Australia

Broad Thoughts on a Better Australia

As I watch my Australia transition from a Liberal government which only managed around 36 per cent of the primary vote to a Labor government that received even fewer primary votes, I ponder if Australia has the unity of purpose to have and nurture the vision of a better future. Nearly 70 per cent of voters did not want an Albanese government; indeed, nearly 32 per cent did not want Labor or Liberal. In light of these huge divisions, I question if there is a chance we could regain the egalitarian unity of purpose so evident with our first settlers and after World War Two as we transformed an agrarian British outpost into a multi-ethnic industrial society?

What is the chance of present leaders recognizing that productivity is never an accident? Who grasps that it comes from a commitment to excellence, built on the rock of intelligent and focussed planning? Led by true patriots, a visionary government would take the Australian people on a wonderful journey to a more productive and harmonious future, a future where our children will have  rewarding jobs and appreciate the self-esteem that flows from independent achievement. Present divisions would be overcome by unity of purpose, but this old Bushy is not confident of that outcome.

To achieve unity of purpose we must recognise that the food we eat, the water we drink and the power we use are only there because previous generations invested their belief, money and know-how in the future. Unless this generation quickly does the same, our standard of living will fall.

Our sustenance, our wealth and our future all reside in the land beneath our feet. This wealth belongs to the Australian people and should always be developed and used in the best interests of the Australian people. We need to stop the lazy practice of shipping raw materials overseas, only to buy back much more expensive finished goods. With visionary planning we could produce many of these goods here and ourselves become an exporter of quality finished products.

If we are to do so we must immediately curtail our borrowing binge, as debt can never be the way to genuine prosperity. Present borrowing and the resulting growing debt are a burden on our people and their children that will destroy our standard of living if not reduced. To make matters worse we are spending this borrowed money on lifestyle and circuses and not on the infrastructure needed to provide our future needs of power, water, gas and fuel.

The golden rule to a better future and a country that works for everyone, is that everyone in the country must have work and do so under the same laws. This will never be possible while we are foolishly chasing climate change abatement and enduring impractical regulations and energy policies that are denying access to the tools, and the cheap power, to be competitively productive.

We must stop promoting division and laud our egalitarian culture, beginning with accepting that regardless of ethnic or racial origin or how long our ancestors have lived in this country, every person born in Australia is an equal indigenous citizen of this country with equal rights to share in the opportunities, resources and responsibilities of our land.

Four decades of failure to invest in the infrastructure needed to supply our growing population with basic services like water, power, gas and fuel while unwisely investing our limited capital in the black hole of so-called renewable energy and climate change abatement has left our economy incapable of competing with the rest of the world.

As a steppingstone to a more flexible and entrepreneurial economy we must run a budget in surplus by generating more taxpayers, not by taxing present taxpayers more. To do this every person and every entity must pay some tax, because all entities rely on Government services. Every person and every entity should meet their obligations to our nation by paying tax (no exceptions like charities set up to avoid tax) We must generate more taxpaying jobs and cut back on taxpayer funded jobs. To do this we must truncate the size of Government, reject socialism, totalitarianism and globalisation which are the enemies of the people and their freedom.

Adoption of a visionary plan for future prosperity could make Australia productive, prosperous and proudly independent. I call this a cry for action by “Dinkum Aussies’ to re-establish Australia as a can-do nation; making us a leader in engineering, construction, technology development, manufacturing industry and agriculture.

It is a blunt call to both state and federal governments to stop hindering our productive enterprise and provide the sparks to fire up our potential. Our nation today is a shadow of the can-do egalitarian enthusiasm that started with our settlers and was boldly echoed by visionaries like Ben Chifley and his Minister for Public Works Nelson Lemon when they announced the commencement of the Snowy Scheme. Chifley said on that day: “This is a plan for the Nation and it needs the whole nation to back it”

Where are our present-day visionary patriots like Chifley, Lemon, Bradfield, Playford and many others? We need men and women of vision and political will if we are to be our best.

 

22 comments
  • Ceres

    Such worthy sentiments but those values and the “dinkum Aussie” are virtually extinct. Australia has become a nation of tribes through immigration with too many people having a primary loyalty to another country. Apparently many electorates with a large number of Chinese were offended at the Liberals firmly responding to the bullying by China and recently voted, accordingly.
    Then we have “The Voice” where aborigines may be given preferential treatment. No unity or harmony there.
    As the saying goes “when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”. Year by year, it’s getting worse.

  • Farnswort

    I agree with Ceres. Geoffrey Blainey was attacked and slandered when he warned back in the 1980s that mass immigration and official multiculturalism risked transforming Australia into a “cluster of competing tribes.” He was right though.

  • Farnswort

    Blainey in 1991:

    “In the 1980s we experienced one of the most remarkable acts of abdication ever carried out by the majority group in a self-governing nation…

    Many people do not wish our nation to possess a balanced pride in its past and a legitimate sense of nationhood… One almost detects a deathwish at work. Many distinguished Australians believe that we should not be a nation but a subsidized rooming house for the peoples of the world – a rooming house without any of the safeguards which a nation needs for its preservation.

    Often, in a free nation, there will be a rewriting of the past, and challenges to accepted views. What is unusual in Australia is the extent of the challenge, the power it holds over educational circles and public broadcasting, and the influence it wields in parliament. More remarkable is the reluctance to praise great achievements in our past and an unwillingness to try to fit our feet into the boots of past generations of Australians…

    Nothing will turn us into a phantom nation so much as the policy of multiculturalism. In its most common form it sees Australia as a loose alliance of ethnic groups. Australia now permits new migrants to retain a large measure of loyalty to their homeland. It allows them citizenship on terms which their own homeland would on no account extend to Australian Australians. Multiculturalism is really a policy designed for those who hold two passports and who can abandon Australia if our society collapses – indeed if it collapses through the foolish policies they themselves have imposed.

    For the millions of Australians who have no other nation to fall back upon, multiculturalism is almost an insult. It is divisive. It threatens social cohesion. It could, in the long-term, also endanger Australia’s military security because it sets up enclaves which in a crisis could appeal to their own homelands for help…

    The evidence is strong that the mainstream Australians do not want the present policy of multiculturalism. Nor do the great majority of mainstream Australians want the present immigration policy, with its increasing inflow of migrants and its undue preference for Asia and the Third World. Increasingly there is a feeling of resentment that some of Australia’s crucial questions – the cohesion of the nation, the question of who shall come to live here and on what terms, and even our ultimate military security – have been largely taken from our hands both by the Liberal and Labor parties. The majority of people do not have an effective say in these crucial issues.”

    “Australia: One Nation, or a Cluster of Tribes?”, in Our Heritage and Australia’s Future: A Selection of Insights and Concerns of Some Prominent Australians (1991)

  • Adam J

    Multiculturalism turned Australia into a hotel rather than a national homeland for a particular people sharing certain characteristics. And according to this doctrine, people who built the hotel murdered the real land owners because they were racist. So while everyone is welcome to stay in the hotel as long they don’t completely wreck it, no-one will acknowledge or thank the builders and consequently they are effectively homeless, reduced to renting a room they themselves built from scratch on vacant land.

  • Occidental

    Ron, or Readers, can anyone give some examples of visionary government. That is where a country has unarguably (I know that is a tall order around here, so close to unarguably will do) prospered as a result of a government decision or plan. It is better for me to ask the question before launching into my own bush theories.

  • Farnswort

    Adam J, it certainly does feel like Anglo-Celtic Australians are becoming homeless in the country their ancestors built. Being neither Indigenous/First Nations/Traditional Owners nor vibrant recent migrants, they receive no praise from our political and cultural elites. They are seldom even acknowledged as a people – except as an object of blame for alleged current and past misdeeds.

  • Stephen

    One feature Australia and other western countries share is 100 years of increase in the role of government. As a result enterprise is constrained by a vast plethora of costly regulations. For the economy to boom Government needs to get out of the bloody way.

  • pgang

    Occidental, the mining and exploration legislation was worthy. It opened up the possibility of a resources industry, in understanding that minerals rarely exist in convenient locations, and that their extraction is a financially risky affair requiring a lot of capital. It provided a vital framework for exploration and mining rights, and extinguished contentious claims from freeholders and so forth.
    Government is essential in providing a workable structure for nation building, but the focus on that is long gone. We now have government for its own sake.

  • RB

    Occidental. Snowy Mountain scheme was worthy and worth repeating for power generation and crops. So much more value than any amount of subsidy for Chinese manufactured solar panels.
    As an aside, the call to reinstate the processing of raw materials here in AU is a political and social impossibility. We would have to deal with competition from low-wage countries and nimbyism.
    We would be better served by taking full advantage of our relative advantages.

  • Occidental

    @pgang, I understand where you are coming from, but in reality minerals have been extracted since we got out of the caves, so mining legislation is hardly visionary. In fact being from Queensland I encountered in my practice of law, the constant changing of mining legislation with every government since Goss was elected. The success of mining in Australia really is about mineral accessibility (principally the lack of deep topsoil and vegetation), combined with a lack of competing interests, and willing capital. But the reservation of minerals to the crown from freehold land did nothing to encourage mining, – the US experience has shown what happens when you let the freeholder mine or extract his own property.
    @RB I hear lots of people talk about the Snowy Mountains Scheme, but again even if if it is beneficial on balance, it is hardly visionary, I mean damning rivers has been going on in every country since Adam was a boy. I don’t mean to get in an argument here, but I have a view more akin with @Stephen, that governments, and I mean all governments everywhere, throughout the ages, are never visionary, and can not be. Advancement is the product of individuals, who often are visionary. If you look at the great periods of human advancement, that we know of (classical greece and the enlightment), both were accompanied by small government which got out of the way of the individual.
    My main concern is that Australians keep looking for a moonshot to come from government, when what we need is individual inventors and entrepreneurs like musk, dyson, ford, bezos, gates, even a percy shaw or an almon strowger will do. This country doesn’t seem to produce those types, and eventually we have to start asking, why?

  • RB

    Occidental. I believe the scale of the undertaking is its unique feature. Dams turning Northern Qld rivers inland would fit your specification, an individual concept (Bradfield) that can only come from Government. (although I have no idea to its feasibility or otherwise)
    Every project starts with someone saying “what if we did this”? If it is government-funded or otherwise.
    Maybe we are more focused on our areas of relative advantage, we did end up with multiple billionaires who are pretty hot stuff at digging stuff up.

  • pgang

    Occidental you are merely changing the bar to failure height as it suits you. When I look at the various state Mining Acts I see works of genius, which set this nation up to be the great success story that it has been. To grant all ‘unknown’ mineral wealth to the Crown on behalf of the people, and exchange it for Royalties only when those minerals are discovered and successfully extracted, thus also protecting the nation’s wealth from fly-by-nighters; to provide for the primacy of exploration leases over other types of land holding in recognition of the scarcity of mineral wealth, and the subsequent conversion to mining leases to enable the organised exploitation of that wealth – this is the very foundation of Australia’s economy, thanks to people with great vision.
    Anybody can explore for minerals in the hope of getting lucky, and they do. And if they do get lucky, they share a bit of that found wealth with everybody else, because everybody owns a share in it. Yet investors still receive ample payback for their risk-taking and hard work. It’s brilliant.
    How would it be possible to explore for minerals without the granting of an exploration lease over large tracts of land? It would otherwise rest entirely upon the whim of elite, wealthy freeholders. Thank God we’ve been spared that.
    When you say that this success is due to a happy circumstance of nature (which, by the way, is pure myth), or due to a lack of ‘competing interests’ (I’m not sure which is the bigger myth), it is merely to paper over the decisions and choices made by some extremely clever people who had Australia’s future at the heart of their thinking.
    At what period of the so-called ‘enlightenment’ did government simply get out of people’s way? Australia wasn’t even allowed to engage in trade in its first decades! For many years I’ve been banging on at Quadrant about the philosophical primacy of the conflict between the one and the many. Individuals on their own cannot advance anything, and neither can governments advance anything without individuals. Individuals and governments, in reality, are co-dependent. Parliamentary democracy was a recognition of this core reality (based in belief in the Trinity, not some esoteric ‘enlightenment’). It is an attempt to combine the ultimacy of both the one and the many into a workable whole.

  • Claude James

    The most significant barriers to the long-term development, defence, and governance of Australia -as a member of the Western Civ Alliance- are ignored by all politicians and commentators on the matter.
    These folk, some well-meaning, are all subject to a terrible groupthink, as engineered over these many decades by various neo-marxist forces who control the ALP, unions, Greens and now the Teals -in addition to the public services, and the education, media, and legal systems.
    Frogs in a pot, slowly warming, blissful, and about to die.

  • Occidental

    Pgang most of the great mineral discoveries in this country, from the first victorian gold fields, the mt isa inlier, Broken Hill, and the Pilbarra region of Western Australia, were all discovered by individuals who held no exploration permits, or any authority from the various governments. To think that legislation actually encourages people to do something like go into the outback and try to find minerals, shows a disconnection with reality. People are motivated by many things, usually money, fame, or pure inquisitiveness, but never government legislation. By your standards, the governments China, India, Chile, Mongolia, Mozambique, Russia and South Africa with mining industries every bit the size of or more extensive than Australias must all be blessed with visionary governments, drafting brilliant legislation. I don’t mean to be cruel, but really, where do you get your ideas from?

  • Michael

    Until about the 1970s, Australia had a development ethos, an understanding that our role, our unifying sense of purpose, was to develop the country to make a modern, prosperous, egalitarian nation. Since the 1970s, and perhaps the iconic turning point was the Save the Franklin campaign and Bob Hawke’s banning of the dam in 1983, an anti-development ethos has crept up and now dominates. Its goal is that we should minimise human impacts on nature. All kinds of environmental rules and regulations have been introduced and now hamstring virtually any and all projects. Let’s be clear though, the anti-impact is profoundly anti-human.

  • Claude James

    Occidental makes good points above.
    But I say that it is death to empiricism if pointing out others’ ignorance is regarded as cruel.

  • andrew2

    On the whole the ideals presented in this article are laudable.

    Australia has a huge geographic disadvantage. Our domestic marketplace is too small to be a successful launchpad to the rest of the world. We have a much greater chance with computer technology, AI etc which is not hindered geographically. We also have a chance in industries that are unique to our lifestyle but are exportable – Quiksliver, Billabong, RipCurl all originated from Australian surf culture. There are a few Australian companies designing (if not manufacturing) products for the domestic caravan, camping and 4WD industries.

    There are 3 major things that hinder Australian innovation – 1. housing affordability, which sucks money away from funding business enterprise. 2. Distraction during work hours. There needs to be a change to the psychology of focussed and meaningful work. 3. A greater understanding of financial matters beyond what is taught in schools and universities – what is money, who controls it, how you avoid getting enslaved to it.

  • andrew2

    It also seems to me that exchange rates are a huge hinderance to Australian industries. When natural resources are in high demand, the high Australian dollar crushes exports of other industries that compete on the basis of labour cost. I don’t know what the solution is. Maybe there should be an internal exchange rate for different industries so that mining demand cannot punish other industries. So mineral exports get tarriffed based on a high dollar which is used to subsidise manufacturing and vice versa. The export of minerals and primary foods dwarfs any manufactured import, so I don’t see why a boom in the Australian dollar based on these resources can’t be funnelled into making manufacturing more secure.

  • andrew2

    mistake: sentence above should be “The export of minerals and primary foods dwarfs any manufactured export…”

  • Occidental

    @andrew2 I can not argue with anything you have written, but I am not too worried about the lack of industry per se, but rather what it says about Australians,- industry follows innovation. We have a standard of living equivalent to European countries so who can complain, we are fortunate indeed. My big concerns are about the nature of the people. While you can not expect to produce a JC Maxwell, or an Einstein every decade, Australia should be able to produce a handful of innovators every century or so. If not innovators then a philosopher or two of renown. Take the Nordic countries, they have a combined population less than Australias, but their intellectual and industrial contribution to the world over the last century dwarfs ours. We can not blame standard of living ie being comfortable, because with the exception of Finland they’re on a par with us. I am not saying Australia is an intellectual or industrial black hole, but we are definitely an under performer, particularly when you take into consideration our heritage. Whilst we have a lot of Irish heritage, we also have a large UK heritage (particularly our cultural norms), and that should have led to Australia having a somewhat similar output intellectually to the UK, adjusted for population. We aren’t even within shooting distance of that output. Australians have to seriously start asking why? Many on this site bemoan the education system. I had a UK GP before I left Australia, and she told me she was sending her son to the UK to complete his senior years, and he had just spent 3 years at an exclusive GPS school in Queensland. I smiled and said “your not impressed with our education system”, she just looked at me and said “its rubbish”. But I think the problem is bigger than the education system, there is something in our culture which seems to flatten our ambition, and our inquisitiveness. Even many of the comments on these pages belie an absence of basic knowledge, it is as if “bullshiting” for its own sake is a pastime. In my view Australia has a bigger problem than our political system. To me Australians are like the farmed rabbits in Adams allegorical novel “Watership Down”, they were beautiful large and well fed in comparison to the wild rabbits, and never wanted to broach the difficult subject of why they were so well fed for fear of knowing the reality. I don’t know. This article bemoans a lack of visionary government which I regard as an oxymoron, but the truth is government is derived from the population, and that is where the problem is.

  • 27hugo27

    Well I pay my taxes rather grudgingly , knowing that they are spent by unaccountable Govts of either hue. I must fund that rent seeking “performance artist” . or novelists in the Pascoe vein, or all the Flim Flannerys sucking on the govt teat and that behemoth that is the ABC/SBS full in the knowledge that they don’t represent my values at all and are openly hostile to them . Would love to have a selective tax where one could tick the boxes one would like the govt to focus on and see how many would tick the multi-culti,arts , indigenous reparations, climate change boxes .

  • andrew2

    Occidental, I have just started reading the book “The Intellectual Life” by A.G. Sertillanges, O.P. and am using a tool called “Optimal Work” by psychiatrist Dr Kevin Majeres to expand my capacity to perform meaningful work and clarify my focus. Resources such as these, if embraced in the Australian workforce, could dramatically improve the landscape you describe. It is simply a case of wanting to do the best work you can do and innovation is a fundamental part of it.
    As regards to Australians and Australian culture, I think this is a very interesting topic. I have done a deep dive into the topic “Why Australians can’t sing” and also “Why Australian Catholic’s can’t sing”. Fundamental to it seems to be the persecution Irish Catholics suffered under English rule. They were forced to have silent Masses in the fields while they listened to the Anglicans loudly singing hymns in their churches. In a way the Irish became proud of their silence and stoicism and it became imbedded in the culture. It seems that countries that did not suffer as much subjugation are a lot more joyous in celebrating their culture. I think this is more likely to be the root cause of it than the “cultural cringe” offered as a reason for the lack of Australian success in producing artists or our own cultural products.
    One of my favourite movies is The Castle. The way the story brings together different classes of Australians, and demonstrates to the more privileged among us how good it would be if we freely offered our help to the less fortunate Australians who could use it; how we can be friends together in this country. I find it a remarkably hopeful movie and I don’t know why Rob Sitch and his collaborators aren’t given more high profile projects, seeing how they seemed to be a spark of genuine joy in the Australian culture. Yes, they have had many projects but these were of a lesser scale than The Castle, not greater.

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