Bentley, Tom & Jonathan West: Time for a new consensus

Bentley, Tom & Jonathan West

Time for a new consensus: fostering Australia’s comparative advantages‘, Griffith Review 51 supplement, March 2016; available as pdf and electronically

Australia has emerged from a spectacular resources boom without any clear approach to achieving growth beyond it. The assumptions underpinning the current consensus no longer fit the circumstances. As a result, the policy actions that the consensus allows are failing to achieve traction in the economy or to stimulate new sources of growth …

West and Bentley investigate the growing sense of stagnation in Australia’s approach to public policy and economic reform. They argue that the current sense of political inertia comes from the fact that the whole discussion is taking place within the parameters of a political consensus that was forged in the 1980s, and which has now passed its use-by date.

Where deregulation and privatisation were once seen as the answers to competing in a global market, that approach is now exhausted. They argue that the one-off, static idea of comparative advantage – the economic model that dominates the contemporary Australian economic mindset – needs to be replaced with a dynamic approach that not only builds on present strengths, but identifies potential alternative areas for advantage and anticipates where future strengths might lie. (blurb)

Griffith Review 51 was reviewed for Honest History by David Stephens. The Bentley-West e-book came out in the same week as articles in Fairfax (427 comments) and New Matilda arguing that the ‘ideas boom’ had gone bust and a speech by the prime minister reiterating the case for a new technology-based Australia. The historical angle continued to lie in the search for an economic sub-structure ‘beyond the mining boom’ of the last two decades.

Later: Ian Lowe on sustainability (from his new book) and a piece on the connections between innovation and location.

11 March 2016 and updated

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