With the closure of the Electrolux factory in Orange this country has surrendered for the time being her will to make fridges. The usual lament is heard; unemployment, the end of an era, and the standard reason trotted out about which nothing can be done; Australia cannot be competitive when it comes to manufacturing.
Asks a bepanelled ABC presenter: Does it matter or is this just the next stage in our industrialisation?
Firstly, so far as Australia is concerned, this latest episode in the dismantling of our industrial capabilities cannot be described as industrialisation. My dictionary says industrialisation is ‘the development of large industries as an important feature in a country or economic system.’ So despite an attempt to recast the making of Australia’s last fridge as industrial progress it is a tangible step in the other direction.
To the main issue, does it matter we no longer make fridges? It is in the mass production of items like fridges and washing machines that the industrial system delivers its greatest advantage to ordinary people. So perhaps we should reframe the question. Does it matter that this country can no longer guarantee the quality and supply of a product that is central to Australians’ quality of life? Or, more generally, does independence matter? I think most Australians would say that it does.
But we encounter the apparently invincible stonewall that we cannot be competitive on price and so we cannot afford to maintain vital domestic capabilities. The problem of price is a problem of money (finance) and when it comes to our national money system Australians seem determined to leave it to the experts, which is a convenient attitude for the people who employ them. Amidst the economic crises and crashes, unsustainable national and private debt, banking scandals and increasing, exorbitant taxation it is time we learned that the experts are unqualified, rotten or both.
The word ‘trend’ emerged into common usage from Wall Street. It refers to ‘the general course or drift’ so events described as ‘trends’ have a ring of uncontrollable inevitability about them. We are supposed to believe that the forces that have dismantled our manufacturing sector are ‘global trends’ about which nothing can be done and so we need to relax and let the tide come in. The truth is the demise of Australian manufacturing is a deliberate policy carried on by people with an international agenda. This agenda assesses national independence, or independence on any level for that matter, as an obstacle and works to wear it down.
If you are fine with that then fine, but if you aren’t you should know it’s not inevitable and you are within your rights to influence it in the direction you would prefer.
There is a feeling amongst Australians that we are being deceived. This feeling needs to be developed into a more exact understanding about how the financial system works so we can create realistic solutions that address our complaints. As a starting point it is important that our ideas about finance are informed by a couple of basic things. Firstly, the money system is an artificial one and secondly, its proper place is the reflection of facts. In other words, if something is physically possible it is financially possible so if we want Australian fridges then we can have Australian fridges.