A Class Apart? Businessmen and Australian Politics 1960-1980 0195544994

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A Class Apart? Businessmen and Australian Politics 1960-1980
 0195544994

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l IZ

5-

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CLASS APA

r i Businessmen _,._ _. Politics 19604980 KOSM A s TSOKHA s

Melbourne Oxford University Press

Oxford Auckland New York

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

Oxthrd London New York Toronto Delhi Bombay Calcutta Madras Karachi Kuala 'Lumpur Singapore Hong Kong Tokyo

Naxrobi Dar cs Salaam Cape Town Melbourne Auckland

and associates i n Beirut Berlin Ibadan Mexico City Nicosia This book is copyright. Apart from any fair

:leading for the purposes of private study, research. criticism or review as permitted under

the Copyright Act. no part may be reproduced. stored in a retrieval system, or irausrnittcd, in any form or by any means, eiccrronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without prior written permission. Inquiries no be made to Oxford University press

Q Kosmas Tsokhas 1984 First published 1954 National Library of Australia Cataluguing-in-Publir:a1ion data:

Tsokhas, Kosmas. A class apart? Bibliography

,

Includes index . ISBN fl 19 554499 4. ISBN 0 19 5544572 2 (pb11ck militant unions unions and to intervene directly in industrial industrial disputes. In March 1979 VCM presented a policy document to the government government which was entitled 'Economic Trends in Australia Australia-the Inflation Problen;'.. the Inflation Problem', and called expected later that on the government decisively with a wages wages push expected that government to deal decisively year. It criticized government for not wage cases year. criticized the government not becoming becoming involved in wage in the building, transport and metal industries, and also called for legislation to reduce the Commission's tendency tendency to grant grant increases against the course of government policies.96 In government policies." in talks talks with with the Commonwealth Commonwealth government MTIA MTIA strategy of tackling endorsed the govemnlen1.'s governments strategy tackling the size of the public-sector through the decrease in the bargaindeficit and holding holding wages down partly through bargaining power power of unions unions as a result of growing g r o w n unemployment. MTIA also suggested reduced unemployment unemployment bene§its.9 beneiits.9 announAfter discussions with employer organizations the government announced a three-pronged three-p*rrm8ed industrial industrial relations relations scheme in i n April 1979. l9?'9. First, First, the g.overnmeut government threatened that it would penalize employers who deserted the general interests of their their class and conceded conceded wage increases or reduced hours of work. This would be done done through through a Prices Prices Justification Justification Tribunal Tribunal ininwhich made such concessions. vestigation of pricing pricing in any industry which concessions. Second, the government government would place increased Commission to ensure increased pressure on the Commission ensure occurring in the industries that it did not hear cases while strikes were were occurring concerned. concerned. And third, Commonwealth Commonwealth employees employees undertaking undertaking industrial action their pay and dismissed. dismissed. Earlier the the government had action could be denied their threatened to deregister deregister the Transport Transport Workers Workers Union over threatened over strike action, action, confronted postal and telecommunications workers with stand-downs, and i11 a dispute dispute at the new parliament which intervened in parliament house site in Canberra, which

involved the Builders' l_al:tourers Lahourers Federation." [Soon (Soon the government would launch deregistration this militant building union.) union.) launch deregistration procedures against this

In this this chapter we have shown how intensifying inter sifying conflict between between employers In shown how and strengthen the and wage-earners gave rise to attempts to strengthen the unity unity of capital in in general against labour, and national employer committees were established employer committees search for for employer unity eliminate to facilitate this. However, However, the search unity did did not eliminate

disorganizing l aa b o r and holding down down wages. conflicts over tactics for for disorganizing and holding wages. We have also also shown that effective employer initiatives within within the Arbit.ra1;ior1 Arbitration Commission required the the production production of economic ideology by by professional profes signal Commission economists. The central central aspect this ideology, ideology, the fulcrum around which aspect of this t`ulcrum around which analyses ofothcr problems were balanced, was the wages problem, problem, analyses; ofuthcr economic problems were balanced, prices, inflation, inflation, the balance ofpaymcnts, of payments, investment investment and economic prices, economic growth growth

A N D THE STATE CAPITAL, LABOUR AND

149

depend on limiting limiting wage wage increases increases within within the scope all came to be seen seen to depend scope of future increases in in l a b o r productivity. future increases In addition, addition, itit has has been been shown shown that the authority authority of the Arbitration Arbitration In Commission was contingent contingent on a measure measure of of autonomy autonomy from Commission from employers and government. IF lf`itit was to continue to to institutionalize institutionalize industrial industrial conflict, the Commission forces between Commission needed needed to respond to the changing balance balance of forces between which was in in turn turn influenced influenced by by the business business cycle and capital and l a bboorr,, which level of employment. employment. By By the rnid-19605 mid-1960s the Commission had entered the level entered a phase of delegitimation, as militant workers bypassed b _._"fr a s s e d their own own trade union union bureaucracy curtail the growth growth of collective collective bureaucracy as well well as the Commission. To curtail bargaining, while preventing preventing a wages wages blow-out, blow-out, the Commission Commission was combargaining, times without without much consideration consideration of of the theirr pelled to grant increases, at times consequences. This This also resulted in in the Commission diver~ diverbroader economic consequences. oing from government government policies policies and and objectives. objectives, Government Government too too enjoyed enioved a ring degree of autonomy from employer organizations organizations and and this this led to disagreedisagreedegree of" autonomy ments. Bill But increasingly increasingly points points of convergence convergence between between employers employers and the ments. Commonwealth government. government emerged by the the early lows. I970s, only only to be rudely rudely Comrnonweahh disrupted by the election election of the Whitlam Whitlam government in 1972 1972.. disrupted by While the Commission continued continued to to respond respond to the ebbs ebbs and flows flows of class class While under the pressure pressure of conflicting conflicting forces in in the 19605 itit tended tended to power, under avoid rapid rapid changes changes in in policy, policy, and and together together with the the Commonwealth Commonwealth governgovernment, became became increasingly indecisive. indecisive. The industrial industrial relations relations environment environment compelled the Commission Commission to articulate articulate a new role role for itself, combining combining also compelled for itself, the function function of settling industrial disputes with with that of economic economic managemanage~ ment. These contending functions functions gave rent. These gave rise to contradictory ideological ideological practices, practices, produced produced vacillation vacillation and made made its decisions decisions increasingly unpredieta b e . There predictable. There were also constraints on on the the Commonwealth Commonwealth government, govern rent, which understood understood only only too too well that that overt intervention in the affairs affairs of the significant political political costs, undermine undermine its legitimacy legitimacy Commission would carry significant as an arbiter and reduce With the election of the Fraser reduce its authority. With Fraser government in in 1975, 19'75, and with with the unions on the defensive defensive in in the face of government mounting unemployment, unemployment, the Commonwealth became more confident confident and mounting aggressive. Backed by the expertise expertise of the Treasury, Treasury, the public public relations relations aggressive, Backed impact media, and the enthusiastic support of employers, it pursued tlle_media, pursued in.past of the then its resources resources 'boom' 'boom' through through a reducits investment-led 'recovery' and then tion in in real wages. wages. tion [ ' - ' - ' -

.1

J

Conclusion Conclusion

Social classes classes are formed political mobilization mobilization in response response to conformed through political f1icts within flicts within their own ranks ranks and with other classes. classes. These These corillicts conflicts are rooted in relations of production and distribution, and are expressed rooted expressed through cart and through political political organization and activity. Individual Individual corporations can do lake take political political action, especially if they powerful oligopol oligopolistic especially if they enjoy enjoy a powerful is tic or monopolistic position. Under modern modern capitalism many large corporations are linked to each each other other through overlapping ownership, linked ownership. supplier/consumer supplier consumer relations and interlocking directorates, directorates, and this facilitates political corelations facilitates political

operation. However, the principal form of collective action action is through peak peak operation. form of associations This hook book has demonstrated demonstrated associations such as ACMA, AMIC or AWGC. This that the state not independent from stat stale and its various branches are not from social social classes and the conflicts conflicts between them. them. Nevertheless, Neverth eless, the branches branches of the classes state There is considerable considerable state do have a relative autonomy autonomy from from class struggles. struggles. There variability sections of capital. variability in the mediations mediations between between sections capital, branches branches of the strata and classes. state and other strata classes. Thus Thus the development development of" of ideologies and the could not choice of tactics tactics and strategies political action strategies of political action could not be be explained explained simply responses to the economic interests interests of sections of simply as as mechanical responses capital-though no doubt doubt that that in in most most cases cases policies of governinent capitalthough there is no government and other branches of the state assumed and responded to these interests. state assumed these interests. Conflicts emerged emerged in in the form of different different responses responses by sections Conflicts sections of capital number of to a number of" political-economic problems: the growing dependence of the Australian payments and and capital accumulation on foreign investAustralian balance of payments foreign invest-ment; the the movement movement of Australian Australian trade trade away away from the UK and and towards towards ment, the UK Japan, North North America a n d the Asia-Pacific Japan, America and Asia-pacific basin; the growth of the mining

in comparison with rural rural and manufacturmanufacturindustry and its new importance in ing industries; domestic growth ing domestic inflation, and working-class militancy, the growth trade practices, of the public public sector, oligopoly, oligopoly, monopoly monopoly and restrictive restrictive trade In their varied varied responses these problems. problems different different currency alignments. In responses to these sections in concert. concert, often often through through the advocacy of similar sections of capital acted acted in similar policies without developing formal Co-ordi noted action policies formal alliances. Co-ordinated action occurred in in the context parties and bodies context. of initiatives and reactions reactions from from political parties Bank, the Tariff Board, the Wool Board or or the Arbitration such as the the Reserve Hank, TaritTBoard, Wool Board Commission. Commission_ 150 150

CONCLUSION CONCL USION

151

At At one level level itit is difficult to to identify identify stable blocs or alliances of capital. Manufacturers united with with retailers and importers trodnotion of importers over the ifintroduction legislation, her yet opposed them over over tariff restrictive trade trade practices legislation, tariff policy. Glaziers tariff policy, policy, but but were Grazicrs sided sided with with retailers and importers importers over over tariff were divided them over restrictive trade practices practices legislation. legislation. As exporters, divided from from them exporters, mining corporations and braziers grazicrs were concerned by by mounting domestic domestic mining tariff reviews, as well well as opposing revaluations revaluations of the costs and aNd supported supported tariff

Australian dollar in in the 1970s. l9'70s. But But O11 on the wages front, AWGC Australian dollar AWGC advocated confrontation with trade unions in in the late 19605 1960s and government-led izonlirontation with the tradeunions early 19705, recommended caution caution and the use use of of fiscal f 97'0s. whereas whereas AMIC recommended fiscal and

policy to reduce the bargaining bargaining power of labourl a b o r . The trading monetary policy trading banks generally supported an easing easing of monetary braziers banks monetary controls, whereas braziers were restricted credit credit {especially (especially.1 ifif their were well disposed to restricted their credit credit needs were allowed for)opposed deflation deflation which relied on constricting constricting allowed for). Manufacturers opposed

the domestic market, market, preferring preferring milder milder action to curb excess excess demand. demand . Mining corporations, which which also processed metals and had interests interests in Mining also processed manufacturing industry, tended to be be more more tolerant of tariff manufacturing tended to tariff protection than than the pastoral pastoral industry. However, there was ample scope for br trade-offs between the contending there was the aid of from political sections of of capital, capital, and and with with the of political brokerage brokerage from political

parties, parties, government government departments and their bureaucrats, bursa ucrats, a degree of cohesion arose. doubt that arose. There is no doubt that tariff tariff protection and the growth of the domestic were of of greatest concern to manufacturers manufacturers and that that they they were market were were opposed these issues issues by pastoral pastoral capital, capital, but but itit was only in the late opposed on these 19605 under under Lhe the grow growing of the cost/price fig torment torment of cost/'price squeeze squeeze that that AWGC AWGC became intensely concerned about tariff-induced costs. The impact about tariff-induced impact of of mining capital on tariffs tariffs was largely indirect, through the growing export of mining capital metals and minerals Japan, which which increased the pressure for for easier access access metals and minerals to Japan, to the Australian market fOr Japanese Another major Japanese naanufactures. manufactures. Another major con-

foreign investment, and and we have shown Victorian troversy was over foreign shown how Victorian the issue. into a more critical stand issue. Although manufacturers led ACMA ACMA into stand on the

glaziers stung1 into developing developing a policy on capital inflow by the desire braziers were slung L

Senate Select Committee, their commitment; commitment of to make a submission submission to the Senate Select committee, of`

political energy to this this problem problem was minimal. Capital inflow inflow was certainly of political Ln the trading AMIC they great interest to trading banks banks and and together with with AMIC they were the the strongest supporters of" in Australia. Whereas manuof foreign investment in facturers very concerned by by foreign takeovers of of local local companies, the facturers were were very foreign takeovers trading banks often facilitated takeovers through their merchant bankbanktrading facilitated such such takeovers ing operations, Victorian manufacturers manufacturers were apprehensive ing operations; and and whereas whereas Victorian about the long-term long-term consequences consequences of a concentration once titration of foreign foreign capital in the

mining industry, industry, the trading trading banks played a major major role in in channeling mining channeling foreign into mineral projects. projects- The McMahon guidelines on local tbreign capital into by foreign companies borrowing by companies and takeovers through 1971-72 1971 -72 represencompromise between these contending contending interests. Moreover, the ted a compromise interests. Moreover. cleavage cleavage between manufacturing manufacturing capital and banking banking and mining mining capital capital

152

A CLASS APART CLASS APART

over foreign investment investment was bridged bridged by three factors. First, First, the largest, most most profitable manufacturing firms were often foreign~owned foreign~owned or -controlled. -controlled. profitable banks acknowledged acknowledged the need for some degree of Second, the trading banks regulation Australia, and until regulation of capital movements movements in and out of Australia, until the late late 1970s licences to foreign banks. And isvos opposed the issuing of trading bank licenses third, many of Australia's Australia's largest mining companies such as CRA, Western Mining Corporation, BHP and Mt Isa Mines Mining Corporation, Mines strongly asserted their leading role in the management management of joint ventures ventures with foreign Foreign corporations, and parent comresented excessive interference from the directors directors of overseas parent affiliates. Not* he forgotten forgotten that panies or affiliates. Nor should it be that much of the debate over foreign investment was not over capital inflow Foreign investment inflow as such. All sections of the class recognized that t h a t foreign investment had an important role to capitalist class play. They differed over the extent ofits fits regulation regulation and in their evaluation of benefits and costs. the early 1970s its relative relative benefits costs. We have also also shown shown that by the 1970s a general cohesion of interests had developed between local and foreign firms general in banking and mining, mining, and that this finance tinancc capital constituted a dynamic class, especially as large manudactiirers core of the manufacturers such as BHP or the capitalist class, CSR had diversified increasingly increasingly into mining. mining. A11 including manufacturers, manufacturers, recognized recognized the importAll sections sections of capital, including importinevitability of increasing economic interdependence Japan , ance and inevitability interdependence with Japan. Differences arose over what concessions should should be made in order to facilitate trade. Pastoral capital capital and and mining capital capital supported easier easier access to the Australian market for Japanese manufacturers Australian manufacturers in return return for better better access to they recogthe Japanese Japanese market market for wool, meat, minerals mi r e a l s and metals, but they involved over quantities nized that a bargaining process was involved quantities and prices, and matter of Japanese protection for its own rural industries. industries. there was the matter Manufacturers Japanese access to the Manufacturers wanted wanted tariff protection to limit limit Japanese Australian market, and within AJBCC manufacturing manufacturing capital capital was able to capital. bargain with Japanese capital and other sections of Australian Australian capital. those McEwen was anxious anxious to secure markets for wool, meat, minerals minerals and those industries which suffered from UK entry into into the EEC, less important important rural rural industries

and this was both a sign of of the continuing political importance to McEwen of political small farmers in industries like dairying and fruit-growing, and the political utility of of such industries to manufacturers. manual"acturers. As long as McEwen continued continued to utility promote the interests interests of such negotiations with such rural industries industries in trade negotiations Japan, compelled to withhold withhold concessions concessions to Japanese Japanese manufacJapan, he was compelled turers, At the same time, time, R-W.C. other manufacturer manufacturer repturers. R.W.C. Anderson Anderson and other repon the need for freer trade and resentatives in AJBCC and PBEC agreed O11 investment within the Pacific basin basin . By the early there was also a broad consensus consensus among the different early 1970s there sections of of` capital on the causes of inflation, inflation, which was initially traced 1.0 to excess demand and wag wage wages, and in particular particular e increases. By the late 1960s l 9605 wages, increases increases which which outstripped l a b o r productivity, were regarded regarded as the die major major cause of inflation. inflation. All employer organizations were agreed on this, although always pointed pointed out that cost increases also due to tariffs AWGC always increases were also tariffs and

CONCLUSION CONCL USION

I153 53

monopoly pricing. Even the braziers agreed that that wage increases were the

"cost-push' inflation. 19605 also saw agreement agreement main source of 'cost-push' inflation. The late 19609 between different different sections of capital on the need need to curb curb the rate of growth of the public sector, which was perceived perceived to be at the expense expense of the private private sector. All sections sections of capital f a v o r eedd steady expansion sector. expansion oof' private-sector consumption, provided that investment and consumption, that public-sector spending was curtailed. However, ACCA and ACMA tended to put less emphasis on the the role of 'demand-pull' forces Forces in causing inflation, whereas AWGC found found it easier deflationary monetary easier to advocate advocate or accept deflationary monetary and fiscal policies as a manufacturers and commercial way of limiting cost cost increases. [The fact that manufacturers firms catered for the domestic market, whereas whereas pastoral capital exported exported wool and meat, was an obvious shown how the obvious factor factor llere.] here.) We have also shown

policies of the ALP government between 1972 and 1975 facilitated the displacement of conflicts and rivalries within within a capitalist class, which became common hostility became increasingly increasingly united by common hostility to that government. government. Considerations problem. Considerations about inflation inflation have brought us to the wages problem. Was Was there a basic unity unity of capital against l a b o r ? In the Lhe period under study recognized that it was tactics all sections of capital recognized was necessary necessary to co-ordinate to-ord nate tactics and strategies against labour, and national committees were created to facilitate this. However, consensus over strategies, strategies, tactics and submissions for presentation in national with wages and conditions national cases dealing with conditions of

l a b o r emerged out of debate debate and discussion, discussion, they did not spring sponsponoteconomists documentaneously out of the minds minds of economists or executives. We have have document ted these processes, as well as differences over 'hard' or 'soft' tactics, and red these how on occasions some employers gave concessions and came to agreements Lbeir employees against against the wishes of other employers or employer employer with their organizations. Of course organizationscourse the peak associations associations of capital capital were were not formed only political organization only in response response to the political organization of l a b o rr ,, for they they also also dealt dealt with political-economic specific to their their industry with political-economic problems specific industry and were were enBDstruggle with each other. However, gaged in political struggle However, what stands out in the period 1960-1980 is the relentless refen bless drive by employers towards .greater unity greater unity

in the face of the organized working class. To this extent we can conclude through the class struggle struggle against heeame that it was through against l a b o r that employers employers became conscious ofa of a vital common interest. But it should be borne common interest. borne in mind that any unity or consensus on the wages front had lo he forged ever to be over and over again as different problems emerged and various various responses to them them were were put put different problems emerged and forward, decisions of the the Arbitration forward; and, in addition, that particular particular decisions Commission, inertia or change change in government policy and the the initiatives initiatives of Commission, helped to shape l a b o r helped shape the context context within within which employer leaders leaders devised tactics and developed ideologies. In the struggle against against l a b o r ., manufacture manufacturing capital role in galvaiiizing different sections sections of capital played a leading role galvanizing the different capital manufacturers employed the capital into into a cohesive cohesive coalition. Although Although manufacturers MTIA, the AWGC and largest number of workers, together together with ACMA and MTIA. ACEF played the dcvclopnlent against played leading roles roles in the development of national strategies against l a b oorr,, and all four organization were represented represented on NEPC and NEIC. To

154 154

A CLASS A APART PAR T

manufacturer organizations organizations and especially especially some extent the prominence prominence of manufacturer within die the political leadership of centrality MTIA, within of employers, was due to the centrality of the metal meta! trades trades award in the Australian wages system. There is also the potential conflict between monopoly monopoly and non-monopoly non-monopoly capital, between between large firms and small firms. political capital, firms. It is clear that the political leadership from the lar8er, leadership of specific specific sections sections of capital capital came from larger, oligopolistic oligopolistic companies. For example, ex . the restrictive practices legislation legislation would would companies. restrictive trade practices have been been in the interests of smaller manufacturers While manufacturers and retailers. retailers. While . .. . .. ..

individual retailers aand n d bodies such as the NSW Retail Tobacco Traders' Association, the Queensland Retail Traders' Association and the Victorian Association, Automobile Chamber of Commerce supported the legislation, and particular Automobile firms within ACMA, ACCA and MTEA broke with these organizations and of the legislation, powerful peak organizations took action in favour of" legislation, the powerful organizations opposed it and succeeded succeeded in modifying modifying it to the opposed Lhe advantage advantage of the larger companies. Nevertheless, Nevertheless, with with AWGC AWGC entering the fray the legislation companies. divisive issue and the government government vacillated as it searched for a became a divisive compromise acceptable acceptable to the various sections sections of capital. capital. The slow increcompromise development of policy policy sh showed AWGC and non-monopoly non-monopoly capmental development owed that that AW'GC capexercise some influence, influence, although although the final outcome final outcome ical ital was able able to exercise f a v o r e d monopoly monopoly capital capital in manufacturing manufacturing and commerce. strongly favored Political mobilization mobilization and conflict conflict over over tariff policy slightly Political policy provides a slightly that ACCA supported Board it was different picture. To the extent that supported the Tariff T a r i f f Board different picture. acting in the interests of monopoly monopoly and non non-monopoly capital in retailing retailing acting -monopoly capital and importing. Within manufacturing industry, on the other hand, a proprotectionist consensus consensus emerged emerged under under the leadership leadership of large firms. This This is an tectionist example capital allied to non-monopoly non-monopoly capital in manufacturex mple of monopoly capital manufacturing opposed opposed to a similar similar alliance between between large and small commercial firms. argued that the relations between between different sections of This book has argued and between capital and the state capital, between between capital and l a b o r , and represent the ibrrnation formation and reproduction of a dominant dominant capitalist classclass. But dominates the state in a uniform uniform the capitalist capitalist class is not a monolith monolith which dominates

state, or more accurately its different branches. branches, does not way, for the state. passively reflect interests of particular particular sections of capital. Also, departpassively reflect the interests ments, commissions and agencies agencies develop their organizational ments, boards, commissions their own organizational decisioncharacter, which is influenced by the ideologies ideologies of their leading decisionmakers, particular tasks. makers, and by their particular tasks. Some branches branches of the state had advisory functions, functions, others others were were intended policy innovation, advisory intended to direct policy innovation. and still still others had quasi-judicial quasi-j udicial timctions. functions. These These features features mediated mediated the relationships they developed with different sections of capital and other classes and strata. classes The content content of government government policies, policies, and the speed speed with with which they were changed or adopted, adopted, was influenced by by the interests and ideologies expressed pressed bbyy powerful powerful dcpamncntal departmental heads. heads, politicians politicians and leading members of other branches of the Slate. state. Often often there was government ambivalence and other branches vacillation, which could be overcome political rewards flowing which could overcome if i f the political flowing from from

CONCLUSION

155

decisive action were sufficiently attractive. Particular branches of the state

complied with the objectives of a particular client, especially if resistance from another section of capital or part of the state was ii;ulmal. Divisive issues which attracted media attention and led to political controversy. such

as tariffs, wages and foreign in vestment, created the opportunity of realizing such rewards, but there were also potential costs which at times made indecision an appealing option. The Commonwealth government oversaw this tangle of political struggles, and we have shown that government tried to displace the conflicts between sections of capital by pursuing compromises and. trade-offs. Ministers of Labour and National Service called on employers to adopt a more Lmited approach towards labour- mcEwen as

Minister for Trade assiduously cultivated manufacturers, braziers and mining capital- Pastoral capital was offered government assistance for research and promotion to compensate br costs incurred from tariff protection. But it was not possible to find a perfect mixture of state interventions to mollify all

sections of capital. Graziers were still unhappy. and in the early and mid1960s manufacturers were not. willing to accept any reductions in protection, even though GATT membership and growing economic interdependence with Japan made some changes in this direction necessary. There were also limits to the power of the Commonwealth government, for it did not possess a monopoly of policy innovation, des sign-making and information. Bodies such as the Tariff Board, the Arbitration Commission, State governments or departments of the public service also developed policies, made decisions, offered resistance and controlled information; they possessed authority in their different policy areas. For example, in the late 1960s the Tariff Board was set on a cour5€ opposed by manufacturers, and given the economic and political constraints government would not intervcne- In the same way, even when employers and government arrived at a

coherent wages policy, their hopes for predictability and stability on the wages front could be dashed by a .judgment or series of decisions in the Arbitration Commission. For a long time the Commission refused to consider the economic consequences of its decisions, and saw itself as a quasi-judicial body responsible for resolving and avoiding industrial disputes. At times government avoided making decisions because the political costs were too

high, or came up against the barrier of the established authority built up by other branches of the state, an authority which was indispensable to the performance of their tasks. Thus the Arbitration Commission could not

effectively intervene in class conflict over wages and conditions of work in' it became or was seen to be a tool of government or the employers. The Tariff Board and tariff policy presented government with a similar problem, To interfere with the Taritlf` Board in the way manufacturers were demanding would have robbed it, of` its independence and make government action appear capricious and arbitrary. As a result, economic class interests-and the ways in which they were expressed-were modified in response to the desire of politicians and bureaucrats to maintain their status and authority.

156

A CLASS APART

Those concerned with the introduction of radical reforms in Australia will come up against this stubborn yet flexible structmirc of power. However. it is

worth remembering the following suggestion of Marx in the famous preface to his A Cotlsriburfnrz no the Critiqure

of Political Economy

[1859]:

No social order is ever destroyed befOre all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of` production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matures within the framework of the old society. Mankind tllu$ inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer cxami nation will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation .

Notes

Introduction 1 Such approaches have produced some impressive studies, such as D. Aitkin, Stability and Change m Australian Politics [Australian National University Press, Canberra, 197-'?), and D.A. Kemp, Society and Electoral Behaviour in: Australia [University of Queensland Press, So Lucia, 1378). 2 See S. Broaden, Australian Two-Airline Policy [Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1968). For the media see H. McQueen. Australia's Media A»1onop0lia, so, 99,

1o=1,

118,119,147,153

Australia Japan Business Co-operation Committee (AJBCC) XV, Q, 10, 11, 31, 74, 75, 152 Australian Associated Stock Exchanges 100, [04

Australian Bankers' Association [ABA] xi, 87-91, 102, 109-1.3, 115-16,118 Australian Banks' Export Re-Finance

Corporation

65, 68-70, 74-5,

105

Australian-British Trade Association 44 Australian Conservation Foundation

Australian Merchant Bankers' Association

87

Australian Metal Industries Association

[Am1A1 122-4 Australian Mining Industry Council (AMICI xi, 20, 33, 42, 58 659, 71-55, 101, 104, 116, 119, 151

Australian Primary Producers' Union {AFPU] 33, 52, 125 Australian Resources Dcvclopmenl Bank (ARDB) 67, 87 8, 100--2, 104, 105, 114, 116, 118

Australian United Corporation

102 193

194

A CLASS APART

Australian Wool Board [AWB] 32, 36, 47, 49-54, 56 Australian Wool Bureau 32, 36 Australian Wool Corporation 49, 55, 56 Australian Woolgrowers' and Glaziers' Council (AWGC} xi, 20, 26, 32- 49, 52 6, 122-8, 130, 137, 139, 145-6, 151- 4 Australian Woolgrowers' Council 32,

34, 35 Australian Wool Industry Conference

[Awls as, 52, 53, 56 Australian Wool and Meat Producers' Federation [AWMP14] 33, 46, 52-5,5?,125 Australian Workers' Union

55, 12.7

Clark, Colin, 131-3 Clarkson, .LB 64 class conflict xiii, 120, 121, 133, 134, 139-41, 153 Cochrane, D. 131 Cole, E.5. 125, 145

Collins Ho use Group

3-5

Colonial Sugar Rcfming Co Ltd [CSR] 84, 103, 152 Comalco 64, 67, 77 Commercial Bank of Australia 91

Commercial Banking Company of Sydney 91 Commercial Bureau Fty Ltd 43 Comtrlihre for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA] xv, 3, 4, 72-4 Commonwealth Bank

87. 105 7

Commonwealth Banking Corporation Bank of' Adelaide