Papers and other publications

Gender and politics report: 2017 Update

Gender and politics report: 2017 Update

*Hardcopy reports  now available for purchase*

Gender and politics: 2017 Update  is an update to the original Gender and Politics report released in 2015.

It attempts to provide empirical evidence of the extent and nature of the gender imbalance in politics, discuss its consequences and construct an intellectual and philosophical framework to address the disparity based on Liberal principles.

This paper draws from the Menzies Research Centre's Gender and Politics Forum held in Melbourne on 26 June 2015. It was presented to the federal Women's Committee Conference in Adelaide on 15-16 August 2015, convened to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the establishent of the Committee.

In a message included within the latest report, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull writes 'there is no greater enthusiast than me for seeing more women in positions of power and influence in parliament, in ministries right across the country' and acknowledges that 'we must keep striving to ensure women are on an equal footing with men and have greater opportunities to participate in the corridors of power.' 

The report, co-authored by Nicolle Flint MP and Nick Cater, was presented to the Federal Women's Committee Women and Leadership Forum on 18 March 2017. 

Nicolle Flint was elected in 2016 as the federal Member for Boothby. She is the first female to hold the seat since it was established in 1903. Nicolle previously worked as a columnist with News Corp and Fairfax, as a policy adviser to Liberal leaders and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She has held senior leadership roles in the Liberal Party of Australia (SA Division).  

Nick Cater is Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre and writes for The Australian. He is author of The Lucky Culture (Harper Collins 2013). He edited The Howard Factor (MUP 2006) and A Better Class of Sunset: The collected works of Christopher Pearson (Connor Court 2014).   



Oceans of Opportunity: How labour mobility can help Australia and its neighbours

Oceans of Opportunity: How labour mobility can help Australia and its neighbours

*Hardcopy reports  now available for purchase*

Oceans of Opportunity: How labour mobility can help Australia and its neighbours examines ways of freeing up the Pacific labour market in a way that would be of great benefit to Australia and our Pacific neighbours.

The Menzies Research Centre was delighted to have the Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, launch the report at Parliament House, Canberra on 1 March 2017. Click here to watch the Minister's speech and to view photos of the successful launch. 

Executive Summary from Oceans of Opportunity:

The growth of the Australian economy depends on the ability of business to recruit a labour force needed to operate productively in a competitive global marketplace. Demographic developments will make the challenge harder as the effects of an ageing population and a low birth rate are increasingly felt. In the past Australia has turned to migration from the United Kingdom, Europe and more recently Asia to fill gaps that might otherwise have constrained the ability of business to grow and left Australia vulnerable in a competitive global economy.

The nations of the Pacific region present an enormous untapped resource of workers. Australia has forged close economic ties with many Pacific nations, some of which are fellow members of the Commonwealth, and through trade and aid. There are also strong cultural and sporting links between Australia and the Pacific. Nevertheless we have been slow to realise the potential offered by the Pacific region, particularly compared with New Zealand. The Seasonal Worker Programme, sourcing labour from participating Pacific Island nations to meet skills shortages in the agriculture and tourism and hospitality sectors is relatively new. Yet the experience has been positive; Pacific Island workers have integrated well onto the local communities and made a substantial economic contribution in regional areas as both workers and consumers.

There are strong geopolitical reasons why Australia should be more closely engaged with the Pacific. While Australia has maintained trade links and been a major source of aid for many Pacific Nations, China is emerging as a major investor in many Pacific Island nations. It is in Australia’s interests to protect access to the fisheries and mineral resources that are available across the region. Australia could not compete with China in terms of direct investment into public infrastructure and private development, but offering employment opportunities to Pacific Island workers will secure strong ties to the people of the Pacific as well as boosting the flow of Australian cash into the Pacific economy through remittances.

The time is now ripe for Australia to reconsider how it engages with the Pacific workforce. Small scale programmes such as the Seasonal Worker Programme have proven to be an effective way of meeting the skills and labour demands for domestic industries that have traditionally struggled to attract and retain workers. Forecasts for labour demands suggest that the domestic labour supply will not be sufficient to meet demand in sectors like aged and community care, agriculture and tourism and hospitality. They are sectors with jobs that workers from the Pacific are potentially well-suited to fill.



Damn lies and statistics: The demonisation of the alcohol industry

Damn lies and statistics: The demonisation of the alcohol industry

Anti-alcohol campaigners have wildly exaggerated the cost of social damage caused by alcohol to justify punitive taxes and stricter regulation. In fact, the widely circulated claim that alcohol costs the community $36 billion a year appears to have no basis in fact. Such wowsernomics, which are subjective rather than scientific, are no foundation on which to base good public policy. 

In an independent review of the industry (commissioned by the MRC), Cadence Economics has found that claims such as the enormous financial cost to the community are based on rubbery economics and questionable evidence. The review has revealed the temperance lobby has all but ignored the social, economic and health benefits of moderate drinking.

Amongst the review findings are that the alcohol industry contributes an estimated $15.6 billion to the economy (including $2.2 billion in exports), $6.5 billion in taxes and direct or indirect employment for 126,000 Australians.


OUT SOON: Going, Going, Gonski: Why money won't fix our schools

OUT SOON: Going, Going, Gonski: Why money won't fix our schools

Public schools can – and must – do better. But reducing the argument simply to a question of money has delayed the opportunity to examine other ways of lifting educational achievement.

The report calls for a truce in the sterile debate at the size of funding for schools and calls for the implementation of reform that will improve the quality of spending – and the quality of young lives. 


Constructing a Better Future: Restoring order and competition in the building industry

Constructing a Better Future: Restoring order and competition in the building industry

A productive and efficient construction will be critical to developing new industries, securing foreign investment and economic growth.

Yet productivity in the building industry is poor. Excessive wages and disruptive working practices typically increase the cost of construction by 20 to 35 per cent and, in some cases, even more. Better value for money in construction will help businesses expand, create new jobs and export opportunities.

The report examines a number of major government funded projects, included the Royal Adelaide Hospital, the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games site, the Majura Parkway project in the ACT and Victoria’s desalination plant. It finds that pattern bargaining agreements struck between contractors and unions are inflating the cost of projects and leading to inefficient work practices.


Gender and Politics Report 2015

Gender and Politics Report 2015


The MRC Gender and Politics Report finds that women are outnumbered by men in both major parties in every parliament in the country. While the Liberal Party achieved early success in increasing the number of women candidates, there has been little progress in correcting the gender imbalance for the last two decades.

In a forward to the report, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the paper demonstrates that the Liberal Party must increase the involvement of women in its organisation and parliamentary ranks.

The report rejects the rigid, top-down quota system adopted by the Labor Party. It calls for Liberal Party divisions to set realistic, incremental targets for female representatives to encourage change from the grass roots up.

The report, co-authored by Nicolle Flint and Nick Cater, was released in Adelaide to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Liberal Party’s Federal Women’s Committee Conference. 

Nicolle Flint is the Chairman of the Rural and Regional Council, Liberal Party of Australia (SA Division). 

Nick Cater is Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre. 


Sir Robert Menzies - read the original 'WOMEN FOR CANBERRA' speech Sir Robert Menzies made in 1943 below. 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott - read the PM's Federal Women's Committee Conference speech made on 15 August 2015 endorsing the Menzies Research Centre report below. 

Senator Linda Reynolds - read Senator Reynolds' speech at the Federal Women's Committee forum on 16 August 2015 below. 

The Performance of State Labor Governments

The Performance of State Labor Governments published in 2013 analyses the performance of recent state Labor governments drawing upon publicly available data from independent, objective sources.

In this comparison, clear patterns emerge.

Across Australia, state Labor governments have consistently:

  • spent more than they earned
  • imposed higher taxes and charges
  • increased state debt and other liabilities, such as unfunded superannuation
  • increased the number of state public sector employees, especially those in backroom administration, much faster than populations have grown
  • spent revenue windfalls rather than saved them
  • failed to build the infrastructure their citizens and businesses need; and
  • failed to achieve significantly improved health and education outcomes despite spending much more money in these areas.

Coalition governments at both state and federal level have a long history of cleaning up a mess Labor governments have left behind.


The source documents used in the analysis can be viewed and downloaded here.

State of the Nation: aspects of Australian public policy

State of the Nation: aspects of Australian public policy (edited by Don Markwell, Rachael Thompson, and Julian Leeser), Connor Court, 2013. In this volume, 15 distinguished Australians who are non-partisan experts and senior practitioners in their fields critique policies and performance under the Rudd/Gillard governments since 2007.

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