Constructive Nationalism

Graeme Campbell
Independent Federal Member for Kalgoorlie

    The following article by Graeme Campbell was published in the "West Australian" on August 6th [1998], under the heading: 'Nationalism can give us a bigger role'. It followed a previous article by the chief executive of the WA Chamber of Commerce and Indus­try, who takes the conventional line, that globalism is inevitable. Campbell warns that the coming battle between the nationalists and the internationalists will be Aus­tralia's greatest challenge.

The "West Australian" is to be congratulated for juxtaposing two articles in the edition of July 29. The one about professor Deepak Lai shows a man of enormous intellect. Sadly, the adjoining piece by Lyndon Rowe, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA, demonstrates the lack thereof.

Australian nationalism is not as he describes. It is an outward­looking nationalism. It does not say there will be no foreign investment. It merely says it will be on our terms.

Capacity to save

At a time when the Australian Tax Office is saying that foreign-owned multinationals do not pay their taxes, and when senior tax and treasury officials will relate, off the record, all the legal and illegal ways that they avoid tax, Mr Rowe's ad­vocacy seems very out of date.

When the tax office moves to stifle every tax-deferring initiative to fund research and devel­opment, such as the Budplan, and government taxes interest on savings when most people no longer have the capacity to save, it seems pointless to la­ment the lack of savings.

The Barren Rock

Intelligent nationalism recognises that the problem is the lack of government will to encourage Australian investment.

Governments, Liberal or Labor, are like Mr Rowe - aground on the barren rock of rational economics.

So beguiled are they that they have not realised rational economics is not an economic theory but the political ideology of big business to control world trade.

Mr Rowe ignores the fact that the government's superannuation legislation is in fact public saving and is now a considerable sum.

While in its present form it is a serious burden on employers. It is clearly not being used for long-term Australian ownership or funding of research and development. Without legislation it is never likely to do so.

The whole system should be scrapped and replaced by a tax-funded system similar to that in Britain or Singapore.

Kick - Start Industry

If the government was to provide from the Budget $150 million a year to an entity we shall call the Development Bank, give that institution a banking licence and instruct it to lend long-term at a reasonable interest of, say 5%, the Development Bank would, at the end of a government term in office, have $4.5 billion to lend, using a very modest multiplier of 10.

We would then see people prepared to make investments and generate the savings necessary for further investment.

Mr Rowe knows that more than 80% of our current account deficit is caused by the importation of manufactured goods.

The corollary of this is that unless we kickstart our manufacturing industry, there are no jobs for our children and no end to the current account deficit.

Scrap The Tender

This is not to say we should make everything. We must choose the areas where we have a natural advantage or a strategic need.

Tariffs will be necessary in some circumstances, but many other things can be done, not the least of which is government purchasing policy and the use of quotes rather than the enormously expensive tender­ing process. This process, by its complexity and cost, eliminates a lot of our businesses from even trying to compete.

We do not need more rational economists. We need an industry policy. This should be an arrangement of circumstances to provide the best opportunity for industry to thrive and continue. It is not just a direction for manufacturing in isolation that is needed.

It has to be integrated with a diverse range of policies, such as industrial relations, immigration, social welfare, taxation, finance, foreign aid, govern­ment purchasing and, above all, government attitude to people and country.

Fourth Challenge

Australia has faced three great challenges. The fourth, which is on us now and will prove to be our greatest, is the battle between the nationalists and the internationalists.

In this battle, the internationalists have the support of big business, big governments, the media and our sick academia, most of our supine politicians and the banks.

But we nationalists have the numbers and an understanding hitherto not available. The agents of internationalists, no matter what their guise, will not fob us off.

If our politicians do not start to heed the voice of the people who elect them, then there is every chance Henry Lawson's prediction that "blood should stain the wattle" will be self-fulfilling.

Printed in the September/October 1998 edition of National Focus (vol. 1, issue 4), p.5

Articles by Graeme Campbell