A few weeks ago I went to a dinner where Michael Costa, until recently NSW treasurer, spoke on the topic “What Makes Good and Bad Goverment”. If you want to hear what he had to say the audio files for the event are now online:-
The audience was mostly libertarians or libertarian sympathisers. On several occasions it seemed possible that the speaker could also be placed in the same category even if he has very little time for such labels. Towards the end of the second audio file Michael Costa is quite explicitly in the libertarian camp when in answer to a question about reforming government in Australia he says;
Would I like to see no government? Yes. Do I believe that’s achievable? No.
And then only slightly later;
I’d even agree, there should be no governments …
It was a lot of fun and by the end of the evening I felt quite warm towards Michael Costa even if I had a list of disagreements with him on strategy. However his main message for libertarians was in my view quite reasonable. Essentially he was saying that when it comes to the political debate in Australia, ideology and philosophy will give you almost zero traction. What pays political dividends is good policy, backed by good policy based arguments and sound research framed within an Australian cultural context.