Welfare system reform must be clever

Nick Cater's weekly column in The Australian

“Single-parent families are now the fastest growing family type in Australia,”The Daily Telegraph reported matter-of-factly on ­Friday. It was an old story. The number of single-parent families has been growing steadily for decades; since the early 1970s, in fact, when Gough Whitlam introduced the sole-parent benefit.

In 1971, one in 16 families with dependent children was a parent short of a couple. Now it’s one in six. Surely not even the most steadfast …


We haven’t turned Left on the road to Shangri-La

Nick Cater's weekly column in The Australian

The Brits are leaning further to the Left, we are told. Austerity and rising inequality have moved the centre of political gravity.

In May, two months after the NatCen Social Research unit delivered its finding, voters showed their disdain for conservatism by sending David Cameron back to No 10 Downing Street with an increased majority.

Locating the political centre in these fractious times is a difficult task, particularly if you’re unfortunate enough to be …


The righteous overlook our generosity

Nick Cater's weekly column in The Australian

One can only assume James Carle­ton had missed the Zaky Mallah memo cautioning against putting dangerous radicals to air. That’s assuming of course that ABC management sent one.

“Ewen Jones, welcome to Breakfast,” said Carleton. “Nice to have you on the program. For the first time I think?”

“Yes,” the Townsville MP replied. “My first time on Radio National and I don’t get Fran Kelly.”

It is an open question whether Kelly would have risked …


Wowsers under the microscope

Nick Cater's weekly column in The Australian

It’s a measure of progress for the Abbott government that, for the first time in decades, the moralisers are in retreat. Through the years the creeping fingers of the state have insinuated themselves into parts of everyday life where they have no business. Now they are being slapped back into place.

The defunct National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health is missed by no one except the professional do-gooders who were dipping into its $370 million honey …


Bill Shorten’s Labor has no use for Bob Hawke and Paul Keating

Nick Cater's weekly column in The Australian

It is quite a feat for a Labor leader to address a conference on reform without mentioning Bob Hawke or Paul Keating, but Bill Shorten managed to do so last Wednesday.

The leader of a party that likes to celebrate its history may have been expected to bask in the ­reflected glow of his reforming predecessors.

Yet Shorten chose not to do so in his speech to the ­National Reform Summit save for an oblique reference to the spirit of 1983.

You have to scroll back through …


Bread and Circuses: Why Europe Failed

Nick Cater reviews 'Why Europe Failed' by Oliver Hartwich

Bread and Circuses: Why Europe Failed

The extract from Oliver Hartwich's confronting essay on European decline published this weekend barely mentions Australia, yet the sub-text is clear. If we can't stop the relentless expansion of government, Europe's malaise offers a glimpse of Australia's future. 

Why Europe Failed is published this week by Connor Court and extracted in The Weekend Australian

In Europe, says Hartwich, we are staring at 'the dying embers of a past world behemoth.' 


Dominic Perrottet MP: Efforts to shut down free speech are increasing and must be resisted

By Dominic Perrottet MP

Dominic Perrottet MP: Efforts to shut down free speech are increasing and must be resisted
As a general rule, a conservative’s success on Q&A can be measured in direct proportion to the degree of Twitter outrage it causes: the greater the Twitter meltdown, the better the performance.
Let’s call it “Brendan’s Law”, because after Brendan O’Neill’s performance last week, it’s safe to say Twitter wasn’t happy.
Some of the more pleasant “feedback” saw him labelled “a patronising lightweight”, “an outright fascist”, …

Analysis on the National Reform Summit

We need to agree on what reform is for
Australia and NZ-image for NRS-770W

Nick Cater comments in The Australian on the National Reform Summit. 

Read Henry Ergas' comments on the Summit here.

The DIY reform summit, as Gary Banks described it, was an experiment in public policy formation that was clearly worth the investment.

In an era when civic conversation often appears to be conducted in silos, it was refreshing to hear such a wideranging conversation from contributors across the policy spectrum …


NEW VIDEO: Brendan O'Neill on why nudging is worse than nannying

Brendan O'Neill on why nudging is worse than nannying.

The Menzies Research Centre presents Spiked! Editor Brendan O'Neill on why nudge politics is worse than the Nanny State. 

Spiked! Editor and columnist Brendan O’Neill is one of Britain’s most outspoken advocates for free speech. He writes for The Australian and The Spectator, and has just published a selection of essays 'A Duty to Offend' exploring everything from free speech to feminism, porn to Thomas Paine, and coal (good) to Chomsky (bad). He also …


Gender and Politics

Prime Minister endorses report calling for more women in politics

The Liberal Party should set targets aimed at increasing the number of women in Parliament, a report by the Menzies Research Centre recommends.

The report finds that women are outnumbered by men in both major parties in every parliament in the country. While the Liberal Party achieved early success in increasing the number of women candidates, there has been little progress in correcting the gender imbalance for the last two decades.

In a forward to the report, Prime …


The Left’s Problem With Coal

Just four months ago the CFMEU took a stand against Labor’s proposed 50 per cent renewable energy target, to the satisfaction, no doubt, of its many members who dig coal for a living, Nick Cater writes in The Australian.

Only a pedant would take issue with the youthful crusaders who demand the University of Melbourne divest its fossil fuel shares. But take issue with them we must, since the language of environmentalism is not always what it seems.

Fossils, as described in the Macquarie Dictionary — “an impression or trace of an animal or plant of a former geological age” — are all but useless as fuel, not to mention damn difficult to find. When it comes to firing up a power …


A green light in the drive against over-regulation

The digital economy, as shown by taxi service Uber, is eating into the nanny state, Nick Cater writes in The Australian.

What sort of nanny state tyrant would want to restrict the inalienable right of citizens to wear a Micky Mouse suit in public?

The honour goes to the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, who wants to license street performers who dress as cartoon characters for the amusement of tourists.

“I think this has gone too far,” de Blasio told journalists last week. “It needs to be regulated.”

By any reasonable judgment, more red tape would be a disproportionate response …


AMA president makes a wrong diagnosis on budgetary disorders

Brian Owler says more money will fix the health system. He should stick to medicine, Nick Cater writes in The Australian.

Brian Owler would never be so crass as to put his hand out for money. Instead, the Australian Medical Association president is calling for “an urgent recognition of the costs of providing high-quality care”, which ­ultimately amounts to the same thing.

Owler told the National Press Club last week it was not the AMA’s job to say where the funding should come from. Whether the public should pay more in GST or an increased Medicare levy was a matter of indifference …


Government policy on remote communities has failed

Robert Menzies knew what these bush communities needed to progress, Nick Cater writes in The Australian

How much does it cost to change a tap washer in Hermannsburg? Probably nothing if you’re a resident, since most houses are rent­ed from the government and the taxpayers pick up the tab.

Let’s say 25c for the washer, $60 to fit it and $900, or thereabout, for the plumber’s journey to and from Alice Springs, and it comes to the best part of a grand. Hermannsburg, population 650, could support its own tradesmen, but like almost all other remote Aboriginal towns it …


Liberals must show their humanity

The Coalition has to let Australians know that that the economy is not its only priority, Nick Cater writes in The Australian

The biggest challenge for Curtis Pitt will be keeping a straight face, if the leaks from the Queensland budget are anything to go by.

The Queensland Treasurer may be new to the game, but he has had plenty of sound advice from more experienced hands, including Keith De Lacy, a Labor predecessor, who told the ABC: “I don’t think there’s any option except to spend less money.”

Curtis, however, has a more cunning plan in mind, a measure he calls “balance sheet …

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