Request for help

For an academic, one of the great things about blogging is the help it provides on questions I would otherwise spend a lot of time trying to answer (I hope those readers who act as unpaid research assistants from time to time feel they are getting fair value from my efforts on the blog) .

I’m currently in need of some suggestions. I’ve posted a few excerpts of my chapter on economic policy under Howard (it’s for a book to be edited by Robert Manne), and I need to give some suggestions for further reading, accessible to that elusive character, the general intelligent reader. I’d say the readers of this blog come as close as anyone I’m likely to find in this respect. Any suggestions? Books would probably be preferred, but articles in easily accessible journals would also be OK.

5 thoughts on “Request for help

  1. I’d mention a certain edited volume published in 2001, in which you are one among many contributors who go to many of the issues in your recent chapter, but modesty forbids.

  2. Thanks Chris. I guess I should look at Hard Heads, Soft Hearts as well, though I get the impression most of the contributors are still mentally in the Keating era. This is not surprising, given the general tendency of economic policy to drift under the current government. The debate hasn’t really moved on, and I spend a lot of my time attacking ideas that are more associated with Keating and Kennett (and, I should say, Howard in his 1980s incarnation) than with the present government.

  3. John, perhaps you’ve already listed a reference to Radio National’s weekly “Background Briefing” programme? If not, the work they have done there since 1996 on a range of topical, mainly micro, issues might deserve a mention. For convenience here are a few links.

    Home Page:

    Politics of Milk (27-07-2003)
    The simple litre of milk is a complex cocktail of the most sensitive of politics. The world produces too much milk, but dairy farms are sacred cultural icons, and few want to give them up without a fight. Specially France and the USA. In Australia, too, they fear a way of life is dying out.

    The State of the Unions (2-03-2003)
    It’s 20 years since the Accord, a milestone in union history. It didn’t last, and many say left unions sleepy when the political and social climate changed. Now – the long bounce back.

    Plundering the Plants (13-10-2002)
    It might be a drink, a cream, or a medication derived from plants. Aboriginal people knew about it, but had no piece of paper saying so.
    Mabo didnât help. ãWhere lands were to be returned to aboriginal people the state actively accelerated their collection.ä Itâs a multi-million dollar business which aboriginal people have been missing out on.

    Not Enough Doctors (4-08-2002)
    Thereâs a shortage of doctors, and the shortage is greatest in the outer suburbs and country towns. ãI find it very rewarding and the ability to help people is fantastic, I mean no one who works in this sort ofpractice and this sort of area is in it for the money.ä

    Welfare for Business (30-06-2002)
    Itâs hard going to the government for help.
    ãHarrowing, extremely rigorous.ä Itâs tough to be on welfare. ãSome of them feel a bit bruised and battered. Not the unemployed and disabled. Big corporations looking for handouts.The sums are huge. It could mean funding for business comes at the expense of social programs.ä How would you know?

    Son of M.A.I. (23-06-2002)
    Leaked documents relating to the G.A.T.S. confirm that itâs the M.A.I. by another name, and everything ö including public services ö is up for grabs in negotiations. ãThis is a revolutionary expansion of the reach of international trade rules, and thereâs no question that the hands of government will be tied.ä

    Outsourcing (17-12-2000)
    For years the phrase ‘commercial in confidence’ has been used to keep secrets about many political processes linked to outsourcing and privatisation – everything from information technology to hospitals. The rhetoric was open government, but the reality was to keep it confidential. Now in Victoria the lid has been blown off many of the Kennett government’s contracts – and the pressure is on around the country to open the books

    Country Reality (5-11-2000)
    If you want a job, cheap housing, lifestyle and space for the kids – head for the country.
    It seems like a well kept secret that many rural and regional towns are booming – and there are good profits to be made. It could get even better if the regions got a better deal from investors and governments. Background Briefing looks at the rhetoric, and the realities, of regional development.

    The Numbers’ Game (14-05-2000)
    The biggest business story of the century, they say, is the way the large accountancy firms have evolved into consultants. The Big 5 now have tentacles deep into policy in corporations around the world. And then they’ll independently audit them too.

    Schools of the Third Millennium (19-07-1998)
    Australia’s public schools are waiting anxiously for the great leap forward. As governments struggle to pay for the education parents demand, schools will have to shape their own destinies, raise their own funds, and hire their own staff.

    University Inc. (01-03-1998)
    Universities are desperate for money, and there are now two classes of students – those who can pay full fees for their degrees, and those who can’t.

    Public Patients, Private Profit (20-10-1996)
    Governments across Australia are standing aside to allow private companies to run public hospitals for profit. Victoria’s the latest – announcing this week that the private sector will build and own three new public hospitals. But is there a catch? – Does it make a difference if your local community hospital is owned by shareholders with a profit motive?

    The Budget Equation (18-08-1996)
    What’s really happening in the economy – should we be as worried as Prime Minister John Howard about the deficit? Will the Budget help fix unemployment? And how will it hit Australian society? A distinguished panel of commentators dissect the Budget equation…

    Hunting Down The Rich 100 (30-06-1996)
    The Tax Office is hot on the heels of Australia’s rich Tax Dodgers… But lawyers for the 100 have hit back hard – saying the Tax Office and the former Government are lying. At the same time, some question whether the Howard Government is prepared to take $800 million off some of its biggest supporters.

  4. John, I found Fred Argy’s “Australia at the Crossroads” (1998) interesting. I haven’t seen his latest “Where to From Here” on egalitarianism, but have heard a few intervies on Radio National. I think he also did a talk on their “Perspectives” segment.

    Peter Brain is also one to listen to, I find. His piece on Australia’s political and economic structures in the Alfred Deakin Lecture Series on Radio National (15 May 2001) might be worth consideration. My brother, who is a life member of the National Party, was totally impressed! (Probally about his views on regionalisation and the notion that the National Party should sit on the cross benches to exert real pressure on the Libs.)

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