I’m at the annual meeting of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. I’ll be talking in a symposium on Ideas and Influence on the topic “Economic liberalism: Fall, Revival and Resistance”. This evening there’s a public lecture from Paul Kelly on Rethinking Australian Government, at the Shine Dome (Academy of Science).
I had dinner last night with Max Corden, one of the great names in Australian economics, and we had a fascinating discussion about trade and current account deficits and the ways they might come back into balance smoothly (or not).
Then there was a colloquium on the topic of a Bill of Rights, at which Hilary Charlesworth and Larissa Behrendt spoke, which produced a couple of new (to me) developments. First, most people seem to have abandoned the idea of inserting a Bill of Rights into the Constitution, favouring a legislated Bill instead. Rather than being entrenched, this would require courts to interpret laws consistently with human rights as far as possible. If governments wanted to pass laws inconsistent with the Bill of Rights they could do so, but they would have to be explicit about it.
The second point is that the ACT has already passed such a Bill and that other states are considering it. This is part of a more general trend where the old assumption that the only way to achieve desirable progress is to centralise power in the federal government is being overturned.