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Moving forward to a stronger and fairer economy

Moving forward to a stronger and fairer economy
The Hon Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister for Australia
National Press Club, Canberra, 15 July 2010

I'm delighted to be at the National Press Club, my third appearance this year and my first as Prime Minister, and today I come with a clear message about what I believe and what is driving me as Prime Minister.

I believe a strong economy is the foundation of everything else that I as Prime Minister want for Australia. It's the foundation because I believe that lives are given shape and purpose by the benefits and dignity of work.

For Australians and their families, work gives economic security and enables life time choices. For individuals, work that is appreciated and respected gives personal dignity.

So, for me as Prime Minister, I will make my economic judgements based on what gives Australians the best opportunity for access to work.

Getting a job, holding a job, developing skills and experience, getting the next, better job or starting your own business is what propels an individual's life forward and gives families security and choices.

For the nation, supporting jobs today as we embrace the changes needed to build for the jobs of tomorrow, is what propels the nation forward to increased prosperity and fairness.

For both individuals and the nation, going forward requires hard work, determination and smart choices. It tests you, and in the last few years this nation has been tested by the global financial crisis and global recession.

The good news is that together we passed the test and we kept Australians in work. Australia's economy has come through the global financial crisis in better shape than any major advanced economy. In 2009 the Australian economy grew by 1.3 per cent. In contrast, the world's advanced economies contracted by 3.2 per cent.

When the global crisis struck, the Government did what we had to do, and Australia avoided the recession that hit most advanced economies.

Australia has come through that global recession with an unemployment rate lower than any of the world's major advanced economies - yet we are still being tested.

We live in a challenging time for many Australian families, who are still doing it tough. Cost of living pressures, the cost of housing, job security, worries about affording education and retirement - these are all on the minds of many hard-working Australians.

Today, guided by my values, I want to share with you how I intend to move Australia forward to a stronger economy, with sustainable growth that delivers for hard-working Australians.

I believe that prudent and disciplined economic management is the foundation of good government. The good-quality, essential services that Australians expect can only be sustained by a Government when our public finances are sound.

That's why I believe in strong budget surpluses.

The Government I lead will return the budget to surplus in just three years' time. As the Treasurer announced yesterday, we are now on track for a surplus of more than 3 billion dollars in 2013.

This means Australia will be in surplus before every single major advanced economy in the world, and throughout the coming election campaign, the Government will sustain the discipline that has brought the budget back to surplus.

Those expecting an old-style, spend-up-big campaign can forget it. Any commitments made in the upcoming campaign will not add a single cent - not a cent - to the budget bottom line. Any and all commitments we make will be fully costed and funded.

Yes, the upcoming campaign will have strong elements of 'clean' and 'green' but above all else it will be very lean. There will be hard choices and some unpopular cutbacks but I am determined to offset new spending and ensure our return to surplus in 2013, and all our policies will be submitted to Treasury and Finance for independent costing under the Charter of Budget Honesty - and I challenge Mr Abbott to do the same.

I also believe that to maximise jobs today and tomorrow, governments must be a force for confidence and certainty in the economy. That is why I moved immediately to end the uncertainty in the mining industry and mining communities across Australia, and that's why I can say with confidence that a re-elected Gillard Government will cut company tax, give small business an extra helping hand, invest in infrastructure and increase national savings and retirement incomes for hardworking Australians through our support for increased superannuation - more balanced economic development that is good for jobs right around the country and good for national savings.

Remarkably, my opponent would deny Australians these benefits because he is refusing to accept the tax that our biggest mining companies have agreed to pay.

Not only is he spurning the mining tax arrangements around which I have sought to build consensus, but he actually wants to increase company tax. He wants to deny small businesses the early start in reducing company tax and the instant tax write down on assets which the Government has committed to give them.

I want to take Australia forward. Mr Abbott wants to take it back.

Today, I say to Australians let's talk about the challenges and complexities; let's move on from yesterday's debates to the debates of tomorrow; let's move forward together.

Today, I want talk Australians about my approach to economic management and to economic reform.

We are living through a time of heightened global uncertainty. The global financial crisis severely dented confidence in economies across the world, and left many of them with years of work ahead to restore jobs and confidence.

There remains a brisk trade in doomsday scenarios across the globe. Faith in global institutions and global markets was shaken, and now, debt burdens are weighing heavily on Europe. Recovery shows promise but is still tentative in the United States. Some nations are threatened by the prospect of high unemployment and budget cuts reversing years of economic and social progress.

In such a fragile environment, I say to the Australian people: now is not the time to take risks with the Australian economy - it is a time for prudent and careful economic management; not a time to take risks with a Liberal Party that got it wrong on the global financial crisis, that opposed action to support Australian jobs and that would have allowed hundreds of thousands of jobs to be destroyed.

Australia today is a great beneficiary of the economic growth in China and the demand for our mineral resources in our region, as we know, but if anyone thinks that gives us a free ticket to easy prosperity, they are mistaken.

We must reject the temptation to sit back and simply hope for the revenues from the next phase of the mining boom to wash over us - as the Howard Government did in the first phase of the boom.

Australia cannot expect the resources sector to shoulder the whole burden of building our future prosperity, and we do not want to create an Australia that has is an economic patchwork with some parts of the country booming and other parts going backwards. An economic patchwork that will have some regions crying out for skilled labour while in other regions Australians live aimless lives without skills, work or hope.

We must do the hard work of building an economy with higher productivity growth and higher workforce participation - the long-term drivers of future prosperity.

Australia has experienced a long-term decline in productivity growth since the 1990s, and turning that around is essential for Australia's long-term prosperity. Equally important is the need to maximise participation in the workforce.

A high-participation economy will sustain stronger growth, stronger public finances, and will better support the pressures on services caused by an ageing population. A high-participation economy will sustain hope and purpose in individual Australians and gives security and choices to their families.

I will make education central to my economic agenda because of the role it plays in developing the skills that lead to rewarding and satisfying work - and that can build a high-productivity, high-participation economy.

It is difficult to think of any investment that will generate returns as enduring as our investment in a child's education.

Consider this: a child who is 5 years old today is likely to still be in the workforce through to the 2070s. That means that what we invest today to expand opportunity for Australian children will be paying dividends for most of the century ahead through higher participation, stronger productivity and increased economic growth, and that is why I bring to my role as Prime Minister a passionate commitment to better schools and better educational opportunities for all Australians.

My approach to economic management begins with a commitment to macroeconomic stability, within frameworks that have served Australia well through 18 years of economic growth under the governments of Prime Ministers Keating, Howard and Rudd.

For monetary policy, that means an independent Reserve Bank that has responsibility for setting interest rates, with an inflation target of an average of 2-3 per cent over the course of the economic cycle.

For fiscal policy, that today means a commitment to achieve budget surpluses on average over the medium term, to keep taxation as a share of GDP, on average, below the level for 2007 08; and to improve the Government's net financial worth over the medium term.

As I've said, we are bringing the budget to surplus by 2013 - in three years' time, ahead of every major advanced economy. This requires ongoing economic discipline by holding real growth in spending to 2 per cent a year once the economy is growing above trend and allowing the level of tax receipts to recover naturally as the economy improves.

Once the Budget returns to surplus, we will still maintain spending restraint, until we deliver strong surpluses of 1 per cent of GDP. This is the responsible approach to macroeconomic management. It forces us to focus our effort on high-quality, effective services.

It sets clear parameters for all our policy decisions, and for the election campaign ahead.

A strong and stable macroeconomic framework is essential for the Australian economy, but there is more to responsible economic management.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Labor Governments led economic reform by recognising that in changing global conditions, only an open, market-driven economy could prosper. That meant floating the dollar, reducing tariffs, ensuring wage restraint and implementing sweeping competition policy reforms.

But as conditions change again, we need more than economic stability to ensure future prosperity. We need active reforms to improve Australia's ability to compete, to make sure that all our assets are utilised productively, and to make the most of our value-adding capacity.

That is what micro-economic reform does for an economy - helping to sustain stronger growth over the longer term and ensure that Australian firms and workers are able to adapt successfully to changing conditions.

Economic reform should benefit families, boost national prosperity, enable more Australians to enjoy the dignity of work and deliver a more competitive and sustainable economy. Over time, there should be a virtuous cycle between investment in human capital and resilient communities and economic growth, but this demands a different mix of policy approaches from the ones applied in the 1980s and 1990s.

Since I became Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Minister in 2007, I have argued for an approach to microeconomic reform which focuses on market design.

The sectors which may need renewal and reform are often those that were relatively untouched by the Hawke-Keating reforms - sectors like health and education that meet essential public needs, delivered largely within the domestic economy. Hospitals, aged care facilities, childcare centres, schools, and employment services - all services with a diverse range of providers from the public, private and non-government sectors, and services where competition and value is often held back by jurisdictional red tape and the lack of seamless national markets.

As far as I am concerned, there is no inherent superiority in a public sector or a private sector provider - certainly not on ideological grounds. The challenge is not whether to combine public and private resources in these essential sectors, but how best to do it.

Simply applying the extreme free-market medicine of liberalisation and privatisation without thought or care is not a solution. Maintaining an instinctive hostility towards the public sector and all it provides is equally wrong.

What matters is the hard work of understanding each sector, looking at the needs it must serve, and then methodically working to create the conditions in which markets serve the public interest through vigorous competition, transparent information, the freedom to make choices and a responsiveness to the needs of service users.

For this to occur we need strong, confident institutions at national, state and local level - institutions like innovative businesses, community-focused hospitals and great schools that create lasting value for the public.

But we also need sustained and sometimes bold action to unblock the market failures, open up new opportunities, and make sure that the interests of users and taxpayers are put first.

A modern, productive economy requires national consistency and better standards, and not a mish-mash of conflicting State and Territory schemes. This is the kind of reform that I have delivered for Australians in the areas where I have had direct portfolio responsibility. It is also the kind of reform that I will pursue as Prime Minister.

My record includes big changes such as the introduction of uniform Occupational Health and Safety laws across the nation, a change that policy makers have been pursuing for a generation and which will create billions of dollars in benefit for Australian firms; big changes like the introduction of the Fair Work regime, which has brought a national Workplace Relations system for the private sector, reduced the number of industry awards from more than 4,000 to just 122; and big changes like the My School website and the national Australian school curriculum.

For the first time, accurate and consistent information about the performance and the circumstances of every school in the country is now available to the public, whatever kind of school we are talking about. From next year, we will begin to implement a shared national curriculum, allowing every student to access the highest possible curriculum standards and eliminating a problem for those families who move from one state to another, as so many now do: national quality improvement and consistency in early childhood; national regulation and quality standards in vocational and higher education.

I have also focused on performance-based pay for teachers and performance incentives for universities, vocational education providers and for states that lift school retention rates, because I believe in rewarding hard work and making governments and public institutions more accountable to the public, and in driving reform that focuses on quality and performance, I have also overseen the massive renewal of educational infrastructure across our schools, universities and TAFE.

These programs have invested in the technology and infrastructure that these sectors need for tomorrow.

At the heart of many of the reforms I have championed, and many of the changes for the decade ahead is this: the microeconomic challenges of the future are not a simplistic choice between the market and the state, but the more sophisticated challenges of market design so that we bring public and private resources together to deliver better services and increased productivity.

My priorities are very different to those of the former government in which Mr Abbott served, which subsidised the growth of private providers and encouraged private consumption seemingly for their own sake, without much regard for the overall performance of their sector in service, innovation or cost-effectiveness.

As Prime Minister, I intend to advance an agenda that moves Australia forward to a more productive, modern Australian economy, - one whose dividend to Australians is better quality services, better quality jobs, more competitive firms, a better quality of life and greater financial security for the future.

I say this to my fellow Australians: my vision for Australia's economic future is not about the success of one sector against another, or one or two regions against the rest, because as Australians, we all have a shared stake in our prosperity and resilience.

Whether you're in mining up in the northern parts of Australia, or in manufacturing in one of the southern states; whether you're in the food industries of the Riverina and inland plains or in financial services or the creative industries in one of our big cities; no matter which industry, which region or which job - each of us has a stake in the success of all.

We need to build a dynamic, diverse economy with new businesses that can compete and succeed not just in Australia but also on the global stage;

An economy with a new generation of Australian entrepreneurs, researchers and inventors, an economy that moves forward to prepare our kids for the high-quality jobs of tomorrow - not one that goes backwards, with a Liberal Party that will again cut funding for education and put its energy into playing politics not reform;

An economy that moves forward to deliver good quality services to families - not one that goes backwards, with Mr Abbott once again cutting funding to our public hospitals;

An economy that moves forward and gives working people their fair share of our prosperity - not one that goes backwards, with Mr Abbott's return to the worst aspects of Work Choices and individual contracts that undermine the safety net;

An economy that moves forward with confidence, with an agenda for the future - not one that goes that goes backwards with a Liberal government that would have taken Australia into recession and put Australians on dole queues.

I am committed to moving Australia forward by providing the responsible, far-sighted economic management we need to expand work and life opportunities for all Australians today and tomorrow.

This is my commitment to my fellow Australians.

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A pithy analysis

Someone whose contributions in the shape of letters to the editor, as well as media blogs, has always impressed me is a gentleman by the name of John Kotsopoulos. In today's edition of Crikey, John presented a telling analysis of last night's "debate". I asked his permission to republish on Webdiary; here it is:

Abbott did not implode and disgrace himself but the worms figured him out. It’s as if the worms had asked themselves a series of questions namely:
  • How can you complain about debt without acknowledging that it was used to deal with the GFC and that it saved us from a recession?
  • How can you talk about responsible economic management when your policies would have given us a recession which we did not have to have that would have meant business failures, higher unemployment, higher welfare payments while tax receipts from companies and individuals were falling?
  • How can you talk about responsible economic management when $300 m of the savings you claim will be for money that would only be spent if the mining tax is implemented, a tax you say you will repeal?
  • How can you complain about higher taxes when your policies will mean a 2.7% higher company tax?
  • How can you complain about a lack of leadership on climate change when you stopped the ETS?
  • How can you seriously complain about how Rudd was treated when you knifed your own leader in the process of delaying the ETS?
  • How can you talk about wasteful spending when you intend to gift $75k of parental leave to people on $150k?

To which I add a rider: why is it that journalists in this country are so lily-livered that they no longer have the capacity to ask the hard questions?

Oh for somebody to have the guts to take action under the Trade Practices Act and break up the monopolistic, foreign-owned media that is such a blight on Australia.

Pithed off

 Unfortunately, Fiona, the worm (like Gillard and Abbott)  is full of shit!

 This unbiased pithy piece from Michael Gawenda, struck a chord with me.

In 24 hours, the great debate will be forgotten. All that will remain is the sense that Laurie Oakes got it right: this is a campaign between political pygmies.

Gawenda is dead right when he says that Gillard and Abbott are political soul mates. 

Pith  weak the both of them.

pith and wind

Can't fault Fiona's inclusion of the analysis, not a word wasted or out of place.

The teev stations suspect the politicians have slid in the public estimation, that 's why they had the cheek to run those foul programs in front of the election debate, an act which really displayed their own arrogance as well. Because they realise that people are fed up with politicians for exactly the reason you state: their refusal to take on vested interests.

A stronger and fairer economy?

Moving forward to a stronger and fairer economy.

Today's Age carries a headliner, "Reserve Bank Bombshell", that claims that  Glen Stevens has just "undermined" the the Abbott spending cuts with the information that there is, "virtually no net public debt". With this comes an implicit  refutation of Abbott's main thrust early in the campaign, the economy and alleged Labor slowness in winding back stimulus.

He also firmed on the prospect of an interest rate increase shortly, which means that the government is not out of the woods as far as the politics of recovery is concerned, any way.

 How do other see the progress of this election campaign at an early stage?

How to vote

It seems to me there is only one rule about how to get the best deal from your vote: vote to make your electorate a marginal one.

Why? Because this is the best way to ensure that your electorate gets the most bribes by the incumbent government. 

At the national level, both parties are virtually identical. There may be some differences between them, but each has their pluses and minuses, and all in all, they come out equal. The only real value in a vote is making sure that your electorate gets more of the loot than the next one. 

"What you saw in that campaign wasn't the real me"

Watching Hawkie's interview after the dreadful teleflick last night, was surprised to hear Bob uttering those words. That campaign was just after his cricket accident and he was in terrible pain.

However, I had a feeling that the line was a direct shot at Rudd. 


Missed that. I think there is a grain of truth in it, but I wonder at the skills of the people Rudd was surrounded with: somewhere the support wasn't what it should have been. Rudd wasn't "talked down",  when he got "in front" of himself. The factions didnt like his assault on their prerogatives, so he was left out in the cold.

Rudd's manner and odd work practices apparently alienated others.

But here is a situation where not all is lost.

Rudd is young enough to pull up his socks and get on with his life, if he is honest with himself.

Gillard's time has come, for better or worse, unless Abbott can break himself free of the ideological and political straitjacket he's put himself in.

It's not good, but consider how much worse it would be if we had to live in some third world dysfunctional state where there is no government in a meaningful sense, and even the mundanity offered by Abbott  or Gillard is preferable, surely?

So twentieth century

Hey Julia, don't you know that it's now the twenty-first century? We  have so much of a better idea of how the world really works. Can't we use it to shape our thinking and our actions better?

Oxymoronic BS


Today, guided by my values, I want to share with you how I intend to move Australia forward to a stronger economy, with sustainable growth that delivers for hard-working Australians.

"Sustainable growth" is an oxymoron. Either you are growing or you are sustainable. Pretty simple really.

Moving (which) forward?

Yeah, but Stuart, what about this "moving forward" thing?  I'm confused and wish someone would define what "forward" means.

Do we move Australia forward towards New Zealand, or is it forward towards the Antarctica, or is it forward towards New Guinea (in which case we won't go very far forward at all), or is it forward towards Africa?

Let's hope Bluey can make up her mind wise we may find ourselves moving in circles.

What she (really) means...

Stuart McCarthy, what she means is economic growth occurs within an ecologically sustainable framework, so that in situations where an ecological system is renewable and profitable through its renewability, it becomes an economic base.

To me that's water, air, soils; those things that cannot be replaced for the foreseeable future are not depleted to the point of systemic failure as has occurred with overcropping, say, or fisheries collapsing.

Stuart McCarthy: "Sustainable growth is an oxymoron."

It's ok to pick the flowers, but leave the rose bush itself alone. Don't kill the goose. greedily ripping the guts out for the golden egg.

Growth must occur within its capacity as engine of sustainability, the rest is just a literal and figurative bonfire of the vanities; sustainability itself is the"new fuel" for growth in a meaningful context related to fulfilling of human and sentient needs - think global warming as to survivability in the era that takes as leitmotiffor its era, the black, crass mentality of the devastating Morning Sunrise disaster, because people still can't distinguish between their wants and their needs, or those of others.

Muddled Thinking Paul

Paul, your thinking about growth and sustainability is very muddled.

Firstly, renewable and sustainable are not the same thing, indeed renewable resources are very often used unsustainably. Further, an economic system that places perpetually growing demand on renewable resources is destined to fail just as one based on non-renewables.

Secondly, the idea that growth "must" occur might be a useful observation of one of the fundamental flaws of neoclassical economic ideology (ie if the economic system isn't growing it is collapsing), however in a world bound by physical limits the reality is that perpetual growth cannot occur as it is a physical impossibility.

The idea that "sustainability" is the "new fuel" for growth is laughable. In reality the world is reaching the limits to growth. So the question is how well we can manage the contraction, not how to keep growing. Anybody who has a basic grasp of ecological sustainability on the global level understands this.

puzzling post from Stu

Well, Stuart, I think we are saying much  the same thing employing slightly different terminology. I think we could begin by having sustainability and renewability regarded less as opposites. The concepts are complementary rather than dichotomous. Nor do I have any cavils about limits to growth, quite the opposite, it fleshes out my own view of the problem. 

I felt if sustainability was factored into economic planning rather than removed because big business doesnt like it, we would then be better off following CSIRO, science etc.

Sustainability would offer an opportunity for the economy to move away from consumerist wastage and the econonomics of excess,including all the attendant cost and  pollution, such as with Morning Horizon, enabling people to understand that quality of life is not necessarily a victim of an economy built on ecological sustainability/ renewability.

I believe that the notion of cornucopia, and resultant "growth at any cost", is dead. We are not living in a world of limitless resources and easy fixes.

Economics, by also concentrating on use value instead  of just exchange value, could  just persuade society that economics can be done and soc iety survive just as well, without all the costly accompanying mess, thru the enablement of a simple adjustment in thinking, a simple alignment to the realities of the real world, that you also were discussing.

Less junk and more humanity, and we all might feel better about life.

The problem is not the concept of sustainability, but the refusal of big busineess and politicians to employ it a part of their planning, because some John Gay type might not be content with a mere $billion rather than $multi billions.

Yes Paul

Paul, I agree with your latest post. My problem isn't with the concept of sustainability, and I don't see sustainability and renewability as dichotomous. The main point that I'm making is that "sustainable growth" is an oxymoron. So Gillard's comments on the subject are laughable.

Chained to a speeding train

But why do we NEED growth, Paul? (and note the implied prefix: economic. Isn't personal and social growth more valuable?). We already produce much more than we need. Can't we produce less, but distribute it more equitably? 

 Whaddya know, Jay

 Whaddya know, Jay Somasundaram.

 Where's this suddenly popped up from?

A funny thing on a night where David Suzuki.was intent on puncturing the"
growth" notion, in neoliberalism predicated as we know, on the false concept of eternal abundance, or Cornucopia, whilst being interviewed by Lee Sales on "Latteline", tonight.

 The icing on the cake came with the following "Gruen Report", where they introduced a more panoramic view of oil companies advertising over the last couple of generations. A good laugh had by all as to the "Greenwashing" phenomena in marketing , so rudely exposed by BP's little incontinence vis a vis the Gulf of Mexico spill.

They are no longer "oil companies" but "energy servers" and apart from the profitability of the retailing side of todays servos, oil  companies will advertise anything but, petrol and oil, when they are advertising at all unless they are proclaiming energy "diversification", in their hands something so tokenistic as to provoke laughter.

What is Growth?

Your comments about marketing and pithy phrases is very true, Paul. I don't have any real problems as such with continued development. What I do have a problem is with simplistic terms such as "Growth" (and yes, development). What I think government should be doing is mandating Triple Bottom Line reporting and moving graduatly to taxation system based on it. To some extent, the carbon tax is a simplified form of it, focusing only on carbon emissions. The idea has been around for decades - I think the WA government started doing it and then lost interest. If we had started doing it then, the problems we are trying now to desperately solve wouldn't be there (or be much less serious). 

Jay Somasundaram and "growth"

Had forgotten this one, Jay Somasundaram.

 I suppose you go back to activity, that yields every thing from basics through to what our Western society produces employing morphing technologies gradually  accumulated and developed over history.

As things become more complex, you get the various divisions of labour and the urge to structure things so that workers and resources are available for whoever has the next good idea; also the division of labor in a complex society where you have economics professors who would not know what a shop floor looks like and workers who have never seen the inside of an ofice or used pen, paper and intellect involving ideas production.

Growth derives of all the activitity that goes on, should it produce a surplus. It goes like this, that if you have the resources, the labor and the ideas and want or need being only limited by imagination and sanity, the potential is limitless. For example we export hi tech to Indonesia and the money goes back into investment for more widgets, since the Indonesians will pay almost anything for them.

If you increase production, you willl diminish the spare labor pool as extra workers get jobs to meet the demand. These become customers themselves, btw, also increasing demand hence production, but using their wages to buy chairs, from Indonesia, so that they have money to buy more stuff off of us, so that we can buy yet more stuff we can't make ourselves off of them again.

Supply and demand; market forces. It appears as a sort of a sort of perpetual motion apparatus and trade is what makes it work.  But trade and production for human need has become have  tangled up in the evolving class and power structures of different societies,fixed about the nation state that provides the basis for a mixed economy. It's also driven by human desires real or imagined. we are not the rational creatures abstract theory suggests.

You can get a tycoon  buying a citation jet, employing scarce resources and labor, at a cost that could feed thousands of families in the third world the absolute necessities for survival. But the effort will still go into producing the citation jet, because the poor can't pay for their food and the rich can afford  their toys, even if they dont need them in the way a Pakistani peasant, for example needs a bowl of rice and veg a day just to barely survive.

Which brings us to a game changer. This is the realisation over the last forty years or so, that something we took for granted: perpetual abundance of resources coupled with a capacity for quick fixes for problems, like cars or trains, has been problematic from another point of view too: the now demostrably erroneous proposition of unlimited resources.

"Cornucopia" or inexhaustible, manifestly obvious "plenty" may have been enough perhaps when the world was younger and pioneers in America, Australian and other places elsewhere saw seemingly limitless expanses of land holding undiscovered resources before them, a century or two ago, but what has happened is that we have discovered since that much of the best resources have already been used up as the population exploded, and replacing them is not always answered with a quick techno "fix", as science is much more complex and demanding these days.

And if resources run out sometimes valuable goods can no longer be produced, or whole communities(in the third world, say) may have to dip out for the benefit of our citation jet buying executive.

Against that , is what  r and d throws up as to hi tech projects that can spin off new materials to be applied to everyday living. Teflon coating frying pans, was initially developed as heat insulation for the US space program, for example.

Growth is a good, unless it damages the sustainability of the resource for repeated use, particularly when there appears to be no obvious replacement, as with collapsed fisheries, say.

Think of the Murray-Darling being ruined through over production. It will destroy the resource, but people will keep paying for what comes of it and future generations and third world poor will have topay for the shortfalin the form of miserable lives denied access to things that others take for granted, for very litttle justification. If we weren't ruining the world for shit we often rarely need and starving half the worlds' population for our toys and escapisms, maybe the clearer conscience that comes of not robbing our kids of a future and the poor of even the chance of a meal, in our era, maybe we would not need to be "diverted" all the time.

Marx talked of use value eg food or a hungry person, against exchange value, as happened in Ireland during its notorious potato famine.This famine could hav been ended, but those holding English corn, which could have replaced potatoes, instead sold it to America for a profit while the Irish starved in their millions - and a good thing too, some English apparently were reckoned to opine. Of course, if "others" are seen as undeserving, it makes such a process easier on the soul, but it shows the difference between our complex world and a village world were people cooperated communally to survive.

We need  a different outlook and sensibility: "consciousness", in fact,  to live less of a resource destructive, polluting rat race in a resource challenged world , but would have the satisfaction of seeing others have a taste of a good life as well, instead of guiltily knowing that our fat arses are predicated on someone elses starvation. 

Jay, I wish I had the ability to understand, let alone actually explain economics ideas to someone else. Am anything but competent to do this,  But growth, efficiency, productivity surely can all come together at an optimum that potentially benefits everyone, we just haven't got round to making sure everyone else has a fair go too.

It could all come together, it's just a matter of deciding how we want to live in a changed world and if that includes intangibles like a clear conscience and the urge that some else also gets a fair go, without necessarily making that much of a change to our own lives.


The (Austr) Alien for today has the usual oligarchic population growth promotion propaganda, both editorially and from right wing extremist columnists such as G. Sheridan.  About money for the oligarchs and bugger Australia as a nation.  This is front page and other prime space.  Huge amount of it.

Such shit is really about endless, infinite growth, a final population target of infinity.  Intermediate target of 35 million but no final limit, just moving on to a new intermediate target then.  And a concreted environment with zero quality of life, huge cities surrounded by shanty towns, guaranteed low wages.  But by that time, of course, the oligarchs having exploited the arse out of the continent will have moved on to greener pastures.

But The Age (thank non-existent God for it!) has an honest article by Richard Dennis on page 21.  Not quite sufficient, doesn't admit that economic growth itself is a Ponzi scheme, doesn't promote population reduction to attain genuine sustainability in a conserved natural environment with the quality of life we used to have.  But still good.

"In a big Australia there are more people, more profits. But it's a lazy way to grow."

 "Like all good salespeople the proponents of rapid population growth like to focus on the potential benefits of jamming more people into our existing cities.  They are strangely silent on the benefits to themselves, and on the inevitable costs to the community and to the environment."

He goes a bit into the specifics, a banker explaining how we all benefit by becoming what the banker calls a big Australia, but, strangely, neglecting to mention the benefits to banks.  Denniss does.

(Nice accompanying Spooner cartoon of boat people arriving at a bursting continent with houses and cars falling into the sea.  But the reality is that immigration targets, not boat people, are the problem.  The boat people are the scapegoats, blamed for the very obvious demographic changes we are seeing.)

I think, hope, people have woken up at long last.  It's become a real debate after being ignored for too long.

If Julia announces zero immigration for the next three years she will get 90 percent of the popular vote.  But just at present she's looking like a puppet who can't do that.  Sad.

Grow! Grow!

More of the same in the (Austr) Alien on the very next day (Friday 23 July 2010). Frenzied multi-page campaign for population growth. Grow! Be quick! Prominent front-page article portraying as blameworthy Julia Gillard's focus on what she calls a sustainable population. It is just her evading the undeniable duty to publish an implementation plan for the big infrastructure a big population will need. Written by an "economics correspondent". Promotes someone else's view that population growth "need not" conflict with economic, social and environmental sustainability. When we already know that fresh water sustainability has failed, is history, that collected as we are (most of us) in coastal cities in high rainfall areas, mostly in the Temperate Zone, we must now desalinate the sea, and pay high prices for water. Isn't water shortage the absolute proof of overpopulation of a region?

More of the same on other pages. A complete broadsheet page (except a marginal column) devoted to articles promoting the plan. Then something on yet another page, that goes on about what a calamity population decline is in Europe.

All very, very tricky writing. All phony. I don't have time to take it apart. It'd take me a week and I can't keep up with an Augean stable of hacks and biased, bought professors who are going to continue spewing this stuff. But every bit of it is fake. Read it yourself, very carefully, and I'm sure you'll agree.

I'll just respond to one of the arguments. The aging population fraud. There was a temporary bulge in births in the years after WW2; and life expectancy has increased; so those who are employed 20, 30, 40 years hence will have a larger retired population to support with their taxes, and so they themselves will have to be more numerous, to distribute the cost, the “tax burden”, over a greater number of taxpayers.

It's total bullshit. There are other solutions, and there may be options then, 20, 30, 40 years ahead, that we haven't foreseen or the oligarchy don't want mentioned.

They, that later generation, can pay higher taxes and up the retirement age. Don't like the idea? Not within the art of the possible? Well, it's not your problem, it is the problem of that future population. Let them vote on it, then, when they have the problem right in front of them. Vote then yourself, if you are still compos mentis. You (we, the government, the plutocracy) should not be attempting to decide the matter now. The argument that we first need to permanently degrade the environment in which they will live, and deny them the opportunities that would be available to them in an emptier land, so that, maybe, they will pay less taxes, is absurd. It is not a decision for the oligarchy, the politicians and plutocrats, of this generation.

There are times to plan and prepare, and there are times to say, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. The people who directly encounter it, who march up to that bridge, will be best qualified to solve what by then will be well-studied problem. To take it out of their hands when we can't predict the future but they will live it would be a monstrous, plainly fraudulent stunt. Yet it is being urged.

Economic problems arise in the present and can be solved in the present. That generation will be richer, more capable of solving the economic problems they encounter, if they live in a unspoiled land that hasn't already had the guts exploited out of it by overpopulation, if the plutocrats of the previous generation have not already profited from what they, the later one, would have possessed.

The idea that they will inherit (or more correctly, exist in, possibly as an oppressed racial minority) a country in which maybe 50 percent of their week's wages goes on buying water, and in which the Australian bushland is no more, all because the impertinence and greed of an earlier generation decided to solve a hypothetical problem for them... [he's lost for words].

If any of this was a genuine concern, if there was genuine as distinct from phony concern over the next generation's ability to pay for aged care, the government today, instead of increasing the population, could increase the mining tax from 40 to 90 percent. Then, the mining oligarchy would go on strike and the minerals would be left in the ground as a bequest to that later generation.

Con job again.

In 2007 I said that Rudd was a dud and would not see out the full term, I got howled down but it appears the Electorate got conned.

Before Gillard starts spouting this rubbish "Today, I say to Australians let's talk about the challenges and complexities; let's move on from yesterday's debates to the debates of tomorrow; let's move forward together". She should explain what happened to all the money wasted on the BER scheme, I know some of it was well spent but $millions was wasted in typical Labor fashion.

She should also tell us what the final cost of incompetence is likely to be for the Insulation scheme.

Before these conmen promise anything else could she explain what happened to getting the Homeless off the street, from what I have heard it is worse now than 3 years ago.

John Pratt, when I told you in 2007 that is would be a disaster if Labor got it's hands on the treasury, you would not believe me.

How can anybody think of voting for these incompetants again, and whatever you do John please don't vote for the Greens that will be a real disaster that the country will never recover from.

Just look at the Greens in NSW with Lee Rhiannon rorting the system, they really are a joke.

Miners Roolz OK

Alan, so good to read your nuanced worldview again.

I take it that you would infinitely prefer Oz to be roold by the likes of Tom Albanese.

Great, then - us serfs are well and trooly put in our place.

However, it might be prudent to be wary of trusting in false profits.

(Joke, Joyce, joke.)

Democracy Bah Humbug!

So it is game on for August 21.

I no longer live in Leichhardt, due to a change of electoral boundaries. I am in Katter country the Far North Qld electorate of Kennedy.

No Australian Democrat or Green candidate to give my vote in Kennedy.

We call this democracy?

Tempted to run myself, can't join the Greens having just become a member of the Democrats

How many people feel like I do and just don't want to play the game any more?

No contest

I suspect the reason for a short campaign was to prevent an alternate party getting into gear. The Liberals are easy to beat. The real problem would be if either the Greens or Democrats got their act together. And as Allan points out, that's not really happening. 

What would happen if Kevin Rudd moved to the Greens as 2ic, with Bob as elder statesman? With Kevin's drive, and Bob's integrity, they may just get enough votes. But could they work together? And would Kevin risk his safe Labour seat?

What would happen if the Greens and Democrats form a coalition? 


Jay, if Kevin Rudd moved to the Greens they might get one more seat but I doubt it.

If the Greens and Democrats formed a coalition nothing would happen worth reporting. What you have to realise is that the Greens do not have any people who could run the country.

The Democrats blew their chances years ago.

Yes, I know they have Sen. Hanson-Young the spokesperson for eveything, but when she was on Q&A a couple of weeks ago she was a disaster.

Power vacuum

Alan: "The Greens do not have any people who could run the country."

Are you saying that either the Liberals or Labour do? 

Anyway, all I'm after is an interesting show. Right now, it looks as if the election is going to be as dull as ditch-water. 

What will be interesting is what Julia does with Kevin after the election. Senior cabinet post? Cat among the pigeons!


The teev debate was unimpressive and didn't say much good as an example of the corporate mentality, with the scheduling.

Polls are 52/48 - now we wait. Otherwise it will be down to the wire, but Gillard is steadfastly holding on to a shaky lead against the dogged Abbott.

In the Adelaide Advertiser it was opined that, some felt, women had supported Gillard more and revealed an implicit naivity.

I wondered if the more intelligent and perceptive women unfortunate enough to read the Advertiser who noticed it, agreed.

Another gold plated Dud

 Today Bob Hawke said "I think these issues, whether Kevin sent a bloody staffer, I think that's in the past," he said.

"I don't think it's got anything to do with the future."

Somebody should tell Hawkie he is living in the past and he has nothing to do with the future.

No doubt Labor will put the wheels back on Gough and wheel him and Hawkie out at their launch.

After Julia Gillard's idea for a climate change citizens' assembly as a sensible way of reaching a broader consensus on the issue was bagged by 90% of the population, She is exactly like Rudd, a gold plated dud and a complete fraud.

Nice dream but no real statesmen

Nice dream, Jay. If only the world worked like that.

If Rudd really believed that climate change was the biggest moral challenge to our generation and had the guts to step up as a leader, the Greens and Democrats could come together with Bob Brown, Andrew Bartlett and Kevin Rudd in leadership. But, alas, that would take real statesmen.

No Greens Please

Bob Brown of The Greens said, "they want action on climate change, to bring the troops home from Afghanistan, a national dental health care system , to protect our forests and wild life and to get a high speed rail link to Canberra."

Just a load of fuzzy thinking because it is not going to happen.

Speaking of financial investment, how much will it cost to build? The Greens estimate $40 billion dollars.

Just think of the decent public transport infrastructure that you could get in Sydney and Melbourne (neither city having what you would consider "world class" transport systems).

The money is better spent on serving the millions of people moving around either city every day, rather than the few thousand that move between Sydney and Melbourne.

Bob Brown does not say how he is going to power the train, perhaps batteries or windmills.

Well endowed?

Michael Talbot, there are blog sites out there that would have you hung, drawn and quartered for demonstrating that "private schools" are "well endowed", so to speak.

Really, am breathless at this.

A certain Adelaide ABC weekend newsreader keeps coming to mind - or am I heading in the wrong direction?

Perhaps the real answer lies in appropriate foundation garments.

Riding the tiger

Our economic success in the past few years has been largely due to the rapid rise of the Chinese economy. Without China we would be in massive debt, have very high unemployment and no hope of a surplus for decades to come.

Both Liberal and Labor governments have relied on our mineral resources to keep our economy going. No thought for the future, no plan if the Chinese economy were to crash, and no plan to free us from our dependence on coal and iron exports.

There is no mention of a climate change policy, the word green appears once with no thought on what that might mean.

For those of us that think that creating an sustainable economy, an economy  that gives focus to bringing the economies of the third world up to a reasonable standard, while reducing the demands of the first world is indeed the greatest moral challenge of our generation, there is no hope.

We are running to the cliff like lemmings.

One more short car ride

My mission in Canberra is nearly accomplished - for this brief visit, in any event.

One more short car ride...

Demi Moore strikes again

This reads like Day of the Jackal.

Where are Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson?

As a whopping stretch limo chauffers away a mysterious figure, political figures remain in stony silence; ashen faced ... "D"notices abound and the establishment clams up in unison behind a wall of press silence.

What could have been so secret a secret misson , that the entire country grinds to an anxious halt.

The public will not to get to hear of this, whatever else has not veered out of control, they are united in their determination that the final secret and the ultimate denouement, remain a bone chilling  secret ... consigned forever, in a hidden archive in a dingy intelligence bureau, on smoked microfeesh.

 As Dubya said, on the "burning deck":

"Mission accomplished".

Mission (never) Accomplished - informally speaking

Good to hear said "mission" is "nearly accomplished" Fiona. We all know what "mission accomplished" looks like; as such best to leave said declaration as is/was.

BTW you are quite welcome to borrow the Potomac - it may be a little slow these days but it always gets you there - dear Kath will attest to that, even if she had to push hard on occasions. 

Anyway, we all get to vote next month - yip-pee, bread and circuses, lies and deceit; more froth and bubble signifying much of democracy's weaknesses dressed up as its strength.

I'm voting for the best looking wombat on the ticket , and if no wombats are up for election then I guess I'll vote politely - and tick all boxes.

an election called v soon?

I'm not as pessimistic as Marilyn Shepherd.

i do concur with her that human nature puts on a depressing view of reality at times and I know she has seen enough of the dark corners of human nature during her life.

The speech is a pitch for the middle; not quite as harsh in overt rhetoric as Howardism, but forget the reform rhetoric of 2007, this is a government that is pitching as "sober". It includes an appropriate part for Abbott, who is constructed into the speech as the alternative - you take your choice.

I can't accept that Gillard can be worse than Abbott and a coalition government. To find out, people will now have to decide to vote her in, as an alternative to Abbott.

One supposes the same could be said of Abbott as to the fair suck argument. Each voter will have to examine their own beleifs and consciences somewhere in the next couple of months, unless they secede completely and vote informal or don't vote at all.


Is there an economist in the house?

Because I'd like to see a detached and more complete review of what our fellow blogger Julia has expressed here.

By the way, Marilyn, a rich public school with big tits is still a public school.


What rubbish

She caved in to the moguls with billions of extra bucks for our resources just as she did over the AWA issue and then started to kick around the poorest and most desparate country on earth by claiming we will dump refugees there.

Thankfully East Timor said get stuffed.

We know her priorities learnt at the tit of the richest public school in SA.

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