Journal article

Structural adjustment programmes and regional development in Australia

Economic development Economics Unemployment Car industry Manufacturing Job redundancy Australia Europe

Australia’s economy has experienced profound change over the last decade in response to the opportunities generated by the expansion of the mining industry, the strength of the Australian dollar and ongoing competition within global markets. The new economic environment has, however, resulted in the decline of some established industries and the loss of employment from high profile enterprises, including Bluescope Steel, Bridgestone Tyres, General Motors Holden and Mitsubishi Motors. Large-scale redundancies have resulted in government structural adjustment packages that seek to reduce unemployment and encourage the economic revitalisation of the affected region. Such arrangements have been criticised. Despite these concerns, structural adjustment measures are commonly used across Australia and, depending upon definition, more than $88 bn was committed to these programmes by the Australian Government over the period 2000–12. New programmes continue to be rolled out, while other industries call for support. This paper evaluates the outcomes of structural adjustment programmes in Australia and considers the use of such measures relative to other developed economies, including those in Europe. It considers the impact of these schemes on the target communities, including those made unemployed, and whether there is the possibility of identifying better solutions to the challenges confronting communities undergoing change.

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