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The Economics of the Third Way

Experiences from Around the World

Edited by Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer

The ‘third way’ is a term often used by politicians and others to indicate a set of new policies adopted by former social democratic parties throughout the world. This book is an attempt to dissect the ideas and economic theory behind the rhetoric of the ‘third way’ through a critical evaluation of the experiences of ‘third way’ administrations in a diverse range of countries.
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Chapter 13: Coping with globalisation: Australian economic policy and the Third Way

Tim Harcourt


Tim Harcourt* INTRODUCTION The ‘Third Way’ debate is gathering momentum in Australia for many different reasons than it is in other countries. Why is this so? Well, it comes down to our history as a colony of Britain and the experiences of our respective labour movements. The Third Way is controversial because some in the Australian Labor Party (ALP) argue, with some justification, that the ALP invented it. The ALP leadership, past and present, has argued that the policies of the Hawke-Keating Labor Government of 1983-96 provided the basis of Tony Blair’s New Labour platform in the UK in 1997. As Paul Keating recently recalled saying to Tony Blair ‘Our way was not the third way, but the only way’ (see Keating, 1999). In some ways selling The Third Way in Australia has been like trying to sell The Joy of Sex. To quote Paul Keating: ‘We were more interested in doing it than finding a label for it’ (see Keating, 1999). Keating and others in Australian Labor circles argue that Australia provided Blair with the Third Way or variants of it, not the other way around. After all, Blair was a regular visitor to Australia, has strong personal relationships with Kim Beazley, Geoff Gallop and other Australian political figures, and strong religious and philosophical links with Peter Thomson, an Australian theologian. Blair’s programme for modernisation, it is said, was provided with a successful model in the Hawke-Keating government - one of the few successful social democratic governments that survived...

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