A Kinder Road to Hell? Labor and the Politics of Progressive Competitiveness in Australia

John Wiseman

Abstract


The ALP'S impressive electoral record has provided the basis for extensive trade union access to government decision-making forums and social policy outcomes which have provided some targeted protection to low income and disadvantaged groups during a period in which the Australian economy and labour market have been dramatically restructured. The long period of Labor government in Australia has also provided some breathing space and room to move for those sections of the labour movement and other social movements who continue to challenge the inevitability and irreversibility of globalisation. However the dominant force driving the Australian Labor government has been the restructuring and deregulation of the Australian economy so as to increase competitiveness in global markets. In the end this strategy of 'progressive competitiveness' is likely to lead to the same mix of social polarisation and loss of political and economic sovereignty which has been the result of more openly right wing, neo-liberal responses to globalisation.

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