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  Issue No 2 Official Organ of LaborNet 26 February 1999  

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Review

Opening Tanner's Australia

By Mark Lennon, NSW Labor Council

Lindsay Tanner's new book offers a frank and forthright view of the future for Australia.

As the title suggests, Tanner argues that Australia needs to continue to open itself to the world. As a nation, we have to acknowledge that globalisation is a reality to be confronted, but that there is scope to negotiate the nature of the changes occurring so to lessen the negative impacts upon various sections of the community.

Accept globalisation but not on an unqualified basis.

In supporting this theme, Tanner is prepared to break with some of the Labor's ideals of the past. For instance, he argues that productive foreign investment does not supplant Australian investment but adds to it. At the same time he calls for curbs on speculative investment.

He also calls for a new approach to economic intervention discussing the call for a return to the tariff barriers and subsidies of the past and arguing that governments have to concentrate on helping companies in the areas of research and development, skills formulation and innovation.

The book goes beyond economics and considered other areas of society in need of reform. He calls for the abolition of the States is arguing that the State boundaries are artificial colonial constructs that have led to absurd outcomes and unnecessary complexities developing in our legal system.

In their place Tanner believes appropriately sized regional and local governments should be established.

Two proposals for reform need further consideration. He argues that Governments should play a strong role in promoting and fostering community institutions. This is a noble endeavour. There is no doubt the need for a greater sense of community. The question is whether Governments can play an effective role in this area.

A remedy for the Labor Party is that branches could be formed around specific policy areas or community interests rather than simply geographic regions. Where reform of Labor branch structure is probably a necessity, one could envisage that with Tanner's proposal, sectional interest groups could establish branches in order to capture the party's policy agenda for their own ends.

A point on which all would agree is where Tanner argues that fundamental to Australia becoming an open nation is, for us to establish a national identity. We have, he argues traditionally defined ourselves in reference to others whether as a British colony or a US Cold War Ally, the time has come for us to define ourselves.

Tanner's book is a very lucid account of the challenges facing Australia and some answers. For a nation who for its survival must harness the globalisation case, Tanner provides some interesting perspectives on how to enhance the positives and lessen the negatives.

The book is recommended reading to all who are serious about the debate on our future.

* Open Australia is published by Pluto Press


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*   Issue 2 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: Checking the Spellar
We talk to a former union official who is now a minister in the Blair Government about the difficult relationship between New Labour and the labour movement.
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*  Unions: Working It Out
NSW trade unions have embraced a movement-wide campaign to deal with the vexed issue of ensuring workers have a life.
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*  History: Remembering The Eveleigh Railway Workshops
The Eveleigh railway yards have a rich history which your average commuter would never imagine.
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*  Review: Opening Tanner's Australia
Lindsay Tanner's new book offers a frank and forthright view of the future for Australia.
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*  Campaign Diary: Carr And The Unions
No-one would accuse the Premier and the labour movement of being bossum buddies, but their fortunes are inextricably linked.
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News
»  Revealed: Reith Defies Own Pollster To Bash Unions
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»  What's Going Down at Gordonstone?
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»  VSU To Stop The Music
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»  Employment Advocate Dines Out, But Not A Sausage For Workers
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»  Union Interpreter Translates The Word “Exploit”
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»  How Much Can A Koala Bear?
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»  Botsman Shifts North To Tame The Rednecks
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Columns
»  Guest Report
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»  Sport
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Piers Watch
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Letters to the editor
»  No Fan of Piers
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»  Don't Be Glib
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»  EMILY's List International Women's Day bash
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