The Australian federal government largely controls foreign policy, monetary policy and selection of High Court justices. These subjects are where the executive branch has discretionary or agenda-setting power and could make many changes without waiting for parliamentary approval:
1. Foreign policy: As Randolph Bourne suggested, ‘war is the health of the state’ and grows the size and scope of government, thereby diminishing individual liberty under a crushing burden of welfare and warfare programs. The government should stop being bogged down overseas, and instead focus on establishing a defensive perimeter in consultation with neighbouring countries. Defence spending should be frozen in real terms and anti-terrorism laws suppressing civil liberties should be repealed.
2. Monetary policy is under the supervision of the Treasury, whose representative sits on the Reserve Bank of Australia board. The inflation tax – an unrelenting rise in prices at the expense of the poor and middle-class – is pernicious in its effects and circumscribes the health and wealth of individuals; in other words, their freedom. The government should freeze the monetary base or implement a Milton Friedman style monetary rule to increase predictability (these are second-best solutions; the best would be to shift to free banking). Accountability and transparency underlying the bank’s reasoning must be improved.
3. Selection of High Court judges has lasting effects given the retirement age of 70, so the choice of a strict constitutionalist (one who believes in original intent as a method of interpretation) must be made. Just as contracts are interpreted with reference to the intention of the parties, so too should the Constitution. Departure from traditional legal principles is what has undermined federalism and ultimately prosperity.
These areas should be the top priorities for libertarians wanting more freedom in Australia.