The employers' voice: the Australian Chamber/Employer Movement's influence on government policy in the post federation period since 1901

  • Peter Hendy

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis tests the proposition that the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and its antecedents that comprised the Australian Chamber/Employer Movement were influential in the rise and fall of the “Australian Settlement” during the period 1901-2007. In particular the study focuses on the principal economic framework of the Australian Settlement – a policy known as “New Protection”. This policy linked high levels of tariff protection with a heavily regulated centralised wage fixing system operated through Federal compulsory arbitration of industrial relations processes. While previous academic studies have explored aspects of this topic with respect to the Associated Chamber of Manufactures of Australia (ACMA) and the Australian Council of Employers‟ Federations (ACEF) this is the first analysis that incorporates detailed research on the Australian Chamber of Commerce (ACC), which was established in 1901. ACCI is the successor organisation following the progressive amalgamations of the ACC; ACMA; and ACEF. The thesis finds that while public choice theory provides a satisfactory explanation for the motivations of the pressure group behaviour of the Movement on the two principal economic policy areas comprising the Australian Settlement, policy network theory explains the structure of the networks that the Movement used to influence policy, and the Advocacy Coalition Framework’s (ACF) focus on “learning‟ and the role of new ideas and their dissemination through stakeholder groups provides valuable explanatory power on how the Movement’s policy positions changed over time. The theoretical value of ACF was also useful in explaining the interaction of interest groups and government decision-makers. This study finds however, that a critical aspect of the Movement’s communications with decision-makers was the close political links maintained with the centre-right side of politics. Because the value of personal inter-relationships to the lobbying process is paid scant attention in policy network literature, this thesis puts forward the proposition that ACF and policy network theory, more generally, would benefit from a more robust examination and explanation of this type of interaction and the importance of contact at the individual level.
    Date of Award2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorGwyn Singleton (Supervisor) & Phil Larkin (Supervisor)

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