This weeks BRW magazine has a very good opinion piece by Gerry Van Wyngen.

Unfortunately I can’t link to it because it is only available to BRW subscribers, so I’ll summarise (and quote the occasional sentence or two).

Gerry says that Australia needs a strategy more forward-looking than just living off the sale of non-renewable resources, such as oil, natural gas, and so on. These will run out in about the next 20 years or so.

He goes on to cite the case of Ireland which was a basket case until the 1980’s, but since then has the highest economic growth rate in Europe. This was achieved by the Government, unions, business, primary producers and others agreeing to:

. austerity measures;
. cutting the corporate tax rates to attract business; and
. making the cost of university education practically free.

The result is the creation of a tax incentive for new (and especially knowledge-based) industries, which in turn creates a demand for educated people. Free education provides the supply of those people.

Australia, on the other hand, is going in the opposite direction. Tertiary education is becoming more expensive and elitist. There are few bursaries or government scholarships. (Side note: Back in the 1950’s and 60’s when tertiary education was not free, there were are very large number of government scholarships. Most students at university won their places on merit – by getting a scholarship.)

Australia needs some long-term planning by our political masters, and needs it urgently. Setting Australia up for the post-natural-resources rip-it-out-the-ground-and-sell-it-off economy needs to start now – these things cannot be set up overnight.

To make it easier, there is a template to show how it’s done -Ireland.

So, Liberal Party, Labor Party, business, how about it?

Oh sorry – I forgot. This is Australia, where we don’t plan more than 10 minutes out. Silly me.


I whole heartedly agree with both the article and your comments, except that I fear investing too much towards knowledge based industries (and business) will eventually cause a reverse reliance on other countries which focus on trade skills (manufacturing) / resource production. Although I am a supporter of globalisation, I still get annoyed at the lack of balance locally between production of goods, and the fostering of knowledge, and also the number of “do nothing” degrees, which hone no specific skills at all. Survival in my opinion lays in diversity, and governments need to try harder to get people to understand the role they play in society, rather than it being one big race for fame and fortune. Nothing beats a skilled craftsman, be it a programmer or a carpenter.

Comment by Paul Cleland | August 8th, 2005 3:03 pm | Permalink

hey, nice site

Comment by Tom Burns | November 8th, 2005 1:27 pm | Permalink

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