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Gridlock: removing barriers to policy reform

Policy failure Government accountability Policy analysis Policy implementation Australia

Australia’s governance has deteriorated over recent decades. The formal institutions and the informal norms of behaviour are weaker. Others have written about how this soft corrosion can easily bloom into hard corruption. This report shows how weaker governance also means that governments are adopting less policy reform – changes to policy that would improve the lives of Australians.

Many people hark back to the golden years of policy reform in the 1980s and ‘90s. This isn’t just a rose-coloured view: it is confirmed both by a simple history of reform, and an analysis of OECD recommendations. The more recent gridlock of policy reform can’t be explained away as the absence of worthwhile reform to do – governments in Australia have failed to progress many reforms that have sat on the shelf for decades.

This report analyses the outcomes of a wide range of reforms proposed by Grattan Institute in the decade from 2009 to 2019. More than two thirds of the suggested reforms have not been adopted.

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Grattan Institute Report No. 2021-08