Return of the Rent-Seeking Society?


  • Stan Kelly Lecture 2013, The Economic Society of Australia, Victorian Branch, Melbourne, 15 August 2013. This paper contains personal views


Australia’s structural reforms from the 1980s seemingly brought an end to the ‘protection all round’ regime that Bert Kelly fought against over many years. The benefits to the community have been large. But if Kelly were alive today, he would have cause to question whether Australia had entirely escaped its past. ‘Innovation’ has become the new touchstone for government assistance and, when combined with alleged benefits fir ‘the environment’, has been a magnet for rent seeking. This was aided by the Mining Boom, which generated the fiscal wherewithal, and by the Global Financial Crisis, which removed the restraints. A more costly legacy of the Crisis, however, was the circumvention of policy making processes designed to ensure that such transfers are in the public interest.