July 19, 2018 Print

In most universities and within the foreign affairs establishment, there is a near-consensus view that to improve development and reduce poverty, more aid money should be spent by governments and “big aid” international organizations. In Western Australia, some of the brightest young minds have taken a fresh look at development and reached different conclusions. Perth-based Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, in conjunction with Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs, is pleased to announce the two winners of their Doing Development Differently essay competition, which was based on Atlas Network’s project of the same name. Cian Hussey (University of Notre Dame) and Alex Prindiville (Murdoch University) were the two inaugural winners.

“Variations of this approach [aid money increases] emanate from multilateral institutions,” said Eva Christensen, Mannkal’s media and communications coordinator. “However, these organizations act more like corrupt, international redistribution mechanisms rather than anything that helps individuals. Occasionally, scholars such as Peter Bauer or Hernando de Soto, on whom Mannkal is preparing an showpiece, will challenge the status quo and apply market-based ideas to the problem. Critics will bemoan the lack of compassion, ignoring the fact that capitalism has delivered more people out of poverty than all aid schemes combined.”

Applications were received from all five Western Australian universities, on topics ranging from special economic zones to closing the educational gap between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. All essays had to explain how the Doing Development Differently approach applies to at least one public policy issue in Australia, in a manner that will most benefit the poor and marginalized.

“It was inspirational to read these young students’ tackle the most pressing social and economic issues, all seen through the lens of secure property rights and small, accountable government,” continued Christensen. “The essay competition aimed to inspire university students to take a different approach to solving the perpetual issues of poverty and welfare-dependency, and to step away from the failed prescribed band-aid ‘solutions’ that are taught in university today.”

Cian Hussey, a current undergraduate student majoring in politics and international relations, was awarded the first prize ($1,500 AUD) for his piece titled Spontaneous Order in Indigenous Australia, which analyzed the perpetual failures associated with government-administered, top-down programs. Cian also presented an agenda that included repealing red tape and other bureaucratic obstacles while encouraging a grass-roots approach as the best possible way forward.

Alex Prindiville, a law student at Murdoch University, received the second prize ($500 AUD) for his essay, Good Intentions Do Not Always Mean Good Outcomes, which focused on the stark differences in home ownership rates between Australia’s indigenous and non-indigenous populations. The essay identified the numerous financial regulations as being particularly difficult to meet for marginalized individuals. Such barriers, coupled with other poorly designed public policies, have resulted in an ever-widening home ownership gap.

Doing Development Differently is Atlas Network’s international development strategy that successfully combines the resources of philanthropy with the locally grown research and advocacy agenda of independent, market-oriented think tanks working to strengthen the institutions that foster growth for the world’s poor. Benchmarking their efforts to global indices like the “Doing Business” report published by the World Bank, these think tanks are making measurable progress.