Why australians like to think their country is exceptional _ afr. com

Is Australia exceptional? What is it, that makes Australia, well, Australia? A new book, has sought to answer that question, but in a pointy-headed manner. Canadian direct auto insurance calgary It’s not Crocodile Dundee and barbecues that make the country, but a set of institutions, peculiar to the nation, that have underpinned its development and continue to reflect and shape the nation.

But what, exactly is exceptionalism? In the United States “exceptionalism” tends to refer to the institutions that perpetuate wealth creation, protect civil rights, and enshrine democratic processes in a way that makes a nation more successful and more desirable to live in than its neighbours.


Canadian direct insurance vs icbc The Australian version is somewhat more ambiguous. Call direct line car insurance from abroad Is our current exceptionalism – 25 years of uninterrupted growth, low debt and a massively improved standard of living an exception to what has been the rule for much of the country’s history. Canadian direct insurance claims And, if that is the case, are we in the process of it reverting to the mean?

And is this reversion being driven by one of Australia’s defining characteristics: the vague sense that somehow the government should sort things out so they are fair? The recent federal election was about fairness; and just to be sure we have an industrial relations tribunal that has to arbitrate over how adults treat each other in the workplace.

Or does exceptionalism relate to a different characteristic altogether, our preparedness to toe the line? One of Australia’s great modern historians, the late John Hirst, used to tell new students from abroad that “Australians are a very obedient people. Flux direct car insurance number I advised them to keep this secret because Australians imagine themselves to be the opposite of obedient”.

Greg Melleuish in his chapter on Australian secularism points to a slight disdain – especially among those with intellectual pretensions – for the material wealth and gain that has been at the heart of the Australian project. Canadian direct auto insurance reviews Perhaps this helps explain Australia’s “talent for bureaucracy”, which with its checks and balances and careful employment of intellect to regulate society is seen as a useful counterweight to the unrestrained ambition of the private sector (and some of its vulgarity). Direct auto insurance call center This bureaucracy is the “official family” of Australian public life. Canadian direct insurance contact Coleman claims it is a key part of Australian exceptionality and, to some degree, constitutes a “state within a state”.

It is an unusual feature of Australian Society that the nation’s top mandarins enjoy status, prestige, power and extremely generous salary and retirement benefits. Call direct line car insurance The names of top public servants are regularly in the papers (only recently Sydney’s Daily Telegraph led with the $800,000-plus salary of Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet). What is direct insurance These are the high-profile people who are looked up to; their career movements are reported in the media.

The Australian Financial Review’s own Rear Window column, regularly updates us on such movements within the public service as well as in and out of the private sector. Open and direct car insurance newtownards In fact, Australian bureaucrats are ripe for study in public choice theory – this is the sub-branch of economics, the main insight of which is that public servants are motivated by the same things as everyone else: status, money and power. Direct insurance hours Why be politicians, when you can be a public servant?

At its extreme, the probity and position of the Reserve Bank governor has almost become above reproach, from markets, politicians and the media alike. Phone number for direct general insurance Although secular, the RBA effectively behaves as an old-fashioned high priesthood. Direct line car insurance number It presides over the rituals – the succour given through interest rates decisions, it has its own liturgy in the RBA board minutes and delivers its own sermons and encyclicals. Auto direct home insurance contact In fact, the utterances of the Reserve Bank Governor are picked over for clues and significance in a manner enjoyed only by other Reserve bank bosses, the US president or the Pope. Direct line car insurance contact number uk In Australia, the Reserve Bank rarely answers questions, although Glenn Stevens has given once a year interviews to The Australian Financial Review.

In fact, the only time Reserve Bank bosses face something approaching the music, is when questions arise in Senate Estimates hearings. Call hastings direct car insurance This reinforces and supports Coleman’s thesis that the “official family” does constitute, by its very nature, a “state within a state”. Canadian direct insurance ontario There’s no suggestion this is somehow not above board, but it does suggest that Australian elites think technocratic rule is preferable to, and produces better results than, democracy.

Indeed, so trusted is the RBA and so “independent” that there are regularly calls made by more quasi-non-governmental organisations to be set up in the same manner. Direct car insurance phone number Suggestions range from a “tax RBA” to an “infrastructure RBA”. Auto direct uk car insurance This serves to underscore the suspicion, that, far from being particularly egalitarian, Australia bureaucracy can be elitist. Direct travel insurance contact number This is Coleman’s state within a state – a vast network of quangos and tribunals and committees inhabited by ex-politicians and lawyers. Quote direct insurance But as John Nethercote observes, “we take a hesitant pride in this, since it runs counter not only to the archaic and cherished image of ourselves as ungovernable, if not actually lawless”.

The Fair Work Commission and the Human Rights Commission are two good examples. The commissioners enjoy salaries of $300,000-plus for what would be, in many other economies, make-work jobs. Direct line insurance reviews The Fair Work Commissioners, for example, have to decide whether someone getting drunk and abusive at a work Christmas party is grounds for dismissal. United direct insurance Or whether “defriending” someone on Facebook constitutes workplace bullying. Direct insurance reviews In most other developed countries such judgments are not the work of governments. Direct auto insurance payment Australia is rather fond of setting up these sort of professional busybodies. Call direct insurance The Turnbull government is about to establish a new one: a tribunal to rule over bank complaints. Direct insurance corporate office Sporting chance

One of the strongest critiques in Only in Australia comes from economist Richard Pomfret and concerns sport, and the degree to which it is both elevated and financed by Australian governments. Also how the economics of sport itself is regulated.

Sports derive much of their revenue from economic rents. One call direct car insurance reviews The competitions in Australia are, in effect, closed cartels, and mostly operate outside the legal frameworks set for other sorts of markets and businesses. National direct insurance Equalisation policies and / or salary caps operate in the Australian Football League and the National Rugby League. Auto direct insurance contact Similar arrangements are also in place for cricket and rugby union.

“In the closed cartels characterising Australian professional team sports, leagues restrict entry of new clubs, engage in price fixing, and impose restrictions on the labour market that are anti-competitive and would be illegal in other sectors”, Pomfret writes.

It’s also remarkable that in a country that regards itself as putting fairness at the centre of public order, it allows an AFL with “regulation … internal to the league … supported by non-application of public regulatory policies such as competition policy”. Professionals direct insurance company The AFL is also exempted in large part from corporations law and has “virtually tax-free status”, Pomfret says.

In some ways sport represents the most interesting parts of the Australian exceptionalist story: that is the intersection of competing interests with fairness. Nj direct insurance In one way, the AFL and the NRL basically rip-off players whose marginal value on the labour market is greater than they are being paid – you wouldn’t need the salary cap otherwise. Direct auto insurance phone number It does this in order to make things fairer between teams and “fairer” for the spectators or the supporters of more poorly performing clubs who, it’s perceived, cannot keep up.

In Melbourne in particular, the AFL is the plaything of big egos, big money and corporate interests who enjoy the power and status that comes with control. Western direct auto insurance Keeping costs down means the AFL is extremely successful in collecting economic rents from both players and governments. Direct life insurance carriers The governments even build the AFL new stadiums.

This collection of essays is a must read for anyone interested in how it is that some of Australia’s institutions have developed, and more importantly been sustained. Auto direct insurance number It’s a mixture of political science, social history, as well as dry economic analysis. Hastings direct car insurance number The only thing missing were some good cartoons.

The question the book begs is which version of Australian exceptionalism is going to get up? The chance for everyone to have a go, or a redistributive, equalising Australia. Direct car insurance number Fortunately, or not, an acquiescent Australian public will almost certainly let the government sort it out.

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