School of History Seminar Series: Crossing the Tasman

Social Policy Debates in Australia and New Zealand in the 1960s and 1970s

Many accounts have considered the unique ‘Wage Earners Welfare State” model that developed in Australia and New Zealand from the liberal ascendency at the beginning of the 20th century. What came afterwards? The historiography concentrates on the global transition from Keynesian to neo-liberalism as the major event in the second half of the twentieth century Australasia, what Philip Mendes and others have called “Welfare Wars” when the welfare state was ‘dismantled’. In this paper I consider these debates about social welfare and its history, in particular was it the case of ‘one history and two historiographies’ for New Zealand and Australia?




Melanie Nolan is Professor of History, Director of the National Centre of Biography and General Editor of the Australian Dictionary of National Biography. Her publications include Breadwinning (2000) a history of women and the state and Kin (2005) a collective biography of a working-class family.


All welcome. Please direct enquiries to

Date & time

Wed 26 Mar 2014, 4.15–5.30pm


McDonald Room, Menzies Library ANU

Event series


School of History


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