Making Thatcher Look Timid: the Rise and Fall of the New Zealand Model
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Over the course of the past 20 years, the remote South Pacific nation of New Zealand has attracted a great amount of interest from policy-makers, journalists, and academic analysts alike. Formerly renowned as the home of a paternalistic comprehensive welfare state, green politics, and its pioneering role in granting females the right to vote, the Lange Labour government and ambitious Minister of Finance, Roger Douglas, commenced a comprehensive and radical program of economic liberalization, deregulation and privatization in 1984. This remarkable comprehensive package of neoliberal macro-economic reform measures was implemented at breakneck speed. Despite the absence of pressure from international financial institutions, the nature and even the sequencing of this new ‘New Zealand Model’ very closely resembled Washington Consensus-style structural adjustment programs. Obvious parallels to the United Kingdom appear as well, though New Zealand policymakers were ‘out-Thatchering Mrs. Thatcher’ (The Economist, 1991). Within less than four years, the country’s economy changed from being one of the most regulated in the OECD to being among the least deregulated (The Economist, 1996; Goldschmitt, 1996), receiving high marks by the right-wing Fraser’s Institute in its index of economic freedom. The ‘Kiwi School of Economics’ impressed international press, foreign policy-makers, and academics.
KeywordsForeign Direct Investment Social Initiative Economic Management Reform Program Competition State
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- Kelsey, Jane (1996) Economic Fundamentalism: A World Model for Structural Adjustment?, London: Pluto Press. Accessibly written, critical, and based on meticulous research, this comprehensive and authoritative study of the New Zealand neoliberal reforms is probably the best available single monograph on the subject.Google Scholar
- Easton, Brian (1997) The Commercialisation of New Zealand, Auckland: Auckland University Press. Based on case studies of various policy domains, this detailed and thorough examination of ‘Rogernomics’ merits attention.Google Scholar
- Douglas, Roger (1993) Unfinished Business, Auckland: Random House New Zealand. Though self-congratulatory and tirelessly smug, the reflections of the chief architect of New Zealand’s economic reform process and his policy advice are worth exploring.Google Scholar
- www.treasury.govt.nz Website of the New Zealand Treasury with links to useful statistics and policy papers.
- www.beehive.govt.nz Website of the New Zealand Government with many interesting links, named after the curiously shaped parliament building.
- www.nzbr.org.nz Website of right-wing think tank, New Zealand Business Roundtable.
- http://www.vuw.ac.nz/ips/index.aspx Website of Victoria University’s Institute for Policy Studies.