... Modern economic management succeeds not by direction but by opportunity.
Governments may either provide directives and imposed fiscal management or they may provide appropriate opportunities for individuals.
If they opt for the latter course, which is the only one likely to succeed, then the people must understand where and what are those opportunities. It is the cumulative effect of the mass of individual decisions which is going to produce the result - it is the psychology of economic management which is the all important ingredient.
In 1990 it will be noted that during the 1980's even governments started to recognise and implement this approach. They started to take people into their confidence and to get away from the bushranger era of politics - away from the determination of issues by electoral ambush.
In 1990 it may be said that the politicians did this only because they were forced into changing their ways or finding their way disappear altogether.
It will be noted at that time that there is still a last- ditch battle being fought along the banks of Lake Burley Griffin as pockets of bureaucratic resistance make their last stand against change.
The directive approach and the hierarchical struc- ture with all the security which they represent will not go down easily. They have built their bulwarks against both the people and change - the word accountability sends a shudder through the system.
However, it will be noted that it was Parliament which led the charge against the executive bulwarks - that through the exercise of existing but long unused power, the Parliament, perhaps only to save its own neck, demanded accountability. That Parliament in- sisted on fulfilling its role of oversight of the executive and developed new roles in seeking foresight in government.
It will be noted that by 1990 many things had changed in relation to the operation of government.
Let me list a few.
First there was the move away from centralist control - a move towards real decentralisation. This turned from pious and ritualistic promises into a real movement with the growth of economic power outside the big urban areas arising from the development of mining and other resource based industries giving virtual economic independence available to those who previously were easily controlled from the centre - the Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne triangle.
There was the redevelopment of the Federal ap- proach to government and the growth of opportunity for real decision-making at a more local level. With that came a boost to the demand for participation in democracy.
Some of the wise ones may look back and suggest that it all started by accident from a central govern- ment point of view. Some may even suggest that it wasn't supposed to work that way. Regardless of intention they will be glad it happened.
The second major change will be through the curtailment of the power of the executive. Responding to the disillusionment of the people the Parliament will find itself unable to resist the need for change. Not all the imprecations of the party system nor the ever present bribe of "office" for those who refrain from rocking the boat will permit the sleeping giant to remain controlled by the few.
The Parliament will develop its Committee system.
It was the power of that system in the United States which preserved democracy in that country in the 1970's.
In Australia, that lesson achieved recognition.
The Committees with power to call witnesses will build bridges out to the people - they will open the lid on the closed bureaucratic shop - they will obtain explanation from the executive - they will create a situation where the people are taken into the confi- dence of the decision-makers and where their views, opinions, and wishes are directly taken into account in the decision- making process.
The small business rebellion of the 1970's will have been but one of motivating forces. It will be remem- bered that small business rebelled not for handouts, protection from competition and the like, but against being over-run by the forces of big government, big unions and big business.
That rebellion will be seen to have added weight to the existing rebellions of the consumers, the environmentalists, the small states and all the others who felt they were being swallowed up by various forms of bigness - various forms of authoritarianism.
People in all walks of life can, in 1990, expect to find that they have some relationship with Parliamen- tary Committees.
People will realise that participatory democracy has many facets and that this is one. Whether those people are assisting in an academic or practical sense - whether they are participating in lifting the lid to see what has been cooking in the pot - they will be a part of the process of government.
Amongst other things they will be helping to grapple with a problem which earlier forms of government found insoluble - the problem of people adjusting to changed economic and social circumstances and the governmental changes which must follow - how to cope with unemployment - how to cope with increased leisure time - how to cope with technology induced redundancy - how to find satisfaction substitutes for the satisfaction of labour - there are so many.
In 1990 people will have noticed changes in the electoral system to make government more flexible and more adaptive to change.
Australian Institute of Management Conference 10-12 October 1977