Free Conference Tickets

I’m speaking at this year’s ‘Policy Exchange’ conference, organised by the thinktank Per Capita. They’ve offered me two free invitations to the conference (valued at $1089 apiece), so I thought it might be nice to allocate them to blog readers.

If you think that you might like an invitation:

  1. See whether the conference strikes your fancy – details here. Speakers include Julia Gillard, Jenny Macklin, Subho Banerjee, Joshua Gans, and Cheryl Kernot.
  2. Check that you’re available on 20-21 October, and living in Canberra (or confident that you can travel here for the conference).
  3. In 100 words or less, use the comments thread to set out a new and interesting policy idea. My preference will be for things that I’ve never heard of before.
  4. Entries close at midnight on 13 October.

You can use the comments thread at or (this entry is crossposted).

Update: Joshua adds his freebies to the mix, so we now have four tickets to offer.

14 thoughts on “Free Conference Tickets”

    Hi Andrew,
    My dodgy policy idea:  Deliberate De-Primacy
    Australia’s concerntration of population growth and high education white collar jobs into state capitals is probably a bad thing.  A  tax break (payroll?) for business’ to locate outside of capital cities would encourage job growth outside  state capitals.  This would be most effective if it could be targeted at high quality white collar jobs.  This could also strengthen the regional universities by having local business links/collaboration.  This would de-emphaise the CBD and alleviate some of the travel issues cities face. This could slow the drain of intellectual talent from the country/regionals.
    The government could afford the tax break by not having to provide newmulti- billion dollar underground transport projects in the centre of cities.


  2. I have another dodgy policy idea.  There seems broad sympathy for the idea that central banks should pre-empt asset bubbles, but also strong reservations as to whether interest rates are the right instrument.  Here is another instrument:  in the case of residential asset bubbles, give the RBA the power to put a cap on proportion of debt a bank can give to finance the purchase of residential properties without mortgage insurance.  I believe at one time, banks required borrowers to take out mortgage insurance for loans exceeding 80% of the property value.  The RBA could vary that proportion from time to time.

    This way, the RBA has two instruments:  short-term interest rates for controlling the (growth of) the price of goods, and cap on leverage for controlling the (growth of) the price of assets.


  3. 1. First, replace taxes on alcohol and tobacco with a broad based tax (or even just delay increase in income tax brackets). 

    This policy aims to decrease health care expenditure, and reduce alcoholism related problems such as family breakups and street violence.

    This counter-intuitive policy draws on ‘reverse psychology’ (used by parents around the world).  If you outlaw McDonalds, it makes kids want it more.  Their satisfaction each time they are allowed a hamburger increases due to the simple fact it is a privilege. 
    Looking around the world, countries with large taxes on alcohol appear to be those with more alcohol related violence, family break-ups, and alcohol related health costs.  Others, where alcohol is not an expression of rebellion, have evolved a culture of moderate alcohol consumption.
    2. Remove subsidies and marketing for energy efficiency.  Due to the rebound effect, this is policy is just as likely to encourage higher long term energy consumption. 

    The aim of this policy is to decrease health care expediture, and reduce alcholoism related problems such as family breakups, street violence, broken bottles etc.

    The logic behind this counter-intuitive policy is based on the type of  ‘reverse psychology’ used by parents around the world.  If you outlaw a type of consumption, eg. McDonalds, it makes kids want it more.  Their satisfaction each time they are allowed a junior burger increases due to the simple fact it is a priviledge. 


  4. My policy idea:
    Federal Gov’t ‘rebates’ to the States for each 3 mthly, 1/2 yearly and yearly (and number of ride equivalent tickets)  public transport tickets sold.  The rebate would be something like 50% off the (already discounted) price for yearly tickets, 40% for 1/2 yearly and 30% for 3 monthly tickets with the Federal Government paying the difference.
    In other words, the customer would pay a reduced price for the longer term tickets and the State would get the difference from the Cth.
    The Federal money would be quarantined for use on public transport or bikeways.
    This would encourage more people to use public transport by lowering the cost for them, provide the State Government’s with up front (and additional) cash to spend on public transport.  There should be greenhouse advantages as wells as traffic congestion reduction issues and the Cth could allow the States to determine where the money is best allocated (ok, this latter bit could be the downfall).
    Not sure of the costs for the Cth (I imagine they would be considerable) but the rebate %s could be adjusted downwards to limit this if it is too onerous and other grants to states for trasnport projects could be reduced accordingly.  It should also free up State resources for hospitals and education and reduce the demand for extra money for these things from the Cth.


  5. Might I offer another dodgy idea?  Let Australian residents invest in the Future Fund.  I would love to do that to reduce management fees.  Seeing that taxpayers already pay for management, presumably any incremental cost to the Future Fund would be limited or zero.  There is no need for the Future Fund to engage in retail activities.  Just let Australia Post, banks, or retail funds offer the public the ability to put money into the Future Fund.


  6. Bugger – misread the 100 word limit – Oh well, couldn’t make it to Canberra anyway – still, the idea is out there!


  7. My crazy idea:
    Change the corporate tax calculation method, from the current fixed tax, to one which moves in the opposite direction to profit growth. So, firms with profits growing quickly would face a lower rate.
    The justification is that a faster growing company has a higher internal rate of return, and by lowering the tax rate on these firms, more capital will be guided into them.  One would have to work out ways of dealing with price fluctuations as a source of profit growth (we wouldn’t want to be subsidising inefficient companies in boom sectors), and would possibly want to remove financial firms from elegibility (for political reasons).  Otherwise, such a policy would increase the rate at which we can create companies to sell to foreigners!


  8. Incentive arrangements for private train operators (in Victoria, at least) seem focused on reliability with financial incentives around the % of services run and % run on time. Policy idea is to extend financial incentives to congestion (what I care about in the morning!). Data could be sourced from the new Myki ticket system which (I believe) could indicate number of passengers on a train at any one time. So that private operators can influence congestion, they would need to be given control over the investment decision to purchase new trains and over timetable setting (perhaps with minimum frequencies prescribed).


  9. Hi Andrew,
    Not easy to come up with a new idea that you haven’t heard of.
    Here’s my shot at it…

    “That the ABS conducts issues-based political opinion polling.”

    The desire of the government to be re-elected is a factor in any policy-making exercise. But because of the stigma attached to “poll-driven politics”, ministerial offices are reluctant to commission polls, or to tell anyone about it if they do. Instead they rely on instinctive judgments about public opinion, with the inevitable increase in uncertainty and error. In particular, policy-makers tend to over-estimate how much their particular policies might lose the government votes, and thus are more risk-averse and populist than need be.

    A series of ABS polls on 15 or 20 key issues would address this.

    As an adjunct policy, secret government polling could be banned.


  10. I’m 25 minutes late, hope that still works…
    I propose a high-speed bullet-train equivalent link between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.  This would allow for regional development in the corridor between these three centres of business (and politics), and also facilitate cheaper business and freight transport.
    Travel between the two would take approximately 3-4 hours at the fastest train speeds allowing a little bit of fat for embarking and disembarking.  This is comparable to air travel including current travel times to the airport and back, etc. with less pollution–certainly for freight.


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