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10 July 2015 Infrastructure and Planning Reform in Victoria and Queensland The Andrews Government is developing plans to overhaul the way infrastructure is developed and built in Victoria. It is establishing two key non-partisan bodies, Infrastructure Victoria and Projects Victoria, both of which are drawn from Labor's 2014 Policy Platform. The particular political impetus for this move is, of course, the East West Link. Victorians saw just how much can go wrong, and how much money can be wasted, when a lack of transparency and political expediency prevails over long term goals. Infrastructure has traditionally been a means for governments to make their mark on Australia's cities and towns. But infrastructure should serve a greater purpose: it should serve the long-term interests of the community. So while these state agencies may conjure up images of Utopia, with "nation building" projects dying under the crushing weight of bureaucratic torpor, they can manage and prioritise infrastructure plans...

20 February 2015 We began this Per Capita series to track the evolution of a new social democratic government in Victoria. Since that time, a new Labor government has, quite unexpectedly, come to power in Queensland. Accordingly, the commentary we provide here will have a broader focus on social democratic government in Australian states and territories. East West Link During February the saga of the East-West Link road proposal has grown more heated and turned back into a race against time. Throughout the Coalition's term of government, 2010-14, the proposed road project was racing permanently against a political deadline, with the government trying to turn it into a polarising symbol of the choice to be made at the polling booth Fortunately for Labor, it made the right strategic call on whether to back the project. Leaving open the option to build the road would have cost it urban electorates that it cannot afford to lose. ...

Real-world interpretation of the new government's policies: What they mean for quality of life, prosperity and fairness in Victoria. Road to nowhere? On Monday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews fulfilled his election commitment to publish the business case documents for the previous government's $6.8 billion contract to build stage one of the East-West link road. Rebuilding Victoria's TAFEs On 17 December, the Andrews Government made good on the first part of its commitment to rebuild public funding for TAFEs through a $320m TAFE Rescue Fund. An advance of $20m will be included in the forthcoming Budget Update. The TAFE policy agenda is a response to the dire state into which TAFEs had fallen under the Coalition Government. While public spending on vocational education and training (VET) was ballooning out of control, the majority of this new spending flowed to private VET colleges. TAFE enrolments fell and campuses closed, while employer groups complained of declining confidence in VET...

A New Government: A New Opportunity for Social Democracy Per Capita is dedicated to developing a credible and practical agenda for social democracy in Australia today, whether it is at the local, state or national level of government. Keeping in touch with what is actually happening on the ground is crucial to this endeavour. Indeed we often miss important innovation because our eyes are too focused on the day-to-day drama that is national politics in the national capital. And too much think tank work is focused on the abstract and conceptual, not the here and now. Victorians have just elected Australia's first new social democratic government in a long time. This provides a new opportunity for social democracy. With this in mind Per Capita has convened a working group of staff and fellows to monitor and evaluate the performance of the Andrews Labor Government, firstly as it makes the transition from opposition to government...

The winner of the 2014 Young Writers' Prize: The labour market crisis and the welfare burden: towards a universal basic income by Henry Ward "The implementation of a universal basic income would not only eliminate poverty and liberate workers from the shackles of a failing labour market and from the stigma of current income support systems, it would strengthen the rights of labour relative to capital by allowing workers to discriminate between attractive, sustainable jobs and lousy, destructive jobs while driving up productivity and automation in undesirable but socially necessary jobs. It would also provide compensation for unacknowledged "reproductive" labour, would go a long way towards eliminating the gender paygap, and would drastically reduce the social costs associated with higher levels of unemployment such as crime, poor health, and poor education."...

Australia faces new challenges. Fragile prosperity built on a boom. Far too many kids left behind. A changing climate. A divided culture. Knee-jerk responses to real security threats. The underlying causes are also new: increased mobility, interdependence, and the breakdown of old economic structures. Year after year conservatives have failed to tackle these threats. Current responses aren't working because they're based on tired ideas. They've failed to design markets that encourage investment in the drivers of future prosperity. Short-term solutions are propping up the nation's profit-and-loss while running down its balance sheet. These challenges require fresh thinking and pragmatic responses, grounded in hard evidence. Progressives are looking to emerging fields - like behavioural economics, energy technologies and paediatric neurology – for new ways to manage complex interactions between family and society, citizen and state. That's where Per Capita comes in. The people, ideas and evidence are out there. We intend to draw them...