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Samuel Gregg: Australia’s Corrosive Political Culture And The Ousting Of Tony Abbott

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In today’s American Spectator, Acton’s director of research Samuel Gregg discusses the ousting of former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott and what that means for the Australian economy and beyond.

Gregg points out that the Australian economy “is on the brink of substantial economic regression.”

What’s especially worrying is the across-the-board decline in Australia’s economic productivity: something long masked by the resources boom but now more visible than ever.

The basic problem, however, that lies at the root of what the best commentator on Australian politics, Paul Kelly, describes as ‘the Australian crisis’ is ‘the intersection of a corrosive political culture and the need for hard and unpopular economic repair.

As a small country in the South Pacific on the edge of Southeast Asia, Australia has no choice but to be a free and open economy. Economic nationalism is thus even less of an option for Australia than it is for the rest of the world. And in a competitive global economy, that means the process of economic reform must be ongoing.

The nature of Australian politics, however, is now such that it militates against governments proposing and implementing change.

So why should other nations care about the politics and economic proclivities of Australia? Gregg:

Does anyone doubt, for example, that many of the trends noted above are just as apparent in much of North America and Western Europe?

This is one of the main reasons why conservatives and free marketers around the world should be paying close attention to the Australian situation. The Australian story of successful economic liberalization (pioneered by center-left governments in the ’80s and ’90s and which attracted widespread support across the left-right divide, including from unions) has long been highlighted as (1) an example of how Western democracies can implement hard but needed economic changes without (2) reformist governments being immediately thrown out of office by angry electorates.

Read Gregg’s entire article here.

Elise Hilton Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.

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