July 06, 2006 | Tom

The Differing Economic Policies of Menzies and Howard Government

I wrote:

The Australian Historical Association is holding its 2006 Conference at the Australian National University on July 3-7. …
One item of note is the session 11 am to 12:30 pm, Thursday “Comparing Menzies and Howard”, with:

Professor Stuart Harris: The Differing Economic Policies of Menzies and Howard Government
There are few similarities between Menzies and Howard.
During the Menzies era wool and similar exports to the UK was paramount. There was state paternalism, immigration and the welfare state. Menzies supported the welfare state via the private sector. Much of this was inherited from the Labor Chifley government. Exchange rates were tight as we were fixed to Sterling, making economic management difficult. The budget was the major economic instrument, with mini-budgets.
Howard didn’t initiate 1980s market reforms, but supported those of the Hawke government. The change in freeing the exchange is significant as is interest rate setting by an independent reserve bank. The federal budget is almost a non-event now. The Howard government has been mostly concerned with microeconomic reform, started by Hawk. Even the GST was foreshadowed by Keating. Howard has been able to move further than Hawk or Keating.
There is a gradual learning by Howard of the importance of Asia for Australia’s economic future.

Posted by Tom at 12:13 pm | Comments (1) |
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1 Comment

  1. It’s a bit rough to suggest that Howard didn’t have something to do with initiating market reform. Economic reform was one of his themes as treasurer, even though he didn’t get to do much. In the 1983 election Labor opposed deregulation. It was some months after when they realised how bad things, and when treasury had spent some time re-educating Keating, that they came across to the “dry” cause as it was called then.
    As opposition leader Howard actually allowed Labor to make the changes that were necessary, when he could have stymied them in the senate. He might not have been in a position to push the reforms through (and would probably have been much more timid than Keating), but he can certainly claim some of the paternity.

    Comment by Graham Young — July 6, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

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