Fifty Years of the OECD and Forty Years of Australian Membership



The Country Party leader Jack McEwen said that Australia would join the OECD “over my dead body” and it did not do so until 1971, the year he retired from politics. Since then Australia has taken part in what is a complex “network of networks” linking over 40,000 senior public servants from many of the most influential states via some 200 committees spanning a wide range of policy areas. Yet Australian scholars have paid little attention to the OECD and to its effect upon Australia. Our essay is a first step in remedying this gap. Using both archival sources and interviews with public servants, we examine Australia's reasons for taking up OECD membership and assess its impact on policymaking since, the most obvious of which has been upon policy learning. We also ask about Australia's impact on the OECD.