Removing reform roadblocks

Why don’t we see major reforms anymore? Is the government putting politics before policy? Have successive governments simply been too afraid of pushing through unpopular reforms?

2018 is the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) which removed the right to free university education. Surprisingly, this major policy reform was introduced by a Labor Government – as were policies aimed at breaking the wage inflation cycle, decentralising wage fixing and floating the dollar. The Howard government brought in other seemingly unlikely major policy reforms such as those on immigration, gun control and the GST.

But that was then and this is now – so why does major policy reform seem so much more difficult in this century than in the last? Are we lacking in leaders with the right stuff? Has the political landscape changed so much that the opportunity for real policy reform has gone? Is it simply a lack of intestinal fortitude? Or are policy-makers missing something?

The Hon John Dawkins, former Minister of Education, Employment and Training in the Hawke Government and the Minister responsible for the introduction of HECS, will discuss this topic with Professor Bruce Chapman, the architect of the HECS scheme. They will be joined by Professor Linda Botterill, who, as well as being a leading Australian public policy expert, had an earlier career spanning time as a Ministerial adviser in the Keating government, in the Australian Public Service, and in two industry peak bodies.

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Emma McMahon

02 6125 0136


National Library of Australia