South Australia’s Choice

Those South Australians who are both, old enough to be forced and unlucky enough to have registered will carry out their democratic duty and vote this Saturday. These people will make their way to church halls, schools and RSL’s all over the state to choose the next group of people to govern our great state. Here they will be confronted by a band of socially awkward, ethically challenged and dishonest people. These true believers waving shiny pieces of paper will try to convince the voters that their team should be trusted with honour of “leading” us.

Unfortunately for South Australians after the election we will end up with one of two – equally bad – outcomes. These first possibility, the re-election of incumbent Jay Weatherill, a second-generation politician who since becoming premier has done untold damage to the state by promoting an economic ideology based on ideas that were proven ineffectual generations ago. The other potential outcome? A “liberal” government led by Steven Marshall, who is very good at pointing out the lies and stupidity of the current Labor government, unfortunately his plan seems to be to replace it with a different brand of similar untruthfulness and stupidity.

A look into the track record of “Jay for SA” Weatherill shows little relationship between his big talking emotional rhetoric and the pathetic results and disappointing outcomes his government has delivered. Looking specifically at his economic credentials, given his role as treasurer, is truly scary. When he took over as premier (October 2011) South Australia’s budget forecasts for the 2013/14 year were as follows:

debt

Now that we are in the 2013/14 financial year we can see how poorly this government has fared. Given current forecasts show net lending and state debt are expected to continue to get worse and this governments history of overestimating their economic abilities, this situation does not bode well for South Australians.

Even more concerning to South Australians should be recent revelations that Mr. Weatherill’s latest costing estimates contain errors of basic arithmetic. It is understandable for people of different political persuasions to disagree on the economic costs and benefits of a certain project and engage in robust debate regarding those differences. However few people would think it acceptable for the treasurer of a state to make errors of mathematics then when confronted about these mistakes palm of queries to their spin doctors the way Mr. Weatherill has.

Moving on to the states other potential leader should not make South Australians breathe any easier. Steven Marshalls background of running a small family business seems to have been totally erased from his mind if you look at the profligate way his Liberal party is throwing money around in an attempt to buy votes. In an election that is looking more and more likely to deliver the new Liberal leader a comfortable enough victory, most would think he would try and get off on the right foot by getting the state back on a stable financial footing. However the pork barrelling is well and truly on a roll. In the last few days the Liberals have promised $800,000 for people with eating disorders, $12 million for companies who hire apprentices, $500,000 per year for a “local disability innovation fund”, $300,000 per year to the racing industry plus $15 million for the Murray Bridge Horse racing club. Basically all these bribes intended to do nothing more than buy votes have come in the space of 2 days.

Essentially any South Australian voter who believes in the merits of a free market as opposed to a top-down planned economy is faced two bad choices.  If confronted by a madman who said, “I can chop off your arm or your leg”, I’d imagine the majority of people would try and figure out a way to keep all their limbs in tact. I truly hope the voting public of this state realise choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing an evil. If we are to end up with a more economically conservative, pro-market, pro-freedom government, we need to start by making it clear that we do not accept the status quo. And that means choosing to keep all of our limbs.

Labor’s Right topples another party leader

Damian-Wyld Menzies House Contributing Editor Damian Wyld analyses recent events in South Australia:

South Australia’s Labor Government is a shambles. A coup planned against Premier Mike Rann has essentially failed, with Rann announcing he will linger on until October 20 in a “mentoring” role.

Any suggestion that this is an orderly transition, an exercise in healthy generational change, is scarcely credible against the background of long-running Labor turmoil. The spin cannot mask the fact Labor needs more than a new leader to pull it out of a poll free-fall. Furthermore, recent happenings raise questions about factional dynamics.

First, some background.

The credibility of both former Treasurer Kevin Foley and soon-to-be-ex-Premier Mike Rann was severely dented after each of them was involved in separate but very public assault cases. These cases on their own did not cause each man’s fall from grace, but they certainly increased rumblings of discontent within Labor ranks and calls for new blood.

Prolonged union campaigns against the government failed to force the issue, and Labor’s Left faction Education Minister Jay Weatherill’s 2010 challenge for the deputy premier’s position was a forlorn hope. At that time, Labor’s Right was still confident in the strength of its caucus numbers.

Earlier this year, Foley’s step down to more junior Cabinet portfolios saw the Right install John Rau as Deputy Premier, Jack Snelling as Treasurer and Bernard Finnigan as parliamentary upper house leader.

This seemed to indicate a clear succession plan, with growing public speculation, denied at every turn by Premier Rann, that he would step down in late 2011 or early 2012, depending on which former SA Labor premier (John Bannon or Don Dunstan) he might be trying to outlast.

But an unexpected series of events, coupled with the collapse of Labor’s poll rating (on a two-party preferred basis) to below 40 per cent, shattered Labor’s relative calm.

The last few months have seen Bernard Finnigan resign his position as Labor’s upper house leader. A fortnight ago a former long-standing Rann Government minister, Paul Holloway — another former upper house leader — announced his retirement from parliament. Last month, newly appointed Minister for Local Government Russell Wortley was on the receiving end of only the second successful no-confidence motion against an upper house minister since the Legislative Council was established in 1857.

Meanwhile, other issues have eroded Labor’s public standing, including the government’s long-running conflict with the Public Service Association over entitlements; the axing of funding to the Keith and District Hospital in the state’s south-east; the planned privatisation of the south-east’s forests; and massive cost blow-outs on projects such as the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The crisis engulfing Labor became so great that the Right, instead of backing one of its own members, threw its weight behind the Left’s Jay Weatherill. Even with this almost all-encompassing support behind him, Weatherill shrank back from confronting Premier Rann himself. That unenviable task was left to Jack Snelling and SDA (the shoppies’ union) state secretary Peter Malinauskas.

According to The Advertiser, Rann swore at them and threatened “World War III” (he later denied this), before he headed off to India for a week on official business.

The similarities with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s forcible retirement are eerie, right down to the figures involved (including Senator Don Farrell, foe of Rudd and major Right figure, having been Malinauskas’s predecessor at the SDA).

Weatherill’s conspicuous absence at key moments in the drama has left him looking weak, an appearance compounded by Rann’s stalling tactics. Rann may well have unfinished business — and possibly, just possibly, even a genuine desire to ease his successor into the job — but the phoney coup has left no one in charge. Rann looks like a spoiler who won’t leave, and Weatherill won’t — or can’t — make him.

So where does this leave things?

The Liberals will be delighted to return to Parliament for three weeks of “Will the real premier please stand up?”. They will also be preparing for at least two by-elections: Rann’s seat of Ramsay and Foley’s seat of Port Adelaide. The Liberals need swings of 18.1 and 12.9 per cent respectively, but even a strong showing would be a boost ahead of the 2014 state election.

Labor’s factional future should also give pause for thought. The Right may have the numbers, and Weatherill may have been installed at its pleasure just as Gillard was federally. But, should Labor miraculously survive 2014, Weatherill will doubtless become his own man and no longer be beholden to the Right.

Other signs of the party’s leftwards-lurch are apparent. Labor recently revealed that it will oppose Family First’s bill to provide adoption and foster-care information to women seeking an abortion. Conscience votes on abortion are obviously passé.

So too are the old ideological lines, with an increasing number of Right positions being given to MPs and union leaders who have defected from the Left for pragmatic reasons.

When he finally comes to power, Weatherill may well enjoy a honeymoon poll bounce. But, as a member of the Rann Cabinet, he has directly participated in many of the decisions that have reduced Labor’s standing to where it is today. He will need to address these issues and chart a new course for the government. Otherwise it will just be the same problem horse with a different jockey. 

Damian Wyld is the South Australian State President of the National Civic Council and a contributing editor of Menzies House.

Voters should get the government they vote for

Iain-Evans This is an excerpt from South Australian State MP Iain Evans' address to the 2010 South Australian Young Liberal Ball.

It is unbelievable that in South Australia, one of the world’s best democracies, we are debating whether the party that wins the majority of the state wide two-party preferred vote should form government.

But in South Australia in 2010 this is the question that people are asking- ‘Should the party that wins the majority of the state wide two-party preferred vote form government?’

If communication into my electorate office is anything to go by the overwhelming majority of South Australians believe that the answer to the question is yes.

The question South Australia needs to consider – Does the Party system now dominate our electoral system to such an extent that the vast majority of voters now vote for the party rather than the candidate – and if that is the electorate’s mindset, would they accept change to the electoral system that guarantees a party that wins more than 50 per cent of the state-wide vote, wins Government?

The state wide two-party preferred vote is called the “popular vote” and three of the last six state elections have seen governments formed by the party that won less than 50 per cent of the state wide two-party preferred vote, that is, less than 50 per cent of the popular vote.

In 1989 the Liberal Party won 52 per cent of the state wide two-party preferred vote. Labor formed government winning more seats with less votes.

In 2002 the Liberal Party won 50.9 per cent of the state wide two-party preferred vote. Labor formed government with the support of an Independent.

In 2010 the Liberal Party won 51.6 per cent of the state wide two-party preferred vote. Labor formed government by winning more seats with less votes.

In each election the majority of South Australian voters got the Government they did not vote for.

In response to the 1989 election result the Parliament made changes to the state electoral system requiring a redistribution of electoral boundaries after every election in an attempt to ensure that the party that wins the majority of the state wide two-party preferred vote forms government.

The formal words in the Act are;

In making an electoral redistribution the Commission must ensure, as far as practicable, that the electoral redistribution is fair to prospective candidates and groups of candidates so that, if candidates of a particular group attract more than 50 per cent of the popular vote (determined by aggregating votes cast throughout the State and allocating preferences to the necessary extent), they will be elected in sufficient numbers to enable a government to be formed.

These words are significant as they show that the Parliament has already adopted a very important principle. If the candidates of a particular party (group of candidates) attract more than 50 per cent of the popular vote they will be elected in sufficient numbers to enable a government to be formed.

In other words, the Parliament has adopted a principle that the party that wins the majority of the state wide two-party preferred vote – the popular vote – should form government.

It’s time to review the electoral system and change it so that there is a guarantee that the party that wins the majority of the state-wide two-party preferred vote forms government.

One option is to implement a ‘top-up system’. Under this system the party that wins the majority of the state wide two-party preferred vote but not the majority of seats in the Lower House (the current requirement to form government) is given the right to top up the number of Members of Parliament required to give them a one seat majority in the Lower House, thus, controlling the Lower House and forming government.

These ‘top-up’ Members of Parliament would be nominated on a list prior to the election and selected in order depending on how many extra votes are needed. This way, voters are aware of the possible ‘top-up’ MPs before they cast their vote.

This also provides the Government the opportunity to bring in specialist skills via having experts on the list. Top business people or leading medical specialists etc. could be attracted to a list entry to politics rather than a campaign entry.

Another option is for the party who wins the majority of the state wide two-party preferred vote (but not the majority of seats) to have certain cabinet members with more votes on the floor of the Parliament. This way, rather than topping up the number of Members of Parliament (which would mean added expenses to the tax payer) the number of votes is topped up. This has the same result in guaranteeing Government to the party that wins the majority of the state wide two-party preferred vote.

There are other advantages in adopting a system that guarantees the party that wins the popular vote wins government.

First, a Liberal vote in a safe Liberal seat has the same value as a Liberal vote in a safe Labor seat and a Labor vote in a safe Labor seat has the same value as a Labor vote in a safe Liberal seat. Hence, the parties would need to campaign across the whole state to secure votes rather than focussing solely on the marginal seats. All votes state wide become equal in value.

Secondly, Governments would need to change government spending patterns. They would not be able to pork barrel marginal seats and ignore other seats as votes in all seats across the state would have equal value.

These would fundamentally change government and campaigning in South Australia. Importantly, it would guarantee that the party that wins the majority of the state wide two-party preferred vote would form government.

Thirdly, it prevents Governments being negotiated away by Independents.

The current system of having an independent boundaries commission that redistributes electoral boundaries and determines the new boundaries after every election is well intentioned and should be maintained but is not foolproof.

Can we really expect the independent boundaries commission to be able to guess how the voters who voted at this election will vote in four years time at the next election? The issues, the personalities, the politics, the economy, the political climate, the voters in each electorate and the electoral boundaries will be different.

How can we really expect the boundaries commission to look into a crystal ball to determine how voters will vote in four years time and redistribute electoral boundaries to achieve the principle that the Parliament wants – the party that wins the majority of the state wide two-party preferred vote forms government. I acknowledge that the boundaries commission have used their best endeavours to achieve what the Parliament has requested of them.

I am not suggesting the system I outline is perfect but neither is the current system. The question is: will a new system be fairer for voters?

Implementing changes guaranteeing that the party that wins the popular vote wins government would mean the majority of voters would get the government they vote for. There can’t be anything fairer than that.

Hon Iain Evans MP is the Liberal Member for Davenport and the Shadow Treasurer in South Australia.

On Liberalism and Federalism

Steven-Marshall This is an excerpt from the Maiden Speech of new South Australian state Liberal MP for Norwood, Steven Marshall.

I have two specific themes that I would like to address for the remainder of my maiden speech: Liberalism and Federalism.

During the election campaign, I found many people were surprised that someone with an obvious interest and concern for the environment was a Liberal candidate. This in turn surprised me, as I see the Liberal Party and liberal philosophy completely compatible with environmentalism.

I am a Liberal because I strongly believe in the Liberal philosophy.

The definitive statement on Liberalism was John Stuart Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ first published in 1859. Mill was a great defender of the rights and liberty of the individual. He believed that the role of the law and of government was not to impose majority will but to ensure the liberty of the individual. To me, this is fundamental. I do not want to be told how to live my life by others. I strongly believe that we all have the capacity to determine how we can best live our lives and best achieve our own goals and aspirations. I want a government which will facilitate this – not stifle this. I am increasingly concerned about our ‘nanny state’ direction. I do not believe that government’s have any right to interfere in our lives save to prevent harm to others.

When discussing the formation of the Liberal Party, Robert Menzies stated:

‘We took the name Liberal because we were determined to be a progressive party, willing to make experiments, in no sense reactionary, but believing in the individual, his rights and his enterprise, and rejecting the Socialist panacea.’

I honestly believe that the Liberal Party is the party which best suits the breadth of opinion and diversity in Australia. The Liberal Party is often referred to as a ‘broad church’ tolerating and indeed encouraging many often divergent opinions. Often this can be a target for political point scoring, in reality, I believe it is our greatest strength. There is simply no central authority stifling opinion and debate. No central authority determining policy which I must then adopt and subsequently preach. This is not the case in other parties which converge around narrow interest groups which can’t possibly serve all Australians.

Madam speaker, I am a committed federalist. I believe very strongly in the federal system of government. I have sought to represent my community in the State Parliament because I believe it is here that we can affect the most change and influence a bright future for our children in this great state of South Australia.

It is disappointing to reflect that at present, the role and value of state governments across our continent is being called into question – and I have to say that to me this is no surprise.

In recent years there has been a widening gap between the role state governments should play and the one that they actually play. State governments should be focussed on service delivery and be designed to keep decision making as close to the people affected as possible. People should feel that their State government is there to look after them – to educate their children, tend to the sick, police their communities, build their infrastructure and help the vulnerable within their society.

By contrast, the role of our federal government should be to take responsibility for those matters that are clearly best dealt with at that level – maintaining a defence force, a uniform corporate environment and the conducting of foreign policy should all be the domain of a national government.

However, it is interesting to note that at the time of Australia’s federation, the Constitution that was adopted involved the specific codification of the powers and responsibilities of the Federal Government. As is made clear in section 107 of the Constitution of Australia, apart from those powers enumerated to the federal government, all and any other powers and responsibilities lie with the governments of each of the states.

This point is very telling – that at federation the thinking was clear. There was and still is a defined role for a Federal government, but the default and most substantial level of government should be State government.

The situation that we find ourselves in today is far from the intention of our founding fathers. Problems that our state governments should be addressing have been neglected. The federal government has greedily sought more and more of the powers and responsibilities that State governments should provide, and our State governments have glibly acquiesced to such advances.

The recent ceding of responsibilities for health care is a prime example of state governments preferring to give away responsibility rather than to take responsibility.

Far from being the default and substantive level of government in Australia, debate and public opinion is heading towards the concept of abolishing state governments altogether. Indeed at a recent public appearance of former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Liberal Prime Minister John Howard, both men agreed that the role of State governments was defunct and unnecessary in modern Australia.

It is no surprise to hear such statements from a member of the Labor Party. Labor do not favour a federalist structure. For them – any power and decision making that they can centralise they will seek to do so. Where they can take decision making away from local communities and place it behind closed doors with faceless bureaucrats they will do it.

What is concerning is that this opinion is echoed by a man I greatly respect and consider to be one of our greatest Prime Ministers – John Howard. But I know the basis and motivation of John Howard’s position. It is not the theory behind State governments but the reality of their recent performance in carrying out the functions that they are supposed to. He speaks from exasperation with a status quo attitude prevalent in our state governments tailored towards buck-passing, blame-shifting and nest-feathering.

Current state governments are letting this country down – however I am not prepared to cede to the notion that this means that the system is broken or incompatible with modern life and ways.

I am here to fight for the role of state governments, and to demonstrate that it is not the system that is broken but the people running it.

Madam speaker, I currently represent the same electorate as a former Labor Premier, Don Dunstan. Whilst I would not have voted for him, Don Dunstan was unequivocally a political leader who held the courage of his convictions and his ideology. In our democratic, adversarial system, there is no greater outcome for the people than when two competing ideologies stand up and clash against each other, allowing the public to adjudicate the arguments on Election Day.

But what we have today is far from this. Rather than a government engaging in the battle of ideas, seeking solutions to our problems, encouraging our endeavours and empowering our aspirations, it is obsessed with self preservation through media manipulation and spin. No bold thinking – just safe mediocrity.

I am here to participate in the battle of ideas. I have the courage of my convictions and my ideology. I believe in small, but effective government. I believe in the strength, determination and freedom of the individual. I believe in the enterprise of the South Australian people and our ability to be the best in the world at whatever we choose to dedicate ourselves towards. 

It is time for bold ideas, vision and action. I relish the opportunity and commit myself to this cause whilst I have the privilege to serve my community and my State in this chamber.

Steven Marshall MP is the Liberal Member for Norwood in the South Australian parliament. His personal website can be found at http://www.stevenmarshall.com.au/home.html

Who is really running for Premier of South Australia?

Chris Browne questions whether voters realise just who they are voting for in South Australia.

Recent polls have shown that the South Australian election will come down to the wire. Mike Rann has been caught off-guard by Isobel Redmond, the energetic new leader of the Liberal Party who has changed what should have been a clear victory for Labor into a hotly contested election.

It's strange then, that there aren't any Mike Rann posters up around the metropolitan area of the city promoting the Premier, nor any television ads. On the flip-side, "Redmond is Ready" posters are covering electricity poles and light posts in every direction out of (and in) the city.

So the question begs: are Labor trying to hide their embattled and tired leader? And the more pertinent question that has not been approached by even the most daring media commentators is that if Mike Rann wins, will he remain premier until the 2014 election?

The answer is clearly that he won't. So who are South Australian electors really voting for if Labor wins?

Of the senior Labor Ministers, only the Treasurer Kevin Foley can really lay claim to the position. Other senior Ministers including the accident-prone Attorney-General Michael Atkinson and poor-performing Transport Minister Pat Conlon have done more to damage the government in the last four years than help it. This has surely been realised by the caucus, leaving both men with no chance at the top job following an inevitable leadership spill. 

The problem with Treasurer Foley is that he isn't electable. His very public personal life would presumably be the primary reason that he would be overlooked for the leadership. Other talent such as Tom Koutsantonis, who racked up 60 driving convictions while he was Road Safety Minister, are political liabilities who the party cannot afford to consider for senior office. 

Because of Mike Rann's unwillingness to promote the potential talent within his party to the front bench at the expense of poor-performing relics such as Atkinson, he has left his party with an incredibly shallow pool of potential leadership talent. This has agitated his back-benchers that are itching to spill the leadership within months of an election, regardless of the result.

Instead of promoting itself, the ALP is spending much of its campaign resources running a negative campaign painting the Liberal Party as the "L-Plate" party. But once you look at potential post-Rann leaders within the ALP, that same criticism could be leveled at them, too.

UPDATE

Since writing this article, this was posted on AdelaideNow. I still don't buy it – he might intend to serve another full term as Premier if he gets elected but I doubt the Labor caucus is thinking the same thing…

Chris Browne is Editor-in-Chief of Menzies House.

Roads to nowhere

Government interference could be responsible for massive urban sprawl, writes Michael G.

One of the strangest things I often see the political right criticise is the trend towards densification, public transport, and a lesser reliance on cars. It is assumed that the automobile is the natural form of transport, and a large lot in the suburbs is the natural form of housing.

When the announcement was made to duplicate the one-way Southern Expressway in Adelaide, South Australia, the President of the Real Estate Institute of SA welcomed it, saying that “just [like] the Heysen Tunnels, I think you’ll see the flow-on effect from easy access, [an] increase [in] prices … people will be happier to live further away because the access distance will be reduced.”

He’s right. Land to be bought was there and available, but at the previous price and without the expressway duplicated, it did not gain much interest. People would buy elsewhere, closer to the city, because this would be the better option for them. But with the completion of the Southern Expressway, their choices are distorted, and their decisions are different from what they otherwise would be.

The expressway is in effect a subsidy, a form of welfare, a handout, propping up development where there otherwise wouldn’t have been any. The problems of urban sprawl, traffic jams, higher pollution, and the wasting of people’s lives in their daily commute will result directly from the expressway’s completion.

But a natural course of development continues, however: throughout central Adelaide, within the outer ring route, older houses are knocked down and subdivisions see more and newer houses built. In the city centre, more and more apartment buildings rise towards the sky.

More people are living closer to the best schools, closer to their places of work and worship, and closer to where oppourtunities are and will be.  This is done despite government infrastructure spending encouraging the opposite.

The degree of Adelaide’s urban sprawl is not due to private development, but to government interference. Whether it is the former City of Elizabeth in the north, the masses of housing trust homes in the south, or the Heysen Tunnels in the hills, these were all government projects that distorted people’s erstwhile choices.

Where would people develop without all this interference? With a cessation on the construction of new government-built roads and the removal of heritage and other restrictions on development, where would people then choose to build? I am willing to bet they would not have their first choice more than 30 kilometers from the city centre.

Michael G is completing degrees in finance and history at Flinders University and works at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.

A long term solution for the Mitsubishi Lonsdale site

Andrew-Burgess Let’s use existing skills to support the defence industry, writes Andrew Burgess.

In 2010 and beyond, South Australia will face many tough questions regarding economic restructuring. As industries such as mining and defence continue to grow and become more economically feasible, other industries will face decline through the increasing pressures of globalisation and technological change.

In Australia there has been a seismic shift from manufacturing based industries to service based industries. Much the same can be said of many other developed countries in the world.

Economic restructuring brings forth a very important issue, namely what can be done with those skilled workers who suddenly find themselves out of a job. In South Australia the policy focus has been on helping these recently unemployed workers find any new job.

Re-employment into jobs where these workers’ skills are underutilised was a large mistake on the part of the policymakers. Many workers could only find part time or casual work for a fraction of the pay and subsequently this places great stress and economic pressure on individuals. Indeed it has been shown over the past 20 years that the demise of secure jobs in traditional sectors and the shift to part time and casual work has been a key reason for growing job insecurity in Australia as well as in the UK.

A more effective strategy for utilising the unemployed workers at the Mitsubishi Lonsdale plant would be a further training or up-skilling program designed to keep these skilled workers within the manufacturing trade. This is especially important given the skills shortage faced by the state at the present time.

Instead the Federal and State Governments responded with the Structural Adjustment Fund for South Australia (SAFSA): a $45 million capital subsidy offering grants to entice new business entrants to invest in South Australia or to encourage existing businesses to expand their businesses further.

The justification for this decision was that the new entrants would absorb the majority of the displaced workers from the Lonsdale site. The government has since been forced to admit that the majority of firms who received grants have not achieved their employment targets. Further, more than half of SAFSA funding was given to businesses in the North of Adelaide when the vast majority of the workers at the Londsdale plant live in the South of Adelaide.

It is clear that a policy intervention was needed in regards to up-skilling or further training of the skilled workers. However as the redundancies at Mitsubishi occurred during a time when the state of South Australia was experiencing a boom in the mining and defence industries, the rationale of the government seemed to suggest that displaced workers would be able to move seamlessly from one industry to another.

As South Australian Premier Mike Rann at the time commented:  “When we saw Lonsdale close, we were able to find jobs for nearly all of the people who wanted jobs because of other things that were happening . . . A lot of people who build the actual hulls and things associated with the defence industry will be coming out of car industry jobs”.

A more effective long term policy would be to re-skill workers at the plant so they can produce defence technology at that facility. Why let the facilities and skilled labour go to waste? The money from the Federal government would be much better utilised by expanding or retooling the plant to accommodate defence technology. This would give the workers greater job security and job satisfaction.

The Federal Government is too far removed from the states and too concerned with its own problems to understand the problems at the regional level. A forward thinking local government should have requested a policy intervention as it seems ludicrous to let these skilled workers compete in the already overcrowded services industry especially at a time of critical skills shortages.

Furthermore, this strategy has work overseas. Force Protection Ltd was established in 1997 and has its base in South Carolina on a 260 acre campus that formerly produced General Electric turbine engines. Force Protection Ltd has expanded so rapidly that it now has four more facilities spread over three states and employs over 1000 people.

Andrew has a degree in Marketing and Commercial Law from the University of South Australia and is currently undertaking a graduate certificate in Sustainable Business.