The Nordic Edge: Policy possibilities for Australia (ed by Andrew Scott & Rod Campbell, MUP)
What can Australia learn from Nordic countries Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland? Quite a lot, according to editors Andrew Scott and Rod Campbell. Marshalling an array of Australian and Nordic writers and thinkers, The Nordic Edge examines the most pressing policy questions confronting Australia today. There is much received economic wisdom that Australians swallow without demur—politicians especially like to tell us that low taxes equal a strong economy. However, the authors in this collection demonstrate that high-taxing Nordic countries have strong economies and their populations experience high levels of wellbeing. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is a particular cause for envy, the country having generated an enormous national nest egg by investing ethically and with great transparency. Sweden leads the way in making foreign policy from a feminist perspective, calling for gender equity and combating violence against women, with research showing that more women involved in peace processes leads to more positive outcomes. In another essay concentrating on gendered accounting (considering how policy impacts women) it is shown that more equal societies have better economies and health outcomes. Other essays concentrate on global warming, media and the prison system. Progressives will shake their heads that we don’t have these policies in place already; sceptics may find some of the research presented here nudges their thinking. This book is an urgently needed re-evaluation of Australia’s policy direction that deserves a broad audience.
Chris Saliba is a co-owner of North Melbourne Books and a freelance reviewer.