Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Classical Liberalism in Australian Economics

by

Read this article

Access statistics
2,388 article downloads
3,264 complete issue downloads
Total: 5,652

Abstract

Classical liberalism, the tradition of free markets and individual liberty, has an outsider status in the Australian economics profession. This paper surveys the origin of Australian classical liberal economics in the nineteenth century, its sharp decline in the first half of the twentieth century, and its revival and growth in recent decades. Despite a period of successful market-oriented economic reform in the 1980s and 1990s, surveys suggest that classical liberalism is a minority viewpoint among Australian economists. The classical liberal tradition is sustained only by a small number of institutions and individuals. To the extent that it is influential, it is influential thanks to a political culture that prioritises public engagement. Classical liberal economists have a high degree of participation in political and economic debate outside the academy.