Henderson’s selective history to defend Abbott


Tony Abbott’s swipe at economists has drawn interesting responses. Joshua’s is here. But the oddest was from Gerard Henderson on the ABC’s Insiders program. It is available on iView for a couple of weeks, and the statement is about 45 minutes 15 seconds in. Henderson basically says, “When I was arguing for Industrial Relations reform in the early 1980s and 1990s, virtually no economist supported me … the economists were asleep at the wheel”.

Now I have no idea what Gerard was arguing for in the 1980s or 1990s. But the IR debate in those years was dominated by economists in academia (the Monash Centre of Policy Studies, the Adelaide based National Institute of Labour Studies, the Economics group at RSSS, ANU for example) and economists in think tanks(for example, the Centre for Independent Studies). Economists argued all sides of IR reform – so if Gerard found no support from any of them, I suspect his arguments were wrong.

The sad part about current economic debate is that there should be more involvement by economists – particularly those in Universities. But for Henderson to argue that such involvement was absent in the past is to rewrite history.

3 Responses to "Henderson’s selective history to defend Abbott"
  1. What about John Niland and Je Issacc ( pre CAC Commisioner) arguing for collective bargaining not concilaition and arbitatration earlier.

    Gerard is not reliable.

    He for instance wanted to ban people for being holocuast deniers re Nazis but not for being holocaust deniers re Armenians. That is but one example. There are a lot of others

  2. “Economists argued all sides of IR reform”

    His point still stands even if this is true. The fact that they ‘argued all sides’ of a clear-cut labor reform is actually kind of embarrassing.
    You haven’t refuted him, you’ve forced a qualification at most.

  3. not really,

    most economists were thinking like Keynes during the Depression.

    Use centralisation of wages to reduce the wages shares as a % of GDP and reduce them in real terms to boost employment and liberalise later.

    the labour market liberalised indirectly as markets gained power through things lie the cutting of tariffs etc

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