Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Morning Musings - Tiwi Islands, GDP with a dash of of managerial failure

Tiwi Carved poles The Tiwi Islands lie just to the north of the Australian mainland. The illustration shows Tiwi decorated carvings from 2005.

This is a very different world. You can see it from the Wikipedia article (link above) and also from this post by Will Owen, Tiwi: Art, History, Culture.

Meantime, in one the strangest and messiest political transitions in Australian political history, Adam Giles has become Northern Territory Chief Minister, making him the first indigenous person to lead an Australian government.

I don't pretend to understand Northern Territory politics. These posts by Bob Gosford will give you a feel for the reason why:

Bob has his own political biases, don't we all, but its still interesting.

Changing tracks entirely, Ross Gittins had an interesting piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, Rising damp: why nominal GDP is so flat. I would summarise it this way. Normally, nominal GDP, GDP expressed in now dollars, rises faster than real GDP because of inflation. The economy grows at 4%, inflation is 2%, so real economic growth is 2%. Rarely, and this is happening at the moment, real growth is higher than nominal growth.

Sounds odd, doesn't it? The explanation lies in the combination of shifts in the terms of trade combined with the continued high exchange rate. Since Government tax revenues depend significantly on changes in income in now dollars, they are growing at a slower rate than real growth, and hence the immediate deficit problem. I have put that a bit simplistically; see Mr Gittins for more.

Earlier in the week, in Eddie Obeid - a case of media failure? I reflected briefly on what I saw as the failure of the media in identifying and responding to the underlying problems that emerged well before the Obied matter broke in such a spectacular way. Last night on Stateline, former New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally reflected on the whole matter. She was clearly uncomfortable about and angry at the mess NSW Labor had got itself into.     

My post was a short one and drew some challenges in comments. These forced me to clarify my views - where would we be without our commenters? In essence, part of my argument was that the problems experienced in NSW in this particular case dated back a number of years and related to systemic problems; the media's failure lay in its failure to address or comment on those problems.

I mean to come back to this issue properly, using the comments and responses as a device to amplify my underlying argument. In the meantime, I forgot during the discussion that I had written a post on another blog in January, Policy, programs, control and complexity - ICAC on problems in NSW public policy and administration, that was directly relevant to the discussion.

Part of the problem, I would suggest now, lies in the way that we have replaced the old model of an independent public service with a managerial model and it just isn't working.

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