Yesterday, some astonishing figures reflecting consumer confidence were published by the Melbourne Institute and Westpac, with the attendant clichés about the success of the governments actions coming from all parts of the government,applauding the “cash-splash” in alleviating the impact of the WFC.
What a load of old cobblers.
Over a long period we have allowed, indeed, encouraged the reduction of our productive capacity in favor of the “production” of services, accepting the line that all economies move from agricultural to industrial to services in a linear fashion as they develop, and it was our turn to move to services.
Apart from the lucky ability of Australia to dig stuff up, and sell it, once, we produce less and less.
I do not accept that the future of Australia is in providing intangibles, when we dig up stuff, export it, and re-import the manufactured product that we should be manufacturing ourselves. Where is it a given that this should be so? I am not suggesting a return to protectionism, quite the contrary, we need to be globally competitive and resilient value adders and exporters of our own resources.
Our future should be in using the productive capacity of our educated, market aware, globally tuned workforce to manufacture stuff and then to export it. There is a radical idea for you.
But where are the engineers, and scientists, the technical skills to do this? The technical and scientific skill base of the economy has been eroded in favor of other “soft” skills that do not produce “stuff.” All you have to do is look at the technical brain drain overthe last 20 years as scientists look for remuneration and facilities to match their capabilities, or the disparity in remuneration between a financial derivatives salesman and a Phd in applied mathematics for your evidence.
We need to take a long view, and start to wind back the clock, because in that long term it will not be the puffery of consumer confidence that keeps this country great, but the skill to conceive, design, manufacture and export tangible assets that have at their core the leveraging of the intellectual capital of the country.