The Aussie tradition is so strong that you can almost hear it sign, “We build this country… We built this country on sheep and coal!” [noting the need for Starship’s melody]
However, what does this mean to us today?
“Oh, do you remember…”
Shoosh! We’ve moved on from raw primary producers regardless of the urgings of Gina Rinehart.
Australian’s in fact do want to work, but they expect more than a couple dollars for their efforts – how else are they expected to buy essential goods and services at Australian prices?
So we’re told that Australia is moving away from production and into services, but do we really believe it? Wherever possible, companies making money off of Australians do so at the expense of Australian jobs. Manufacturing is increasingly seeking greener pastures where they needn’t share so much of their returns with their labour force. Even “made in China” is getting too expensive as that country develops.
The same is true with services provided through telecommunication. The bulk of our enquiries by phone and internet are increasingly answered by third party groups overseas where business can get away with providing lower wages.
The latest news from ANZ shows that this venture is being contemplated within the bank as well, regardless of their health profit growth.
So Australian labour is too expensive for much production and services, at least as far as businesses are concerned. Yet, moving all these jobs overseas also risks the other side of business lust – the consumer. How can you spend if you don’t have a job from which to earn? Debt growth is the only option.
Without change, we risk the erosion of the economic prosperity Australians have come to expect. Acting like a third world economy will lead us back to one.
We need to think differently.
Agriculture provides a suggestion; wine and cotton are so appealing, where the climate allows for their production, due to their high returns to weight ratio. It reminds me of the economic successes of Switzerland who rely on specialty manufacturing for export.
Take Australia; thinking third world, we dig up and cut down raw material and ship it away at rock-bottom prices, only to buy the back premium goods from these materials at top dollar. That’s mind-blowingly silly.
We could refine our uranium locally. We could process our meats locally (as opposed to live export). We could work the wood into paper and furniture, sending none of it as logs overseas. In each case, we build industries and sell the goods at a higher price.
Further, we have excellent tertiary education and revenue that could go into additional research and development. We could be exporting tomorrow’s medicines, medical equipment and medical strategies (ie. international students paying to learn at our universities). We could be leading the way in green technology, urban development, agricultural practices and technology in much the same way.
We still have a strong enough economy at least for the time being. We ought to be capitalizing on that and specialising for the top dollar, not scrounging around for quick dirty pennies.
Unless we make a change, aiming high, our economy will drift into obscurity as business erodes locally locked in an unrealistic portrait of Australia in the twenty first century; incapable with the Australian of today.