The Abbott government’s ‘Direct Action’ climate change policy is a throw-back to the failed economic ideologies of the past, writes Aaron Lane.
If the carbon tax was ‘socialism masquerading as environmentalism’, then the Abbott government’s Direct Action plan is corporatism. It relies on big government using big regulation to pick big corporate winners. The irony is that it will be introduced just as the last vestiges of the most iconic corporatist policy—car subsidies—are coming to an end. In the mid-1980s, the Hawke Government implemented corporatist policies to assist the car industry adjust to financial deregulation and tariff reduction. The ‘Button car plan’ introduced big bureaucratic regulation through the Automotive Industry Authority. The Button plan aimed to use the Industry Authority to create incentives for domestic car manufacturers to increase car production, and rationalise their production by having fewer separate manufacturing facilities. As is now obvious, the mixture of corporate handouts and command-and-control regulation ultimately failed.
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