The Experience of Middle Australia: The dark side of economic reform
CUP, $36.95 pb, 272 pp
Is the great white middle class endangered in Australia? If it is, does it matter greatly? Michael Pusey answers ‘Yes’ on both counts. He argues that we are seeing a ‘hollowing out of the middle’. If he is right, this hollowing out has significant consequences. Both major political parties have spent decades courting the wannabe middle class – from Robert Menzies’ ‘forgotten people’ to Gough Whitlam’s outer suburbanites, and from Mark Latham’s ‘aspirational’ voters to the recipients of John Howard’s tax welfare and handouts for private schools. A significant contraction of this constituency would create political shock waves. In addition, the decline of the middle class would throw an interesting light on our current prime minister who, more than anyone since Menzies, has represented middle-class values and aspirations while championing the radical economic restructuring that Pusey sees as leading to the decline of the middle class.