Until fairly recently, macroeconomic policy (the management of unemployment, inflation and the exchange rate) was the central concern of economic policy. Since the early 1990s, and particularly under the Howard government, these concerns have shifted to the periphery.
The Hawke government abandoned targeting of the exchange rate with the floating of the dollar, but Keating in particular continued to regard the current account deficit as an important policy target, at least until the early 1990s. Excessive concern with the current account deficit was widely seen as one of the factors behind the policy miscalculations that produced the 1989-92 recession. The counterargument, put forward most prominently by John Pitchford, was that, in a deregulated market, the current account balance is ultimately determined by the corresponding set of borrowing and lending transactions, and that these should not be a concern of macroeconomic policy. This view is now fairly generally accepted. Even though the current account deficit is as large in relation to GDP as it was in the 1980s, only a minority of commentators express concern about it.
More significantly, the government abandoned the idea of using fiscal policy to manage the economy, and ceased to take an active role in the determination of monetary policy, leaving this entirely to the Reserve Bank. Although the Reserve Bank, unlike other central banks did not take the view that it should be concerned solely with inflation, the resulting policy regime was one in which inflation targeting was the primary focus, and unemployment was, at most, a matter of secondary concern.
Finally, the government abandoned Labor’s target of an unemployment rate of 5 per cent, and declined to set an alternative target.
fn1. I’m a member of this minority