“Gotta Pick a Pocket or Two Boys” - Oliver
Dickens must have been an economist at heart with his tale of Oliver Twist. Our piggy banks have been emptied through profligate spending with little to show for it, so taxpayers, older Australians (many of whom have actually created the wealth over the past six decades) and local businesses are easy targets to raise taxes to pay off national debt and for the many promises made.
Certainly we are told we are in a better position than other countries, but what are we doing about reinvigorating our economy and preparing for our future?
In the meantime we have a “for sale sign” on our wealth creating assets, and are in a rush to sign Free Trade Agreements with the countries that are buying our assets so they will effectively be selling to themselves. Twenty four hours after we signed the FTA with Korea allowing their cars ready access to our market General Motors (Holden) announced they will close in 2017. That decision was made in Detroit long ago not as the media presented it as a result of our new Government’s rash statements.
Even Fagan looked after his “boys”, trained and invested in them. Selling more “silverware”, for example (farms and key businesses e.g. resources and ports*) to foreign interests, leaves us with some vestiges of businesses Australian owned. However, the critical mass of reinvestment is under threat across every industry sector.
What we do not cost is the loss of knowledge about our land and the skills to build and operate manufacturing here. It has taken many decades to build these assets and there are no easy options to take their place to improve our productivity and wealth creation.
While our Governments have imposed high costs on doing business in Australia, aided by the unions, at the big picture level we have continued with our commodity mentality and have not supported our sustainable competitive advantages. We stopped talking about “value adding” decades ago, now we are an ”open economy”, but the buyers are not. Other countries recognise the benefits of our commodities. That is why they are so keen to buy our assets at source.
Our beneficence has cost us dearly, while the countries, global companies or fund managers buying our assets share our spoils and look after their own. Their short term gain is our long term pain.
It’s time to get Australians and our assets working for Australia again and look after home. We might consider re reading Dickens. They are certainly times we do not want to revert to when opportunities were limited to a few.
Our businesses do know how to create wealth. Let our business owners and farmers get off the leash of constraints that other countries do not bear, give our owned a “fair go” instead of selling the opportunities off shore. After all it is our pockets being picked.
Key Facts and Figures
A discussion about the sale of our wealth creating assets to foreign interests.
Lack of strategic planning.
The importance of value adding.
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