Would The Real Australia Please Stand Up

EXCLUSIVE: by Allan Essery

I have been a fan of Professor Thomas Sowell for quite some time and believe that his observations convey messages that need to be presented.  There is much truth in his claim that, ''Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.''

Since the mid to late 60's we have seen our once vibrant manufacturing industry slowly fade away until it is but a shadow of its former self and we have become reliant on sub-standard goods manufactured in foreign factories. The Lima Agreement can take blame for much, if not all of that.

We have watched our home-grown product labels sold off to foreign interests and our education system take several backward steps from common sense.  We have witnessed a welfare system that was supposed to be a safety net develop into an entitlements regime where those that have contributed absolutely nothing believe it is their right to be supported by those that provide.

Back in the 60's Australia boasted an innovative and progressive iron and steel industry that provided employment at Port Kembla alone for thousands of workers.  In addition there were those employed by the many off-shoots and support industries including an apprenticeship scheme that provided tradesmen of all kinds for the future. 

There were some 14 vehicle manufacturers with around 28 manufacturing and assembly plants around Australia. Again there was a specialist network of supporting industries.  Today we see Ford signalling its closure in Australia and Holden hanging on by the skin of its teeth and most of those supporting industries have long gone.

Clothing and shoe manufacturing is virtually non existent in Australia today.  This is in stark contrast to that which ruled immediately following WWII.  In Australia there was an influx of migrants from war-torn Europe.  The males were absorbed into iron and steel industries at Port Kembla, Newcastle, Whyalla and other avenues of employment. Industries sprang up taking advantage of a huge pool of  migrant women that  absorbed this plethora of willing, female workers.

In the Wollongong region south of Sydney there were 13 shoe and clothing manufacturers with multiple factories from Bellambi to Dapto.  They are all gone and again their supporting industries went with them and we haven't even considered the rest of the country.

What happened?  Well, if we take into account the voting intelligence of a large portion of Australian voters we would find that they will, almost without fail, elect governments that promise the earth and provide little.  They will vote in a government on little more than a few pre-elections, short term sweeteners, and promises laced with lies and deceit that produce little more than broken promises and failed policies.  They will accept the word of politicians who have an understanding of finances and economy, an expertise on par with Donald Duck.

Robin P, who inspired this article said, ''I have seen our social security system, which is great in principle, abused right left and centre by those it is meant to protect. What should be a safety net has become an albatross around our necks.  Come hell or high water that system has to be returned to the ''Safety Net'' that it was supposed to be.'' 

What we need to do is to dump all of the procrastinators and wafflers.  Get rid of the self professed ''experts'', the failed economists, consultants, psychologists, over paid bureaucrats, get rich quick lawyers, big government and vote buying talentless politicians and get back to the principle of production, value adding and the re-ignition of our national pride.  What a change that would be from the do nothing, produce nothing, and add nothing mentality that exists today.

Then there is the government-sponsored lottery in which you don't even have to buy a ticket.  Baby bonuses, carbon tax offsets, GFC handouts, never ending unemployment benefits for dole bludgers and immigrants who are still unemployed after five years in Australia.  This is the way politicians seek to stay in office; all the while assuring you they know what they are doing, and that they are really looking after you.

Nothing will change, except to worsen, if Australians don't wake up and if they continue to elect into government incompetent, would be politicians who have nothing more to offer than gigantic egos, and the ability to yap while they reap from the politicians grab bag remuneration the worth of which far exceeds their contribution.

Alan Essery is an ex-RAAF officer retired from active duty. He was a flight instructor and charter pilot. He also writes on matters political and is a staunch battler for ex-service superannuants. He is also rumoured to be a savvy fossicker for the yellow stuff.

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.