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This paper aims to explain the historical development of Australia's foreign economic policy by using an analytical framework called a 'State-society coalition' approach. This approach focuses on virtual coalitions of state and society actors that share 'Belief systems' and hold similar policy ideas, goals and preferences, as basic units (policy subsystems) of policy making. Major policy changes occur when a dominant coalition is replaced by another. The paper argues that, in Australia, there have been three major state-society coalitions in the foreign economic policy issue area: 'Protectionists', 'Trade liberalisers' and 'Optional bilateralists'.
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