As in other developed market economies, the Federal Government of Australia has in the last ten years or so used a number of policy instruments which are commonly regarded as incomes policies. These included centralised wage fixing, prices surveillance, wage indexation and personal income tax indexation. In April 1983, after consultation with the state and local governments, the trade unions, and the business community at a National Economic Summit Conference, a new set of principles for policy-making were enunciated in the Communiqué of the Summit Conference (National Economic Summit Conference, 1983). These principles differ from the earlier uses of incomes policies in a number of respects. They are based on an attempt to derive a national consensus from a framework of tripartite consultations, and they are much more comprehensive in terms of the incomes groups covered by the arrangements, and the instrument set and the set of objectives to which they are assigned. There has been disagreement about the likely effectiveness and desirability of these new income policies (see, for example, Fels, 1983; Gruen, 1983; Kemp, 1983), as there was about earlier income policies. As two years have elapsed since the policies were first announced, it is now possible to see more clearly what constraints on income fixing are implied and to detect some effects on the economy.
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