The politics of protection: America and Australia compared

Australia United States of America

Evidence suggests there has been an increase in protectionist attitudes among the US public in recent years. James Paterson’s article presents the differences between the Australian and American political systems that may explain the divergence in political intentions toward protectionism between the two nations.

Australian and American voters share a suspicious attitude towards foreign trade and remain highly sceptical about its value. Yet, in Australia, politicians have shown a reluctance to use anti-trade rhetoric to gain votes. The US, on the other hand, has many politicians eager to demonise foreign trade and use the public’s fear of it for political benefit.

In Australia, strong party discipline has acted as a brake on populist anti-market forces. Despite its faults, our current system has helped to maintain a political commitment to free trade that has benefited the country greatly.

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