Crisis management: the Kennett Government and the neo-Liberalising of Victoria


McIntosh, Peter Craig

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This thesis is testing Regulation Theory’s expectations of capitalist evolution from a Fordist to a post-Fordist accumulation regime in relation to the establishment of neo-liberal political-economic governance practices by the Kennett Government in Victoria between 1992 and 1999. The thesis will test the veracity of Regulation Theory’s expectations and uncertainties about a post-Fordist institutional fix to the boom/bust cycle of capitalism. Through a series of interviews with strategic participants in Victoria’s political-economy of the time, and with a catalogue of the neoliberal actions, policies and approaches of the Kennett Government, the two arms of Regulation Theory (the regime of accumulation and the mode of social regulation) will be tested and interpreted against the implementation procedures undertaken by the Kennett Government in its attempt to establish a neo-liberal revolution in Victoria. This will involve two different approaches to match the two arms of Regulation Theory. The first will entail an analysis of the Kennett Government’s neo-liberal policies, actions and political strategies supported by the second approach which will draw on a critical discourse analysis of Premier Kennett’s speeches in the form of his Address to the State Council of the Liberal Party (this is a series of addresses given throughout a year to the party hierarchy which catalogues the achievements of the political year against the background of the political philosophy that informed the decisions that were made in that year). This first stage analysis will demonstrate the government’s attitude and role in facilitating the putative development of a new regime of accumulation (in this case neo-liberalism). Secondly, the interview material (together with the Kennett Addresses) gathered from a number of key players in Victoria’s political economy from inside and outside the government (including government ministers, backbenchers, political advisors, past Premiers, Union leaders, bureaucrats and business people) will be used to measure the extent to which the second arm of Regulation Theory, the mode of social regulation, was able to offer support to the regime of accumulation process in an attempt to successfully embed (or otherwise) a new form of capitalist accumulation practice in Victoria. If an accommodation between the two arms of Regulation Theory can be shown to have occurred through this research and during the time of the Kennett Government’s term of office then there will be tentative support for its ability to explain the embedding of post-Fordist capitalism in a regional Australian state. In anticipation of equivocal or tentative results, consideration was also given to the agency affect of Premier Jeff Kennett, as an alternative explanation for the outcome of this experience of neo-liberal governance.

Publication year


Thesis supervisor

Jason Bainbridge

Publication type

Thesis (PhD)


Copyright © 2010 Peter Craig McIntosh.

Thesis note

A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree Doctor of Philosophy, Swinburne University of Technology, 2010.