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Tom Burton: separating fact and fiction

15 Feb 2017

It is 34 years since the dollar was floated, arguably the single most important reform of the post-war period. And 34 years of argument between then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke and Treasurer Paul Keating (and their offices) about who actually led the push to liberalise the currency.

The “Hawke” version is that Keating was reluctant to upset the status quo and had bought the alleged Treasury line, then led by John Stone, that it would lead to widespread market instability. The alternative view, promoted by Keating through several books and interviews, is that it was “old jellyback” Hawke, who, along with his chief economic adviser, Ross Garnaut, were worried about the disruption it would cause.

To this day, depending who you talk to, you will get contradictory views from eye witnesses, many of whom remain among the economic elite of the country.

As they say, intelligent people can disagree, even on the “facts”. Which is a long-winded way of introducing the concept psychologists have long known to be true, we believe what we want to believe.

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