Laurie Carmichael on “The Accord” 1984 (1)

Interview conducted by Lesley Dormer for Workers Weekly, Radio 5UV, University of Adelaide. (Produced by Ray Broomhill.)


Introduction - Don Sutherland

This interview was run about 12 months into the Hawke Labor government’s operation of “The Statement of Accord by the ALP and the ACTU regarding Economic Policy” (The Accord), created in February 1983.

Interviewer, Lesley Dormer, enables Laurie to explain what had been achieved in the first 12 months, outline the character of the Accord from his point of view as a medium for “higher intervention” by workers, and why that was necessary. He starts by emphasizing a point about strategy: that in that first year the Liberals’ monetarism had been rejected.

Carmichael also outlines the problems and obstacles that have not been overcome and introduces the crucial question of the relationship between the industrial wage and the social wage in defining living standards.

Presciently, he describes the potential of the finance system to be a defining "nuisance" in the efforts to get the full value out of the Accord strategy.

His discussion on the industrial wage raises vital questions; for example, “militant” unionism can, in a particular form, promote a wages struggle that aligns with the free-market approach of the employers. Thus, here in 1984, he suggests “enterprise bargaining” is in that framework.

The interview concludes with a brief discussion that links his approach to the Accord to earlier views he had expressed about an open-ended transition to socialism.