In Search of the Magic Pudding


NR Evans

One of the enduring characters in Australian literature is the Magic Pudding. The Pudding is presumably not the hero of Norman Lindsay's ever popular fable, but he is undoubtedly the best remembered character. The Federal Treasurer, Paul Keating, put the Magic Pudding in the media spotlight when he described his tax on superannuation contributions in his 1987 budget as a magic pudding, a something for nothing measure. It speaks volumes for the Treasurer's mastery of the press gallery that virtually no journalist challenged his metaphor. For its 1988 Lorne Conference the H R Nicholls Society picked up the Treasurer's theme and arranged papers on areas of Australian and New Zealand economic life in which the magic of market based transactions has been suppressed. This suppression has often come about through trade unions and governments acting in concert.

WorkCare in Victoria and the waterfront across Australia, were two areas of this kind that were covered. As is customary at H R Nicholls'' conferences accounts were given of important industrial disputes, in this case the Wide Comb dispute in the shearing industry and the now famous Dollar Sweets dispute in Melbourne. There were papers on trade unions and the law, on recent developments in New Zealand, and a keynote address from Paddy McGuinness on the conference theme. The H R Nicholls Society regards the publication of its proceedings as its main contribution to the development of industrial relations reform in Australia and New Zealand. 'In search of the Magic Pudding' is Vol. V of these proceedings. I am confident that members, supporters, and the public generally, will find much of interest and information in this volume.