Recent comments by: jingelic
Well said Ted. The reality is that both the Coalition and ALP are still committed to 'free trade' policies that have demonstrably undermined farming for decades. On the whole,only those operations with access to big capital at low cost (corporate farming) have prospered while many farmers have gone out backwards. As an aside, these policies have also decimated manufacturing. And yet, we still see our pollies and many in the media - including on this site -saying that we need MORE of the same. I'm all for fair and open trade, but this isn't it.
It's probably impolite to ask, but why would agriculture be any different to manufacturing in terms of being protected from unfair trade? The NFF were right up there cheering for free trade as Australia's tariffs were dismantled and manufacturing went offshore. Overseas manufacturers enjoyed all kinds of concessions and goodies that weren't available in Oz. But that didn't matter to the rabid free-traders who promised us that we'd benefit in areas where we were 'naturally strong' - like agriculture and mining. The issue here is not Gillard. It's the NFF's conflicted position on trade.
Agribuzz with David Leyonhjelm
David says that it is imperative for the govenment to achieve a balanced budget. He lays out a plan to achieve this. Funny thing, the only people paying anything to achieve his plan are less well off Australians. He's happy to let foreign multinationals keep rorting our tax system to the tune of billions of dollars. Indeed, he thinks that the Libs and ALP are too hard on the poor corporates, treating them as 'whipping-boys.'
Cry me a river, David.
Close the tax loop-holes, phase out negative gearing on investment properties and fix our rotten money supply system for a balanced budget.
So, David says that CBH is a corporate bully. Like all good Tea-Partiers, he also despises the concept of the single desk. What both have in common is that they are NOT part of the narrow vision of the economy that David favours. Cooperative ownership has served farmers well for many years and gives us a say, through ownership, in the handling marketing etc of our product. Co-ops also exclude non-farmer investors, whose interests are solely about their hip pockets and nothing to do with the long term interests of our industry. Perhaps this column should be renamed 'Investorbuzz''.
Gee whiz. I actually agree with David Leyonhjelm. Perhaps I'm losing the plot..or perhaps David's argument here runs counter to the usual libertarian BS one reads in this column. Giving primary producers a vote on the future of the levies they pay is a great idea, and a distinctly non-libertarian one at that. 'Cause what if I'm on the losing side of the vote, David? Won't my individual rights be impinged by the 'tyranny of the majority'? What would Ayn Rand say??
I wonder whether David will do an article on the special status of our banking sector. This so-called 'industry' has a virtual monopoly on the creation of Australian currency (a public commodity) which it uses to create new money, from nothing, as interest bearing loans for the profit of its shareholders. This privelege extends to loans to the Government, adding to public debt. I'd like to know what proportion of our public debt is interest.
Compared to this enormous outrage, GMH, single mothers, SPC etc are side shows. Some real libertarians in the US are onto this - but not the LDP.
@GFA. I understand your point, but what I think you're saying in effect is that the Government should not be in the business of providing health insurance for its citizens. Medicare is - effectively - a kind of government run health care insurance scheme. So, aside from having an ideological opposition to it, why do you think that the Govt should get out of health care? The US model (esp before Obamacare) relied heavily on private health insurance, yet it cost more in public money per head to run - for worse outcomes - than the much more socialised French system. I don't get it.
GFA. OK. So there's the 'official' state support that private health companies get - and whether that's exactly $3 billion a year or not, let's just agree it's a fair bit of money. Then there's 'unofficial' subsidies through having the state system provide better outcomes for patients, so that they don't claim against their private cover. I don't know what that all adds up to in dollar terms, but I guess it's significant. So to go back to my original point, I maintain that the private health insurance 'market' In Oz would be cactus without Govt intervention.
GFA. When my wife went into hospital to have our first child, we told them that we had private health cover. The hospital staff said 'don't use your private cover, because you'll have to pay the gap. Come in as a public patient.' So we did. Still got the Dr we would've had anyway. Had to share a room with two other mums, but no big deal. So on this occasion, I didn't claim against my private health cover. That scenario must be happening all over the place. The private health company didn't have to pay out because the public system bore the cost. Is that a subsidy?
Sure. The reference to $3 billion in subsidies is a conservative estimate based on a number of published statements about what the rebate and other measures listed in my earlier post would cost. Here are some:
. Revised budget estimate of $5.6 billion in 2013-13
. '$7 billion in 2013. $5.6 billion will be in a direct subsidy to the industry. There will be another $1.4 billion in income tax foregone by the Commonwealth'.
If you have other, more accurate figures please provide them.
I disagree. Governments have done many things to prop up the private health system. Examples - $3 billion in subsidies, Medicare levy surcharge, rebates on your premiums, cost penalties for joining later in life. What other industries (or 'markets') enjoy such state support? Without this 'life support', private health insurance would be a marginal business in Australia. I don't know about Keating's views, but I know that Abbot more recently said that private health insurance rebates were an 'article of faith' for the coalition. Government loves private health and is all that keeps it going
'There is probably no market ever invented that has been improved by government intervention.'
Really? I would've thought that the private health insurance 'market' in Australia would be dead and buried now if not for the repeated attempts by governments of all stripes to prop it up with complex tax rules, penalties for late adoption etc etc.
A matter of opinion
"Farm organisations were strictly “farmer” versus “grazier” – statutory marketing versus free market – and although the numbers were strictly with the farmer side, NFF soon forgot those divisions and operated as one."
You must be joking, Mr Lee. That never really happened. The free-trading grazier component grabbed control of the NFF and still has it, that's all. The NFF stood by and cheered as dairy and sugar farmers were smashed by deregulatory so-called 'reforms'. Food processing in Australia went under as tariffs were dismantled - all with the support of the NFF.
Australia has always seemed to need a big brother as a security blanket. First it was Britain - the mother country. Then the US - all the way with LBJ. Since the mid 80's it's been Asia - first Keating's 'we're part of Asia' mantra and now the Asian century. While there's no doubt that Asian markets offer promising export prospects, let's not get blinkered about it. Latin America and Eastern Europe also offer strong prospects for economic growth and increasing demand for Australian product. 'Think wide' should be the guiding principal for Australia's exporters.
I can't see why Government can't just create the necessary funding and loan it to farmers at the real cost of issuing the loans (<1%). Barak Obama has been doing 'quantitative easing' in the US for some years now, but his version involves creating money and depositing it with commercial banks so that they can loan it out at interest to consumers. QE for the banking sector, some say.
How about some 'quantitative easing' for the Australian people? Those interested should read Huber and Robertson's 'Creating New Money' to better understand why our money system is so dysfunctional.
Burrs under my saddle
Regardless of the 'benefits' for agriculture - or Australia more broadly - that may or may not have resulted from 30 years of economic rationalism, Senator O'Sullivan's article points to the dangerously narrow ideological space that the LNP operates in. The ALP is no better.
Free market fundamentalism is entrenched as dogma for both the major parties and the senior executive in the public service. How did it come to this? Are the corporates who benefit overwhelmingly from free market policies actively lobbying for them, or is just a bad case of groupthink??
I note that Senator Heffernan has said he thinks that the demutualisation of CBH is inevitable. It's rather sad that our elected politicians believe that farmers should not own their own infrastructure. How is it better for crucial handling and storage facilities to be owned by foreign shareholders with no interest in Australian agriculture, except for how big a dividend they can squeeze out of it?
It's bad enough that so many of our credit unions and health funds have been de-mutualised. The result has been a disaster for consumers. Let's not make the same mistake with CBH.
It strikes me that any time globalists (left and right) run out of decent arguments, they play the 'racist' card. And given their lack of any compelling arguments - the card gets played more and more often.
Globalists on the right only care about short term profit and those on the left about the warm and fuzzies they get from helping disadvantaged billionaires from overseas get a piece of Australia's wealth.
We have our farms because our forefathers put their families and people ahead of short-term profit. Our current so-called leaders should be ashamed.
The assumption seems to be that dairy producers will win big out of an FTA because we'll get access to Chinese markets. And of course, that Australian markets won't be affected because Chinese dairy will never be allowed into Oz because of quarantine bans. But what about if the Chinese convince the WTO that there's no disease risk with their processed milk products. Wouldn't be that hard, really. Australian consumers will have milk at 50c / litre and all these fearless free traders will be lining up behind the sacked Holden workers, screaming for protection.
Well, the last line of the article sums it all up nicely. Despite muzzling the FIRB (again), despite making it easier for Chinese investors to buy up Australian assets, despite opening the door to a flood of 457 visa workers to undercut our incomes, this FTA will not radically improve Australia's trade position with China.
Andrew Robb must be very proud of this marathon piece of work. It makes you wonder what's motivating this government. Clearly it's not the national interest.
Why is our national money supply created by privately owned companies? Who gave the banks the right to create over 90% of Australia's money supply, out of nothing and as interest bearing loans? Does anyone else find that just a bit disturbing? I'm afraid Barry's well meaning survey is too narrow, too little and too late. The Australian people, through a reformed Reserve Bank, should be the only authority to create money in this country. They should create enough to meet the demands of a growing economy - and no more - and provide it each year, interest free, to be spent in the national
@ eric hunt:
"whatever that farm owner/worker earns is based on a cut throat global market and unprotected in any way by the tax payer of Australia, unlike the worker on award wages and conditions."
Spare us, Eric. Farmers are protected - massively - by Australia's strict quarantine laws. And also by governments prepared to provide taxpayer support during lean years, unlike workers on award wages and conditions. With that said, it is good to see this fanatical libertarian government forced to help some of its citizens, at least, during hard times. They must find it excruciating.
Since the 1980's at least, we have heard that Australia will be the 'food bowl of Asia'. But a lack of proper industry policy that not just supports , but actively helps develop the industries (like food preserving) that are necessary for us to achieve this outcome have been totally absent. Instead, we've had this dry, economic-rationalist mantra of open borders and 'free-trade'. Both major parties have been complicit. Do you really think agriculture in Australia is better off today than it was during the protectionist era 1900-1970's? I don't. SPC's workers probably don't either..
Agree with both comments above. Having worked for another cannery that went under, it is essential that the owners of the business have a vested interest in keeping it going as a productive business onshore, rather than asset stripping it and moving production to a 'low cost production centre'. Once a corporation gets control, the shareholders - whoever they are - are just chasing good returns and not interested in the value to the farmer of having a processing option available in Australia.
Madigan should be commended for trying to inject some integrity into what is, otherwise, a race to the bottom of the barrel for employment and environmental standards in Australia. How refreshing to have a politician talk about the national interest and actually mean it.
I'm all for more competition and such, so good on Costco for getting in there.. But it does seem odd to me that Australian farmers haven't tried to put together some sort of cooperative enterprise to retail their own product. I look at CBH, which is Australia's single biggest co-operative enterprise, and wonder why - given the farmer anger directed at Woolies and Coles - some new farmer-owned force hasn't emerged to provide a decent marketing outcome for both producers and consumers. Seems like something the NFF could work on if it wasn't so fixated on pandering to corporate interests.
Yes, Jan. Agree completely. But surely Australia's consumers will benefit, won't they? Cheaper Japanese whitegoods and such? Well, no. Because of our myopic commitment to free-trade-at-any-cost over the last thirty years or so, our tariffs on such manufactured goods are already at a tiny 5%. Which means that reduced Australian tariffs on imported goods from Japan will have bugger all effect on prices. Seems like a pretty poor deal all round.
Another bit of biased and inept analysis from the grossly misnamed Centre for Independent Studies. The majority of the Dept of Ag's people are in what was the old AQIS - the quarantine function. I guess you could scrap that.. if you don't mind dealing with FMD, avian influenza etc etc. But hey, that's all part of the wonderful world of open borders that the CIS aspires to.
A decent article that highlights the superficiality of most Australian media coverage, I thought. However true it is for agriculture, it's almost certainly the same for other topics that the media and political commentariat decide to 'inform' us about. Hilarious that Paul Howes (rightly criticised here for his inept commentary) is supported by the free market extremist, David Leyonhjelm. Ideology that ignores reality makes for strange bedfellows, it seems.
Bill - the Nationals record is patchy, yes, but I think they're right on this one. There comes a point where 'investment' means a loss of our own food security for 40 pieces of silver. Predictably, the Libs are all for it (resticting capital flow is a commie plot) and the ALP doesn't care either way because it doesn't affect anyone who'll vote for them anyway. While I've been disappointed by the Nats at times in the past, I reckon credit where credit's due on this one..
I love how every time some clapped-out 1980's style crusader for privatisation lurches out of the woodwork, they have the gall to call it a 'reform'. The word implies improvement in some way. It is, I suppose, for those who will profit from taking on the business, but that's not necessarily the case for the users of the service. Witness Telstra, NZ railways, Modbury hospital etc etc. Letter class mail might be down 17% but parcels post must be booming with the rise and rise of intenet shopping. Why sell a business that's doing OK, except for short term electoral gain? Bad idea..
Well said Nev. When it's gone, it's gone. These 'citizens of the world' will be OK, living off the proceeds of their fire sale of Australia's assets. But their kids and grandkids won't thank them when they're reduced to working as hired help - on land that their forebears developed. If being concerned about that prospect makes me a rednecked eastern agrarian socialist, then I'm very proud to be one.
No way. The WA neo-liberal fraternity has done far too much damage to agriculture already. Thirty years of their their hare-brained experiment and are we better or worse off? Reject Robb, Cobb and Heffo - go with Nash or Joyce.
It's time to tell the Liberals that their sell out of agriculture to corporate interests has to end.
@torobrook. Yeah, the neo-liberal sell-it-all to-the-highest-bidder and deregulate everything philosophy has worked well for agriculture. Just ask any ex-sugar or dairy farmer. Give me some of that agararian socialism any day.
Thank heavens for people like Joyce and Fiona Nash in the coalition. The sell out of Australia's productive and profitable assets has to stop.
VivKay's original comment on this article was very perceptive. Australia's massive population growth, fuelled by record immigration, has driven the move to medium and high density housing. With this has come a move away from home grown vegetables. In the 1960's, fully 21% of Melbourne's vegetables were grown at home in suburban backyards. Most urban and suburban blocks are now so small that this could never be replicated today. Maybe vertical gardens and floating greenhouses will come about - eventually - but in the meantime I say cut immigration and stabilise our population.
rocky is right - Too often Australian farmers come out all hairy chested about how compeitive they are while all the while hiding behind quarantine barriers. Quarantine is necessarily about science and sometimes the risk - really - just isn't there. In such cases there might be compelling social reasons for restricting imports. Fair enough. Let's start calling a spade a spade and restricting imports in the national interest, rather than expecting AQIS to fudge the science so this myth of the untra-competitive grazier can be sustained.