One of the ways in which economic reform might have developed and deepened from the fairly formulaic deregulationist mind set it got itself into from around the late 80s on would have been in the area of reforming legal procedure.
It’s still being left to lawyers. Here is a good piece on the direction we should be going (similar to the direction we’re trying to go in regulation) in today’s Age. I’d lilke to write more on it, but am too stretched with other things. But I hope to return to it because I think there’s quite a bit to say. In the interim, I recommend the thrust of the article.
Decent reforms would lower legal costs as well as improving quality – an old trick that Japanese car makers are famous for showing us. They’d make our society both fairer and more efficient.
People say that these things are impossible to reform because the lawyers have too firm a grip on things and it’s in their interests to hang on. That’s true if the reform isn’t ‘foregrounded’ as it were. But there’s a lot of political momentum – even now – behind the idea that we should continue to reform things. If the custodians of what is on that list of reform were to identify reforming our legal system as an important priority, the lawyers’ influence wouldn’t seem so frightening. Was it Stalin who wondered how many divisions the Pope had? When push comes to shove, how many votes can the lawyers muster?