Turnbull shows path to better government

ScreenHunter_305 Nov. 18 13.36

Cross-posted from The Conversation

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for politicians to take up their “megaphones” to explain policy and argue for reforms.

Launching the book Dog Days: Australia After the Boom, by leading economist Ross Garnaut, Turnbull said the era when policy makers were greeted with unexpected revenue to prop up populist policies was gone.

“We are entering an era when we will be forced, more than ever, to explain to the public the difficult trade-offs that are being made, the true costs of populist policies and the need for individual sacrifices to achieve wider economic benefit.”

Politicians had to be prepared to argue the case for reform, fostering debate rather than shutting it down, he said.

“Most of all, politicians themselves have to be prepared to explain the context for policy choices and then advocate their preferred approach in a manner which informs, rather than misleads, the electorate,” Turnbull said.

“The longer I serve in parliament the more convinced I am that we should strive to be the best explainers that we can. We cannot just leave it to professors and experts and think tanks – no matter how important they may be.

“Those who have the biggest megaphones have the biggest responsibility – and nobody has a bigger megaphone than a member of parliament.”

Turnbull renewed his argument for a sovereign wealth fund, saying the case was based as much on behavioural macroeconomic factors.

“It would mean that when a cabinet, presented with a surplus, was considering possibly unsustainable tax cuts on the one hand, and increases in entitlements on the other, there would also be a third option of saving the money.”

Admittedly the current problem was not how to dispose of a surplus. “That would be a high class problem!” Turnbull said. But we should be having this debate in anticipation of the future, he said.

“In other words we should not be so focused on managing declining terms of trade and lower receipts that we do not also plan how we would manage shocks on the upside as well.”

Article by Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow at University of Canberra

Unconventional Economist
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  1. “Politicians had to be prepared to argue the case for reform, fostering debate rather than shutting it down, he said.”

    The irony of a current government minister saying that is overwhelming.

  2. How about you explain to the public why interest rates and taxes on capital gains have to rise Malcom you degenerate bond pimp?

  3. I think the QLD Premier has tunnels on the brain. He really seems to like tunnels. When he was Lord Mayor of the city he initiated all 3 tunnels in the city from memory. Two opened and have filed for bankruptcy. One more is going to open next year. I will be surprised if it gets any more use than the other 2 dud tunnels before going bankrupt.
    The idea of a tunnel to feed the southern rail routes looks like a joke. The current bridge is ample infrastructure, but then can’t have them tunnelling contractors and their dividend yielding companies standing idle. At least not when there is a good chance of fleecing the QLD public once again with PPP.

  4. Turnbull shows path to better government? Me think Turnbull is repositioning and distinguishing himself from Abbott and Hockey. Not a hard task really.