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Australia: Economic crises and the politics of regional economic adjustment

Higgott, R. (1987) Australia: Economic crises and the politics of regional economic adjustment. In: Robison, R., Hewison, K. and Higgott, R., (eds.) South East Asia in the 1980s: The Politics of Economic Crisis. Allen and Unwin, Sydney NSW, pp. 16-51.


Only a decade ago the idea of including an essay on Australia in a book mainly about economic crisis in Southeast Asia would have been hard to justify. In the now-well-worn cliché of Donald Horne, Australia was the 'Lucky Country': affluent, self-sufficient in primary produce and raw materials and well able to import its capital and technological requirements. Indeed it ranked as one of the world's three or four most highly developed countries. Also at that time it was not considered part of Asia except in terms of a vague geographical proximity. In addition Australia had undergone an entirely different colonial experience to that of its regional Southeast Asian neighbours. As a settler community it saw itself as a partner in the (British) Imperial tradition rather than the victim of colonial oppression in a manner consistent with the majority of Asian opinion. Australia's interests were normally seen as being in conflict with, rather than complementary to, the rest of a region it had traditionally regarded as a potential threat in politico-strategic terms and irrelevant in economic terms.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Copyright: The Editors
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