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Kelly, Paul: The End of Certainty

Paul Kelly

The End of Certainty: The Story of the 1980s, Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, NSW, 1992; second edition, subtitled Power, Politics and Business in Australia, 2008

Influential book describing a decade of politics and economics. Kelly’s broader theme (p. 661) is the ‘collapse or exhaustion’ by the 1980s of ‘the five ideas of the Australian Settlement’ dating from before World War I: ‘White Australia, Trade Protection, Wage Arbitration, State Paternalism and Imperial Benevolence’. Both sides of politics were involved.

The magnitude of this attempted transition should not be underestimated: it is an effort to take Australia into the third phase of its European history. The first phase from white occupation to the late nineteenth century was the foundation period; the second, from the late nineteenth century throughout most of the twentieth century was the experiment in nation-building guided by the post-Federation Australian Settlement ideas. The issue of the 1990s is whether the market philosophy of the 1980s eventually becomes this third phase, as Australia adapts to international revolutions in communications and global markets and is integrated into the Asia/Pacific region. (p.660)