I am pleased to welcome John Hyde to the Guest Room. Now in active retirement, John was a wheat farmer in Western Australia who entered politics with the Liberal [Conservative] Party and spent some years in the late 1970s and early 1980s on the back benches of the Commonwealth Parliament in Canberra. He fortunately came under the influence of Bert Kelly "the modest member", then a lone voice of economic sanity from the back bench and others with similar views outside the House such as Austin Holmes.
The "backbench dries", economic rationalists, New Right (or whatever) did not make great progress in their own party and the greatest advancement of their aims ironically came during the early years of the Labor administration which began in 1983. With Hawke and Keating in economic reform mode (though not in the labour market) the nation had a government of national unity on economic policy for a short but invaluable period. We are still reaping the benefits of that time, though they may be frittered away by the vandalism of the small parties and the resurgence of Big Government aspirations in the major parties.
John wrote a book on the rise of classical liberalism and economic rationalism in Australia Dry: In Defence of Economic Freedom. The published work represents about half of John's manuscript and the unbowdlerised version of the whole book is available on line at this address.
Background: John Hyde is a commentator on political and economic affairs. writing periodic newspaper columns. His relevant background includes agriculture, local government, membership of the Federal Parliament and the executive directorships of the Australian Institute for Public Policy and the Institute for Public Affairs where he is a Senior Fellow.
This article is the text of the 2001 Harold Clough lecture, delivered by John Hyde.
Harold Clough is a successful business man in Western Australia who has been a strong supporter of the Institute for Public Affairs, a free enterprise think tank. Some of the events and the people who feature in this lecture will not be familiar to overseas readers, however the message is clear enough.
"I have written the story of the rise and fall of the ideal that I believe is responsible for our present relative prosperity. By showing that the Good Fight can be won and explaining some of the means that succeeded or failed, my hope is to encourage others to take up the task of defending the institutions upon which prosperity depends".