Picking winners, industry policy and the Defence White Paper

Way back in the 1980s and 90s when I was a Labor “apparatchik” and then for a short time a local politician in the Northern Territory, the Opposition of which I was a part was for a time led by Brian Ede. He married Anne Walsh a daughter of arch neoliberal Federal Labor Minister for Finance Senator Peter Walsh. Current federal Labor frontbencher Gary Gray, who was a NT Labor staffer in the 80s, ended up marrying another Walsh daughter Deborah.

In part as a result of those c0nnections, the NT Labor Parliamentary wing was a hotbed of purist (some would say extreme) neoliberal economic dogma.  Low taxes, balanced budgets, no industry assistance, no “picking winners” and so forth. At least it was a useful antidote to the Country Liberal government’s approach at the time, which could most kindly be described as crooked crony mercantilism.  It’s an approach to which some would say the current Giles government has returned.

However, although there were several dodgy government-subsidised developments that were rightly opposed by Labor, there were also a few that I privately thought were quite good ideas.  The Yulara tourist resort, for instance, and even the Darwin and Alice Springs Sheratons.  It is unlikely that they would have been built without government subsidy, at least until much later.  But they provided crucial tourism infrastructure at a time when the Territory was potentially in an ideal position to capitalise on international “flavour of the month” status flowing from the Crocodile Dundee movies.  they provided a platform for growth that has continued to benefit the NT economy ever since. The government subsidies didn’t distort the market in any meaningful sense, nor give an unfair advantage to one operator over competitors, because there just weren’t any up-market hotels/tourist resorts in the Territory at the time, except for the Beaufort  in Darwin which had recently opened in the publicly funded Darwin Entertainment Centre complex.

It was government “picking winners” in the sense of targetting a particular industry or sector for public support.  Neoliberal economics appears to regard such interventions as suspect at the very least.  Moreover, some other CLP mercantilist adventures of that time (e.g. the Trade Development Zone) illustrate the potential folly of governments who  meddle in the market and pick winners.  At least as a default position, leaving investment decisions to the operations of the private marketplace, which will magically determine optimal investment opportunities over time by identifying and exploiting a region’s “comparative advantage”, is a good idea.  Operators who get it wrong will of course go broke, but the economy overall will benefit.  It’s the dynamic genius of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” and Joseph Schumpeter’s “creative destruction”.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that it’s unwise to be excessively dogmatic or doctrinaire about all this.  The Chinese seemed to do quite well with using Special Economic Zones as government-subsidised platforms for the explosive growth that has largely fuelled the global economy over the last couple of decades.  And US economic development through the 20th century owes a great deal to massive government funding of its military-industrial complex. And, despite the Abbott government withdrawing government funding to Australia’s car industry a couple of years ago, it appears that just about every country in the world with a motor vehicle industry provides government subsidies that are in most cases significantly larger than the ones Tony Abbott removed from Holden, Ford and Toyota.

I’m sure there’s lots of sophisticated economic theory about whether, when and how governments can usefully nurture particular industry sectors.  Hopefully some of Troppo’s legion of economic experts will give us the benefit of their wisdom on the subject.

As you might have suspected, the trigger for this rambling diatribe about industry policy is the release yesterday of a Defence White Paper by the Turnbull government, promising injection of an additional $195 billion over the next decade or so. What it actually represents is a new and massive form of industry policy, focused on military hardware instead of cars  Is that a good idea?  How can that sort of public investment be optimised?

Personally I would have preferred to see that sort of money spent on (say) the car industry, and a proper National Broadband Network, and on nurturing renewable energy technologies and enterprises.  As both China and India rise to Great Power status, is it a good idea in principle for Australia’s economic and strategic future to be so decisively committed to publicly funded military-industrial development as a satellite of the United States?  I tend to agree with international politics academic Mark Beeson:

The reality is that Australia can make absolutely no independent, decisive difference to the outcome of any confrontation or conflict between the US and China in the South China Sea, or anywhere else for that matter.

Australia plays a modest supportive role at best that is primarily about providing what Des Ball famously called “a convenient piece of real estate”, and secondarily by helping to legitimate US foreign policy actions – whatever they may be.

This latter consideration has – or rather, should have – assumed a greater prominence in the minds of strategic thinkers of late. The white paper’s authors can be forgiven for not addressing the rise of Donald Trump directly, but the possible implications of outsourcing primary decision-making authority to another country might have been worthy of more explicit consideration at any time.

The white paper makes the rather large assumption that the US remains committed to, and the backbone of, a rules-based international order. One sincerely hopes this idea remains valid, as it is clearly in the interest of a secondary state like Australia that such an order continues.

And yet we need to remember that the US has a long history of flouting international rules and agreements when it suits it. The US’s refusal to sign the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, for example, rather undermines its authority when dealing with China in an arena of pivotal importance to Australia.

Now, however, we have the real possibility that the US could be led by someone who is entirely contemptuous of the prevailing international order and enthusiastic about utilising American power for exclusively national ends – no matter what impact this may have on friend and foe alike.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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paul frijters
paul frijters
5 years ago

the mainstream story is that governments have a comparative advantage in organising the financing of public goods, in mobilizing mass sympathy for ‘good’ causes, in punishment, and in aggregating information about the public good. The state provides lots of goods and services directly, notably health and education.

The language of ‘support’ for any industry (such as the car industry) is always BS because the ‘support’ for X inevitably comes at the expense of the Y that is being taxed.

The claim that the US economy has been helped rather than hindered by its military establishment is a very tenuous one. Where do you get that idea from?

That government has a comparative advantage in organising money for defense is clear. That the current proposals really reflect the public good rather than the political power of the secretive networks surrounding our defense industry is a matter of debate. Personally I cant see how Australia could possibly have much benefit from all those submarines (though I can see the political benefit from having massive contracts for particular people in particular cities). Nor do many of the other investments make much national interest sense to me. So I suspect it’s just classic rent-seeking at play here.

As I said in my last post on Assange, the secret services in the Western world are increasingly powerful. I would be astounded if their expensive new toys are going to be procured in a transparent and competitive manner….

derrida derider
derrida derider
5 years ago
Reply to  paul frijters

The saving grace of spending enormous amounts on the defence and security establishment is precisely that they are extremely inefficient. Think how many other totally unnecessary wars we’d be in, and how much our ‘protectors’ would be in intruding into the citizens’ affairs, if they were more capable.

I’d rather they waste a few billion on, say, a fighter plane primarily designed to enrich Lockheed and assorted ex-generals than on, say, a massive counterinsurgency capability, or a battery of supercomputers to track comments such as this.

paul frijters
paul frijters
5 years ago

:-) you have a point.

conrad
conrad
5 years ago
Reply to  paul frijters

I agree that it’s surely rent seeking — The contracts will basically support South Australia for years to come and will employee a group that would otherwise have been crime-prone and relatively unemployable (so not such a terrible waste in terms of opportunity cost). The government can also say Australia still makes stuff. Even better, since no-one really cares if they work properly or not (like the current ones which don’t and never did) losing politically would be very hard apart from the spending itself.

Jim
Jim
5 years ago
Reply to  paul frijters

Of course there will be no ‘picking winners’ that come out of the latest 2030 Vision for Developing Norther Australia. Can’t wait for more unnecessary dams, stadiums, and convention centres to be proposed in Northern Australia.

Clearly only Governments and industry lobbyists are sufficiently agile, nimble, disruptive, innovative and exciting to recognise the obvious opportunities that have been overlooked by rational private sector investors for the past 100 years.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
5 years ago

Ken,

From memory, the Tony Government didn’t ‘remove’ subsidies from the car industry. They said they’d pull out $500 mil from what was a lot more than that. I think the industry wouldn’t have stayed even with the $500 mil being left there. They’d have needed more. (Ironically they don’t need more with the dollar where it is now – and roughly where one would have expected it to fall after its vertiginous rise.

Hausmann’s stuff shows that there’s plenty in the ‘infant industry’ argument (certainly for developing countries – it’s less clear for developed countries). But democratic states have trouble sticking to ‘infant’ industries as is demonstrated by your own continual hunch that it’s a good idea to subsidise an industry as mature and low return as the car industry.

On top of that Australia’s car industry is a useless, back-office operation.

paul walter
paul walter
5 years ago

Just briefly, being a South Aussie I’m not going to let Nicholas Gruens insentive comments re the auto industry, given Ken Parishes’ remarks on that.

That the SA economy has had its manufacturing heart and skills base (and Victoria) ripped out of it for no really worthwhile reason, only means that the government here is more willing to allow stuff like nuke facilities and dumps and BP let loose on the Great Australian Bight. How has it been “low return”when it’s kept literally tens of thousands of people who would be reduced to seeking social security in employment and able to live a half decent life bringing up families?

That feels better.

The US Defense system, the Lockheed system, has the US and thus the world enmeshed in a unstoppable arms race with a vested interest in neo colonialism, the driver intended to keep big TN Cs rich and people through out the third world poor and under the boot of illegally installed, offshore supported kleptocrat tinpots.

Now they have levered Australia into sponsoring its nauseating system at the cost of ordinary Australians and it is highway robbery on a scale that dwarfs the Great Train Robbery; extortion that would shame Lucky Luciano.

Crocodile Chuck
Crocodile Chuck
5 years ago

“On top of that Australia’s car industry is a useless, back-office operation”

One more time: Why manufacturing is important:

1) You can apply technology to it, increasing productivity. In the long run, the only way by which we can improve our standard of living.

2) You can wrap expensive services around manufactured goods, e.g. a ten year operating lease on a GE 90 Turbofan engine. But first, you have to make the engine.

3) Through collaboration between engineers & shop floor expertise, new products & indeed whole new technologies can be developed.

If only for national security, a strong domestic manufacturing capability is essential.

Agree with Paul Walter’s sensible words above.

A spiteful and profoundly incorrect assertion by Mr. Gruen.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
5 years ago

Spiteful.

Thanks Croc, I needed that.

The funny thing all my life I’ve had spite towards the automotive industry. Never explained and still not explained, but at least now outed.

I am profoundly grateful to you for pointing to the problem. Relieved. I can finally live again having got it out of my system. Who knew?

That must be why I imagined Troppo having a stable of cars when all along they were imaginary. I even said they were imaginary. But now I realise I only imagined that they were imaginary. I was secretly thinking they were real. (Rooter was just back from the panelbeaters last week.)

I say give Australia’s car factories more taxpayers’ money. More money for making American and Japanese cars in Australia. Employ people sitting on assembly lines and making cars – just like their pappys did.

No economics of spite anymore.

Crocodile Chuck
Crocodile Chuck
5 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas Gruen

Nick: Whether AUS has an auto assembly business is really irrelevant, in one sense. Global overcapacity in manufacturing is still > 40%.

But, with the decline in the A$, they/we are competitive again, globally. And cars do make a contribution to our trade balance, even if the principal shareholders in these marques are in other countries.

Further, the amounts of ‘extortion’ these corporations extracted from the AUS gov’t was actually on the low end, particularly compared to the amount of ‘aid’ per vehicle in the USA.

My fundamental point of difference with your assertion has to do with our bedrock of manufacturing capability in the hundreds of suppliers to the auto industry. Without it, this network of suppliers will wither and die. To me, that is a national security issue. Simply put, if we can no longer make anything*, how can we even imagine to defend ourselves?

Let alone survive in the world as a ‘mixed economy’ – a descriptor I have always regarded as a virtue.

*https://www.accc.gov.au/update/infinity-cable-recall-act-now-before-its-too-late

*http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-24/imported-construction-materials-put-lives-at-risk:-specialists/6571398

Crocodile Chuck
Crocodile Chuck
5 years ago
Reply to  Ken Parish

Mr Parrish & Gruen

” On top of that Australia’s car industry is a useless, back-office operation” [snip]

You must forgive my dull wittedness. I didn’t understand that calling Nick’s derisive comment about Australian car manufacturing for what it was – vindictive – was worse than his sneering put down in the first place!

btw, Nick, ‘back office’ refers to the indirect support functions which underpin operations & direct labor. We actually did make cars here, once, you know.

“On top of that Australia’s car industry is a useless, back-office operation”

ad hominem, indeed.

Fyodor
5 years ago
Reply to  Ken Parish

However that doesn’t necessarily deny that appropriately structured industry assistance might have resulted in a sustainable industry (and might even yet do so).

*cough*Button Plan*cough*

Honestly, Ken, I enjoy you stirring the pot, but please do some homework. There are literally decades of research on this particular issue.

After all, numerous Euro manufacturers manage to sustain viable car industries with labour and other costs every bit as high as Australia. Australia is also now at least as close to luxury consumers in China and elsewhere in Asia as European manufacturers i.e. distance from markets is no longer the major disadvantage for Australia that it once was.

Coupla points here:

1. Car assembly is an extremely competitive cut-throat industry with relatively weak profitability, even for the biggest scale operators.

2. US, European, Japanese, Chinese and Korean manufacturers have large middle-class markets on their doorstep; Australia does not.

3. In fact, Australia’s car market is tiny and hugely isolated from any market of scale.

4. “Luxury consumers in China” buy European cars, often made in China and the cheap cars they buy are made domestically.

5. European manufacturers may pay high wages like Australia, but their workers are more productive.

6. It is extremely naïve to blame wicked multinational car-makers for milking Australian taxpayers and consumers when they have only ever chosen to invest in Australia because they were bribed to do so.

Australians have to get used to the idea that we may not be cut out for making cars, and that’s OK.

Fyodor
5 years ago

What Nick said. Australia’s car industry is/was a multi-decade lesson in grossly inefficient failure, and he’s in a better position than most to opine on the subject.

The really horrifying aspect to the White Paper is precisely that it does commit the government to yet another multi-decade SA boondoggle. It’s not even about “picking winners”; Australian warship construction is such an abysmally inefficient clusterfuck we are almost certainly picking LOSERS. The centerpiece of this is yet another high-spec conventional submarine design that nobody has built yet that is already budgeted to cost more per unit than the nuclear-powered and extremely capable USN Virginia-class attack submarine already available off-the-shelf. So, we are committing to subsidising proven losers to produce an extremely expensive sub-optimal weapons platform that will likely be worse than cheaper alternatives.

FMD, it’s such bad policy it’s almost made me forget that we’re still committed to that other rolling clusterfuck of fubarity, the F-35. I don’t mind spending gorillions on shiny weapons that work, but it’s unconscionable to spend so much on utter crap.

derrida derider
derrida derider
5 years ago
Reply to  Fyodor

I don’t mind spending gorillions on shiny weapons that work, but it’s unconscionable to spend so much on utter crap.

As I noted above for we peaceniks its the reverse – utter crap has the distinct advantage that it is far less likely to be used to further the career of some “tough” politician or some “national security” bureaucrat than weapons that actually work.

No one in their right mind is going to launch the F35 against China – but if the money had been spent on, say, more cargo lift capability, helicopters and special forces then there is nothing surer than that some Tony Abbott is going to want to send diggers off on some distant adventure killing swarthy foreigners on behalf of the yanks.

Fyodor
5 years ago

Double-D, if money being misspent on imperial corvees roughing up the swarthy types in Johnny InsertHere-land is all you’re worried about can I show you a bridge design with a very reasonable cost-plus variable pricing contract and attractive vendor-financing options?

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
5 years ago

Thanks Ken,

The answer is no-one ever really considered that. We were so deep in the idea that economists proudly know nothing about their industry, and rather focus on ‘settings’ that if you had said that you wanted to aim at a certain industry formation – well it would be like wearing your pants three inches above your waistline at high school.

I was part of the herd in this sense. I bought into the program and simply tried to use it as a first pass at sussing out the issues – a basis to think and argue your way to a more considered position. I slowly became aghast at the lack of real commitment to even that in the policy establishment in the IAC/Industry/Productivity Commission and Treasury – though I had an ally in Ross Garnaut who was open to arguments from someone who’d tried to think the issues through on their merits (within the paradigm). The Commission simply tried to work out who’s gang you were in. They wanted to know whether you were one of the cool kids. (I anatomised the psychopathology of the tension between their stated beliefs and their actual recommendations here.)

And industry – being the self-interested bunch that they are (surprise surprise) were not, in this story, amongst the cool kids. (Funnily enough for a while as a high-minded young lad in my twenties I thought I’d be more persuasive in a Commission inquiry if I didn’t get paid by anyone. Turned out that wasn’t cool. It was just weird. I made much more impact finding sponsors for what I wanted to argue in any event.)

Anyway, in working on the Button Plan I worked out how you could ‘square the circle’ between what the industry was saying and the economic framework the pointy heads claimed to be using. That is one needed to disentangle the objective of equalising assistance between industries and within industries. Which was more important and why?

In fact we kept dishing out money to the industry, but it was all ‘level playing field’ money. That is – you name an activity (design, R&D, vehicle assembly and component production) and then dole out the subsidy at the same rate to all the players). To think about whether that was a sensible way to spend all that money – an obvious question (with the obvious answer being ‘no’) was unthinkable within that framework. Am I ashamed that I didn’t argue the case in that way? I guess I came to that way of thinking pretty late, but I’ve always been interested in useful thinking, not thinking as a fashion statement. There was never any way through on that way of thinking – way too many anti-bodies in the system. And so we sleepwalked our way into the night.

Could we have used all that money, all that assistance to build a competitive industry?Well there are no guarantees in life, but then there’s no guarantee that the Pope is a Catholic. As I’ve just written an article for economic papers on this I’ll shoot it to you for your delectation. It’s a sad and sorry story. And I’ll put up a post on it in the not too distant.

derrida derider
derrida derider
5 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas Gruen

A nice explanation. I guess I was one of those tribal Commission guys – mea culpa.

But I still think even a much better Button plan than the actually existing one would have been much too late. The opportunity for the Swedish strategy on cars (specialise, specialise – for chrissakes don’t try and do it all) was in the 50s and 60s, and no-one dreamt of it then. And it may never have worked then either – we had a classic Gregory effect/Dutch disease problem for manufacturing that the Swedes never had (only of course in the 50s and 60s it was agriculture, not mining, doing the damage).

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
5 years ago

I’m fairly confident you could make it work. You simply have to secure a strategic place in the global supply chain – like the Skoda assets have in the hands of VW. Not that hard. Then the owner takes the assets seriously and invests in them.

Of course there are no guarantees.

And it’s not the best use of the money – just a lot less bad use of money we’re already committed to spending.

paul walter
paul walter
5 years ago

That is an interesting corollary that reminds me Nicholas is focussed on the rorts aspect and the rort/rent basis upon which which Australian and most other economies operate.

I understand your point Nick, but you must forgive me for wondering at what seems a certain insensitivity towards so many ordinary people unnecessarily hammered through the processes of globlisation from more than a few economists.

Theyve been happy to “sponsor”the mining barons and banks, why not, as Croc Chuck suggests, a relatively small amount used to keep tens thousands of people with a roof over their heads, when the money diverted is only rorted by less labour intensive sectors anyway?

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
5 years ago
Reply to  paul walter

Seriously Paul, how do you think I would respond to what you’ve just said?

I mean is this just panto or are we trying to understand each other?

paul walter
paul walter
5 years ago

Well, I understood what I said and you are supposed to be brighter than me.. you are not SO far advanced on me that you couldn’t lower yourself to seeing this discussion about a class of people I identify with, regarded as somewhat less than mere numbers, as an example of white collar insensitivity?

I thought infinitely better of you.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
5 years ago

I identify with them too.

What do you think I would argue? I was asking that question because I thought better of you. I mean are we just going through the motions here or are we trying to understand each other?

paul walter
paul walter
5 years ago

Ok, I think maybe my fault, in writing the post that offended. The problem is the last para leading from the one before where I employed the term “they” in such a way as to drag in Nick and Ken when I was thinking of the diametric opposite sort of person.

I indeed think Nick is exponentially better than that and yes, I am touchy on manufacturing – I come from Elizabeth SA, a satellite city north of Adelaide built around manufacturing that has been kicked from pillar to post since the mid-nineteen seventies by conservative economics… places like Elizabeth seem like jocks with skidmarks, something to be hidden away as a sort of shame to the genteel rest of cities.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
5 years ago

Thanks Paul,

I thought after I wrote my last comment that perhaps I should have been more conciliatory, so I’m grateful for your graciousness.

On your point about Elizabeth, I know a little about the goings on there, and the thing is that an awful lot of the workers who work in Holden commute themselves from ‘better’ suburbs. The knee-jerk government response is “quick, can we get some jobs into Elizabeth as much like the old ones as possible, because surely the people on the line can’t do much else”.

That’s a bit of an outdated picture of those people because surviving manufacturing jobs are both quite high skill and quite well paid. Meanwhile Elizabeth’s problems are substantial and guess what? Nice middle class white folks flying in and out won’t help much. Their money will of course because what’s there not to like about money?

But we should be helping the people of Elizabeth take charge and improve their lives. I don’t know about Elizabeth because I’ve not been there, but I’ve been to Mt Druitt and talked to some of the families in The Australian Centre for Social Innovation’s Family by Family program and they’re smart, well motivated people however much they might be anathematised as ‘bogans’ (or as Jeff Kennett called them ‘bogons’). And there are lots of such people. And they can deal with their problems pretty well – and they’ll do a lot better that way than by being taken through their paces by professionals from the leafy suburbs. At least in social policy, we have social workers involved in fly-in-fly-out operations so all the expertise flys in – and then out again. And likewise the money that’s spent on their salaries – flys in and then out again.

In Family by Family, the therapeutic work is done by local families. And a lot of the people who agree to become mentoring families go off to uni the next year to get formal quals in social work and/or counselling. But wait … there’s more. Mentoring families get paid $100 a week for their work (it would cost vastly more to get even half the service from a professional) so the money stays there too.

That’s the kind of response we need to the pull out of the cash strapped, clapped out operations we’ve had in Elizabeth.

One other comment not on this but on something else you said – in many ways the class structure in our society is worse than it was a generation or two ago. Then class distinctions were clearer. But each class was respected by the other – to some extent – and certainly the working class wasn’t bereft of self-respect which is the most important point. (My friend Dennis Glover has been writing some powerful things on this recently even though I don’t think he says much that’s useful regarding how policy should change – or even the culpability of past policies). Anyway today there’s simply a large class of ‘bogans’ who are despised by the inner city elites, and ‘managed’ by the pollsters and spin doctors in the political class. with an unerring eye for the lowest common denominator. And we have the nerve to celebrate our cities as some of the most liveable in the world when they are indeed that in the inner suburbs, and they’re pretty bloody awful further out.

Actually one more point if I may. I recently came upon the Ancient Greek word isegoria. It’s often translated as ‘freedom of speech’ but it means ‘freedom and equality of speech’. Alas modern democracy was founded on the eclipse of that concept. In its stead we cultivate all the worst angels of the natures of our outer suburbs and end up with detention camps dotted around our shores.

paul walter
paul walter
5 years ago

Nick, in fact you are quite perceptive.

A friend from first year high school back in the sixties got me to the James Plays at the Festival of Arts here and we talked of old times. Our crowd was generally disruptive and contentious. My mate rattled off the names of various no-hopers who had turned out to be succesful business people, or people who had returned for further and eventually succesful tertiary education. My friend, who received the ultimate tally, six cuts on each hands with the cane after an earlier caning for then laughing about the Head to us while he was just round the corner, is an example with two degrees and an accounting job.

The problems with “westy” suburbs often come from the curious and unrelenting impulse of sado economists to persist over a very long time with quite mystifying and vicious policies against people on welfare, such as the ones Morrison is still pushing for re the unemployed.

Most of that group of friends I was describing from Elizabeth, indeed, no longer live anywhere near the place as lack of opportunity drove us all out eventually.

Revisiting the Northen subburbs of Salisbury and Elizabeth is disappointing, too. You see how it has deteriorated, in observing both the running down of community infrastructure and the curious, dislocated mutant welfare culture, as only those who couldn’t get out remained and the place was since filled by others with nowhere else to go.

It galls me to see subsidies for miners and Murdoch and the like allowed to tax dodge with impunity, yet no money available for working class jobs or apt welfare and retraining.

paul walter
paul walter
5 years ago

Thinking on the thread topic, I think this century has been characterised by governments, egged on by consultants and big business, offloading unsuccesful new industry initiatives which then carry downsteams costs for the public. SA of course got burnt when it tried to get too cute with financialisation twenty five years ago, with the state bank events…babes in the wood the politicians were, if not bent, and that’s being generous.

Peter WARWICK
Peter WARWICK
5 years ago

Not sure if this is the correct spot – only one I could find.

Well, I have just given up on Australia. We cannot even clothe our own defence members. I find it incomprehensible that Defence cannot find a tailoring firm capable of running up some uniforms at a reasonable price.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-12/xenophon-slams-decision-new-army -uniforms-made-in-china/7834566

I suppose the next step is having a Chinese outfit run the Houses of Parliament.

Perhaps a redesign of the buildings to reflect the classic Chinese roof lines, with regular feng shui surveys.

And then appoint General Hu Flung Dung as Chief of Defence, say, on a contract from the Chinese Defence Force, and don’t waste money on a Security Clearance.

We could save some money there.