“Public policy in Australia is often made on the run, built on shabby foundations, motivated by short term political gain, and consequently having mediocre outcomes,” said John Roskam, the director of IPA.
The lowest policy mark – two out of 10 – was awarded to the federal government’s crackdown on the sharing of abhorrent images online in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque massacre, which was live-streamed on Facebook for 17 minutes.
The laws, imposing criminal penalties for technology firms and directors who fail to remove violent images within a “reasonable” timeframe, were rushed through Parliament on the last sitting day before the May election.
Critics, including lawyers, human rights groups and the tech industry, argued the laws could have “unintended consequences”, like media censorship and restricting whistleblowing.
Low marks – four out of 10 – were also awarded to federal laws introduced after the Bourke Street stabbing attack in Melbourne to give enforcement agencies greater access to encrypted information.
Decisions to cut income taxes and make migrants wait four years before they become eligible for income support payments were also criticised for lacking policy rigour.
“The analysis we undertook revealed that a careful approach to policy development is too often lacking at all levels of government,” said Emma Dawson, executive director of Per Capita Australia.
At a state level, NSW earned an “unacceptable” gong for its policy to criminalise cyber-bullying and reforms to the child protection system.
Victoria’s fire services reform bill was also deemed to have failed good policy making processes, as was the Queensland government’s decision to approve the contentious Adani coal mine.
Former NSW treasury secretary, Percy Allan, who spearheaded the project, said the population had grown suspicious of government decision making, and this was undermining their faith in democracy.
“Winning back trust – especially on contentious legislative issues – requires capturing the full facts about a problem, weighing up alternative solutions and seeking public input on the best way forward before a final decision was made,” he said.