As John Butcher reminds us in Chapter 2, nation-building is about: (a) taming (or should we say working constructively with) nature; (b) building economic infrastructure (such as roads and railways) to remove physical bottlenecks to economic growth; and (c) investing in human capital such as public health, education, housing, employment programs, among others, in order to minimise the risk of skills bottlenecks and, more importantly, to ensure a fair society with genuine equality of opportunity).

If a government is interested in nation-building, the last thing it should be doing is tying itself up in a fiscal straitjacket. Yet this is exactly what the new Rudd Labor Government has done.