Free trade is essential for human rights; this is what we were told way back in the 90’s when we heard the famous Keating Banana Republic speech, and at that time I am sure they believed every single word that they said.
But over time looking back its pretty easy to see that it hasn’t worked out the way they advised us it would. We were told that by engaging with these undeveloped and impoverished countries we would increase their standard of living, boost their economy and create a global market for goods manufactured here in Australia. So we began to trade with them, we began to export.
However it’s become abundantly clear the great plan is not working out all that well. Now the problem, the main problem that I have with this, isn’t so much that our industries have disappeared. Because we were told if we allowed this to happen to non essential products then we would get cheap flat screen tv’s and other disposable crap that we didn’t need to manufacture here. I am not upset about that, I’m upset because we lost all the big ticket essential industries too.
We stand here 30 something years later and we realise the main export we had to other countries was our industries and our jobs and our secure future, it’s all gone. Along with that loss went our self sufficiency and ability to provide for the countries needs in time of hardship or conflict.
We stand here in a country which once had a beefy GDP of 36% which has now dropped into single digits. That’s a pretty big drop, and the main problem is of course that the cheap items are no longer there. Fashion houses, machinery plants, electronics and the rest have all moved to third world and undeveloped countries. They’re paying slave wages, they’ve got lousy working conditions, workplace safety doesn’t exist and they don’t do anything for them. Yet when the products hit our shelves it’s still for example $120+ for a pair of jeans.
So what are we saying now? At those prices we are still not competitive, we can’t make jeans for $120 a pair, a good solid Aussie brand? Sneakers is another one, look at Nike, Adidas, over in undeveloped countries paying pittance wages, but when the products hit our shores their $160, $220, $400 a pair but we can’t make sneakers for that price?
Then there’s the big stuff, steel, fuels, ships, cars, tools and so the ever growing list of our vanished prosperity goes.
It’s pretty disgusting really.
The truly cheap days are going, if not gone, because they’ve got all the industries now, we don’t have any, they’ve got them all and now the prices have gone up. Its why your average half decent electronics, whitegoods etc are now are up to prices comparable with what we paid when we manufactured those same items here.
Free trade has hit the end of its usefulness, and its experiment has all too often failed spectacularly in helping the impoverished as they claimed it would. In fact its normalised kicking the needy in the guts while polluting at levels we outlawed here at home decades ago.
How can we justify this continuing when so many in this country now need Government support to exist? I dont mean just the growing unemployed, but the under employed, and full time casual workers hoping they might get a few calls a week for casual labor jobs via a phone app. So many subsidies and supports now being taken out of taxes because people can no longer make enough in wages to cover daily costs. Blowing billions on dole payments and rent assistance rather than investing in our sovereignty and success via big projects and visionary plans for the countries future. I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say that the biggest industry created in Australia in recent years is employment agencies. Where the Government pays them to sign you up, then pays them to find you a job and if there’s no jobs, well then they will get some more Government funding to train you in multiple certificates you need to get a job that doesn’t actually exist. What a great and financially economical system that is.
It’s time now for Australia to realise that Keatings vision is long dead, that there’s no Banana Republic, in fact there’s another 7 million Australians needing goods and services compared to 1996. Surely we can see that if we can make all we need for almost the same price that we are paying for it now then we will get the jobs. We will get the revenue streams, hell we might just get some future income security for our currently unemployed and for business hopefuls who really would like to start up. Those who would like to have a lash at making their own way while making this a better country. But its hard to buy Australian made, to support local growth when your own Government thinks that not helping Australians while supporting foreign corporate thieves is the best way forward.
We need to smack our Politicians up the side of the head tell them to get their arses in gear and start helping Aussie entrepreneurs. Don’t go on television like Malcom Turnbull did and ask for overseas 457 entrepreneurs to come and make Australia prosper, that was a white flag and utterly degrading statement from a so called representative of the people, much less a newly appointed Prime Minister. No wonder he got turfed.
We have more than enough smart and inventive people here to bloom again, we always have had them. But we need our Government to wake up and decide to back us, and not foreign interests. That’s what its going to take, admit free trade has done little except destroy our self sufficiency, boost our unemployment, and increase the need for Government supports. Consumables are all good well and fine, but we must begin to ask at what cost does this new structure comes to us.