Edition 51

Fixing the System

  • Published 2nd February, 2016
  • ISBN: 978-1-925240-80-1
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

Australia has never been richer, its people better educated and the country better connected internationally, yet there is a widespread perception that systems and key institutions are broken. Interest groups flex their muscle and block each other. Risk management has paralysed the system. Commentators proclaim the ‘end of the reform era’. They lament the rise of a ‘new volatility’ in the nation’s electoral politics; the demise of the capacity and will to lead; and the paucity of debate of the problems and challenges facing Australia. They complain about the resistance to change and openness to bold new ideas, and the ability to talk frankly and fearlessly about the kind of society we want to build for the future. All this is happening in a world that is changing rapidly, but without a clear road map.

Edited by Julianne Schultz and Anne Tiernan, Fixing the System examines this chorus of complaint. It asks what is broken and examines the reasons how and why. It considers what needs to be done to revive the lucky country.

Time for a new consensus – Fostering Australia’s comparative advantages

Accompanying the print edition of Fixing the System is an exclusive e-book by Jonathan West and Tom Bentley in which they explore the economic, social and cultural changes in Australia over the last forty years, and suggest a new economic model for a more secure future.
It’s available to download for free here.


‘This is commentary of a high order. The prose is unfailingly polished; the knowledge and expertise of the writers impressive.’ Roy Williams, Sydney Morning Herald

‘For intelligent, well-written quarterly commentary…Griffith Review remains the gold standard, cohering around simple but robust themes… [Fixing the System] should be compulsory reading for ministers and representatives in our various parliaments. It should also be well-thumbed by political journalists, the men and women who have become too comfortable wearing those race-callers’ hats.’ Honest History

‘For a single paper to work through a critique of contemporary economics, offer a sweeping but convincing narrative about Australia’s economic pathway since Federation, link development choices to social and political outcomes, and arrive at a vision of a potential future for the nation – all in just forty pages – is a dazzling achievement.’ Prof. Glyn Davis on Jonathon West and Tom Bentley, Time for a New Consensus

‘New @GriffithREVIEW about making government work better is a cracking read. Great stuff @AMTiernan @JulianneSchultz’ @davidadonaldson, writer for the Mandarin

‘This [essay] by @vanOnselenP in @GriffithREVIEW on political power and the demise of policy is excellent – must read.’ @SimonJCowan, CIS Economics commentator


As part of Sydney Ideas, political biographer Chris Wallace, former teacher GJ Stroud, journalist Ann Arnold and academic Tamson Pietsch join Griffith Review editor Julianne Schultz in a spirited discussion of how our institutions – political, social and legal – both support and fail us, and what we can do about it.

Contributors Vishaal Kishore, Chris Wallace and Patrick Weller discuss Fixing the System on 612 ABC Brisbane, with Kelly Higgins.

In this Edition

The good old days

Over the last thirty years I have sought to explore how our top political executives exercised their power, whether they were prime ministers, ministers or departmental secretaries. My books include a study of the ways that the Australian Cabinets have changed over the past hundred and fifteen years, and two books on particular prime ministers, one from each side of the political divide. My interest has always been on how they do the job, how they define their responsibilities, what being prime minister means. Perhaps inevitably, when current circumstances are compared to, and placed in the context of, past leaders, it is the continuities rather than the differences that strike me as the most significant.

Nauru diary

The Republic of Nauru is a small island just south of the equator, now home to Nauruans, refugees, and fly-in-fly-out workers. Small, strategic islands like Nauru often become the playthings of larger forces. Twelve hundred Nauruans were deported to the remote Truk Islands...

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