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Improving government policy making

Australia has been and is still in a great debate in an election year.

On the one hand, the Australian government has been claiming its success in managing the economy to avoid a recession in the wake of the GFC, and declared it is the only one in the advanced economies.

The prime minister and many government ministers including both the deputy prime minister, the Treasurer and the finance minister all argue that the government has prevented the economy from going down and saved hundreds of thousands jobs.

On the other we have seen many failures in government policies and wasteful spending that have unnecessarily made the size of Australian government's budget deficits and debt larger than they could otherwise be.

The media and opposition have exposed and focused on the failed home insulation program, the so called pink batts, the very large cash handouts, the over costing and rorts in the so called "building education revolution" programs with some costs a few times of what normally would be the case, and etc.

At the core it seems there is an issue of government policy making and its quality that is far from what many economics textbooks teach.

Governments are run by political parties that have their own interests with the main one to want to be in government and be re-elected.

To do that, many government policies may be highly distorted to suit political imperatives of the government with many spins around.

The role of public servants in such political dramas is interesting and is mostly subject to government's influence. After all they need to serve the government of the day.

As a result, there is an important question: how can policy-making be improved so to ensure taxpayers' interests are fundamental and been looked after?

It may be that more independent public institutions are needed. Such institutions can serve a neutral, non-political check on any government, so the public can hear more independent voices in the policy making process, their implementation and the evaluation of their outcomes.

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