John Hewson

is a professor at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy and former Liberal opposition leader.

By this author


Opinion May 28, 2022

How the media failed this election

“After such a decisive election outcome, soul-searching about what happened and why is only natural. One of the most conspicuous failures in the campaign was the role played by the media – they certainly tried to undermine our democracy.”

podcast May 25, 2022

Is Peter Dutton the future of the Liberal Party?

Former Liberal leader and columnist for The Saturday Paper John Hewson on what went wrong for the Coalition on election night - and what lessons the party should take from the defeat.

Opinion May 21, 2022

A choice between two lessers

“Now that election day has finally arrived, it’s reasonable to ask: How much better informed are voters to make their choice? The campaign has certainly been neither a contest of policy ideas, nor of visions for our country’s path ahead.”

Opinion May 14, 2022

We are in the mud

“Whether or not Scott Morrison can engineer the miracle of his second coming on May 21, he will leave significant negatives in terms of the Liberal Party and public policy in our country. The standard of political debate, and the respectability and responsibility …”

Opinion May 07, 2022

Reality television for the smart kids

“Isn’t it reasonable to expect our political leaders to put our people first? It is instructive to recognise that the election campaign has spent most of its time on point-scoring against opponents, blame-shifting and gotcha moments. ”

Opinion April 30, 2022

Morrison focuses on the economy at the expense of workers

“Morrison can argue that Albanese has never held an economic portfolio and can’t recall key economic data. However, Morrison would have to concede that his opponent is better able to manage industrial relations, with a Bob Hawke-like capacity to pull …”

Opinion April 23, 2022

Scott Morrison is being economical with the truth

“What a tragedy that the campaign is now ‘my scare is bigger than your scare’. We all have to fear that the more frustrated and desperate the major players get, the more they will resort to dirtier tactics and less substance in terms of what they would …”

Opinion April 16, 2022

Independents versus a broken system

“Despite the efforts of the media to discredit the independents’ movement, attempting to tag them as ‘fake independents’ and otherwise minimising their coverage, there should be little doubt that many conservative members sitting …”

Opinion April 09, 2022

Disunity is still death

“The clear message of the 1990 election was that disunity is death in politics. Bob Hawke easily capitalised on this truism to win a fourth term in office. The Liberal Party, meanwhile, had been torn apart by the leadership contest between John Howard …”

Opinion April 02, 2022

The power behind the drone

“The priority is simply winning. And it is not even about winning to lead, it is about getting the position and power but with little or no commitment to creating a meaningful future for our nation and its people. ”

Opinion March 26, 2022

Can Morrison buy his way back into office?

“Talk about mixed messages on the economy. The government deliberately politicised the budget by moving it forward to March 29, so it could be delivered before a May election, and having set aside $16 billion in the most recent midyear economic statement …”

Opinion March 19, 2022

Flogging a near-dead horse

“We have now entered the territory where governments throw policy integrity to the wind. That is, we are in the final days leading up to the so-called caretaker period, which starts from the point that the election is actually called, and during which …”

Opinion March 12, 2022

Morrison’s Katrina

“It is most disappointing that natural disasters seem to bring out the best in the Australian people and the worst in our politicians and political processes. We see the enormous outpouring of goodwill from neighbours rescuing neighbours, the phenomenal …”

Opinion March 05, 2022

False sense of security

“I am finding it difficult to accept that Scott Morrison is now so desperate to win a second term he is prepared to run a scare campaign in an attempt to frighten voters on national security, clearly against reason, hoping to wedge Anthony Albanese and …”

Opinion February 26, 2022

Battle for the centre

“As an average, generally unengaged voter, where would you go to get a balanced understanding of the issues and policy choices to be made at the next election? More than usual, this question is a difficult one to answer. ”

Opinion February 19, 2022

Morrison’s two-faced approach to religious freedom

“It’s rather odd that this government is running on the idea that people want the government out of their lives, yet they seem intent on doing the opposite and restricting individual choices. The Religious Discrimination Bill opens up other interesting …”

Opinion February 12, 2022

The RBA’s inflated ego could make the housing crisis worse

“There is no doubt that inflation was brought under control through the 1990s, but there is a real debate about just how much of that was due to the management of monetary policy compared with the impact of a host of other factors including, importantly, …”

Opinion February 05, 2022

Why federation reform should be an urgent priority

“Before the pandemic, at most of my speeches to business and civil society groups, a question or comment was almost always made about why we don’t abolish state governments. The reasons were many and varied but all around a theme: a basic concern …”

Opinion January 29, 2022

A mosquito in a nudist colony

“We have finally arrived. After an almost daily campaign since the 2019 federal election, we are just a few months short of the next one. Naturally, attention is turning to focus on Anthony Albanese and his opposition. From one perspective – namely that …”

Opinion January 22, 2022

Morrison’s ‘too-hard’ basket just keeps getting bigger

“At the start of a new year, especially after such a tumultuous year as 2021, and in what will be an election year, it seems reasonable to take a look in the ‘too-hard basket’ to see what policy issues were missed, or deliberately ignored, …”

Opinion January 15, 2022

How Scott Morrison is failing small business

“There will not be a sustained economic recovery without a recovery of small businesses, and at this point they are on their knees. They are an essential element of the fabric of Australia and employ millions of Australians. They are the most innovative …”

Opinion January 08, 2022

How Scott Morrison failed on RATs

“Scott Morrison has gone to great lengths to give his overall Covid-19 response an air of respectability by claiming to be acting on the basis of the science – ignoring his political manipulation of that advice and suggesting this is done with the …”

Opinion December 18, 2021

A rat with a gold tooth

“Do not be surprised if Scott Morrison attempts a similar format in the coming election campaign; what I call a ‘trust and fear’ strategy. Essentially, Morrison will pose the question to voters, ‘Who do you trust to manage the pandemic …”

Opinion December 11, 2021

What Adrian Mole tells us about Scott Morrison

“Surprisingly to many, the Coalition has consistently maintained its poll lead over Labor on the question of who would be ‘preferred economic managers’. Although there are a host of other issues that will feature in the coming election campaign – …”

Opinion December 04, 2021

Jacqui Lambie did what John Howard and the Liberal Party wouldn’t

“Now the various independents’ movements are gaining genuine momentum in a number of key seats, having identified good, strong, community-based candidates and launching their campaigns for the next federal election, it is instructive to contemplate …”

Opinion November 27, 2021

Scott Morrison’s election lies

“It has been a widely held perception that politicians can play fast and loose with the truth. As with those who sell used cars, they manipulate data and events to suit what they think will be to their short-term political advantage. Donald Trump elevated …”

Opinion November 20, 2021

Morrison leads a can’t-do government in a won’t-do country

“Is Scott Morrison’s latest slogan – ‘can-do capitalism’ – simply an overarching abrogation of his responsibility to provide good government in our national interest?”

Opinion November 13, 2021

Scott Morrison’s safety word

“It has been demonstrated that incumbent state governments have been advantaged in their elections, but this sentiment is unlikely to be translated as support for the Coalition federally.”

Opinion November 06, 2021

When will Morrison learn that a slogan is not a policy?

“When will Scott Morrison and the Liberal National Party realise that three-word slogans are not a policy; indeed, they may not even be an effective way to deliver the desired marketing message? In the past two elections we were bombarded with ‘Jobs …”

Opinion October 30, 2021

I grew up as one of Pru Goward’s ‘proles’ and her views are deplorable

“How often have you heard that we are a very egalitarian nation, and heard politicians claim that we have one of the most effective and fair social welfare systems in the world – yet inequality remains a significant political issue?”

Opinion October 23, 2021

What does the prime minister have against universities?

“Clearly our universities found themselves in very precarious financial circumstances, but the government ruled out any form of direct financial assistance during the pandemic.”

Opinion October 16, 2021

Selling off the dead

“The latest development in New South Wales politics – the ascension of a new premier, Dominic Perrottet – may soon see the increased influence of the Catholic Church in matters of NSW government administration.”

Opinion October 09, 2021

Morrison can’t afford to ignore China’s economic woes

“The ‘miracle’ growth rates in the Chinese economy have been slowing as the economy attempts some key transitions and tries to deal with important structural challenges.”

Opinion October 02, 2021

Morrison must tell the truth on climate

“Some in the Coalition act as if we can wait until, say, 2049 to then move towards net zero 2050, but all evidence suggests policy adjustments have to be front-end loaded if goals are to be achieved. ”

Opinion September 25, 2021

Christian Porter and the ‘born to rule’ mentality

“A fundamental weakness of our democracy relates to the funding of election campaigns and other financial support of governments, parties and individual members of parliament. This needs to be a fully transparent and accountable process.”

Opinion September 18, 2021

The case for electric vehicles

“As with so much of Australia’s response to climate, it’s the states that are leading in terms of both emissions reduction targets and effective policy responses to the EV transition.”

Opinion September 11, 2021

What voters really want

“Voters are crying out for strong leadership on the big issues and for truth, integrity and accountability in government. There has been a massive loss of confidence, trust and belief in our politicians and in government processes in recent years.”

Opinion September 04, 2021

The merit of privatisation has been lost through greed

“One of the most compelling public policy initiatives globally over the past several decades, but unfortunately one of the most poorly implemented, has been privatisation. That is the concept of transferring business, industry or services from public to …”

Opinion August 28, 2021

The politics of the greater good

“It’s taken a long time but the concept of the ‘greater good’ – the sense of a shared destiny, of shared interests, collective purpose, a common future – is finally returning to our politics. Largely this is the result of the need to build community …”

Opinion August 21, 2021

The case for welfare reform

“It is difficult to understand how the government justifies setting the level of JobSeeker below the poverty line. It appears much of the government’s decision was based on the prime minister’s personal prejudice.”

Opinion July 31, 2021

Scott Morrison and the truth

“The pandemic has tested Morrison’s capacity for leadership, and he has been found seriously wanting. He simply hasn’t been able to rise above base politics, nor beyond what he considers to be clever marketing. ”

Opinion June 26, 2021

On shame and politics

“It is most disturbing how genuine compassion has been lost from our national government. Even worse, they seem so shameless about it. Concepts of government responsibility, integrity and accountability are increasingly downplayed, even ignored. A sense …”

Opinion December 05, 2020

How rorts, mates and marketing took over politics

“Consider some of the most notable and concerning examples of ‘bad behaviour’, excess and the abuse of power and privilege of just the past couple of decades, which have seen an alarming erosion of ministerial responsibility, transparency and accountability.”