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.