Dr Frank Bongiorno, from the ANU’s School of History, spoke to the Vintage Reds on the topic, “Labor, Labour and Australia’s 1980s”. His talk concentrated on the political and industrial dimensions of the decade.
The 1980s were a very successful period for the ALP. There were some major changes: deregulation; less protectionism. Most spectacularly, in December 1983 the dollar was floated; foreign banks could now operate in Australia, and financial markets grew more important. The Labor government subjected itself to these markets, as part of an effort to distance themselves from Gough Whitlam. There was less universality in welfare, instead the more targeted “No Australian child will live in poverty by 1990”. There was a squeeze on the middle for a decline in real wages for the prices and income accord. Medicare was an exception, a revival in 1984. Continue reading