Arguments for reshaping political agendas invariably begin from an appraisal of past errors and achievements. Paul Kelly's notion of the 'Australian Settlement' attempts such a task. Kelly identifies a particular ideological and institutional tradition in Australian politics that dominated much of the twentieth century and that is now deemed to have broken down. This article accepts that the notion of a Settlement provides certain insights into the evolution of Australian political thought. Nonetheless, the paper takes issue with the specific content of Kelly's version of the 'Australian Settlement' and indicates how it may be reformulated. It argues that, to the extent that we can speak of a 'Settlement' in Australia, it was one reached on a wider range of key conflicts or cleavages than those to which Kelly refers.
Followed by a rejoinder in : Australian Journal of Political Science 39(1): 43-7