As David Landers, in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, has observed:
"The crunch for the unimaginably wealthy Spanish empire came when the gold and silver ran out. The crunch for Australia will come when the markets demand usurious interest rates to satisfy lenders, or when the foreign capital dries up and we have to face repayments. Like Spain, Australia has not used its borrowings to build industries, but for consumption. Worse, much of this money has been used to buy imports, destroying manufacturing and de-industrializing Australia. Thirty years ago we were up with the rest of the world in manufacturing; now we are down to 11 per cent of GDP."
Elections are the only times that voters can really influence governments. The two main parties have been on hot bricks about what issues concern the voters. The voters have not been offered much choice when they must take their opinions from the media or the questions asked in push-polling surveys. Health and education lead.
Yet the next few years will be the most critical in our history, in the decisions that governments must make about our very survival. We can expect many promises to be turned on their head, as whoever wins government will face urgent problems. Government surpluses will have to be spent on long-delayed infrastructure to cope with more natural disasters of climate change, droughts, floods, storms, wildfires, rising temperatures and rising seas. There must be more investment in research and development to cut waste and ensure sustainability, not just to seek renewable energy sources to maintain present waste.
What would the voters want their government to do if they were fully informed about our economic and environmental situation? What policies currently shared by both Coalition and Labor would need to be revised in the light of public opinion? Can Voters ask what sorts of insurance are being prepared.
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