August 25th 2001

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Cloning: time for PM to take a stand

LAW: AFA joins High Court action over IVF

CANBERRA OBSERVED: 2001 Census: strange role of Bureau of Statistics

National Affairs: New business and agriculture lobby launched (FABA)

Agriculture: Apple import decision to be reviewed

Straws in the Wind

Trade: Minister's equanimity as US lamb exports get the chop

Government is committed to manufacturing: Senator Minchin

Historical Feature: Rural movement has message for today

Comment: Bendigo puts the 'bank' back into rural and regional Australia

Health: The bottom line and medical ethics clash

MEDIA: Vanishing trick; Abbott: the latest round

BOOKS: 'PC, MD' by Sally Satel - Political correctness in the medical profession

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National Affairs: New business and agriculture lobby launched (FABA)

by Patrick J. Byrne

News Weekly, August 25, 2001
Over 200 people representing rural industries manufacturing and small business enthusiastically launched the Federation of Australian Business and Agriculture (FABA) recently in Brisbane.

The organisation has been formed because of economic hardship facing many industries, and out of frustration with the major political parties and peak industry councils that have pursued the free trade, economic rationalist policies for the past 20 years.

Largely ignored by the political process, these groups are seeking to band together to work for a new economic agenda and to defend each other’s industries.

FABA argues that protracted adherence of free market ideology has resulted in: the loss of the domestic market to heavily subsidised, dumped imports; the withdrawal of services to communities both urban and regional; the deregulation of many industries to the detriment of businesses and consumers; and the consequent undermining of the social fabric.

The key speakers launching FABA were:

  • Emeritus Professor Rod Jensen of the University of Queensland;
  • Colin Teese (former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Trade);
  • Martin Feil (former Director of the Industries Assistance Commission, now the Productivity Commission, and President of the Australian Society for Australian Industry and Employment); and
  • Patrick Byrne (National Vice-President of the National Civic Council).

Major General W.B. "Digger" James, chaired the meeting.

Other key industry speakers included: Warren Martin (Executive Chairman Australian Cane Farmers Association), Peter Rodeck (Managing Director Environdata, representing Small Business), Jim Tyrell (representing Industry and Small Business), John Cartwright (National President Australian Milk Producers Association), John Olsen (President Queensland Commercial Fishermen’s Association), John Carter (National President Australian Beef Association), Garry Kimlyn (Environmental Consultant), Joel Moro (President Mareeba Fruit & Vegetable Association), Dr Richard Sanders (Ecological Economist).

The speakers were passionate but factual about the serious plight of their industries, and of the need for a body like FABA to give them some political muscle.

Professor Jensen said that economic rationalism is not an economic theory but a political ideology, which has dominated the economic agenda for twenty years due to influence of the Canberra bureaucracy.

In a scathing attack on National Competition Policy (NCP), he said the basic principles of competition were not understood by those who implemented the policy. He said that deregulation had left small players like farmers at the mercy of the big players like supermarkets.

Worse still, the application of this theory to international trade will be described by future historians as "absurd".

Colin Teese described how the loss of manufacturing industry has turned former prosperous tax payers into dole dependent unemployed, expanded the welfare system leaving fewer dollars for health, education and other services, and led to our massive foreign debt.

He said that Australia’s political leaders had failed to realise that the most important market for our farmers is the domestic market, not the export market. The Queensland National Party Shadow Agriculture Minister, Marc Rowell, also spoke and agreed that it was time to recognise our rural produce was sold mostly into the domestic market, not the export market.

Mr Teese said that if Australia is to rebuilt its economy it must rebuilt its manufacturing sector substantially and must secure the farm sector against heavily-subsidised food and fibre imports that are undermining the domestic market for our farmers.

Martin Feil spoke on the danger of rushing into the proposed Australia-US free trade agreement which could seriously disadvantage Australia. He also advocated applying recently developed OECD transfer pricing rules to extract a fair tax out of foreign multinationals operating in Australia.

Responding to the FABA agenda and the concerns of the industries represented were Vaughn Johnson (Queensland National Party Deputy Leader), Bob Katter (Independent), John Cherry (Australian Democrats Senator designate), Senator Joe Ludwig (Labor Party), Marc Rowell (Queensland National Party Shadow Agriculture Minister) and Bob Dutton (One Nation).

The meeting passed a series of motions endorsing key section of FABA’s policy agenda. The motions, moved by Pat Byrne, called for:

  • the rebuilding of Australia’s manufacturing industry to the OECD average of 19% of the economy, creating over 400,000 jobs;
  • the rebuilding and strengthening of an effective anti-dumping authority to stop heavily subsidised, dumped imports undercutting our manufacturing, food and fibre industries;
  • long-term low interest loans for development of small business, farmers, manufacturing and home buyers; and
  • a re-examination of the deregulation policies that damaged many industries and led to the nation’s crippling foreign debt.

FABA is planning to run a series of meetings in key Federal electorates promoting its agenda to other industries facing serious economic problems.

  • FABA can be contacted at
    PO Box 2348, Fortitude Valley BC, Brisbane, 4006
    Tel: 0419 648 329

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