Archive for the 'Welfare & Employment' Category


Designing markets and investing in human capital

Progressive think-tank Per Capita have written a memo to the newly elected Prime Minister, located here

An excerpt reads:

Your government can build the Investing Society by focusing on the two big policy themes of market design and human capital investment. Designing markets and investing in people brings together the economic and social roles of government in a new fusion.

Market design is about setting the ‘rules of the game’ to get the right outcomes – in new markets like carbon, water and broadband, and in old markets where existing provision has failed, like infrastructure and housing. With good market design, governments harness market forces by setting incentives and accounting for risk.

Human capital is Australia’s most valuable asset and you have rightly made it the centrepiece of your education revolution. In addition to building human capital, your government should focus on protecting this precious asset: damaged human capital means opportunities lost and lives destroyed. Human capital investment not only makes economic sense, it’s morally right.

A focus of my blog concerns how this broad framework is applied to indigenous policy.

The first policy direction, designing markets, involves shaping the correct set of incentives through the prism of welfare reform.  But it also involves the design of markets that value the indigenous knowledge economy.  There appears to be no strategic approach to this second issue (an issue I include in the category located here).  As a result, reform is confined to shaping the perverse incentives without adding positive incentives.   

The second policy direction, investment in human capital, involves ensuring full participation of indigenous school-aged students in a merit-based education system.  There are generations of indigenous people who are locked out of a substantial bloc of employable options.

An important point, though, is that a strategic design of the indigenous knowledge economy enables a connect between indigenous (exclusive) human capital and employable options.  In this sense indigenous (exclusive) human capital is local indigenous knowledge where there is a significant gap in human capital that would otherwise result from a merit-based education.


Linking the IK economy to responsibility

In recent years there has been substantial debate regarding the roles of rights and responsibilities in indigenous related policy.  It is said that the nominal left are firm in their standing on rights whilst the nominal right stand with the need for greater responsibility. 

In one part the debate promoting responsibilities concerns the furthering of economic responsibilities: greater home ownership, replacing communal land title with private (mainstream) rental arrangements and ownership, emphasising private investment, removing the perverse use of cash welfare payments.  I support this general direction, but only if the policy architecture across a whole range of areas is adequate. 

One of these areas is employment and active engagement with the labour market.  One area of concern is the structural detachment of the labour market and Indigenous labour supply.  The IK economy assists in addressing this structural deficiency. 

An important opportunity, though, is the possibility of linking the IK economy with greater economic responsibility.  That is, where Governments provide funds on the basis of valuing indigenous knowledge as a resource, it can have greater leverage in determining the flow-on of that income to economically responsible outcomes.  Such outcomes include home ownership, asset accumulation, education investment, business investment, et cetera. 


Three foundations of development

Recently I posted in reference to a speech by the Secretary to the Treasurer, Dr Ken Henry. 

Dr Henry states that development is underpinned by three foundations: (1) positive incentives; (2) human capital; and (3) engagement of local people to the design of policy.  These are three seperate but inter-dependent foundations.

My views are over the fold.

Continue reading ‘Three foundations of development’


Aboriginal employment reform: the American Indian experience

In light of significant reform to Aboriginal welfare and employment policy it is necessary to examine evidence-based approaches in similiar jurisdictions.  

Whist undertaking these approaches deserves closer comparison, a glimpse at research reports in similiar jurisdictions may shed light on potential risks. 

More over the fold. 

Continue reading ‘Aboriginal employment reform: the American Indian experience’


Educational incentives and welfare reform

Recently I posted a topic about Dr Chris Sarra and positive incentives in education. 

Media reports his rejection of welfare reform as a way to remove perverse incentives that detract education participation and engagement.  Some media reports his rejection of Pearson’s welfare proposal, which received clear bi-partisan support at the launch of this report.

I’m not sure that Pearson’s suggestions venture too far from those policy realities that are viewed as strong.  Empowering responsible community members to have more control over the provision of welfare is a measure of self-determination, particularly that it relates to the significant tangible of cash welfare payments.  It also restores authority to those structures that appeared to have lost it due to the influence of external administrations.   

In my view the idea of strengthening engagement in education requires both a removal of perverse incentives and the creation of positive incentives.  Some of these might involve reform internal to the administration of education, but they also require reform in other areas.  This is where I might differ from Dr Sarra’s preference.


Paper: IK, Policy and Economy

Last year I wrote a paper for a policy ideas competition open to young people.  Criteria was based on originality of idea and practical application, limited to 1000 words.  An op-ed suggesting a tax on property ownership won. 

My entry, Indigenous Knowledge, Policy and Economy is over the fold.

Continue reading ‘Paper: IK, Policy and Economy’


Obama, race and politics

I’ve recently finished reading Barack Obama’s ‘The Audacity of Hope’.  The book offers a much more complex analysis of politics and policy than the Liberal media image projects.

In the Chapter ‘Race’, Obama explains that since the civil rights movement there has been a significant lift in upward mobility of minority groups.  He attributes this primarily to the concept of hard work, determination and resolve, and that progress ‘occured primarily because the same ladders of opportunity that built the white middle class were for the first time available to minorities as well’. 

A summary of this Chapter is over the fold.

Continue reading ‘Obama, race and politics’

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