Wrong Way

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Since the 1980s, successive waves of ‘economic reform’ have radically changed the Australian economy.

We have seen privatisation, deregulation, marketisation, and the contracting out of government services such as transport and education. For three decades, there has been a virtual consensus among the major political parties, policy makers and commentators as to the desirability of the neoliberal approach.

Today, however, the benefits of economic reform are increasingly being questioned, including by former advocates. Alongside growing voter disenchantment, new voices of dissent argue that instead of free markets, economic reform has led to unaccountable oligopolies, increased prices, reduced productivity and a degraded sense of the public good.

In Wrong Way, Australia’s leading economists and public intellectuals do a cost-benefit analysis of the key economic reforms, including child care, aged care, housing, banking, prisons, universities and the NBN. Have these reforms for the Australian community and its economy been worthwhile? Have they given us a better society, as promised?

‘Cahill and Toner get it right. Neoliberal economic “reform” is indeed the wrong way because it undermines good governance, increases inequality and reduces our quality of life. Wrong Way is a finely crafted, clear and inviting analysis of all that is wrong with Australia’s experiment with neoliberalism.’ —Michael Pusey

‘This superb book, from experts in the field, explains clearly why decades of privatisation and economic reform have failed. It is vital reading for those who want high quality public services and a more equal Australia.’ —Richard Denniss

‘Australia has been subjected to a thirty year economic experiment under the catch-all title of “neoliberalism”. This important book is an audit of the outcomes and impact of this experiment. Has privatisation led to more productivity-enhancing competition, or less? Has deregulation increased economic welfare in energy, finance, health, education and labour markets, or not? Indeed, does the lived experience of Australians measure up to the promise of economic reform? The authors now have access to a comprehensive database with which to answer these questions. And they do so with conclusions that are both compelling and disturbing.’ —Emeritus Professor Roy Green, University of Technology Sydney