The objective of the workshop is to bring together a number of scholars to examine the way in which the processes of globalisation have had an impact on, and been mediated by, various political institutions and public policies in Australia and New Zealand. These two countries are seldom compared, but given Australia/New Zealand parallels have become more extensive in recent decades, such a comparison is increasingly compelling. By comparing and contrasting political and policy development in Australia and New Zealand since the mid 1980s, and by taking into account the many similarities that exist between the two societies, it will be possible to focus on key differences between them, “thus employing social explanation in one of its most potentially powerful comparative applications”.

Despite the geographical closeness and similarities of historical development of New Zealand and Australia, there has been relatively little policy analysis that takes these countries as points of comparison for each other. Often local scholars have tended to look to North America and Europe for parallels and contrasts. While there has been some justification for this, this is less the case in recent years in that Australian and New Zealand ‘political parallels’ have been more extensive than ever, with the substantial economic and social reforms undertaken by the respective labour governments during the 1980s and by successor governments into the 1990s.

The significance of this project lies in its attention to the development of new theoretical and applied insights into policy development in an increasingly globalised environment from an explicitly comparative perspective. It will be of interest to scholars of public policy in Europe and North America as well as both side of the Tasman.