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23 May 1997. Thought for the Week: "We are a British community in the South Seas and regard ourselves as the trustees for the British way of life in a part of the world where it is of the utmost significance .... that there should be in the Antipodes a people and a territory corresponding in purpose and its outlook to the Motherland itself"
Australian Prime Minister John Curtin in his address to the British House of Commons
BUDGET A MANIFESTATION OF INVINCIBLE STUPIDITY
by Eric D. Butler
Treasurer Costello confesses that last
year's Budget predictions, that unemployment would fall, had
unfortunately not come about. But just you wait until this
time next year, says Treasurer Costello. But there is nothing
in his budget to suggest that there will be any fall in the
unemployment rate. It is as certain as the sunrise that there
will be no relief for Australia's youth. In all the chatter
about the budget there has been relatively little comment
concerning the significance of the proposal to encourage those
eligible to retire, to stay in the work force for a few extra
years. This proposal is the very opposite of what could be
done to start to remove a major political and social time
bomb: high youth unemployment. What is required is a financial
policy, which encourages workers to retire at an earlier age,
this helping to make it easier for the young to become employed.
A recent study, Divided Nation, the result of a joint project of the Institute of Public Affairs and the Melbourne University's Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, concludes that the real rate of unemployment in Australia is higher than the official figures of approximately 8 percent. The report says that the official figures underestimate the unemployment level by ignoring that large numbers are only part time workers while many have become so discouraged that they are no longer looking for work, but have become dependent on welfare.
Unemployment levels among the young are at least 20 percent. The best that the Howard Government can offer are bandaid proposals such as "Work for the Dole", which leave untouched the basic question of how to ensure that the young, the future of the nation, have an outlet for their creative energies. The "Work for the Dole" programme is motivated primarily by political considerations.
Large numbers of hard-pressed taxpayers are naturally receptive to the argument that their taxes are being used to finance a debauched youth which increasingly turns to drugs or becomes involved in violent crime. Those best qualified to express an opinion, those working with the young unemployed, stress that there is a close relationship between the rising drug problem and unemployment. Police spokesmen frankly admit that they are losing the battle against the increase in trafficking of hard drugs like heroin.
While the destruction of young lives by a growing drug culture is tragic, just as tragic is the high suicide rate among the young. This rate is highest among young males. It is particularly high among young rural males, who have become increasingly depressed by what is a loss of self-esteem. There is nothing in the Costello-Howard budget, which offers anything of value to these young Australians.
In one of his major works, "The Monopoly of Credit", C.H. Douglas, the author of Social Credit, published a graph showing how in times of acute economic depression suicide rates increase as desperate people see no way out of their problems. And they are not helped by what Douglas described as the "invincible stupidity" of the economic "experts" and brainwashed politicians.
A product of his own background, John Howard is the classic example of invincible stupidity. Thank God he was not Prime Minister of Australia during the most perilous days of the Pacific war, or he would have been telling Australians that they could not use their vast resources to defend themselves because of a lack of foreign investment. Having gained a glimpse of reality through his study of Social Credit, Labor Prime Minister John Curtin took steps to ensure that artificial financial restrictions were removed to make a maximum war effort possible. His government also demonstrated that the inflation problem, resulting from massive credit expansion, could be eliminated by a system of consumer price discounts.
Attempting to answer what Pauline Hanson is suggesting, John Howard makes the statement, "The only way you can reduce foreign investment is to reduce the need for it and that is to generate greater savings so that we don't have to borrow the savings of foreigners to finance consumption". It was this type of economic gibberish early in the Second World War, the claim being that the war effort could only be financed out of savings, or taxes, which resulted in the Menzies Government being swept from office to be later replaced by John Curtin.
Anyone who cannot see that whatever economic activities needed in Australia can be financed without pawning the nation to international bankers, has nothing to offer Australia at a time when its situation is as perilous as it was during the Second World War. If the nation cannot find constructive and necessary economic activities to absorb the energies of the young, then those energies will be used for destructive purposes. Former Labor Member Graeme Campbell appears to be the only Federal politician reflecting the spirit of John Curtin and many of his colleagues. But at least Pauline Hanson is bringing some commonsense to bear by indicting the direction in which Australia must move for salvation.
It is time to sweep the economic rationalists and their absurd theories aside, to be replaced with commonsense. John Howard is clearly a cot case, suffering from invincible economic stupidity and he must be moved off the Australian political stage as quickly as possible. His pension will ensure that he does not have to suffer what he has helped to inflict on others.
WHAT'S HAPPENED TO GRAEME CAMPBELL?
by David Thompson
As One Nation has risen in the opinion polls to become a theoretical electoral threat to the Coalition - National Party in particular - increasing attention has been focused on what specific policies Pauline Hanson's party will propose. Hanson herself has been vague on this in some cases, pleading (justifiably) that One Nation has just been born, and much consultation and research must be undertaken before hard policies can be presented. Last week, ABC television approached Hanson and Campbell to do a joint interview. Breaking a habit of refusing to do taped interviews with the ABC, Campbell agreed to take part. When Hanson was asked for policy detail on matters such as trade, foreign investment, etc., she deferred to Campbell, saying that since he had much better developed policy suggestions on such issues, he should answer the question. We are informed that Campbell did so, competently and succinctly, dealing in particular with the highly relevant steel industry and BHP.
The interview was screened by the ABC on Friday, May 16th, but not once did Campbell appear in any part of the interview! He had been completely edited out. No explanation was offered, and no reference to Campbell at all. Perhaps what he had to say was irrelevant? Perhaps Hanson is the "hot" issue, not Campbell? Then why go to the trouble to invite Campbell to take part at all?
In our view, the ideological enemies of Pauline Hanson and Graeme Campbell (for they are the same enemies) would prefer that Campbell's sharper, more focused and more competently-argued policy suggestions were not widely available in an environment of intense interest in the same issues pursued by Hanson.
CAMPBELL COULD YET BE THE KEY
The public meeting he addressed in Adelaide last week is a demonstration that Campbell has not "gone away". The meeting was well attended, Campbell spoke brilliantly, local press covered the event and Campbell was interviewed on radio. Being a political realist, in dealing with One Nation, Campbell made the point that even if all combined, the smaller political parties simply lack the numbers to challenge the entrenched major party blocs. What was required, said Campbell, was to combine on issues to force policy changes and political concessions from the major parties. The evidence is that this is already starting to occur on questions such as immigration policy, and tariffs on imported cars.
The Campbell strategy reflects our views, that changes in policy are more important than starting new parties. Sometimes public pressure can force policy changes without new parties, sometimes a new party with clear and popular alternative policies can be promoted as a serious threat to the bigger parties, thereby forcing policy changes. Campbell has stressed on a number of occasions that the latter is the role of Australia First. The proposed role of One Nation on the other hand is not yet quite clear.
As has been reported in the press, Graeme Campbell faces a crisis in that he has been charged with "dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm" under the N.S.W. Traffic Act, and a similar offence under the N.S.W. Crimes Act. At the time, Campbell admitted that he did not see a motorcyclist to whom he should have given way, resulting in an injury to the cyclist. There was no alcohol involved, and N.S.W. police did not proceed with prosecutions. However, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in N.S.W. has decided that Campbell must face the above charges, one of which carries a possible prison sentence of one year. According to Section 43 (ii) of the Constitution, if Campbell is convicted of this offence, he is disqualified from sitting in Parliament. This is a serious threat to Campbell, and the question of political intrigue has not yet been ruled out. He is determined to defend the charges, heard on August 1st, pointing out that legal advice indicates that proof of intent to cause grievous bodily harm is required to secure his conviction.
It is clear that, while Pauline Hanson is receiving high profile media attention, Graeme Campbell is regarded as just as serious a threat by the economic rationalists, and the political elites. While no real objection is made to intensive coverage of Hanson profiles, rallies, etc., these political elites in press and Parliament are determined to prevent any serious public discussion of policy issues that could shift Australia from its present political course. Graeme Campbell has not gone away, and, in the end, could prove the key to securing those vital policy shifts.
MORE FARMERS TO BE FORCED OUT
It doesn't seem to matter whether it is an A.L.P. or Coalition Government - rural policy of continual "rationalisation" of farmers, and "down-sizing" of country towns, continues. Minister for Primary Industries, Mr. Anderson, has announced assistance measures to help up to 4,000 farm families to leave the land "with dignity". 3,000-4,000 farm families across eastern Australia were "blighted" by low commodity prices, drought, high debt and falling property prices, according to Anderson.
Instead of the typical political shortsightedness of dealing with the effects of rural devastation - moving more farmers into the cities - even the National Party seems incapable of helping families to remain on their properties "with dignity". This could be done by dealing with the causes of the problem. Long-term, low-interest finance is essential to maintain and restore a rural Australia that is vital to the national interest.
How can Fischer, Howard, or any political leader stand by while rural Australia is denuded of people, and then refuse any future demands from, say, Red China, to re-settle a few million Chinese in areas, which we clearly do not want to occupy? How many more farmers must be forced off their properties before Ministers like Anderson can say, "enough is enough"? Does Mr. Anderson have an optimum number of farmers in mind? Does he have a long-term rural policy? Does he have a clue?
HUMBUG FROM INDONESIA
"The Indonesian Observer" warned last week of damaged relations between Asia and Australia over Pauline Hanson's policies on immigration, etc. An editorial entitled 'Hanson will Haunt Australia' said, "She holds dangerous views. These views have been blamed for a rising number of racial attacks on Asians in that country...". The paper then calls on Australians to "do something about this" before "Asia" concludes that we are a "racist" country.
Such humbug and effrontery are astounding! Even now the racial frictions within Indonesia continue to simmer dangerously. Since before Christmas, Chinese homes, churches, temples and property have been torched in political riots in Indonesia, with Islamic groups in particular involved. Chinese Indonesians have been murdered. Why does not the Prime Minister of Indonesia condemn "racist" attitudes that lead to such outrages? Because he knows that a declaration for multiculturalism and equality in Indonesia, predominantly Islamic, would direct the same attacks upon himself?
The April edition of Intelligence Survey carries a most revealing article, Who are the Real Racists? in which the racially-inspired policies of a number of Asian countries are studied. Perhaps it should be sent to the "Indonesian Observer". Such double standards should be exposed as simply a form of intimidation to which the West has shown repeated weakness. We recommend the incredible book "The Asian Mind Game" by Chin-ning Chu ($24.00 posted) for a realistic understanding of "Asia.
GRAEME CAMPBELL SPEAKS ON STEEL INDUSTRY
The following is a slightly edited Hansard report of an address delivered by Graeme Campbell, M.H.R., at Canberra, on Tuesday, May 13th
MR. CAMPBELL (Kalgoorlie) (4.15 p.m.)
- The problems for Newcastle probably started back in the
1970s when the World Bank advanced $700 million to establish
a steel industry in Korea, to which I understand Australia
contributed $50 million. That was a long-term loan at 4½ percent
with no repayments for 10 years. It would be very nice to
be giving that to our industry.
What could BHP have done? It would have helped, of course, if the government of the day had built the submarine at Newcastle, where it should have been built, but that would have necessitated building it from a proven British design. Instead, for largely political reasons, it was moved to Adelaide and an unproven Swedish submarine was chosen that has already cost a fortune and is, without a doubt, a lemon. The quoted price by the British to build that submarine - all six in Australia - was $3.1 billion. We signed the contract with Sweden at $4.2 billion. It has already gone through $6 billion. There is $3 billion there that could have been invested in the steel industry.
BHP could have done a lot of things on its own account though. It is clear this thing has been happening over time and that BHP has not kept up the maintenance of its plant in Newcastle. In Australia there is a need for specialised steels. A lot of people do not realise that we import just about all the specialised steel that we need. Newcastle, with its expertise in steel, could have developed these specialised steels, something that the whole economy of this country requires.
The last speaker, the member for Paterson (Mr. Bob Baldwin) talked about the new job opportunities and people talk blithely about this. The trouble for a lot of people working in this industry is that it is very specialised and people have a lifetime of skills in this industry and these skills are simply not transferable. We have seen the same nonsense talked about in Tasmania where blue-collar workers were told that their future lay in tourism. It is clear that tourism creates low paid, part-time jobs, and jobs for women - not jobs for blue-collar workers.
We have an enormous demand in Australia for high tensile pipe for pipelines. We import basically all that pipe at the moment. That pipe could have been built with a little foresight in Newcastle, and the government would have been reprehensive, in my view, had it not supported that.
MR. HOLLIS - And we also import stainless steel.
MR. CAMPBELL - That is another case. We import a lot of stainless steel when we produce both the steel and the nickel in Australia. I believe that BHP has been very remiss in its research and development. BHP could have matched the downturn in Newcastle, if all else failed, to the growth in its Port Hedland facilities - there will be substantial growth in Hedland - but this is not to be and it will not occur. It must be understood that, in many cases, because their whole environment and their whole lives - all their assets - are involved in Newcastle, workers are not that transportable anyway.
It has been said that only BHP shareholders are considered, that they are the criterion in this decision. That, I believe, is not true. The shareholders of BHP have benefited enormously from the stability provided by government. There is the security of BHP's many leases provided by the government. They have received grants from the government. The shareholders of BHP, like the company, have a responsibility to this nation and to the people of this nation. I think that governments should be bringing that strongly to their attention.
If the government developed an industry policy - and this goes as much for the previous government as it goes for this government - far more steel would have been used in the economy. There would have been a greater demand for steel and BHP would then have had far less reason to close down its operations. There is no doubt that, without a manufacturing industry policy, there will be no jobs for the future in Australia and no end to the current account deficit. We could have seen that much bigger market for the manufacturing industry guaranteeing and underwriting the jobs for the people of Newcastle. Unless we can reassert a manufacturing industry in Australia, there simply are going to be no jobs.
What I want for the future of my kids is a high wage, high skill, high education country, and we are going backwards in all those factors. This is something that governments today and past, have to accept responsibility for. But so does BHP.
BHP has had enormous benefits from its position in Australia. It is highly regarded as the Big Australian. It is my fear that it has lost track of its responsibility - it certainly has no regard for where it came from - and I believe that the government should be jawboning it to make sure that it does recognise its responsibilities to this nation and to the people, particularly of Newcastle, who have made fortunes for the company in the past.
It is simply nonsense to say that we cannot be competitive. Of course we can be competitive with the world. In many areas we are. But if in the final analysis it boils down to wages, if we all have equal technology across the world, and we are not competitive just because of wages, then we in this country must reject that. I simply do not want my kids working for Filipino or Korean wages. It is not the future I want for my kids, and nor should it be the future envisaged for the children of Australia by any government of any persuasion.
I say once more: it is a case of the failure of governments, not just this government, although this government is the government today and has the responsibility now. From what the government has said so far, it seems very clear to me that the government has no intention to do anything about reestablishing a manufacturing industry. It will be very interesting to read in the budget tonight whether that is the case. I suspect we are going to see further contractions in R&D and, therefore, further lead in the saddle of manufacturing in this country.
MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Nehl) - Order! The discussion is now concluded.
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