The Centre for Independent Studies Research Collection

The Centre for Independent Studies Research Collection. Stay up to date with the latest CIS research, policy papers and opinion pieces and commentary. CIS promotes free choice, individual liberty and the open exchange of ideas. We aim to make sure good policy ideas are heard and seriously considered so that Australia can prosper.

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3 days ago

Are you a student who believes in free markets, smaller government, and individual liberty? Perhaps you’ve studied the works of Freidrich Hayek, Adam Smith, or Jonathan Haidt. If this sounds like you, the CIS has an exciting opportunity for you to meet and network with other like-minded people from Australia and New Zealand. Click here to learn more. Essays on the relevance of Smith after 300 years.
Adam Smith, the Scottish philosopher and economist, is one of the most significant figures to have emerged from what came to be known as ‘the Scottish Enlightenment’. His work across a number of disciplines changed the way people thought about economic theory and the field of what is now known as ‘political science’.
Smith was superbly educated in moral philosophy, ancient philosophy, jurisprudence and natural theology — at a time when science and religion were regarded as complementary rather than antagonistic.
In developing a moral philosophy that informed a deeper understanding of human interaction, Smith laid the foundation for a thorough exposition of the human practices of commerce and government. By encouraging use of our capacity for imagination, Smith argued that every member of a civil society needed to put themselves in the shoes of others and to see matters as others see them. For Smith, imagination — and the fostering of sympathy — was the key to our ability to engage in social and commercial exchange.
Adam Smith is one of the intellectual pillars of the Centre for Independent Studies. Informed by the breadth of Smith’s vision, the CIS has always been committed to investigating the nature of society and has argued that the exercise of civic responsibility by individual citizens is every bit as important to the health of society as the policies delivered by government.
This year marks the 300th anniversary of Smith’s birth, but his ideas and critical insights retain their importance today for contemporary Australia. In this Occasional Paper, Professor Paul Oslington and Dr David Hart, two distinguished Australian scholars, reflect both on the work of Smith and on the lessons he can teach us today.
Paul Oslington introduces Adam Smith and sets his work in the context of the intellectual world in which Smith formulated his ideas; he then looks at the thorny issue of rent seeking in modern Australia through the prism of Smith’s thought. At time when many are disillusioned with the processes of government, David Hart’s evaluation of Smith’s thought concerning the business of politics is especially timely.
I am delighted that Professor Oslington and Dr Hart have contributed these essays to mark the anniversary. In doing so, they allow the CIS to honour the vast intellectual contribution that Smith continues to make to the very fabric of contemporary Western society.
Peter Kurti, Director – Culture, Prosperity & Civil Society program.Read the essays here. 

5 days ago

Bracket creep chips away at living standards, especially those of younger generations, a new Issue Analysis by Centre for Independent Studies outlines.  
The paper’s authors, Matthew Taylor and Emilie Dye, point out that Australia’s younger workers have the most to lose from bracket creep because bracket creep is regressive and hits harder for those earlier in their careers and making less money.  
For those on lower incomes, even a small increase in nominal income leads to a larger increase in their overall tax rate. 
And young people feel the loss of income from a tax increase more acutely than those established in their careers with higher incomes and more wealth.  
The Issue Analysis outlines what the government should do to stop this hidden tax hitting our younger generations — particularly when they are already struggling with a cost-of-living crisis. 
Young people have less bargaining power and will likely struggle to convince their employers to make cost-of-living adjustments to their earnings, let alone the rise needed to compensate for both inflation and a higher tax rate due to bracket creep. 
Periodic tax cuts only help temporarily; they barely scratch the surface in offsetting bracket creep’s insidious impact. To genuinely tackle this issue, Australia needs a long-term solution that does not depend on the whims of politicians. 
The solution is simple: Index tax brackets to inflation. 
The government already does this for Age Pensioners. The Age Pension, unlike tax brackets, is indexed to inflation; ensuring pensioners can maintain the same standard of living.  The income brackets used to means-test their pension payments also automatically increase with prices.  If pensioners are spared the burden of bracket creep, why not young Australians?  
Indexing tax brackets would also fight the cost-of-living crisis 
Indexation would help Australians currently facing a cost-of-living crisis. In the 10 years prior to Covid, the annual rate of inflation averaged 2.1%. Inflation in the post-Covid era has almost doubled to 3.9%.  
Tax payments are an expenditure. There is only one difference between a tax increase and higher prices at the supermarket: you cannot shop around to reduce your tax bill. Bracket creep further disadvantages workers, sneakily diverting their money to flow to the government. 
Indexation would cut the hidden tax hikes that erode real income — a straightforward solution to a complex problem with potential to make a real difference in people’s lives. 
Mathew Taylor is Director of the Centre for Independent Studies Intergenerational Program, in which Emilie Dye is a Research Analyst. 

Wednesday Sep 27, 2023

In Australia, and in education settings across the world, student behaviour and levels of student engagement are significant issues for teachers, school leaders, system administrators and the public. Student behaviour affects community perception, teacher efficacy and wellbeing, and the academic achievement of all students. When students are engaged, they learn more.
This paper uses the current attention on student disruptive behaviour in Australian classrooms to offer policy makers, and educational jurisdiction and school leaders an insight into how to shift the paradigm, policy and practice towards student behaviour in Australian schools.
The solution to disruptive behaviour in Australian classrooms will be achieved if three key ideas gain mainstream recognition. These will be discussed in full later in the paper, but they are:
Managing student behaviour is about learning. Learning is the result of good management. To maximise learning in the classroom, it is necessary to teach the students how to behave.
Behaviour needs to be taught explicitly to all students. Instruction in behaviour is central to effective classroom management. The teaching of behaviour needs to be planned, resourced and rehearsed just like any academic content.
Behaviour as a curriculum needs to be the norm across Australian schools.  If behaviour is incorporated in the national curriculum, it would lift standards of behaviour and learning productivity in classrooms. The teaching of behaviour to students would also to help lessen the disadvantage gap in Australian schools.
Read the paper at 

Wednesday Sep 06, 2023

Published on 3rd of September 2023.
Increasingly there are calls for de-growth, not just to abandon the pursuit of economic growth, but to shrink economies. The call for de-growth comes from environmentalists, including activists in groups such as Extinction Rebellion, and some economists, particularly in the field of ecological economics. It is related to concerns about climate change, pollution, species extinction, and resource exhaustion. Economic growth is to blame, proponents say, and the proposed solution is de-growth, an aggressive contraction of economic activity that requires an acceptance of significantly lower living standards.
The de-growth movement is not just a fringe movement. It is gaining attention worldwide, has international conferences dedicated to it, and tenured academics are supporting or contemplating de-growth. For example, the University of Sydney’s Professor Manfred Lenzen has modelled de-growth as a climate change mitigation strategy, and, along with co-author Lorenz T. Keyßer has concluded “de-growth pathways should be thoroughly considered.” Furthermore, books preaching de-growth are gaining widespread attention. The Financial Times’ Martin Wolf selected Jason Hickel’s Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World as one of the newspaper’s “Best Books of 2020: Economics” — although Wolf at least observed “this programme is neither a plausible nor an effective way to respond to the imminent climate crisis.” More recently, in August 2023, the New York Times profiled so-called ‘de-growth communism’ proponent Kohei Saito, a University of Tokyo philosophy professor and author of Capital in the Anthropocene. 
While its origins may have been altruistic, its impact on society would be devastating.    It would require restrictions on personal freedoms, as well as the aforementioned lower living standards. These could only be enforced by an authoritarian government — a serious curtailment of the principles of capitalism, free markets, and a liberal democracy.
This paper first reviews the arguments for de-growth and then dissects them, addressing several myths which appear to drive this call. The paper then considers what would likely happen if a de-growth agenda were adopted. Finally, the paper considers how policy advisers and policy makers should think about economic growth and whether the calls for de-growth should be heeded.

Thursday Aug 31, 2023
Authority, Expertise And Democracy. Should those who know best rule the rest of us?
By Peter Kurti. Published on July 27, 2023.Read the paper here:
For all references and graphs, please download the publication at the centre for independent studies website where you can also become a member of the CIS. You’ll be part of Australia’s growing movement towards free markets, individual liberty, cultural freedom, and a limited government. Join today at
On Heeding Expert Advice.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, state and territory leaders afforded great responsibility for decisions about managing both the impact of the virus and the expectations of a fearful public to unelected public health experts. Severe restrictions imposed on movement and association at the behest of these experts — Chief Medical Officers — lasted for many months.
The exceptional circumstances of the pandemic hardly formed part of the regular routine of government. Indeed, so exceptional was the pandemic that dependence on advisors with medical and public health expertise might well have been unavoidable if government was to be effective.
Faced with the need to assuage public fears, there was also a need for the public to hear what medical experts made of the pandemic and the dangers it posed. Most Australians readily complied with state-imposed edicts, apparently confident that governments were acting only in the best interests of citizens.
However, many expressed concern that as the pandemic ran its course, political leaders appeared to be doing one of two things. Either they followed the advice of medical experts blindly and without regard to the social, economic and community impact of the imposed measures; or they ignored expert medical advice because of concerns about its likely impact would fuel worries that they were not doing enough to keep citizens ‘safe’.
These concerns only compounded as, during the course of the pandemic, medical experts began to fall out with one another, thereby dissolving any notion of universal medical consensus about how best to manage contagion. As the pandemic ran its course, populations bowed to the dictates of chief medical officers. The will and wishes of the demos were subordinated to the opinions and directions of the knowledgeable few.
While the Covid-19 pandemic provides a rare, if egregious, example, of their doing so, the ceding by elected representatives of decision-making to health bureaucrats is just one example of the problem that Adrian Pabst, a political scientist, has described as double delegation — “whereby representatives elected by citizens delegate power to unelected officials who are part of a professional political class.”Read the whole paper here:

Wednesday Aug 16, 2023
Politicisation – the attack on merit and our way of life, by Scott Prasser.Read the paper here:
Scott's paper examines the issue of ‘politicisation’ of our public services and other public institutions.
The meanings and permutations of ‘politicisation’ are identified, its causes and both positive and negative impacts considered.
It asks whether ‘politicisation’ is undermining the integrity of our institutions, the functioning of our democracy and the core principle of merit – which many regard as the cornerstone of a progressive, modern, western liberal, industrial, and fair society.
It considers whether claims of ‘politicisation’ have been exaggerated and misinterpreted as trends and changes to our system of governance, that many see as necessary.
It proposes some practical suggestions to minimise the worst aspects of ‘politicisation’.

Tuesday Aug 15, 2023

A Future Without Future Funds by 
Dimitri Burshtein
Read here:
In 1984, Milton Friedman reminded us that “there is nothing so permanent as a temporary Government program”. And so it has come to pass that the Future Fund, which was envisaged to have a finite life, is now seeking immortality.   
The Future Fund is an uniquely Australian creation.  Often — and arguably erroneously — described as a sovereign wealth fund, it has been given near-mythical credence.  Its board is not comprised of mere directors but rather ‘Guardians’.  The Future Fund’s existence has attained such an exalted economic status in Australia that despite its recent questionable economic contribution, it has spawned several new ‘children of Future Fund’ established at the Commonwealth and State levels. 
Approaching 18 years of age, however, it is now time to consider the future of the Future Funds because as Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson once quipped: “When the facts change, I change my mind”.  And when it comes to the Future Fund, the facts have changed significantly since it was established in 2006.  The economic case for its continuing existence has since eroded.   
In Australia’s current economic straits, the most economically responsible action for a government to take is to liquidate, in an orderly manner, the holdings of the Future Funds and pay down debt. With every additional dollar of Commonwealth debt accumulated and every interest rate increase, the case for closing and retiring the Future Funds becomes ever more compelling.  
Importantly also, once all Future Fund investments have been liquidated, the Future Fund entity should be permanently shut down to reduce the political incentives for the establishment of ‘grandchildren of Future Fund’ .

Tuesday Aug 15, 2023

Starting off on the wrong foot: How to improve Initial Teacher Education in Australia by Glenn Fahey and Rob Joseph. Read the paper here:
Initial teacher education (ITE) is responsible for providing beginning teachers with the knowledge, skills, and characteristics to prepare them for the classroom. Typically, ITE involves beginning teachers enrolling and completing an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at a university by an approved ITE provider. In an ITE course, preservice teachers complete a combination of courses that include pedagogical, subject matter, and — where applicable — subject-particular pedagogical knowledge. Enrolments are typically for either primary or secondary education.
As at 2019, there were 367 programs, 48 ITE providers, and 91 locations preparing around 92,000 enrolled ITE students across Australia. Teaching graduates typically complete a standalone Bachelor of Education, or complete an undergraduate degree followed by a teaching course. Others pursue two-year postgraduate teaching degrees, with 39% of graduating teachers having completed a postgraduate degree, while some jurisdictions permit partially shortened postgraduate qualifications.
Over recent years, Australia’s ITE sector has been under near-constant review. At least in part, this has been due to persistent concern about the preparedness of graduate teachers, along with broader challenges in ensuring there is a sufficient quantity and quality of graduates to meet workforce needs.
While it’s true that graduate teachers in all school systems are less effective when they first enter the workforce than they are a few years later, most enjoy a steep learning curve over their first few years in the classroom. Given that direct supervision of early career teachers is more limited than is typically observed in other professions, this requires considerable preparation for independent practice to be provided during initial training before entering the workplace.
Mitigating the ‘novice penalty’ of graduate teachers is an important opportunity to ensure better outcomes for students, as well as reducing the considerable pressure on teachers in their early years. Moreover, evidence shows that teachers who start out being relatively effective when they graduate become increasingly more effective over time.
Altogether, this makes raising classroom-readiness of teaching graduates a priority across school systems. But while this concern about classroom-readiness is a preoccupation of many countries’ ITE sectors, there’s evidence that Australia’s school systems have particularly underperformed in this area, especially in the formative area of classroom and behaviour management.
Against this context, this paper provides a detailed analysis of Australia’s ITE sector’s current challenges and opportunities for reform. It starts with a review of the recent history and policy developments in Australia and comparable countries. It is then followed by analysis of the performance and structure of Australia’s ITE sector. In considering the ITE pipeline, it follows with assessment of the drivers of both the commencements to, and completions from, ITE qualifications. It then examines the current content of ITE qualifications and options for improving the accountability of Australia’s ITE providers. The paper concludes with recommendations for Australian policymakers in undertaking ITE sector reform.


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