In March 2014, an election was held. Not a blazing, world shattering election, but an important one for us in South Australia none-the-less. It was expected in that election, the 12 year incumbent government would be tossed out and the “new”, “fresh-faced” opposition would be the next government. We work on a “two-party preferred” system here and I am not sure, but I suspect we are probably the only country that uses this system. (A simple explanation of this system is given at this page, simple, but effective voting system.) The two major parties contesting this election were the Liberal Party, Conservative Right/NeoCons, and the Labor Party, born as the political wing of the Union Movement so nominally Leftist, but as the Union Movement is dying, they too are becoming more like the Liberal Party.
We have local parliaments, that have seats, like Westminster, and whosoever can win a majority of seats can form a Government. Unexpectedly, the Labor Party won more seats than the Liberals, but neither side had a clear majority. Three independents were elected, yes they can be elected even though the voting is usually slanted to the major parties. After a few days of politicking, extended negotiations, the independents decided to support the Labor Party. Labor formed a government.
To cement its position, the Labor Government managed to persuade a former leader of the Liberal Party to quit and become an independent, then join the Government as a minister. This gives the Labor Government a clear lead and barring a disaster, should hold that majority until the next election.
The fallout from these events is still happening, and is only going to get worse.
The Federal Budget is important to South Australia. The last budget took away so much money from SA that we are going to find ourselves in a very large hole. I have heard that SA is losing $85B in Federal funds over the next 10 years. SA is already receiving less Federal funding for roads than any other state. We have an ageing population, so removing 600 federally-funded beds from the health system is going to hurt SA more than any other state. Removing promised Federal funds for education is going to put public education even further behind. Dumping the NBN has hurt SA, but as we were first to sign up to it and last to start work on it, less of SA is under NBN than any other state, so we are hurt there and business is further damaged. Now, by buying submarines from Japan, the Federal Government is giving away jobs, defence security, technological innovation and manufacturing excellence. SA has a major problem.
But these is not the only limitations. We are a large landmass, little water and small population. Biology applies here, growth is limited by the least favourable factor, water being the least favourable factor, ergo, small population and little scope for growth. Unfortunately, this means we rely upon small economic sectors for the bulk of our wealth. The rural sector, once the most important sector, now employs about 3% of our population and is falling, while providing about 10% of our state’s GDP – and falling. the mining sector, once non-existent apart from some opals, low grade iron ore and low quality coal used for electricity production has expanded considerably. Today it employs about 5% of the workforce and provides almost 10% of the State’s GDP – and falling.
Manufacturing once employed 40% of our workforce, but that is now down to 12% – and falling. Health and welfare, personal support is now the State’s largest employer, at nearly 15% – and growing. Retail is at about 11% and relatively stable, and so on.
Essentially, the wealth generating and value adding industries are in decline while the wealth consuming industries are growing.
I do not suggest we throw caution to the wind and remove all restrictions on the primary sector, but I do suggest we need to be a lot smarter in our manufacturing and industry sectors.
One example is sunrise industries. We do not hear about them any more, why? They were a dream. The sunrise industries of high-tech computers and so on have all slumped, prices are less than half what they were, simply because of improved manufacturing, improved designs. I mean other sunrise industries – longer term.
Renewable energies, carbon industries are both being ignored.
Solar and tidal energies are wasted in this country, in SA, because no-one is willing to invest in them. If we put just 1% of the research dollars that have been thrown at nuclear energy, we would have viable renewable systems.
We have heard talk of carbon nano-fibres, but we are not contributing to research or development of carbon fibre manufacturing industries. Likewise, our battery technologies are failing us, we need better batteries, but we are not looking for them. The pattern is obvious, let us not take risks. Let’s do what we know, environmental manipulation and digging holes in the ground.
What a future we have in store for us.
But who is controlling investment? The Right. Who does the Right support, politically? The Liberal Party. Who is in government? Labor. So no wonder we are being shafted by the Federal Liberal Government.