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Convergence theory explains the lack of choice in Australian politics

Reilly, B. (2015) Convergence theory explains the lack of choice in Australian politics. The Conversation, 19 May 2015 .

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Economists disappointed by last week’s desultory federal budget and Bill Shorten’s “me too” reply may get some satisfaction by talking to their political science colleagues. For one of the most venerable scholarly theories of Australian politics appears to be making a comeback.

The “convergence thesis” – which holds that the main Australian political parties will, over time, converge upon near-identical policy positions on most issues – was on full display last week.

The Coalition government did a convincing job of producing a Labor budget, with some sops to small business, while the opposition did its best to promise more of the same, unfunded. Credible plans for a balanced budget and the much more demanding task of intergenerational equity were studiously ignored by both sides.

Media commentators often see this as the failings of our “political class” to step up to the challenges of leadership, and there is definitely some truth to that.

But there are underlying systemic pressures towards convergence that are particularly strong in Australia.

Item Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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