JIM COOMBS. Post-virus reconstruction – ‘snap back or snap out of it?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a government that housed the homeless, fed the poor and had a high employment demand driven, suitably regulated, economy. I can dream.

By chance I came by a book Post War Reconstruction with chapters by R G Menzies, H.C. Coombs (yep, my Dad), D.B. Copland, Lloyd Ross, H.V. Evatt and Sir John Morris, dating probably from 1944–45. I read Nugget’s 30 odd pages and wondered at the immense power he, and the government he served, wielded, during the war and immediately after, and the vision he had of the future to be wrought out of the post war environment.

His vision was one of a full employment, high demand, economy, with enough regulation to prevent inflation, and the use of taxation as a economic management tool. It was to secure the economic well being of all, and particularly those at the bottom. State investment in adequate housing, and generous social security, should attract the support of the people to national development projects like the Snowy scheme, but government should lead the way.

None of ScoMo’s ‘Let Business get on with it’. But an economy where the workforce is fully employed on good pay, is bound to secure high demand and the growth that engenders, and if the ‘private sector’ isn’t up to it, then government enterprise on national infrastructure projects should fill the gap with a vision of the future. So government regulates to avoid inflation, and high wage driven demand does the rest. Fairer and demand driven growth oriented ! Looks better than our ‘drive down wages to save business’ mentality.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a government that housed the homeless, fed the poor and had a high employment demand driven, suitably regulated, economy. I can dream.

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Jim Coombs is a nearly retired magistrate and economist

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