"The world is ruled by little else": Australian Neo-liberal think tanks during the Howard years

Andrew Thackrah

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis examines the manner in which those affiliated with Australia’s neoliberal think tanks critiqued the broadly pro-free-market Government led by John Howard between 1996 and 2007. It comments upon the work of three privately funded groups – the Sydney-based Centre for Independent Studies (CIS), the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), which has its headquarters in Melbourne, and the H.R. Nicholls Society, a discussion group focused on industrial relations reform. This thesis examines neo-liberal views and debates on the role of markets, the state and civil society during the Howard years, and questions how neo-liberals have viewed their own successes and failures. In short, this thesis asks: how did Australian neo-liberals understand, develop and affirm their own identity during the Howard years? It is argued that Australian neo-liberals have a surprisingly mixed attitude regarding their own successes. Their celebration of the enormous political progress that has been made from a free-market perspective since the end of the Cold War is tempered by a recognition of the intractable nature of the problems they associate with the continued growth in the size of government. Notably, the political and policy challenges of the Howard years caused Australian neoliberals to reconsider the extent to which, on the one hand, free-markets develop of their own volition, and, on the other, the extent to which a liberal society rests on fragile foundations and requires organised, ideological and even interventionist defence.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


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