January 25th 2003

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Defence: Time for a reality check

EDITORIAL: The flight from fatherhood

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Iraq another divisive issue for the ALP

IRAQ: The case against Saddam Hussein

STRAWS IN THE WIND: The hard questions

COMMENT: Abortion-cancer row continues

LETTERS: Mutual concerns

LETTERS: Dealing with Asia

LETTERS: Protecting the Australian way of life

LETTERS: Free trade

LETTERS: 'Dumbing down'

COMMENT: Sean Penn, Blue Heelers: the politics of celebrity

PROFILE: Why Belloc still matters

BOOKS: The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, by Keith Windschuttle

BOOKS: Culture of Life: Culture of Death, edited by Luke Gormally

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Protecting the Australian way of life

by W. Jensen

News Weekly, January 25, 2003

I am thankful that Colin Teese was given right of reply to Hal Colebatch's letter, which he did quite effectively. However, much more needs to be said.

Proponents of globalisation look at the world through rose-coloured glasses, envisaging perfect societies where fairness and goodwill predominate. The truth is otherwise.

Australia, under Labor and starting with the Button plan, embraced the concept of free trade and began progressively dismantling its trade barriers, expecting other countries in the world to do the same.

As a result, we were flooded with "cheap" imported goods, against which Australian industry could not compete. These goods were produced with low cost labour, due to low living standards and the relatively low value of their currencies. Australia, on the other hand, had a small, well-educated population, enjoying a high standard of living with secure employment, social security, a stable government, and no internal dissent.

So the utopians wanted to equalise this imbalance by giving these underprivileged communities equal opportunity. The result has been that such countries have prospered while Australia's standard of living has declined. The idea was that we would learn to produce more efficiently and compete with these countries on price, without our protective barriers.

In reality, Australian industry had to close its doors; first the clothing trade, then shoes, electrical goods - the list goes on.

Our higher wages and standard of living made it impossible to compete with labour working for a pittance in devalued currency.

Yes, things have equalised. They have gone up, and we have gone down. We may eventually reach their level of poverty; we now have massive unemployment (largely covered up), and even beggars on the street.

The backward countries of the world are that way because of dictatorships, government corruption, religious bigotry, social taboos and tribalism. These have prevented education, enlightenment and progress. In such situations, the only social security is large families; hence burgeoning populations.

Two other outcomes have resulted from this free trade arrangement.

First, other countries have not reciprocated in reducing tariffs. They enjoy our open borders, but restrict our exports where it suits them. They protect their favoured industries by subsidies. So it is not a level playing field. Brazilian sugar was cited: Brazilian sugar prices are kept low by subsidies, hence the destruction of the unprotected Australian industry.

The other outcome is that Australians in general have not benefited from these low cost imported goods. Our moguls of industry have jumped on the bandwagon, and gone into importing. They buy cheap and sell dear, so retail prices in Australia have not reflected the real costs of these goods. Meanwhile, a relatively small segment of our community is enjoying enormous wealth.

Australian industry could sustain itself and prosper if it could fully provide for its home market, without being forced out by cheap dumped goods.

Contrary to free market propaganda, our home market accounts for a much greater volume than exports. Exports would follow where we possess natural advantages. Universal employment and prosperity are the real stimuli for buying power.

The truth is: it's a dog-eat-dog world, and little by little, we are being eaten. We need to protect our industry, stop living on stock market speculation, restrain the forces of social disintegration and low moral standards, and against marriage and families.

We need to promote greater population growth, and a family wage giving women the option of raising children.

We need some farsighted politicians to look beyond their own enrichment and party squabbling. This could be a great country again ... if we gave it a chance.

W. Jensen,
Ringwood, Vic

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