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It is widely agreed that the Hawke-Keating reforms were vitally important for Australia. In this lecture Prof David Vines will show that those reforms were underpinned by economists’ ideas which stretch right back to the 1930s, when Australia was still not much more than a colonial outpost. He will describe the radical and original Australian ideas which were developed during the Great Depression. These provided a foundation for much innovative work which followed: the policies in the 1950s to achieve full employment without balance of payments problems; the policies required for strong economic growth in the 1960s; and the policies to remove protectionism in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The crucial players in formulating these key ideas were Lyndhurst Giblin, Nugget Coombs, Sir John Crawford, Trevor Swan, Max Corden, and Alf Rattigan. These people and their ideas are an important part of Australia’s cultural heritage, in a way which has not yet been recognised. And they have significance not just for our historical understanding of what happened then, but also for how we approach macroeconomic policy now. They are of direct relevance to the Review of the RBA which is currently under way and they relate closely to discussions on revitalising the Productivity Commission.
David Vines is an Emeritus Professor of Economics and Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College at the University of Oxford. He has a BA in Economics and Mathematics from Melbourne University and an MA and PhD in Economics from Cambridge University, where he taught for some years. From 1985 to 1992, he was Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy at the University of Glasgow. For nearly 30 years he has visited the ANU each year, either as an Adjunct Professor or a Visiting Fellow, working both in the Research School of Pacific and Asia Studies and in the Crawford School of Public Policy.