Richard Denniss: What economists can learn from Manning Clark

Tuesday 3rd March at 6pm. What will Australia be when it grows up? While such questions are often asked of our children they are rarely asked of our country. This lack of inquiry about our future could reflect widespread acceptance that rapid population growth and economic growth constitute our ‘growing up’. Or the relative silence on our future might also reflect the narrowness of political leaders whose vision for our future is confined to the size of the budget deficit.
In the 100 years since Manning Clark was born Australia has changed dramatically. But while change is one of the few constants in our history, modern economic and political debate is mired in efforts to maintain the status quo, at least when it comes to the interests of powerful groups. Efforts to tackle climate change, for example, are resisted on the basis that jobs may be lost. This excuse for inaction is made despite the fact that, over the last century, millions of jobs have been lost in industries ranging from whaling to photo development laboratories. Change is the constant.
In his Manning Clark Lecture, Dr Richard Denniss will highlight that Manning Clark’s ‘enlargers’ were concerned with enlarging far more than GDP, a statistic that did not even exist until after World War II. He will place modern political and economic debate in the context of the last 100 years of change and reflect on what history can, and can’t, tell us about what we might be when we grow up.

A complete list of Manning Clark Lecturers to date
An economist by training, Richard has worked for the past 20 years in a variety of policy and political roles. In recent years he has been at the forefront of the national policy debates surrounding climate change policy and the Australian mining boom. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University.
Prior to taking up his current position Richard was the Strategy Adviser to the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, was Chief of Staff to the then Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, and held teaching and research jobs at Australian universities.
He is known for his ability to translate economics issues into everyday language. Richard has published extensively in academic journals.

Tuesday 3rd March at 6pm
Manning Clark Centre Lecture Theatre 1, ANU
Tickets $20/$10 (concession)

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