As I watched ABC’s Q&A Monday episode, The National Economic Debate, I sat despairing at yet another missed opportunity to talk ambitiously about policy reforms in Australia. After an excellent question from the crowd about the merits of reforming the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to broaden its base and potentially increase the rate (whilst concurrently reducing and eliminating other inefficient and distortionary taxes), both Treasurer Chris Bowen and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey manoeuvered their way out of discussing what is a sensible reform. It was arguably the most disappointing element of what was a very entertaining and substantive debate between Bowen and Hockey that covered the breadth of economic issues facing Australia.
On September 7th, and in the weeks before courtesy of pre-poll and postal voting, Australians will take part in an important democratic ritual to peacefully decide their government for the next three years. It is a process we have conducted for decades with high-level engagement and participation. This important cornerstone of our democracy is fundamentally attributed to the presence of compulsory voting.
When President Barack Obama came into office in 2009, it was under a wave of optimism and hope for a more conciliatory, robust and bipartisan policymaking process between Democrats and Republicans. The country was in crisis at the time of Obama’s election, and there was the expectation that out of such a situation would come genuine compromise on both sides of the political aisle for the long-term national interest. What we observe in mid-2013 however is a policymaking process frozen from gridlock across many dimensions, none more reflective of this new confrontational reality than the development of fiscal policy.