Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

We are all socialists now, but weren’t we always?

By Scott Prasser - posted Thursday, 3 February 2022


Before the 2007 federal election I posited that 'Australians are all conservatives now' (The Australian, 20 April).

It argued that thanks to years of reform by Coalition and Labor federal governments, whoever won the election did not matter 'because during the past two decades conservatives have won all the key policy battles … Australia is on a one-way street of more deregulation, market-based reforms, greater global integration, and less welfarism'.

Even the Rudd-led Labor opposition in the run-up to the 2007 election preached financial austerity and called on the Howard government to be financially prudent in an election year.

Advertisement

We had, it seemed, made a welcome and permanent break from the Australian tradition of the 'protective state' characterised by government interventionism, extensive public-owned enterprises, agricultural marketing boards, an over-regulated financial sector and labour markets, and what Geoff Blainey labelled 'regulationism'.

How wrong can you be!

Such economic reform that laid the foundations of our recent prosperity turned out to be but a brief aberration. Within a year in office, the Rudd government's fiscal discipline collapsed in its spending over-reaction to the Global Financial Crisis. Industrial relations reform was wound back, and tax reform shelved. Government overreach was everywhere. The Rudd administration lost its nerve as well as its way. Australia reverted to type; squibbing hard policy choices, losing the reform momentum, lapsing into budget recklessness, and appeasing vested interest groups.

The protective state was back in business.

The succeeding Coalition governments of Abbott, Turnbull, and now Morrison have been little better. Elected on a surfeit of cliched slogans parading as policies and promises to cut nothing, the Coalition largely failed to deliver promised budget surpluses. Vital industrial relations reform was 'dead, buried, and cremated'. Overdue changes to federal-state relations system were shredded. Apart from two tax cuts, the majority of needed tax reform was shelved as too hard. Energy policy was outsourced to international agreements and bodies.

Labor, back in opposition, has quickly forsaken its former economic reform mantle, returned to the bosom of the now vastly shrunken but self-interested union movement, and meted out the same harping intransigent behaviour they got from the Coalition when in office.

Advertisement

The pandemic has accelerated these trends.

Australia's responses have been increased government interventionism and regulations, and the expansion of our welfare safety net – all supported by huge budget deficits and borrowings.

Responsibilities and key decisions have reverted to the states with each pursuing their own narrow interests.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

This article was first published by The Spectator.



Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

5 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Dr Scott Prasser is author of Robert Menzies: Man or Myth and is Series Editor of Connor Court's Australian Biographical Series, and has written numerous academic articles and chapters on federal and state Liberal parties and Coalition politics.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Scott Prasser

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Scott Prasser
Article Tools
Comment 5 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy