Australian Spills in the Hope We Won’t Slip

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It was said that mining interest brought down the previous Prime Minister and it is probably equally true that the media helped to bring down the following one. More concerned with her fashion, personal life and internal party rivalries than her policies, it’s difficult to see how anyone could stand against such sledging and remain popular.

It’s troubling to think that the media can have such a biased sway over democracy, but it also provides a niche for independent media, with sections of the audience in search of transparent news sources.

Courageous?

While some within the ALP were calling themselves courageous for their continuous support of Julia Gillard, many observes were shaking their heads.

Firstly, this is not an attempt to kick Gillard while she is down – I’m finding myself defending her more often than I ever thought I would in personal conversations (on NewAnthro, I’ve provided my fair share of criticism of many ministers, Julia included). She did her job as best she could and was no better or worse than her predecessor. Both were better in many ways from Howard before them and are leaps and bounds above the current challenger; Tony Abbott.

Yet, for Gillard, there simply was no future. Gremlins within the media had chewed through the break line and if they stayed on that ride… annihilation. It is not courageous to give the country on a platter to an Abbott government.

Abbott Policies are not in our favour

Abbott’s Direct Action Plan is doomed to fail (perhaps intentionally designed to fail). Even if he relied upon the more robust method of carbon sequestration – tree plantation – the scale of the project would see annual wood production grow by more than 300% in the most optimistic measurements. Most concerning, the Direct Action Plan takes our tax dollars and hands it over to private industry for their benefit, not the actual tax payer (more here).

Should our tax dollars go to replacing the light globes in Gina Rinehart’s office? And we’re not talking about something as small as light globes, but millions of dollars.

The Great Northern Development again is a pipedream. Sure, it will not fail as the Direct Action Plan will, but like the plan, this development is entirely about funding profits for private industry.

Beyond the resource boom available in the north, the climate, soil and water security all ensure that whatever infrastructure is built up north – especially in northern WA and NT – will become too costly to maintain by a large community without further avenues of revenue accruement.

Put basically, farming will not be the cash cow for a large northern population, so with mining cash gone post-boom, how will this population afford to fix roads and dams (and there will be a lot of them to ensure enough water supplies in the harsh north) and maintain hospitals and schools? Most resources will need to be shipped in at greater expense (more here).

Soon, the climate and expense of life out there will become too much for most, who will then return to the south. So the infrastructure investment in the north will only be to support mining communities so that these resources can be extracted as quickly as possible. Not for the Australian community mind you – especially if Gina gets the mining tax removed – but entirely for private wealth creation.

And it doesn’t even stop there. Rinehart complains about sharing her profits with labours – implying that Australians don’t want to work because they cannot afford to for less than $10 per five-day week.

Why Mention Rinehart so much?

Why does this matter? An Abbott led government wishes to secure Rinehart’s profits, by removing taxes and making it easier for her to hire such workers.

So, not only are the Direct Action Plan and the Great Northern Development funded entirely by you and I to pay for the needs of wealthy private industry, these same industries, under an Abbott led government, will get tax-breaks and free rein to outsource labour; moves that would remove income to the commonwealth and Australian jobs.

This is why it is not courageous to grip onto your favoured PM as the ride hurtles towards destruction, but insane that someone would place favouritism ahead of a very troubling future where Abbott has no counter-weight to temper his, quite frankly, unAustralian policies.

The election ahead

While I don’t align well with any Australian party, I have to say that I share the sentiment coming from supporters of this Rudd-exchange that an Abbott led government is very concerning. It is a threat to our way of life and the general prosperity of this country. Apart from everything else, what remains is a serious challenge to maintain some resistance against the worst of his policies. If he cannot be defeated entirely, we will need to grit our teeth until the general public wake up to the reality of an Abbott government and vote him out again, but at least, with Rudd, there is a chance for a counter-weight unlike there ever could be with Gillard.

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Rinehart’s Bleeding Heart Over Her Poor Business Model

Gina Rinehart has produced a poor-hard-done-by video, which screams hypocrisy, hypobolic, guilt by association and “poising the well” arguments as much as stupidity.

It is mind-boggling that she can whine about the tax placed on profiteering on common goods, but then to state that “without mining and mining related industries, this country has no hope of repaying our record debt”.

Something that would be made more difficult quite obviously, if we continue to allow such industries to make such massive profits on resources that belong to the country without due return.

I won’t bother saying much on her continual slugs at the “carbon tax” except to repeat; it is not a tax. A tax is income-based. This is charged per unit. It’s a price, not a tax and it provides market based incentive to decarbonise economic activity. More here. Of course, Rinehart isn’t really well known for her concern for anthropogenic climate change, so no surprises for her comments.

Her push for the northern development and how it “has the potential to develop beyond our imagination” is based entirely upon imagination. All I need for evidence of this is that provided from ecology. Why is it largely open savannah or open dry land apart from a few coastal regions? It’s a hard land, with old, nutrient deficient soils and strong seasonal fluctuations.

The reason most people settled along the east and southern coasts and not the north is because of the climate and fertility of the regions compared to the north. Sure, there may be resources that Gina could exploit, but it will come with increased cost in shipping in essential resources and to provide increased water security and flood prevention (ie. think about the wet season). You cannot make a food bowl out of the north unless you plan to strip the remaining few forests and wetlands, which are the only places where fertile lands exist up there.

However, what really annoyed me was her complaining about the high wages in Australia. Late last year, she took this point further;

“…west African competitors can offer our biggest customers and average capital cost for a tonne of iron ore that’s a hundred dollars under the price offered by an emerging producer in the Pilborough [Western Australia]. Furthermore African’s want to work and it’s workers are willing to work for less than two dollars a day. Such statistics make me worry for [Australia’s] future…” (8mins in)

Clearly she feels Aussie workers expect too much… Shame to her profits I guess…

Yet, she misses a number of major factors. Firstly, an African can buy more with the equivalent AUS$2 in their country and an Aussie can here at home for the same AUS$2. The expectations of the Aussie consumer to fork out more for an item is far greater. Only recently was it in the news that the IT industry marks up their products here seemly only because Aussies can pay extra for it.

Aussies demand higher wages because profiteers squeeze them harder for the contents of their bank accounts. High Aussie wages is caused by private industry, so it’s interesting when someone from private industry complains about it as a hindering overhead.

Furthermore, I would argue Gina mustn’t have a very good business model. Think about it. Her Aussie workers demand higher wages than African workers. The infrastructure required to develop her projects in remote northern locations is a big overhead, due to lack of people silly enough to live in such regions (no wonder she pushes for the government to develop the north – it would surely save her a healthy quid). Not to mention that there is obvious justification for sharing a slice of the profits with the commonwealth, seeing as it is due to common goods and Aussies are not stupid enough to overlook this.

In short, mining is clearly not globally competitive in Australia. Yet, Gina plays the hard-done-by; “I choose to mine here when I could make more money elsewhere, because I care. But you guys are mean to me!”

Such minerals will not go anyway if Gina doesn’t extract them all as soon as possible. Maybe future generations could make a healthier return from them in a global market where the local costs are not so comparatively high…?

No, Gina, mining industries are not simply ATM’s and yes, mining industries deserve what they have earned from their efforts. However, this is due to wealth within the crust of Australia. It is made on the wealth of Australia and not simply your investment.

There has to be something seriously wrong with anyone willing to be spoon-fed such industry hype.