Economic Nationalism

A reflection of poor leadership as much as poor policy

By Jordan Shopov

Earlier this year, as part of his failed re-election bid, Kevin Rudd famously declared himself “an economic nationalist.” This re-branding exercise followed a string of comments surrounding the state of Australia’s foreign ownership laws, and underpinned part of the Rudd campaign’s dubious effort to win over the more xenophobic elements of Australia’s electorate.

Thankfully, much of the Australian policy community were quick to condemn Rudd’s “policy on the run” for its potential to limit direct foreign investment and hamper economic ties with Australia’s key trading partners. Such nationalist economic sentiment, however, has not been unique to Australia.

Over recent months, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has gradually revealed his own brand of “economic nationalism.” His government has steadily implemented an array of regulatory measures that not only risk derailing PNG’s recent economic progress, but also pose a threat to long term socio-economic development.

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