Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here’s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

Sustainability is not a dirty word

By Bruce Haigh - posted Tuesday, 27 September 2011


The trouble with the discussion or debate on raising or lowering trade barriers in Australia is that it is conducted without any notion of what constitutes the national good. Policy development, though calling it that is to over-blow the process, is done within an ideological vacuum.

Policy development with respect to manufacturing or agriculture is undertaken with short-term and most often self interest as the driving force rather than long-term vision and planning.

Where does Australia want to be in 10, 20, 50 years? What sort of infrastructure is required to sustain a population of 35 – 50 million people? How should we manage water, education, health, and food production?

Advertisement

What percentage of mining profits should be returned to the state to ensure projections of future requirements can be met in terms of fulfilling state responsibilities toward a growing population?

What should be the role of the state in Australia toward managing and providing the services listed above?

What sort of framework should the state create and maintain for the pursuits, activities, jobs and welfare to take place within? What should be the extent and strength of this framework? How self-reliant should the state be in providing for these needs?

These are the questions that should guide our planning processes.

The private enterprise model adopted in Australia to provide many of the services and infrastructure previously employed by the state has failed. It was enthusiastically embraced, following the love affair with Thatcher by conservatives in the West. Greiner, Keating, Howard, Costello, Rudd, Swan and Gillard have been and are songbirds for the private sector assuming state responsibility. Governments in Australia and the West more generally have leapt at government shedding responsibility.

They felt that less responsibility would lead to lessened possibilities of criticism. For example, when power failed or trains ran late. The notion was seductive - power without responsibility for the functioning of the state, offered all the perks of office, without the electoral difficulty of accountability.

Advertisement

But this model has not worked. The private sector has refused to take responsibility for failure of the public services they own and manage, tollways being a case in point.

Howard and Costello pushed the Keating model, resulting in emaciated public schools and a bloated private school sector. Universities and the CSIRO have been forced to lower or compromise standards. Apprenticeships are no longer provided by the state. Dental services for pensioners and the poor barely exist.

The basic infrastructure for commercial undertakings, other than the mining industry, is run down, inadequate for future growth and causing current productivity decline.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All


Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

1 post so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and retired diplomat who served in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1972-73 and 1986-88, and in South Africa from 1976-1979

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Bruce Haigh

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Bruce Haigh
Article Tools
Comment 1 comment
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy