‘Political cowardice holding Australia back’

John Dawkins, former Cabinet minister in the Hawke and Keating governments, has urged Australian politicians to put the need for good policy ahead of the game of politics.

Mr Dawkins made the comments ahead of an appearance at The Australian National University’s annual Sir Roland Wilson Foundation Dialogue on May 30.

The forum, “Removing Reform Roadblocks”, will look at the reform achievements of the 1980s and 1990s and consider whether we have lost the ability to introduce real reforms, like those that ended the wage inflation cycle, deregulated financial markets and introduced gun controls.

Mr Dawkins will be joined by the architect of the HECS scheme, Professor Bruce Champman, as well as leading Australian public policy expert Professor Linda Botterill. The discussion will be led by ANU Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Shirley Leitch.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Hawke Government’s decision to replace the right to free, taxpayer funded university education with the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS).” Mr Dawkins said.

“The introduction of the HECS scheme is a timely reminder that in the past, governments like the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments were able to achieve significant, much needed policy reform. In my view, this is because they tended to act on the belief that good policy makes good politics.”

Mr Dawkins believes recently, the quest for short term political advantage has often defeated reform attempts, to the detriment of our country.

“The key differences I see between the last period of significant policy reform and today are leadership and the ability to manage the parliament.”

“With few exceptions, between 1983 to the early 2000s, good policy triumphed over political cowardice. In many cases the major parties were in agreement on the need for reform and its importance in underpinning the long years of growth Australia has enjoyed. Although we have a more complex Parliament today, it’s important the Parliament comes together where it can to protect our interests in this rapidly changing world,” Mr Dawkins said 

The forum is free and open to the public (registration required via www.eventbrite.com.au)


For media assistance contact John Dawkins on 0417 826 804 or the ANU media hotline on 6125 7979.

WHO: Hon John Hawkins AO, Professor Bruce Chapman AM, Professor Linda Botterill.

WHAT: “Removing reform roadblocks: do need a hero, a window, more willpower – or something else? Presented by the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation and the College of Business and Economics, ANU.

WHERE: National Library of Australia, Parkes Place West, Canberra.

WHEN: Wednesday May 30, 5:30 – 7pm.

About The Australian National University

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Our focus on research as an asset, and an approach to education, ensures our graduates are in demand the world-over for their abilities to understand, and apply vision and creativity to addressing complex contemporary challenges.

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