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January 01st 2012 print

John Stone

Part I: Floating the Dollar: Facts and Fiction

The first draft of history, they say, is written by the journalists. It would be truer to say that it is written by the politicians and political advisers from whom most journalists obtain their copy. Given also the strong Labor Party affiliations of most Canberra press gallery journalists, the “history” that initially gets written is invariably weighted towards Labor’s version of events.

On Friday 9 December, 1983 the Hawke government decided to “float” the Australian dollar – and also, though little remarked at the time, to suspend virtually all exchange controls (the regulations, administered by the Reserve Bank of Australia, which then governed foreign exchange movements into or out of Australia).

The significance of these decisions can hardly be over-estimated. In The Hawke Memoirs (1994), former Prime Minister Bob Hawke records my words six months later to the Economic Development Review Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As he says, I:

urged the committee to: ‘pay more attention to the decision by the Government in December 1983 to float the Australian dollar and, in some ways even more importantly, effectively to abolish Australia’s long-established system of exchange controls… I think it is not an exaggeration to describe these decisions as constituting the most important single step in economic policy to be taken by any Australian government in the post-war period…There is no doubt in my mind that, over time, they will work very much to the end of “locking” Australia into the wider world, with all the benefits – and no doubt problems also – which that will entail…Moreover…the decision to float the Australian dollar will… enhance the authorities’ ability to control the money supply and hence – if the will is there to do so – inflation’.[1]

Those remarks were not then public, but when, three months later, and after announcing my intention to resign as Secretary to the Treasury, and from the Commonwealth Public Service, I delivered the 1984 Shann Memorial Lecture, I referred to them. Again, The Hawke Memoirs records some of my words:

He repeated his remarks in the Shann Memorial Lecture of 1984: ‘I personally believe that the decisions taken by the present government on 9 December last will stand as its greatest achievement when all else has been forgotten’.[2]

While Hawke faithfully recorded my words, he did so by introducing the first quote as evidence that by May 1984 I was “jumping on the bandwagon”, and the second as my “talking tongue in cheek”. It is a pity that a life largely spent in the Australian trade union movement and the Australian Labor Party should lead to the view, apparently, that everybody else is as deceitful as himself.

That notwithstanding, Hawke’s version of the $A float process was, and remains, much closer to the mark than that given, two years earlier, by Paul Kelly in his notable book The End of Certainty.[3] The relevant sections of that book (which more generally I regard quite highly) were clearly greatly influenced by Kelly’s long-standing personal relationship with Paul Keating, from whom his misinformation is clearly chiefly derived. Four years later, the latter’s characteristically bile-ridden version is elaborated further in Keating: The Inside Story, by John Edwards.[4]

Does any of this matter? It does, on three levels.

On the most general level, it matters because history matters; and because, in the writing of history, the truth matters.

On an institutional level, it matters because for 28 years it has been conventional wisdom among those who take an interest in these things – politicians, public servants, economists, bankers, journalists – that the federal Treasury opposed those decisions root and branch, and was only overborne by (depending on the raconteur) Mr Hawke, some of his then advisers, Mr Keating, or the then Governor of the Reserve Bank.

On a personal level, it has mattered because, for those 28 years, the same conventional wisdom has been that I was principally, or even wholly, responsible for that alleged federal Treasury opposition; and that, while some senior Treasury officers disagreed, they forbore from expressing their disagreement from fear of my wrath descending upon them.

First, two preliminary points of explanation.

I have often been asked to give my account of the $A float. With one exception (see below), I have invariably said that I was constrained from doing so while adhering to my undertakings not to reveal the contents of government documents, or otherwise disclose government processes, until 30 years after the event. I invariably added that, should I live until December 2013, I would undoubtedly essay the task.

In 2010, however, the federal government amended the Archives Act 1983 to reduce the “30-year rule” governing release of government documents to a 20-year rule. Transitional arrangements to bring the new rule fully into force by January 2021 have meant that the 1983 Cabinet papers were released on 29 November last, under embargo until 1 January 2012. Although this article (filed in late November) draws on my personal papers, and has not benefited from the Archives Office release, that has now freed me, two years earlier than expected, from the aforementioned constraint.

…………………………………………………..…….

As professional historians (which I am not) well know, no account of an historical event can hope to cover every detail, or address each and every issue raised. Too many people are involved, playing roles large and small; too many interpersonal exchanges occur, some recorded, some not; too many complexities more generally, for the whole truth ever to be known, let alone written down. What real historians try to do is to record as much of the truth as they can reliably ascertain, and draw from that such inferences as they believe can reasonably be drawn as to the course of the events they are describing. In doing this, some “structure” or “framework” is necessary. Different historians bring different frameworks, and produce, as a result, rather different accounts.

In attempting to do likewise, I shall address five propositions, namely:

  • The float was opposed throughout, root and branch, by the Treasury.
     
  • “The Treasury” was then interchangeable with my name, while other Treasury officials, some of them quite senior, differed from my benighted views.
     
  • Paul Keating was the float’s chief architect (according to both Keating and to the recipients of his “confidences”, Paul Kelly and John Edwards).
     
  • Bob Hawke, including those around him – in particular, Professor Ross Garnaut – was its chief architect (according to Hawke).
     
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia was for many years the strong, and ultimately prevailing, proponent of the float (according to one or two former Reserve Bank officials), in the face of persistent Treasury opposition.

I shall begin with the first two propositions. The fact that they are essentially untrue sheds light on the last three.

My argument will be along the following lines. Given the intellectual record and policy attitudes of the Treasury for at least the previous 20 years, and my own part in that record and those attitudes, how likely is it that the Treasury would have opposed the $A float in the way, and to the extent, alleged? And given what my predecessor (Sir Frederick Wheeler) described as the Treasury’s “collegiate” processes of policy discussion and formulation, where opinions were treated on their merits as distinct from the rank of the person advancing them, how likely is it that any opinions of mine on the $A float would have survived objections from those alleged to differ from them? Both through reasoned arguments on paper, and vigorous discussion over drinks at the usual Friday evening “happy hours”, I would have been made forcefully aware of my intellectual errors.

In short, as counsel for the defence, I propose to lead evidence for the policy record of the institution (and the person) in the dock, with a view to demonstrating that, against that background, the charges against them lack credibility. I shall also say something about the bona fides of the prosecution’s case.

Some Background: By late 1983, “Treasury views” on the exchange rate had long been evolving. That evolution was associated with the tumultuous course of international monetary events, beginning in the mid-1960s and continuing, in some ways, to this day. During 1967-1970 I spent four years as Executive Director for Australia, South Africa and New Zealand in the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund. That experience (some aspects of which have recently been recorded in John Stone, Federalism and the Commonwealth Treasury,[5] Des Moore’s Festschrift paper to the August 2010 conference of The Samuel Griffith Society) taught me a great deal. In particular, I saw the lengths to which the United States was prepared to go to defend its ability to go on issuing US dollars from a budget unhinged by President Johnson’s “guns and butter” approach to (not) paying for the war in Vietnam while creating his “Great Society”.

President Nixon’s August 1971closure of the “gold window” marked the effective end of the Bretton Woods system inaugurated 27 years earlier. Nixon thus abandoned even the pretence – which for some years was all it had effectively been – that the United States would stand ready to supply gold in exchange for US dollars to any central bank that asked it to do so. Nixon, and his Treasury Secretary John Connally, thus held up a single finger to the world, declaring that fiat money (i.e., money backed only by the “full faith and credit” of the country issuing it) had come to stay; the rest of us could like it or lump it. As Connally said to some Europeans expressing concern about US dollar fluctuations, the dollar “is our currency, but your problem”. So, indeed, it has remained.

Investment bankers certainly did like it. As either a Deputy Secretary or Secretary to the Treasury, scores of investment bankers called on me with a view to advancing their interests. Two clear impressions emerged: first, they were often highly intelligent people; and second, they were almost entirely without scruple. (The truth of both observations has been starkly confirmed by more recent events). The exploding growth, post-August 1971, of the foreign exchange markets provided these people, and banks more generally, with an ever-growing, and ever more profitable, playground in which currencies – particularly those of smaller countries like Australia – could be tossed around to advantage.

One of my first actions after promotion, in late 1971, as Deputy Secretary (Economic) was to commission, as the first in a new series of Treasury Economic Papers, a paper entitled Overseas Investment in Australia.[6] This document reflected my then recent IMF experience. In doing so, it updated a 1965 Treasury paper of a similar title[7] (see below). It drew a sharp distinction between the positive value to Australia of foreign direct investment (foreign private ownership and operation of Australian mines, factories, etcetera), and to a lesser degree portfolio investment in Australian shares or other securities, on the one hand, and the largely negative value to us of short-term capital inflows (“hot money”), on the other.

In essence, that was the Treasury policy attitude throughout the 1970s and into the early ‘80s. Pursuant to that attitude the Whitlam government, on Treasury (and particularly my) advice, introduced in 1972 the system of Variable Deposit Requirements. This scheme, which most people today have long forgotten, was administered by the Reserve Bank within the then system of exchange controls. In effect, it imposed a “tax” on purely monetary inflows that varied inversely with the length of time before the inflow was reversed. This was highly unpopular among the investment bankers and foreign exchange traders more generally, and as a result it was suspended in July 1977. Meanwhile it had largely succeeded in quelling “hot money” inflows. (In 1999, an article in the Treasury’s Economic Roundup on Australia’s Experience with the Variable Deposit Requirement [8]noted – among other interesting conclusions – that “the VDR scheme was a more market-based capital control mechanism” than some other forms of exchange controls on capital flows, and that “another benefit was the fact that export and import-competing industries would not have incurred the loss of competitiveness that may have been associated with….a significant appreciation of the exchange rate”).

Throughout this period the general Treasury policy attitude was that the international monetary system had become little more than a casino; huge volumes of currencies flooded back and forth across the foreign exchanges to the profit of few other than those directing them. Meanwhile, as currency values soared and slumped, people operating in the real economy – manufacturers, miners, tourism operators and the like – had to contend with the unpredictable consequences.

A major reason why these monetary phenomena had become so virulent was that a world-wide inflation of costs and prices was raging. In Milton Friedman’s famous words, “inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon”.[9] While this situation prevailed internationally, the best Australia could hope to do was to insulate itself against it (note, insulate, not isolate, which was impossible).

In The Dismal Beginning to the Fraser Years (Quadrant, July-August 2007) and in my resulting exchanges with Dr David Kemp,[10] I have recorded the fundamental “Treasury view” throughout this period of the need to bear down against inflation, including the view that reducing inflation was a prerequisite to reducing the then very high level of unemployment. (This “fight inflation first” attitude, much criticized then by academic economists, journalists and others, has nowadays become widely accepted not only in Australia but also, essentially, world-wide). With the Reserve Bank not then enjoying independence from the government of the day, monetary policy was in thrall; the highly regulated market for labour was a continual source of upward pressure both on prices and unemployment; while the quality of fiscal policy tended to vary with the electoral cycle. As noted in those Quadrant writings, in these circumstances the Treasury – with the Reserve Bank’s full agreement – did seek to maintain, whenever possible, a somewhat overvalued exchange rate (though the extent of overvaluation was rarely very great) as one of the few instruments available against inflation.

“Treasury Views”: None of the foregoing should in any way be taken as suggesting that the Treasury, or I personally, was opposed to what might be broadly called “free-market policies”. A 20-year-long record can be cited to the contrary:

(1) During 1962-1966, in charge of the then newly created Economic and Financial Surveys Division[11] of the Treasury, I was responsible for the inauguration and final editorship of six Treasury publications. These Supplements to the Treasury Information Bulletin included such topics as The Meaning and Measurement of Economic Growth,[12] Private Overseas Investment in Australia [13]and The Australian Balance of Payments.[14] In many cases they broke entirely new ground. The eye-glazingly-entitled paper on National Accounting Estimates of Public Authority Receipts and Expenditure [15]established the basis for what became, a few years later, a whole new presentation of the annual Australian budget papers. The Australian Balance of Payments – described by the late C. D. (“Ref”) Kemp in 1966 as “the finest piece of applied economic analysis produced in Australia since the war…”[16] – pointed out, for what was certainly the first time in official circles and in public forums generally, that the balance of payments current account deficit is simply equivalent to the shortfall between a nation’s domestic savings (by individuals, corporations and governments) and its domestic investment (private and public). Instead, therefore, of calls for various measures to increase exports (export subsidies, tax breaks for farmers and miners) or diminish imports (quantitative restrictions, higher protective tariffs), a country that wishes to narrow its balance of payments deficit should favour measures to increase domestic savings (interest rates more attractive to savers, corporate taxation favouring profits, and governmental surpluses rather than deficits), and to reduce wasteful public investments. Such market-oriented ideas were, needless to say, sharply at odds with the “controllers” of the day.

Without exception, these papers argued (within the constraints of Public Service propriety) for moving away from economic dirigisme and towards more market-oriented policies. Moreover, quite apart from their content – which owed much to the quality of people then working for me, such as Bill (now Sir William) Cole, the late Ian Castles, the late Harry Cruise, the late Sam McBurney – these publications also marked a quiet revolution in the initiation and development of Treasury “transparency” – a concept now grown almost too fashionable, but almost unheard of then.

(2) The series of Treasury Economic Papers initiated in 1971 ran to ten papers in all prior to my leaving the Treasury (none has been published since). They covered such topics as Economic Growth: Is it Worth Having?,[17] Energy Markets: Some Principles of Pricing,[18] and NIEO: An Assessment of the Proposals for a New International Economic Order.[19] The most important of them was Economic Growth: Is it Worth Having?, which took an economically rational axe to the puffed-up pretensions of the Club of Rome alarmists. No such axe, regrettably, has been taken by the Treasury in recent years to the Club of Rome’s successors, the “global warming” alarmists, even though the latter’s pretensions are both even more ludicrous and even more potentially damaging to the world than their predecessors’.

(3) I refer also to my three (only) public speeches during my tenure as Secretary. (I leave aside the Shann Memorial Lecture, delivered after my intention to resign had been announced). The first, to the Australian Institute of Management in 1979, was entitled Australia in a Competitive World; Some Options.[20] Essentially, it picked up the central point made thirteen years earlier in The Australian Balance of Payments. For any given level of domestic savings and investment, the equivalent balance of payments current account position is determined. It followed, therefore, that if Australia’s exports were to grow (as they were then doing during one of our periodic resources booms), it logically followed that our imports must inevitably do likewise. In short: “The more successful, in the decade ahead, we prove to be at exporting, the more successful we are also going to have to be at importing”. I added (anticipating, I think, Mrs Thatcher!), “there is no alternative”. [Original emphasis in both cases]. So outrageous was this heresy that the Australian Chamber of Manufactures immediately asked the Public Service Board how a Secretary to the Treasury could be sacked.

In 1981, speaking to the National Agricultural Outlook Conference, I said that “policies for the future should be such as to promote, not hinder, change…. at the moment we simply do not have an economy which is well endowed in terms of flexibility…much still remains to be done to relieve the economy of the burdens of regulation and institutional barriers to change”.[21] [Original emphasis].

Later that year Bert Kelly asked me to deliver the Stan Kelly Memorial Lecture, established in memory of his father. In Australia in a Competitive World: Some More Options,[22] I again took up the economic verities laid out in its 1979 predecessor. With the resources boom now accelerating, I said: “In recent times much public debate has focused….on the external adjustments we will need to make if we are to take a rational approach to change. ….But the implications of seeking a more rational approach to the adjustment processes flowing from the resources investment upsurge do not stop there. More efficient workings of our financial markets, for example, would first require a similarly rational approach to the various ‘protective’ devices that have grown up in that area over the years”. And in conclusion: “I refer to the process of economic change. Without an increased willingness to accept that process, Australia will not be as responsive, vibrant, efficient – and in the process exciting – a country as it could, and I trust will, be”. [Original emphasis].[23]

(4) Mention of Bert Kelly brings me to the Treasury’s (and my) attitude towards trade protectionism. I well remember first meeting the Member for Wakefield at a US Embassy cocktail party. After being introduced to him, I told him (much to his delight) that I often took home the daily Hansard when it contained one of his memorable speeches, poking gentle fun at some aspect of our then highly protectionist tariff policies. These I would read aloud to my wife over the dinner table. At a time when John McEwen and his ultra-protectionist department were riding high in the Canberra firmament, the Treasury and its then minister, Billy (later Sir William) McMahon, mounted strong – though often unavailing – opposition.

How then, according to the conventional wisdom on the matter, did the Treasury come to oppose the 25 per cent across-the-board tariff cut enacted by Mr Whitlam in July 1973? The answer is that, in anything but a purely semantic sense, the Treasury did nothing of the kind. Thirty years after the event, in The Inside Story of Gough’s Tariff Cut in The Australian, I gave an account of what actually happened.[24]

I refer to that episode here because, in so many respects, it resembled what was to occur ten years later. There was the same quite needless “ambush” of the Treasury by a Prime Minister bent on a policy course with which the department essentially concurred; the same secretive role played by some non-departmental advisers leading up to that “ambush”; the same absence of significant formal documentation put to the relevant ministers by those advisers; the same rubber-stamping by the Economic Committee of Cabinet; the same bypassing of Cabinet itself over a decision carrying huge political as well as economic implications;[25] in other words, the almost total lack of that “due process” (another Fred Wheelerism) that is the hallmark of properly functioning Cabinet government; and, after the event, the same assiduous media briefings from Labor ministerial and advisory sources designed to paint the Treasury as some kind of villain of the piece. The resemblance between the two events is almost uncanny. The only major difference was that in 1973 the then Treasurer, the late Frank Crean – a decent man who knew what actually happened – did not, either then or later, join in the post-announcement vilification of his department. Having in mind the subsequently contrasting actions of his successor, I take this opportunity to honour his memory.

1983: As Labor came to office in March 1983, the international monetary situation was undergoing great change. The US inflation rate was declining fast; from 9.1 per cent in 1980 it fell to 3.8 per cent in 1983. In Australia, by contrast, it was much higher and still rising, from 9.4 per cent in 1980-81 to 11.5 per cent in 1982-83. What was going on?

In Australia, in 1981 the Amalgamated Metal Workers’ Union, under the leadership of Laurie Carmichael and John Halfpenny, had forced a 23 per cent increase in hourly wage costs on metals trades employers. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, under the equally inspired leadership of Sir John Moore, had then transmitted this increase across the whole award wage structure. By early 1983 our inflation rate – along with our interest rates and our unemployment rate[26] – were rising fast.

In the United States, by contrast, Paul Volcker’s appointment as Chairman of the Federal Reserve System had led, finally, to effective action to deal with that country’s inflation problem. With the federal funds rate pushed sky-high, and effigies of him being burned in Washington and New York streets, Volcker was doing what Paul Keating (though in his case, inadvertently) was later to do here with “the recession we had to have” – namely, “snapping the stick of inflation”.

By September 1983, when I accompanied Keating to the IMF annual meeting in Washington, DC, change in the state of international monetary affairs was therefore in the wind. On 8 October, in London on our way home, I discussed the implications for Australia of these developments with the Treasurer. Whereas, for more than a decade, we had tried to insulate Australia from the inflationary forces rampaging through the international money markets, that situation was now in process of reversing, and we should now consider whether we should do likewise. Opening up to a disinflationary world would now be helpful to our own fight against inflation.

Eight days later, in a minute to Keating on “Exchange Rate Management Problems”, I returned to those arguments for change, addressing at the same time a Reserve Bank note which however (significantly in light of subsequent claims) did not include a proposal for a “clean float”. Reverting to my remarks in London, I said:

“Given what might be called ‘Treasury views’ of the overwhelming importance of reining in inflation…it could be argued that the time has now come to tear down such fences as we have between us and the outside world and expose our own economy to the full force of those financial flood tides to which I have referred – this on the basis that such an approach would more effectively lock us into a more deflationary world which now prevails beyond our shores.

“From one viewpoint I must say – as I have recently done [i.e., in our discussion in London] – that there is some attraction in the course. Removal of the ‘dead hand’ of government from this area of policy ought, on those grounds, to be a plus for more rational economic management….We would support the Reserve Bank to the extent of agreeing that some change in the system is warranted. But we believe that change in this area should be undertaken in stages. A complete and wholesale leap to a full market system overnight would be an act of faith to which the government has no need to commit itself at this time and the consequences of which cannot clearly be foreseen”.

This was not, as since alleged, some Machiavellian resort to delaying tactics. The change in contemplation was not simply a matter of deciding to let our dollar float – with the need also to decide whether that float should be “clean’ (i.e., no RBA intervention in the foreign exchange market) or “dirty” (RBA intervention to continue). First and foremost, within what framework of exchange controls should this float occur (as to which, see below)? More generally, our bankers had no experience of operating in such a market: mere prudence suggested that they should be allowed to “ease” into it in a series of stages over (say) at least a few months. More generally still, our importing and exporting industries had no experience of being exposed to the vagaries of a foreign exchange market prone to significant swings, driven as much by sentiment as by reality, over relatively short periods. The government owed a duty to all these people to assist them in the major transitional processes involved; and public servants – whether departmental ones or those in the Reserve Bank – owed a duty to the government to ensure that it was fully informed on all these matters before decisions were taken.   In short, “evolution not revolution should be the order of the day”.

This “due process” aspect was to bulk larger in the weeks ahead. In that same minute of 16 October, referring to the flimsiness of the RBA paper, I said that governments should only make decisions – particularly such important ones – on the basis of written submissions advancing precise and fully documented proposals. Thus: “If the Bank is confident of the soundness of its case it should be able – and willing – to put it into writing and have it tested in a ‘due process’ manner. Mere conversational processes are not an appropriate basis for government decision-making, particularly on a matter of this order of importance”. (Emphasis now added).

In a follow-up minute to Keating dated 18 October I proposed several changes directed to commencing that evolutionary process. Aimed at “loosening up the exchange rate” and “developing the market in foreign exchange”, the most important change was to cease RBA intervention in the forward exchange market. Freeing the forward exchange rate for the $A meant, of course, that freeing the spot rate would only be a matter of time. “Floating the forward rate would increase pressures on the spot rate to be flexible, and it would be more difficult for the authorities to insulate that spot rate from swings in the market sentiment”.

After some further comings and goings, the proposals in that 18 October minute were finally agreed at a meeting on 27 October in the Prime Minister’s office involving him, Keating, me and private office staff. (The RBA was not represented, but of course was known to support the proposals). Hawke announced the decisions the next day to a suitably grateful Merchant Bankers’ Association audience.

From 28 October on, then, the position was clear. In Edwards’s book it was well summed up by Tony Cole (Keating’s principal private secretary in 1983, but having been, by the time of this quote, Secretary to the Treasury): “In October when we floated the forward rate there was an acceptance that the float [i.e., of the spot rate] would have to occur. We had in mind December or January, when the markets would be quiet”. He added that “the discussion was always over whether you could get Stone on board or do it without him”. My only comment on such immature nonsense is to suggest that if those engaging in these covert “discussions” had taken the “due process” course of involving the Treasury in them, their concerns could have been resolved in short order.

Be that as it may, Cole’s view then as to timing was consistent with our own in the Treasury; and for the next three weeks events seemed to be moving accordingly. Towards end-November, however, stories began emerging in our major newspapers suggesting that further government moves might be imminent. To the experienced reader, these stories were clearly based on “briefings”; and within the Treasury, most of them seemed to be sourced out of Martin Place. Whatever – and it no longer matters – these briefings, and the stories to which they gave rise, had their inevitable, and presumably intended, results. Hot money began to flow in over the exchanges.

Interestingly, when the Reserve Bank Board (of which, ex officio, the Secretary to the Treasury is a member) met on Tuesday, 6 December, the Board papers carried no suggestion of imminent drama. Nevertheless, as these inflows continued, what was to be done about them? Section 13 of the Reserve Bank Act 1959 requires that the Governor and the Secretary to the Treasury “shall establish a close liaison with each other and shall keep each other fully informed on all matters which jointly concern” them. Throughout these days I was in frequent touch with the Governor in fulfilment of that requirement. Subsequent disclosures, however, particularly those in Kelly’s and Edwards’s books, have led me to wonder whether, both then and for some time previously, that requirement may have been honoured by the Bank more in the breach than the observance. Again, today that no longer matters; but in the fast-moving events of those last few days up to and including 9 December, full consultation was clearly important.

During this week, the Treasury position essentially was that the speculators should not be allowed to knock the authorities off the measured course set by the 27 October ministerial decisions. The Bank should therefore stand ready to take whatever funds it was offered, while allowing money market interest rates to drop significantly and “nudging” the exchange rate itself lower – with both developments intended to suggest to the speculators that, so far from making a profit, they could end up taking a loss. Indeed, when I spoke to the Governor about 5:50 pm on Thursday, it seemed that perhaps these tactics might be starting to work. Although, he said, there had been “an early flurry of activity”, the market had “stopped in its tracks” about noon. (His expectations were, nevertheless, “for a very big day on Friday”).

Part II of this article is here… 



[1] Bob Hawke, The Hawke Memoirs, William Heinemann Australia (1994), pp. 248-9.

[2] Ibid., p. 249.

[3] Paul Kelly, The End of Certainty: The Story of the 1980s, Allen & Unwin (1992).

[4] John Edwards, Keating: The Inside Story, Viking (1996).

[5] Des Moore, John Stone, Federalism and the Commonwealth Treasury, Proceedings of The Samuel Griffith Society, Volume 22 (2010), pp. 159-205. Available at http://www.samuelgriffith.org.au/most-recent-proceedings.

[6] Overseas Investment in Australia, Treasury Economic Paper No. 1, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, May 1972.

[7] Private Overseas Investment in Australia, Supplement to the Treasury Information Bulletin, Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra, May 1965.

[8] Australia’s Experience with the Variable Deposit Requirement, Treasury’s Economic Roundup,Winter 1999, pp. 45-56. Significantly, this article was produced at the time of the Asian economic crisis, when, as it notes, “a number of Asian and Latin American economies have experienced large, and at times volatile, inflows and outflows of capital, which have affected these countries’ ability to effectively conduct monetary policy”. Interestingly, Brazil recently introduced a somewhat similar measure to discourage the large inflows of “hot money” into that country.

[9] Milton Friedman, The Counter-Revolution in Monetary Theory, available at http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Milton_Friedman.

[10] Dr David Kemp, The 1976 Cabinet Papers, in Quadrant, December 2007; John Stone, Altered History, Letters, Quadrant, January-February 2008; Dr David Kemp, A Response to John Stone, Letters, Quadrant, March 2008; and John Stone, Opinions and Facts, Letters, Quadrant, April 2008.

[11] Although then called a Division, in today’s nomenclature it would be called a Branch.

[12] The Meaning and Measurement of Economic Growth, Supplement to the Treasury Information Bulletin, Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra, November 1964.

[13] Loc.cit., supra.

[14] The Australian Balance of Payments, Supplement to the Treasury Information Bulletin, Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra, February 1966.

[15] National Accounting Estimates of Public Authority Receipts and Expenditure, Supplement to the Treasury Information Bulletin, Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra, August 1964.

[16] C.D. Kemp, A Brilliant Paper, The IPA Review, April-June 1966.

[17] Economic Growth: Is it Worth Having?, Treasury Economic Paper No. 2, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, June 1973.

[18] Energy Markets: Some Principles of Pricing, Treasury Economic Paper No. 5, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1979. This Treasury submission to the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources set out to “describe the role of the market mechanism in the allocation, conservation and development of these [energy] resources”.

[19] NIEO: An Assessment of the Proposals for a New International Economic Order, Treasury Economic paper No. 6, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1979. This Treasury submission to the Inquiry of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, The Implications for Australia’s Foreign Policy and National Security of Proposals for a New International Economic Order, advised that “the most appropriate course would be to move towards greater liberalization of the existing international economic system, rather than towards the interventionist approach inherent in most – though not all – of the NIEO proposals”.

[20] John Stone, Australia in a Competitive World: Some Options, Australian Institute of Management, Sydney, November 1979.

[21] John Stone, The Outlook for the Australian Economy, National Agricultural Outlook Conference, Canberra, January 1981.

[22] John Stone, Australia in a Competitive World: Some More Options, Stan Kelly Memorial Lecture, Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand (Victorian Branch), Melbourne, November 1981.

[23] All three of these speeches were cleared, word for word, with my minister (John Howard), prior to delivery. The first of them was also cleared with the then Minister for Trade and Industry, Phillip Lynch, and the second, similarly, with the then Minister for Primary Industry, Peter Nixon.

[24] John Stone, The Inside Story of Gough’s Tariff Cut, in The Australian, 18 July 2003.

[25] See John Button, As it Happened, Text Publishing, Melbourne, 1998, pp.320-21: “The formal decision [to float the dollar] was made in the Cabinet room by the economic committee of Cabinet in the early afternoon of 27 October…I wondered, if it was so obvious,…why had it not been done before? There must, I thought, be some arguments against it, but we didn’t hear them…But I was uncertain about the consequences. I think most people in the room were. Three hours later I was in a car travelling between Melbourne airport and the city. Over the radio I heard Keating’s announcement of the float…My driver…asked me what it all meant. I said I wasn’t sure but that it was a bold move. He glanced at me as if he was driving a lunatic”. [The date of 27 October should obviously be 9 December].

[26] This was the situation that, later, gave rise to Paul Keating’s well-merited gibe that Laurie Carmichael had “100,000 dead men around his neck” (roughly the number of Carmichael’s union members who had lost their jobs through his actions).