Why Australia Prospered

Reports today of the death of economic historian Ian McLean. There is a hard copy edition of McLean’s book ‘Why Australia Prospered’ in the City branch of Cairns Library, in excellent condition. Insightful, relevant and highly recommended.


There is a good review from Andrew Leigh (MP) which also touches on a counterfactual from McLean on the proposal for a separate state in the north:

A third counterfactual is if the northern part of Queensland had been successful in creating another colony in the 1880s. McLean suggests that such a colony might have consisted of an aristocracy of white planters relying on indentured labour from the nearby Pacific islands. Such an experiment would have looked more like the Caribbean, or the antebellum south, and might well have produced similarly poor long-run growth outcomes. The decision by British colonial authorities to veto such a colony was regarded as a minor one at the time, but turned out to be an important turning point in Australian economic history.

I’m not sure some of the same concerns don’t still exist politically in some ways which is why I still don’t perceive that the idea of a separate state in North Queensland is in the interests of Cairns:

Election 2019: Communities of interest in North Queensland

From Louisiana to Queensland: how American slave owners started again in Australia



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