livin' in a land down under .....
from mike carlton ….
'Any government which makes it harder to manufacture cars is making it harder for us to continue to be a first world economy because without cars, without steel, without aluminium, without cement, we don't have these manufacturers in Australia, we are not really a sophisticated economy anymore.''
These thoughtful words, taken from the Liberal Party website, were uttered by none other than Tony Abbott after one of his fancy dress tours of the Ford production line at Geelong in 2011.
My how things change. In his few short months in government, Abbott has seen off the entire Australian car making industry, with the loss of who knows how many tens of thousands of jobs and an even chance of plunging Victoria and South Australia into at least a local recession. There goes his sophisticated economy. It's a unique achievement, unmatched by any incoming government.
Given that the usual claque of chattering economists is now saying that this was inevitable - they'd all foreseen it years ago, etc, and no bad thing, blah blah - you'd think this is something Abbott might have touched on during the election campaign. But no, not a hint. You might also think that he and his Industry Minister, Ian ''Chainsaw'' Macfarlane, would have had some policy or plan in place for dealing with this tectonic shift.
No to that, too. They haven't a clue. As so often happens, the best the Prime Minister could do was to heap platitude upon banality. The Toyota workers would go ''from good jobs to better jobs'', he intoned glibly, as if that would fix everything. Chainsaw blathered on about creating ''a framework''.
When in doubt, blame the trade unions. This is a habit so deeply ingrained in the Liberal DNA that facts are irrelevant. Abbott first tried it on after the troubles at SPC Ardmona, making such extravagant claims about the supposedly feather bed working conditions at its factory in Shepparton that the local MP, Sharman Stone, one of his own backbenchers, publicly called him a liar. You don't see that happen a lot with prime ministers.
But with that Bourbon talent he has for learning nothing and forgetting nothing, Abbott was at it again when Toyota pulled the pin. Union intransigence had driven the company to the wall, a refrain taken up by Joe Hockey, who claimed Toyota executives had privately told him that very thing last year. That, too, fell in a heap when the company issued a statement to say that: ''Toyota Australia has never blamed the union for its decision to close its manufacturing operations by the end of 2017, neither publicly or in private discussions with any stakeholders.'' Oops.
Ah, but the age of entitlement is over, we're told. Unless you happen to be a needy football club, that is. During the election campaign, Abbott promised $5 million to the Brisbane Broncos - owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, no less - to ''kick-start the revitalisation'' of their ''sporting precinct at Red Hill''. The Manly Sea Eagles were offered $10 million to renovate Brookvale Oval, which just happens to be in Abbott's electorate of Warringah and where he's the number one ticket holder. We shall see if those juicy bits of pork-barrelling make it through the coming federal budget.