Like a form of cosmic background radiation to our public life, there's one issue that is always lurking in contemporary political debates: the seeming inability of governments to get things done. Building a national broadband network. Addressing the disadvantage of Indigenous Australians. Delivering effective climate action. Providing sufficient housing supply. Protecting major river systems. Tasks that have proved beyond governments despite, often, huge amounts of money being thrown at the task.

This is the product of decades of neoliberal policy in action, aimed at curbing the role of government. Much of this has been delivered by taking away the tools of governments to accomplish things. We can't build an NBN, for example, because we privatised the government business we traditionally used to roll out telecommunications infrastructure, and, worse, privatised it as a vertically integrated anti-competitive monster. So to build an NBN we had to build a new government business to do it from the ground up. Or we've allowed powerful interests to dictate policy, as in climate policy (well, we don't have a climate policy currently) or the Murray-Darling.