I live on an island, Bribie Island, but I am fully aware that the other island at the opposite end of the bridge, Australia, has enormous effect on what goes on here.
The problem, as I see it , is that far too many people on the big island have forgotten that what goes on in the rest of the world has significant impact on how things happen in Australia.
I believe they are being led that way by the main stream media and particularly the Murdoch media. Sure there is some reportage of international events but it is generally about strife, violence and pestilence. All very scary and, for most Australians, hard to imagine enduring it.
There was little mainstream reporting on the Davos meeting and our PM’s performance there. More importantly, there was even less reporting on what the other G20 members saw as the way forward for the major economies of the world. This highlights our problem, because the average Australian voter neither knows or cares about what other world economies are doing. What’s worse is hat they’ve been convinced that it doesn’t matter.
The fact, accessible from a reasonably good internet search engine, that the largest American automobile manufacturers made decisions at the highest corporate level to return most car manufacturing to Detroit, so as to boost their local and national economies is ignored by the media and hence their readers. The whole argument becomes one about what the Government of the day could have done to save the car manufacturing industry in Australia. A pointless and futile argument but a great distraction from global economic realities.
That is just one example. The effect of “free trade agreements” which has seen local fruit producers hit hard and having to move out of traditional crops into new, even experimental ones is not recognised as an international effect but rather something their local member could and should have done something about.
Australia is not disconnected from the rest of the world and decisions made in, for example, China, have major ramification on our businesses. The slow down in China’s economic growth means smaller quantities of coal, iron ore and other minerals are required. So, our mining companies have to reduce their production or find other markets. That is not to say that the requirements of a big economy such as China do not still represent a healthy marketplace.
The truth of the matter is Australians have to develop a greater sense of our interaction with the other world economies. Our economic decisions can’t be solely ideologically driven from Canberra. The decisions made have to be in response to global factors. Our future industrial development has to be in markets where we can grow and export. To assist with this progress, the average Australian voter has to be educated and engaged, in fairly simple terms. The majority of Australians have a reasonable grip on microeconomic concepts; mortgages; household budgets and so on. Yes, detailed macroeconomics is more complex, but understanding that when a major economic player decides it is going to go solar, for instance, it’s demand for coal will drop dramatically over time, and the time to start looking at either other clients of other industries is now, not when the rot has set in, is not difficult.