Should the Liberals adopt ‘progressive liberalism’?

A recurrent critique of the Liberal Party is that it is more a conservative party than a liberal party, and that it should become more liberal. This critique has a libertarian version (for example my article on ‘big government conservatism’), and also a ‘progressive’ version, which has found its way into book form twice since the early 1990s: Christopher Puplick’s Is the Party Over?: The Future of the Liberals (1994) and Greg Barns’ What’s Wrong with the Liberal Party? (2003), which I rather unkindly reviewed for Quadrant.

After the 24 November defeat, it was the ‘progressives’ who moved first to fill the ideological vacuum left by Howard’s departure. In The Age at the weekend, Victorian Liberal Senator Judith Troeth told us that:

the party has an opportunity to reinvent itself and recapture the inclusive and progressive liberalism that once made it electorally strong. (emphasis added)

While some aspects of ‘progressive liberalism’ are in my view worthy, as John Roskam rightly points out it is not an election-winning strategy for the Liberal Party. Can anyone name an election the Liberals won because they were more ‘progressive’ than Labor?

If anything, as Roskam says, Howard lasted so long partly because his populist conservatism resonated with the electorate. ‘Progressives’ are generally appalled at the idea of locking up self-selecting refugees, but the public supports it (though there may have been some softening of opinion). Howard believes that migrants should fit in, and so does the Australian public. Howard thought conditions in NT Aboriginal communities warranted a military intervention, and the public agreed. Howard wanted to press more welfare recipients into work; a majority concurred. Though Howard was probably behind public opinion in not removing petty discrimination against gays, he was on safe ground confirming that the law did not permit gay marriage.

And there is a still larger problem in adopting any of these ‘progressive’ issues as the way back for the Liberals. The people for whom these are top priority issues will generally already be aligned with a left or centre-left party, voters who are irrelevant to the future of the Liberals. Indeed, the general mediocrity of the Liberals who advocate these issues shows how the talent on these matters has long departed the Liberal cause. Senator Troeth contradicted herself in the same newspaper on the same day. Robert Dean didn’t bother checking Menzies’ record before unfavourably comparing Howard with Menzies. Greg Barns’ book was a mess, as was Chris Puplick’s.

This is not to say all ‘progressive’ issues are out-of-bounds for the Liberal Party. But they are only possible within a package that appeals to more than 50% of the electorate. And that means ‘inclusiveness’ for conservative voters, and not just groups favoured by ‘progressive’ politicians.

50 thoughts on “Should the Liberals adopt ‘progressive liberalism’?

  1. Can anyone name an election the Liberals won because they were more ‘progressive’ than Labor?

    In retrospect, you might argue that every election Menzies won he did it because he was more progressive than Labor. White Australia, various bits of communist stupidity, the long dark night of the Groupers all made the ALP less than popular.

    The Liberals patchy record since 1972 is a direct result of Labor centralism and a direct rejection of old-style social conservatism that was apparent when they sloughed off the groupers. Sure the electorate has the occasional hankering for a bite of the conservative whip-hand, but they generally become inured to it’s dubious charms when they see the side effects. Those in the community who were only united against communism (for different ends as it turned out) are now a cancer on the NSW libs and directing it away from centralism in social policy. That’s what makes them unelectable. It’s not that the LIberal party needs to suddenly turn progressive, they simply need to reject reactionary conservatism in favour of something a little more mainstream.

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  2. The Coalition won the 1966 election because they were seen as pro-America, particular in relation to Vietnam. The public attitude to this began to change before the 1969 election in which the Coalition scraped back in.

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  3. Dave R says
    they simply need to reject reactionary conservatism in favour of something a little more mainstream.

    Not a trick question but would mind elaborating a little on this as it ddidn’t seem that it was the Liberals are less “mainstream”- what ever that means. Rudd wasn’t exactly droning on about being an economic conservative because he didn’t want to emulate Howard’s positions.

    I keep reminding people that this is a 50/50 nation. 30 electorates decide elections and the result is 53/47 which means near enough 1/2 the people voted conservative.

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  4. 1966? I take it back. I was, as usual, relying on memory and ’66 was the first election I can really remember. Sexy, snazzy Holt compared to boring, worn-out Calwell: who seemed more progressive?
    But now we have that Soapbox website (with the policy speeches) and lo! I find Calwell promising a national health scheme.
    Ah, but what was the point of being ‘progressive’ if you didn’t LOOK progressive.

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  5. JC – a little more mainstream would mean a couple of minor unwinds to some pretty poor issue management. Compulsory detention is one: they probably could have credibly maintained the (stupid Labor party) policy if the department was shown to be more competent. Too many people wrongly detained, too many children involved – it became emotive, and the more emotive it got the harder the government line became. Plus, Kevin Andrews was involved.

    Workchoices: it’s been done to death here and elsewhere, but as a WTF? moment from a loyal voter base, it’ll stand as a classic betrayal of trust. The fairness test was too dumb, too little and too late, and followed a disastrous renaming strategy that everybody saw through. If only they’d done it in two steps (unfair dismissals, followed later by AWA’s) nobody would have given a toss. Plus, Kevin Andrews was involved.

    Haneef: Ministerial fiddling in what was plainly a matter of police. Plus, Kevin Andrews was involved.

    Yes – nearly half the electorate voted conservative and probably remain that way on a number of issues. However, I think most people operate on a fairly simple standard of political evaluation (hate it, will tolerate it, love it) and the Liberals just tipped too many “kinda conservatives” temporarily into the “hate it” camp. They’ll come back, but they’ll be gunshy. Kevin Andrews probably needs to quit, too.

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  6. I don’t think they need to be more socially progressive. Just more socially permissive. Social permissiveness has got something of a bad name but the problems that get pinned on permissiveness mostly stem from having a “progressive” welfare state that allows people to make bad life choices and avoid many of the natural consequences. A bit like selling magic beer that excludes any risk of a hangover.

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  7. The ALP outflanked the coalition on the right on macroeconomics and in the centre on IR.

    The left love to hate Kevin Andrews, but I’m not convinced that too many people care about Haneef. I thought the deportation of PRs and citizens was an absolute disgrace, but again nobody seemed too fussed and the ALP did not campaign on these issues. Sure, in office they may genuflect to these things to shore up their left flank, but at the time Mr Rudd was unmoved. (IMHO – the deportation of citizens cannot be authorised/approved by Parliament and consequently those events were illegal – the persons responsible should be prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned. Maybe some lawyer types could explain why this can’t/hasn’t happened).

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  8. Sinclair Davidson wrote:

    I thought the deportation of PRs and citizens was an absolute disgrace, but again nobody seemed too fussed and the ALP did not campaign on these issues.

    They didn’t have to Sinclair, that issue was owned lock and stock in an interesting reversal of the 2004 election (i.e. it just went too far). I’m not sure I hate Kevin Andrews, but I do think he’s a dunce and being involved in all three of the worst issues for the Liberals is surely no coincidence.

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  9. Rubie

    You’re about the only decent leftie around with whome someone can have a conversation and feel it’s a reasonable give and take. Good comment, by the way.

    1. I Really don’t think the elecorate gave a shit about detention or Haneef.

    2. They gave a real toss over workchoices.

    3. Most people don’t really know who Kevin Andrews was before Haneef as workchoices was really Howard baby.

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  10. “This is not to say all ‘progressive’ issues are out-of-bounds for the Liberal Party. But they are only possible within a package that appeals to more than 50% of the electorate. And that means ‘inclusiveness’ for conservative voters, and not just groups favoured by ‘progressive’ politicians. ”

    This would be true in the UK. But in Aus with its preferential voting you do not need to worry about the base, all your eyes should be on capturing the centre (the swinging voter). Conservatives are not going to vote ALP?

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  11. Just a note on Workchoices (though a IR lawyer will probably know more about the details which could be crucial), AWAs were introduced in the 1990s Workplace Relations Act. Just that they were subject to a “no disadvantage test” i.e. award conditions could be varied as long as in total the AWA did not disadvantage the worker. Work choices removed this – and the change above returned the nature of AWAs to how they were (unless there is some detail) pre Workchoices.

    If AWAs were so bad, the reasons they weren’t an issue in the earlier elections was either (1) there weren’t many of them (which they weren’t early on)? (but are there really that many of them around now?) (2) the later ones were different to the earlier ones (3) they weren’t advertised against for two years by the ACTU.

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  12. Newspoll found 36% disapproval of the way Andrews handled the Haneef case. I doubt this had any relevance to the election. It was just the routine incompetence that anyone who has to deal with government departments will have experienced under both parties, albeit with far more publicity.

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  13. Andrew Norton wrote:

    Newspoll found 36% disapproval of the way Andrews handled the Haneef

    Sinclair/JC/Andrew – OK, I overstated the anti-Andrews stuff (but mostly for humorous effect). I didn’t realise the disapproval only hit 36% though. Big question: will Nelson credibly cut off the push for progressiveness while still re-aligning the party? Maybe the Liberals should have voted for “people skills” instead 🙂

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  14. Andrew, I think you and Roskam are right to say that Howard correctly judged the mood of the public on moral conservatism (treatment of asylum seekers, multiculturalism, aboriginal rights etc.). Much as I would like to see more liberal policies in these areas, it is not likely to happen even under Rudd (although happily we may make more progress on treatment of gays).

    Where I think Howard went wrong was in his excessive focus on the economy. On issues like WorkChoices, welfare to work, spending on public services and climate change he was focused principally on short term economic and employment outcomes. (He sometimes got his spending and fiscal priorities wrong even in economic terms – but that’s another issue).

    Howard did not fully appreciate that the Australian public seemed willing to sacrifice some potential economic growth to achieve better social and environmental outcomes and he did not sufficiently explore alternative strategies which could have offered better trade-offs.

    Unfortunately, Rudd has donned Costello’s fiscal straighjacket and even on labour market regulation, his policies are pretty harsh by the standards of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. So so he too will face some harsh efficiency-equity trade-offs.

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  15. “Newspoll found 36% disapproval of the way Andrews handled the Haneef case.”

    That’s the average for the whole country. It could have made a difference in particular seats, like Bennelong.

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  16. Where I think Howard went wrong was in his excessive focus on the economy.

    Yea. Think opposite and combine that with a recession.

    Howard did not fully appreciate that the Australian public seemed willing to sacrifice some potential economic growth to achieve better social and environmental outcomes and he did not sufficiently explore alternative strategies which could have offered better trade-offs.

    Don’t speak too soon on just how much the “public” is prepared to tolerate, Fred. We achieved a better outcome in terms of emissions targets than most of the signatories. Getting to 1% of target with an 11 year economic expansion is something to applaud. It makes signing the treaty look like a joke.

    Unfortunately, Rudd has donned Costello’s fiscal straighjacket and even on labour market regulation, his policies are pretty harsh by the standards of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. So so he too will face some harsh efficiency-equity trade-offs.

    How do you know that as we haven’t seen the law he’s going to put up? If he gets rid of unfair dismissal it will be pretty harsh alright, but the the way you suggest.

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  17. It could have made a difference in particular seats, like Bennelong.

    Bennelong is a marginal seat. The mildly amusing but silly former ABC presenter owns the seat with a couple of votes.

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  18. “a couple of votes”.

    2068 votes, to be precise.

    There are a lot of Chinese, Korean and Indians in Bennelong who might not have been too thrilled about the idea of someone being rounnded up and deported on the basis of national/racial/religious stereotypes.

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  19. Or then again Spiro, they acted out like other Australians who thought Howard’s government had been in for too long and decided to vote in a twit any twit as long as it wasn’t Howard.

    Not everything is based on race or gender, Mr Tifosso.

    By the way, you still owe us that explanation why regulated Labor markets offer a better outcome to free Labor markets.

    I notice you get into some sort of furious typo checking fetish/syndrome whenever your asked

    Me says you don’t know. LOL

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  20. Is that because I asked you first, Spiro. Lol. Manners were never taught I see.

    I’ll keep asking until you answer…..and then you won’t even have to wait for my answer.

    Now go on, give it a whirl but leave the talking points out of it.lol

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  21. AN

    The problem here is that great weasel word that the Left has recently appropraited; “progressive.” What on earth does it mean? “Progressive” was the word adopted by American marxists from the 1940s until the 1960s, who were too Left wing for the Democrats, but who did not wish to be associated with Soviet Communism.

    “Progressive” is a marxist notion in the belief that society will “progress” from capitalism to socialism to communism.

    If we accept a non-marxist notion of “progressive” we are left with a good old-fashioned “liberalism.” To that extent, a Liberal Party that identified closely with ideological “liberalism” would be a great idea; as would an ALP that identified with liberalism

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  22. John – being progressive is all about making things fairer (that’s why the Liberals can’t do it).

    Have you read Senator Ursula Stephens’ (Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion) letter on the Eureka Street website? Read it now now. No doubt in future you’ll be hanging on her every word.

    She writes “Labor has adopted social inclusion as an objective and organising principle of the nation’s social and economic policy…….”

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  23. “If anything, as Roskam says, Howard lasted so long partly because his populist conservatism resonated with the electorate.”

    It resonated with parts of the electorate – Howard built his majorities on usual Liberal voters and socially conservative “working-class” voters.

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  24. Obviously Brendan Nelson isn’t a fan of progressive liberalism.

    Q. Which Liberal party member of the HOR was most associated with progressive liberalism during the Howard government?

    A. Petro Georgiou.

    Q. Which Liberal party member of the HOR actually got a swing to him at the recent election?

    A. Petro Georgiou.

    Q. Who didn’t Brendan Nelson put in his front bench, not even as a shadow parliamentary secretary?

    A. Petro Georgiou.

    Mind you, Nelson found room for Bronwyn Bishop, who not even Howard could stomach.

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  25. Spiro

    Petro is in some sort of delusional daze. The guy is in the wrong party, let alone worrying if he ought to be on the front bench.

    Now please answer the question I left you and stop wasting time, Mr. Tifossa.

    Get out from under the bed and answer the question.

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  26. He probably is in the wrong party, though at one time he was in his party’s mainstream, and yet he hasn’t changed his world view at all.

    But if the Liberal Party wants to sell itself as the party of Bronwyn Bishop (old, reactionary, completely unhinged from reality) that will suit the Labor Party just fine.

    Nelson has been captured by the looney tunes of the NSW Liberal Right. Good luck with that.

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  27. “He probably is in the wrong party, though at one time he was in his party’s mainstream, and yet he hasn’t changed his world view at all.”

    Spiros – Can you say when that was? Perhaps the strongest argument would be the Fraser years (when Petro was an adviser), but at the time the same arguments were being made against the Liberals as now. As John Warhurst wrote in a book about the Australian Democrats ‘in 1977 the Liberal Party, led by the Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, was not a hospitable place for small-l Liberals’. The Democrats were effectively a break-away party from the Liberals.

    While in my view ‘progressive liberalism’ has never been a dominant force in the Liberal Party, it was then – nearly 20 years before Howard became PM – that it stopped being a serious force within the party.

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  28. The small l Liberals, as they were quantly known, were never a majority, but there were enough of them during Fraser’s time that they were miainstream. People like Peter Baume, Alan Missen, Fred Chane, Ian McPhee, and even Margaret Guilfoyle, to name just the most prominent, would find today’s Liberal Party an alien and inhospitable place.

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  29. Spiro, you old tifosso you.

    Unless I’m mistaken the election was never fought on large disputes with liberal party policy. Mr. I’m a Conservative Now was busily parroting whatever Howard said. In fact the former communist party partime time typing pool gal also morphed into a conservative this election Funny that.

    I don’t agree with howard’s conservatism but it won the election unless of course garrent was right and they were lying. We’ll see. Personally i hope they were lying as no one can get enough of labor to turn around elecoratal fortunes 🙂

    Stop thinking the libs ought to become labor light. 47% of the electorate like them just fine.

    Oh, and another thing.

    Could you please provide me with your economic agrument as to why regulated labor markets offer a better outcome. Bullet points is fine.

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  30. I am delighted to see the Liberal Party in the shape it is now, and in the direction that Nelson is taking it.

    What’s said that has offended you, Spiro.

    I haven’t seen much of what he’s said.

    And the argument please. Bullet points are fine. thanks.

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  31. Margaret Guilfoyle still turns up to Liberal functions. I have seen her many times. But you are probably right about the others, though Chaney was reasonably sound on economics at the time. Macphee was an old-style Deakinite protectionist, and a pretty nasty person too. The party was well rid of him.

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  33. “Can anyone name an election the Liberals won because they were more ‘progressive’ than Labor?”

    I was going to say any election featuring ol’ Mingus himself, and that at the very foundation of the Liberal party was the radical act of reaching into the hearth for the (shock-horror) female vote. How “conservative” to shift with the times and rethink liberalism with !!!female!!! candidates, rather than flog the old dead UAP nag. Sure, not very progressive.

    I hate to be gruesome, but I reckon you could sustainably power the eastern seacoast by fitting a rubber band to the old man’s coffin. It’d be rotating so fast to see his beloved ideals sacrificed to the policy-vacuum-state of conservatism.

    Get out the Hayek, Constitution of Liberty, and turn to the postscript, peoples. Go read it now – “Why I am not a conservative”. As Hayek puts it, “Conservatism may often be a useful practical maxim, but it does not give us any guiding principles which can influence long range developments”. Because they have no policy, because they are “obscurantists” afraid of the consequences of new knowledge, to quote both Keating and Hayek. A tactical prime minister, with no long term strategic plan and afraid of new developments outside his experience, getting obliterated by a savvy electorate who knew that things had changed and needed new answers. Where have I just seen that one?

    Hmmm. Whoops.

    OK, some scattershot solutions. Time for invigoration. Liberal grassroots all the way. Rebuild the small scale machine. Get the average punter on board, so the party is not beholden to big business for funding. There are more middle class people than there are Fortune 500 bosses. Raise the professionalism bar for pre-selection. Find candidates who resonate with average people, not the just branches. Encourage the NSW Uglies to form a Conservative Party quickly. The split will help, because the climate (quite literally) is against them.

    Think David Cameron. Push to solve climate problems through massively parallel free enterprise before the carbon dictatorship can arise. (Expect the Uglies to try actually building that monster, given their New Guard-ish tendencies). Think taking it to Gordon Brown and actually putting fear in the heart of centralists by being more effective, rather than pursuing dead agendas such as “teh union bosses boo”. Steal the Greens’ fire before they start to steal your seats, and don’t think it can’t happen – think Labor’s rise in the 1890’s – 1910’s, and think the Green version of Andrew Fisher is lurking out there knowing that the global rules have changed permanently in his or her favor.

    Think the end of the stupid 20th century argument about who gets their hands on the levers of production (workers versus wealthy) that dominated 20th century politics and focus on getting (as close as we possibly can to) everybody’s hands on their own levers of environmentally responsible production.

    Most of all, ***think*** rather than spout prefabricated economic doctrines. Remember that economics is more like a design/engineering discipline, rather than a hard science. It deals with insoluble “wicked” problems that only have sufficient policy solutions. Just because there’s maths doesn’t give it that magical status of physics. So observe the effects of the policies, and remember – people trade, therefore markets exist rather than vice versa. Remember that markets are therefore inherently irrational, though stochastically trackable in the broad picture, and will require more than the lazy policy scam of “make em pay” to win votes.

    If you can’t effectively explain the nature of economic goodwill in a way that reflects people’s hearts, question your theory. if your theory ignores the construction of a consumer from infancy onwards, and instead postulates a rational agent that processes market utility who sprang forth fully formed from Friedman’s brow, realize you’ve got an incomplete model.

    You might ignore everything I’ve said, because it contains unpleasant new thoughts. But whatever you do, please just take on board the next one thing.

    Above all else, you must ***modernize***, because the Labor party already has this well underway, eliminating factions, professionalizing, shifting to meet changes in the geopolitical reality – and they will eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next 15 years unless you do.

    Your time starts… now.

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  34. And another thing, Roskam is a lightweight. “Workchoices and too long in the saddle” my rumpflaps. Try “GST 1998 and Menzies’ second incumbency”, touche. I watched him flapping about all this year, wondering where the problem was. Never once did he see the point. The world had left the 20th century, but the Liberals had not. Fighting “teh union bosses” like it was 1982. Jump cut to average under-30 voter, who says “Strikes? isn’t that baseball?” ;^) Simple, really.

    Contra Roskam, the Australian people will happily change. Not just any old change for the sake of it, only when it is needed to preserve our standard of life. Then they’ll be deeply radical. Remember the war footing of 1939-45, anyone?

    If he thinks Workchoices won Labor the election, he has his eyes araldited closed. Workchoices read “old tired and out of touch, and worst of all not committed to the sacred standard of living”. That failure opened the door to the deeper thinking on quality of life, and the future, over teh course of 2007. The Liberals were then doomed to be pwned. Look at the post election Newspoll data.

    This election was first lost the day Howard took on Obama, and showed the country he was out of touch with geopolitical reality. This opened the chink in the armor. It was second lost when Rudd spoke Chinese in public. This showed the bargaining power and focus on trade. It was third lost when Rudd promised Kyoto. That simply said, let’s get to work. It was a promise of deep change, because there’s necessarily a lot of change to come there. They know that btw, if you’ll just go talk to them instead of dictating their terms and conditions.

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  35. JC said: “Mr. I’m a Conservative Now was busily parroting whatever Howard said.” Presumedly in relation to Rudd. You may have an argument concerning domestic issues (although most of the country thinks otherwise)… but lets not kid ourselves Mr “Deputy Sheriff” is the biggest parrot of them all when it comes to foreign policy. Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full Mr President. He had too many episodes of foreign policy sillyness, like threatening a preemptive strike on our South East Asian neighbours (without any real intention to ever carry this out)… The only explanation for such folly was that he was wanted to imitate George Dubya and flex a bit of muscle (which we don’t have btw)…. That said, there’s nothing that remarkable about Rudd… He is not is the same class a former Labor PMs, namely Keating who was a visionary and way ahead of his time and the electorate. Just as an aside… Andrew Norton, in his review of Clive Hamilton’s book Growth Fetish (appearing in Policy), makes reference to cyclical and structural recessions. Its worth reminding this pro-conservative blogg site that the most recent Australian recession was cyclical in nature for sure. The US and Japan (our two most important trading partners at the time) were also suffering recessions at that time. The recession before that occurred in the early 80s, under the Prime Ministership of Fraser and with Howard as treasurer. This was undoubtedly a structural recession. This was highlighted by the sweeping economic reforms undertaken by Labor in the following government. Labor liberalised our economy and removed the impediments to efficiency that persisted for years under the conservatives (that’s what the libs really are; labelling them liberal is a euphemism at best). Now which is worse; a cyclical recession, under Hawke and Keating, resulting from international forces mostly beyond the control of the government and coinciding with recessions experienced by our major trading partners, or a structural recession resulting from poor economic management and lack of political will to take on a daunting reform agenda – as we saw under Fraser and Howard? Now Mr Howard constantly said he never opposed the Labor reforms (a candidate for the “parrot” tag once again i suspect). It is one thing not to oppose policy, but it is quite another not to propose any policy. This is Howard’s legacy – and it was evident from his treasury days in the Fraser government. Peter Costello agrees that Howard was no economic reformer. He rode the wave of a mostly favourable international economic environment. We were threatened by the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997/98, but thanks to the Hawke Labor government, who floated the dollar, our economy had the flexibility to withstand this external shock.

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  36. Simmo

    I forgot:

    The former part time communist party typing pool secretary is also an economic conservative now. You probably need to include her too. Lol.

    ——————

    Clive Hamilton’s book Growth Fetish (appearing in Policy), makes reference to cyclical and structural recessions..

    Clive hamilton is an idiot. He understand very little about economics and his book i’m am sure is a testament to idiocy. There is no such thing as a structural and cyclical recession. Recssions are about them same thing.

    Keating was an uncouth slob with a huge chip on his shoulders, who preferred to hate. The elecorate understood what he was and got rid of him. There was as much vision in him as a blind clobber.

    The previous labor government had to float the Dollar, as they had no choice seeing we had only 3 months foreign currency reserves left and would have been gone in a week if hey didn’t float. The market forced that reform on them not the other way round.

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  37. JC, a lot of hysteria and ad hominem attacks, but not a lot of fact… but still the fact remains that Labor made all the fundamental reforms to the economy whilst the libs stood back and watched (as everyone agrees with now)… And yes including the float… and what about lowering of tariffs… you could argue that the market forced us to lower them as well.. and that would be a good argument.. but it take political will to do the right thing!! What about economic reforms of the prior Lib government (even with a favourable senate)? well non-existent in comparison to Labor – partly because Labor had already done it all and partly because they didn’t have the political spine. as for your recession argument… well i was going to comment, but your prose makes not sense at all.. “Recssion are about them same thing”??? what the??? But of course it is in your interests not to make a distinction b/n cyclical and structural recessions….
    As for PK, the electorate thought they understood him and voted him out but now public opinion is actually converging on Keating’s ideas…. culminating in a massive attack on the socially conservative and backward coalition government… As for Clive Hamilton, I wasn’t plugging him… I simply mentioned a statement Andrew Norton had made in reviewing his book…. btw you sound like an authority on Hamilton seeing that you HAVE NEVER READ HIM lol “He understand very little about economics and his book i’m am sure is a testament to idiocy.” Nothing more to add

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  38. JC, a lot of hysteria and ad hominem attacks, but not a lot of fact…
    Sure there was. You just didn’t see them. Take the float. Didn’t I mention it was forced on them by the market?

    but still the fact remains that Labor made all the fundamental reforms to the economy whilst the libs stood back and watched (as everyone agrees with now)…
    Well the Libs were in opposition at the time, so we couldn’t ecxpect them to make reforms. I don recall though that Howard supported all the reforms they made.

    And yes including the float… and what about lowering of tariffs… you could argue that the market forced us to lower them as well.. and that would be a good argument..
    No, lowering tariffs was a good thing. So was the float, but as I said they had no choice other than floating otherwise they would have had to have gone to the IMF and stood in line with the African and South American countries for a loan.

    What about economic reforms of the prior Lib government (even with a favourable senate)?
    Wokchoices and breaking the back of the gangsters running the wharfs. They were decent reforms. However workchoices was not properly sold or implememted but it would have been a great refrom otherwise.

    a distinction b/n cyclical and structural recessions….
    Ok so tell us what is the difference and please provide an example of each.

    As for PK, the electorate thought they understood him and voted him out but now public opinion is actually converging on Keating’s ideas….

    He was an uncouth, hatefilled, uneducated dickhead and the elecorate saw the end of him.

    As for Clive Hamilton, I wasn’t plugging him… I simply mentioned a statement Andrew Norton had made in reviewing his book…. btw you sound like an authority on Hamilton seeing that you HAVE NEVER READ HIM lol

    Yea I have. I have read his columns in various papers and he sounds mentally disturbed and possibly retarded.

    Nothing more to add

    Exactly

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  39. “Wokchoices and breaking the back of the gangsters running the wharfs. They were decent reforms. However workchoices was not properly sold or implememted but it would have been a great refrom otherwise.”

    Lets see, Workchoices (+GST) v lowering tariffs, imputation tax system, floating the dollar, deregulating the financial sector etc hmmmmm….. Yes the Libs reform agenda was nothing compared with Labor… As for Libs being in opposition… they had the preponderance of the last 20 years before Hawke in govt to make the reforms (when most of Western Europe made them), but they didn’t….

    “public opinion is actually converging on Keating’s ideas….…

    He was an uncouth, hatefilled, uneducated dickhead and the elecorate saw the end of him.”

    As usual ad hominem attacks and no facts of what PK actually did, which history is judging very kindly – especially reforms of the 80s…. But also his progressive social policies (embracement of Asia, reconciliation and the republic) will be proven correct in the fullness of time…..

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  40. “Ok so tell us what is the difference and please provide an example of each”

    I would of thought that the difference would be obvious from their respective names, but anyways….

    A cyclical crisis is caused by downturn in business cycles and the global economy – like that experienced in the early 90s, where our major trading partners were also in recession. There’s a economic addage that goes like this: when the US sneezes, Australia catches a cold… and thats exactly what happened in the early 90s. Our economy was structurally sound, but forces largely beyond the control of the government forced the downturn in Oz… Now don’t get started with the predictable debt argument… because most countries (especially the US) hold a far greater proportion of debt to GDP than Australia did in the early 90s, and still manage to maintain low interest rates….

    A structural crisis is one where the economy is not competitive because of the way it is organised. So we have it with the Liberal government of the early 80s. Recession caused by a backward, highly protected, highly regulated, low investment economy. An economy where major surgery was needed to for us to become competitive. And Labor did what was desperately needed, so we didn’t have to survive on IMF handouts… that’s the direction Oz was headed under the Libs at that time.

    Contrast this with the 90s crisis, where the economy only had to weather the storm, the structure of the economy was sound and a major reform agenda was not needed to take advantage of the subsequent upturn in the global economy.

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  41. Simmo

    Workchoices was the biggest refrom since the Harvestor case.

    Labor ran on re-regulation. So why are talking about refrom when you support a party that wants to -reregulate?

    This is amusing.

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  42. reregulate???….. unlike market fundamentalists, most normal people believe that there should be a balance between markets and government – with markets taking a dominant role…. Workchoices was a reform with very little economic impact (according to credible research) and huge negative reprucussions for workers. Any objective person would conclude that the ALP reforms in the 80s were far more important than Workchoices.

    “you support a party that wants to -reregulate”
    As i’ve said before, I don’t particularly like Rudd (his constant “economic conservative” talk is very tedious and annoying)… but he was better than the alternative… I do admire the Hawke/Keating era however.

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  43. Yes, “re-regulate”. Why is that phrase confusing?

    Unlike “government fundamentalists”, most sensible people understand that the government doesn’t generally improve the outcome when they intervene in markets. Personally, I find these conversations more productive if we all leave the “you’re a fundmentalist” arguments out of it.

    It makes no sense to say that workchoices had no positives and huge negatives. The positives and negatives are caused by the same thing. Either it had little effect (either positive or negative) or it had a large effect (with both benefits & costs). Personally, I believe it made little difference.

    I agree with you regarding Hawke/Keating. Unfortunately, two of their major failings were (1) industrial relations (note unemployment under Keating); and (2) the size of government. Howard did make some marginal improvements in the first, but totally failed on the latter.

    I also agree that Rudd was better than the alternative. But not because of labour market regulation.

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  44. “most sensible people understand that the government doesn’t generally improve the outcome when they intervene in markets.”

    So are you arguing for zero regulation? I think that there is a sensible balance between markets and government. Markets are not always perfect… if ever. For example market produce externalities such as excessive polution – at the moment the market does not provide incentives to deal with this problem. However it is unarguable that government need to provide incentives through regulation and industry policy to address this issue. Also the market provides too little R&D. i’m not talking about product differentiation btw, i’m talking about substantial developments such as the internet (developed by the US military over a number of years, the private sector couldn’t possibly have had the capacity to develop this). – this is also an unarguable fact…
    Where would financial markets be without prudential regulation? Corporate disclosure??? So financial markets are imperfect where there are information assymetries… Privatisation thats results in a monopoly does not promote economic efficiency. Competition laws are required to regulate market activity…. you could go on and on about where it is appropriate for government regulation to enhance market outcomes. Market imperfections occur in every economy without exception. There’s a compelling case for government intervention in each of these cases. This doesn’t make me a central planning throw back from the commie days… But I think reasonable people would agree that some form of government regulation is warranted in just about all markets. In the words of Joseph Stiglitz: “is often cited as arguing for the “invisible hand” and free markets: firms, in the pursuit of profits, are led, as if by an invisible hand, to do what is best for the world. But unlike his followers, Adam Smith was aware of some of the limitations of free markets, and research since then has further clarified why free markets, by themselves, often do not lead to what is best. As I put it in my new book, Making Globalization Work, the reason that the invisible hand often seems invisible is that it is often not there.”

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  45. Jc
    “Simmo

    I forgot:

    The former part time communist party typing pool secretary is also an economic conservative now. You probably need to include her too. Lol.”

    Lol Lol Lol blah blah blah….. Gillard was a partner of a Victorian law firm – very communist-type behaviour don’t you think??

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  46. “She was a labor lawyer in a third rate ambulance chasing firm. sorry if that doesn’t change my opinion.”

    so by your reasoning, third rate ambulance chasing law firms = communists…. hmmm yes that is a very robust rationale….

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