin Research Institute

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