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Restructuring Australian Industry: The Case for a More Active State Role

Robison, R. and Rodan, G. (1983) Restructuring Australian Industry: The Case for a More Active State Role. Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia.

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It is quite clear that Australian industry is in crisis. Workers are being shed at an increasing rate, investment continues to decline while productivity and technology lag further behind that of overseas competitors.

The problem has so far been addressed in two ways: a downward push on wages and a resolve to maintain protection. Yet it is difficult to see how these two strategies, as presently conceived, can be effective. It is precisely in those industries receiving the heaviest protection, footwear, textiles, clothing, transport equipment and fabricated metal products, that the greatest unemployment has occurred recently and where the lag in technology, productivity and investment is most serious. On the wages front, no one has yet explained exactly how far wages will have to be depressed before profitability and competitiveness return. Given existing levels of investment and technology in Australian industry, there is nothing to suggest in the argument of free-market economists that anything higher than those wage levels existing in the Third World would make an impact.

Publication Type: Working Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: Asia Research Centre
Series Name: Discussion Papers in Public Policy No. 2
Publisher: Murdoch University
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