Our future at stake

Walking out the back door this morning, I strolled down the pathway to the front gate. Opening the gate, I picked up the paper, The Australian, from where it had been carefully thrown. After a moment or two struggling to open it I turned to the front page and saw the face of one of Australia’s pre-eminent journalists on foreign affairs matters, Greg Sheridan.

The headline read;

‘Warning: Australia is becoming a risky place to do business.’

The article was about the Adani mine and how it had been held back from development due to bureaucratic red-tape, the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.

I kid you not.

Still don’t believe me? I quote Sheridan;

“An environmental group, funded…by NSW taxpayers, mounted a challenge about whether Environment Minister Greg Hunt had considered in precisely the proper way the effect of the mine on the yakka skink and the ornamental snake. So the whole thing has to go back for Hunt to fix up the paperwork.”

The Baird Government is, at least in part, funding a challenge to a $16billion Indian investment in Australia’s future. Sheridan believes the coalmine has the potential to employ 10,000 people.

Couple that with the Labor Party’s opposition to the Chinese Free Trade Agreement and it seems Australia is reverting to the bad old days. Once again, the Labor Party is peddling ideas that Chinese workers will, in Sheridan’s words, “flood the Australian market, whereas any Chinese who come in under the FTA will have to satisfy all the normal 457 visa class regulations.”

Australia used to be a country populated by people with a ‘can-do’ attitude. The country received convicts who were unwanted elsewhere but who served an important role in the establishment of the colonies. Convicts were transported for petty crimes and were put to work as brick makers, carpenters, labourers, nurses. By the 1820’s a growing number of convicts were granted rural land. The vast majority of convicts by this time were employed by private land-holders, working hard to build trust and respect and contribute to the economic growth and independence of the colonies.

Decades later, the Chinese made their way to Australia for the ‘new gold mountain,’ coming after the gold rush in California. But as the Chinese came so arose fear and loathing, and with it, racist sentiment. This continued for decades until in 1901, the Immigration Restriction Act was implemented by the new Federal Government.

At this time, 98% of the Australian population was white.

By 1947, Arthur Calwell, as Immigration Minister, said in Parliament:

“Two Wongs don’t make a White.”

Meant jocularly or otherwise, Calwell was widely reported as having made a racist remark. Unfortunately for him, it was too late to recant.

Nineteen years later, sixty-five years after the White Australia Policy had been implemented, it was brought to an end by the Holt Government by the establishment of the Migration Act 1966.

And yet, the Labor Party continued to maintain a white Australia policy as official party policy for another seven years, proving, if anyone remained in doubt, that they were behind the times culturally.

Today, Australia ranks as one of the most successful multi-cultural sovereign nations, one of the very few continuous democracies, and one of the safest and most secure nations the world over. And yet, even today, the Labor Party cannot separate itself from the vested interests of the union movement. Even today, the Labor Party considers a free trade agreement with China a threat to Australian workers, rather than an opportunity.

Surely, as a nation, we have matured. Surely, as a convict nation, we value the self-reliance this country was built on. And so, surely there can be no good reason why we cannot share with China in the riches a free trade agreement offers both countries today. Is there not room for both countries to prosper, together?

If there is room, then surely, by extension, we can agree the future of the ornamental snake should not take precedence over a $16billion coalmine that would see India invest in this country and 10,000 new jobs created.

You’ve probably noticed the feature photo attached to this article. It’s of a little boy, no more than seven, with his Collingwood jersey on, sitting upright, keen to see his mighty ‘pies win the 2010 AFL Grand Final. He’s looking out at the 100,000 other people also present that day.

All of them have one thing in common – their love of AFL football. Most of them want to do well in life, at least live a comfortable life with their family around them for love and support. Few, if any, would think Australia was only five years away from signing a free trade agreement with China. Some, if asked, would realise the gravity, the import, of such an agreement.

The future of our seven year-old ‘pies fan could well rise or fall on the investment of nations like China (and India) in the Australian economy.

We want our ‘pies fan’s future to be bright, not to be put in jeopardy by the ornamental snake. God forbid!

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