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First Prize awarded to Euan Brown for his compelling essay: Dispelling Ageism's Myths. Population ageing presents significant challenges, but these should not be overstated and the economic opportunities this demographic shift offers should be equally emphasised. Governmental research has up until this point inadequately identified those opportunities instead preferring a doomand-gloom prognosis of Australia's future economic performance and standards of living. Crucially, the productive capacity of older workers is largely missing from the Government's prescriptions and as a result those prescriptions are unreliable....

31 August 2015 Social Democracy in Focus - The Future of Social Democracy Welcome to our 8th edition of Social Democracy in Focus. In this edition we're doing something a little different. We've received such great feedback on Dennis' book, An Economy is Not a Society, that we thought we'd recap some of the discussion and commentary around it.  And we're also highlighting a recent presentation by David Hetherington on whether social democracy is in crisis. Is Social Democracy Actually in Crisis? In July, David Hetherington joined Eva Cox and Mark Banisch at a Fabians event to discuss "Is Social Democracy Actually in Crisis?" Said David: "Social democracy is in crisis. The political centre of gravity in the traditional west has moved to the right in the last few decades, the entrenched hold neoliberal activism has taken on our political system, a lack of vision, and the lack of faith in institutions and political players,...

28 July 2015 Matters of conscience Anyone who has sat through a senior school politics class knows about the concept of party discipline. Parliamentarians are required to vote in accordance with the position of their party. They can "cross the floor" to vote against their Party, with personal consequences. Then there are matters, often matters of deep moral significance, on which parties allow members a vote according to their own moral, political, religious or social beliefs. The Labor Party has historically bound members of its caucus on all but a small handful of matters. It has been a strong enforcer of party discipline. The decision at the 2015 ALP Conference to permit a conscience vote on same sex marriage has been chalked up by the Party as a win. But is it? At the Party's 2011 Conference a commitment to marriage equality was adopted. This was momentous: Party members were, up to this point,...

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...