Guest essay by Viv Forbes
To compete in today’s world we need to score well on resource availability, capital assets, energy costs, tax burden and workforce/management. It also helps to have secure property rights and a sound currency. Today’s Australia scores poorly on all counts.
In 1901, the year of Federation, Australia was the richest country in the world per capita.
The Pioneer generations, with freedom to explore and invest, had developed valuable mineral assets – gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper, coal, tin and iron. And they had bred up large numbers of sheep and cattle on our native grasslands.
Energy was abundant – wood, horse power, kerosene, gas, hydro and coal powered electricity – we were among world leaders in cheap energy. Sydney had gas lights in its streets as far back as 1820.
The Pioneering innovators also invented game-changers such as the stump jump plough, the Ridley-Sunshine Harvester and froth flotation of minerals, and they developed better Australian versions of Leviathan coaches, Southern Cross windmills, Merino sheep, Shorthorn cattle, Federation wheat, Kelpies and Blue Heeler dogs.
The Builder generations who followed the pioneers invested heavily in productive capital assets like flour mills and wool sheds, mines and collieries, smelters and saw mills, power stations and electric trams, trans-continental railways and overland telegraph lines, orchards and plantations, stockyards and abattoirs, breweries and vineyards, dams and artesian bores, factories and universities, exploration and research, pipelines and harbours, railways and roads. There were no “Lock-the-Gate” signs.
Governments were decentralised with minimal taxes and red tape, creating new business was easy and union power was minimal and generally beneficial for workers.
But then the Termite generations took over, and for much of the last forty years taxes, handouts and green tape have been smothering new enterprise. We are sponging on the ageing assets created by past generations and building little to support future Australians. The monuments left by this generation are typified by casinos, sports arenas, wind-energy prayer wheels, sit-down money and debt.
The trendy war on carbon has already inflated our electricity costs – this will hasten the closure of more processing and manufacturing industries. Green tape is shutting-the-gate on new investments in exploration, grassland protection, dams, power stations, fishing, forestry and coastal development. Taxes are weakening existing industry and the savings that could build new industries are being wasted on bureaucracy, delays, legalism, subsidies, climate tomfoolery and green energy toys. Finally, union featherbedding is crippling any large survivors.
Australia’s future prosperity demands cheap energy, more investment in productive assets, reduced government costs, more productive labour and the freedom to explore and innovate.
We must change, or more jobs will follow Holden.
More at carbon-sense.com