Financial Elites and Transnational Business
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Financial Elites and Transnational Business

Who Rules the World?

Edited by Georgina Murray and John Scott

Several expert contributors focus on global issues, including the role of transnational finance, interlocking directorates, ownership and tax havens. Others examine how these issues at the global level interact with the regional or nation state level in the US, the UK, China, Australia and Mexico. The books scrutinizes globalization from a fresh, holistic perspective, examining the relationship between the national and transnational to uncover the most significant structures and agents of power. Possible policy futures are also considered.
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Chapter 9: Australia’s Ruling Class: A Local Elite, a Transnational Capitalist Class or Bits of Both?

Georgina Murray


Georgina Murray Some claim that Australia suffers from the ‘tyranny of distance’ (Blainey 1966) arising from economic isolation from the European and US core. Brian Easton believes this and suggests that although globalization is now the sum of reduced costs (with quicker, more reliable, more secure, more flexible travel time) the problem remains that there is no standardization of the rate, place or distance that these costs entail (Easton 2004). Michael Gilding refers to ‘precocious internationalism’ as one reaction to ‘the tyranny of distance’ and ‘intensive regionalism is another’ (Gilding 2008). I argue that although Australia is not in the transatlantic core of global economic action it is closer to precocious internationalism in that any real or imagined isolation created by the tyranny of distance passed in 1983. This was when financial deregulation of the Australian economy happened. The moment was precisely when federal treasurer Paul Keating deregulated the finance system by floating the Australian dollar on 8 December 1983, then again when he granted 40 new foreign exchange licences in June 1984, and last when he gave 16 bank licences to 16 foreign banks in February 1985 (see Sykes 1998). These actions ensured that a qualitatively new transnationalism was about to overtake the happy protectionist (for workers) brief experience of the Keynesian compromise (Cossman and Fudge 2002: 4). The welfare state was about to be changed into the economic liberal state by the 1990s. The reason was that the previous period of welfare state protectionism was a particularly vexatious...

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