TOWNS DIE, CITIES CHOKE, AUSTRALIA SLEEPS

I was born and bred in the Australian bush.

There, I went to a tiny bush school which had eleven students whose parents worked in the local timber mill. I enjoyed many happy days in a prosperous little community that really was one large family.

Back in those days of the 1930’s and 40’s, Australia had thousands of small towns, most of them larger than mine, which were stable and secure with affordable housing, plus good shops and a fine school and reliable hospital, based as they were on solid rural industries which were the core of the national economy.

Then, they slowly began to die. Continue reading “TOWNS DIE, CITIES CHOKE, AUSTRALIA SLEEPS”

Infrastructure Australia must be an independent legal entity- currently no teeth, no money, no hope!

Of all the nations in G20, Australia’s record in creating modern infrastructure is the least progressive and most inefficient.

There are two main reasons for this. One is that our outdated Federal Constitution leaves responsibility for infrastructure in the hands of State Governments, with the Commonwealth being able to influence matters only by offering finance to the States. The only exception to this is infrastructure for Defence, which is totally a Federal matter.

Equally negative is that the Commonwealth does not offer sufficient funds to meet the huge challenge that modern infrastructure demands. Continue reading “Infrastructure Australia must be an independent legal entity- currently no teeth, no money, no hope!”

How we have failed to build a balanced nation – disasters & solutions

Just imagine for a moment that you are standing on Possession Island in Torres Strait with Captain James Cook on August 22, 1770, while the good captain makes his declaration that the Australian Continent is a territory of the King of England.

He calls you aside and asks you to prepare him a report on what quality of nation Australia should be 250 years hence, as he expects His Majesty to ask him about it when he gets back home.

Let us also assume for the purpose of this exercise that you are a person of extraordinary intellect who has the capacity at that time to perceive what the world will be like in the 21st century.

It will be safe for us to presume that you would not imagine an Australia that would the planning disaster it now is.

Would you have suggested that these unimaginable disasters may eventuate? Continue reading “How we have failed to build a balanced nation – disasters & solutions”

The Commonwealth of The South Pacific

Creating a Union of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands

In the 1890s, when the Federation of Australian States was being fervently debated, there were seven negotiating parties at the table — five States on the Continent, plus Tasmania and New Zealand.

Just before referendums were held to determine whether the grand venture would go ahead, New Zealand withdrew. Their stated reason was that Australia was experiencing a major economic recession brought on by the bank collapses of 1893, combined with the worst drought of the century. New Zealand had avoided both of those disasters and was motivated to take the short term view that it would be wise to pull out. In hindsight, it was a bad decision.

So, Federation proceeded without them. Yet, the provision remains in the Constitution for them to change their minds at some time — but it is an option that has never been taken up. Continue reading “The Commonwealth of The South Pacific”

The pain of being like Spain

Premier Campbell Newman made headlines when he declared that Queensland’s economic position is similar to that of Spain. His remarks reminded some commentators of Paul Keating’s famous forecast that Australia could become a banana republic, a comment that caused him to suffer a fair bit of flak for years afterwards.

Of course, Newman knows, as we do, that Queensland’s position is nothing like that of Spain. His State has the backing of a strong Australian dollar, while Spain is tied to the Euro which is well on its way to being a terminal currency. Spain has 25 per cent of its population unemployed, whereas Queensland’s percentage is one quarter of that. Additionally, Queensland’s debt, and that of Australia, is miniscule compared with Spain’s.

So, why did Campbell Newman make such a dramatic statement? Continue reading “The pain of being like Spain”

Perils of a Colonial Heritage

Most of us leave home at some stage of our lives to find our feet in a brave new world, but Australia is unable to stop hanging on to the apron strings of dear old England.

At age 224, its time that we did, particularly as the majority of Australians are not of British descent and our continued fascination with Britain makes them feel as though they are house guests, not family. Continue reading “Perils of a Colonial Heritage”