Economic Rationalism in Canberra: Twenty-Five Years On
Twenty-five years on from the first release of Michael Pusey's work Economic Rationalism in Canberra, five diverse authors including Pusey himself reflect on how economic rationalist ideas - now more commonly referred to as neoliberal ideas - have shaped policy and debate in Australia.
They explore how we got here from their varying perspectives and, just as importantly, underscore the need to re-kindle a more considered conversation on national life beyond ‘economic rationalism’.
In this essay Bob Debus reminds us of the powerful historic standing of the bureaucracy as a ‘moral institution’ and the idea of a public service that can be trusted to defend the national interest. Debus concludes that: “The line between the government and the private sector needs to be redrawn.” More →
Chiu brings a fresh perspective to the debate as a millennial, capturing the generational normality of economic rationalism or neoliberalism. “An existing alternative is not a lived experience,” he notes, “Something different is abstract.” Chiu calls for a refresh in the language of this debate, challenging the environment in which economic rationalism has come to be accepted as “common sense.” More →
4. Is the goose cooked? Agency, Stewardship and contracting regimes: public sector contracting with the Not-For-Profit sector
Mason focuses on the way that economic rationalism has transformed the delivery of human services in Australia. In particular, Mason notes the implications for the structure of the Not-For-Profit organisations that largely deliver these human services as they compete with for-profit organisations in this new ‘care market’. More →
Perche examines the effect that economic rationalism has had on policies directly affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The policy changes that Pusey outlined in 1991 were slower to take hold in Indigenous policy, but reframing Indigenous disadvantage as welfare dependence has had a profound effect. Nonetheless, Perche observes that for many Indigenous communities the foundations for successful and genuine self-determination are “perhaps more realistic now than 4 decades ago.” More →
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