Protectionism — Globalism Advocates “Go on the Offensive”?

Andrew Phillips

11th July 2009

Some readers might have had the misfortune to read a column by one David Penberthy of the Adelaide Advertiser on June 19th, in which Dave gently tried to educate all his “Prole” readers of the reality of modern day economics.

Beginning his opinion piece, which fortunately for those of us refusing to fall into step with the plan of the elite to sell out our nation’s future for a pittance went on for the best part of an entire page, Dave made a half-hearted attempt to portray an understanding of our concerns for Australian jobs. Claiming to have grown up in Adelaide’s “very own Detroit” and recognising the importance major manufacturing plants had on the extended economy of the whole city, Dave made a valiant attempt to portray himself as “one of us”, the only difference being his vast knowledge and firm grip on reality, while the dumb masses foolishly cling to the sentiments of the past.

One must admire the ability of Dave to go from understanding the deep anxiety felt by the apparently uneducated masses, to an all out assault on those who “foolishly” try to turn back the clock — all in the space of 5 paragraphs.

Dripping with contempt, Dave made his disdain for anyone trying to save what is left of Australian manufacturing quite obvious. Like all those desperate to identify with the “wannabe intelligentsia”, Dave knows too well the kudos that comes from denigrating his own nation and its people. After this little effort, Penberthy is sure to get many more invites to luncheon with the chardonnay set in the leafy suburbs, far from his embarrassing roots in Adelaide’s “mini Detroit”.

Penberthy began by applauding the apparently bipartisan position held by the nest of vipers in our Federal Parliament regarding the value of “free trade”, before turning his vitriol upon the state governments of both NSW and Victoria, labeling them “pre Whitlamite drongos” for having the audacity to actually introduce a system of sourcing supplies from Australian manufacturers before buying from foreigners — a move Penberthy describes as “idiotic populism”.

Australian taxes taken by Australian governments and used to buy products made by the Australians who pay the taxes. One can imagine Penberthy foaming at the mouth, banging away at his keyboard in a fit of rage at the cracks appearing in the quest for his beloved global village.....

Apparently, according to Penberthy, the actions of these two governments are not only idiotic populism but have also “trashed Australia’s reputation” and have “pandered to prejudice”.

Poor Dave, perhaps it is a recognition of the reality of today’s economic climate? Perhaps these governments have realised that if local industry and business goes to the wall, retrenching Australian workers, then there will be no one around to pay the myriad of government fees, charges, levies and taxes which ensure the machinery of government bureaucracy continues to operate year after year? If we lose our local producers and our workforce is thrown on the scrap heap, KRudd’s $60 billion annual deficit will begin to look like child’s play as governments seek ever-increasing foreign loans to keep the apparatus of government operating. Remember Whitlam, Dave?

Penberthy also failed to mention the fact that a large number of emergency services personnel developed skin disorders and respiratory problems following the issue of Chinese made uniforms — but don’t let the truth get in the way of a good dressing-down, Dave....

Like a good internationalist, Dave began quaking in his designer boots at the thought of Australia being “dragged before the World Trade Organisation” for “this illegal act”. Former governments ensnared our nation in this agreement, knowing full well the result of their actions. If governments really did give a damn for the national interest, as they keep reassuring us at any possible opportunity, then they would revoke this and any other piece of internationalist rubbish and start governing for the good of Australians as an independent, sovereign nation — not some worthless regional vassal state inhabited by mindless economic units supplying raw materials for the Asian Tiger economies.

Jumping on the bandwagon of the “educated elite” concerned about a possible rise in “protectionism” (damn those working class people wanting to work for a living), Penberthy turns his venom upon the general public. He claims that the general public have such an irrational view over the issue that “you could hold two days worth of psychological seminars around them”.

Head cases, the lot of you.

Penberthy gave us the benefit of his worldly experience by informing us that “vegemite is a mysterious salty paste coming in jars”, Arnotts do nothing more than “mix flour, eggs, sugar together and package them in a variety of guises” and “akubras are dead rabbits turned into a hat shape”. One can see light bulbs suddenly burning brightly over the heads of the unenlightened thanks to Dave’s words of wisdom there.

Not content to give us time to digest such in depth arguments, the article went on to show just where the author’s priorities lie. Apparently, Australian icons should not hold the same place in our nation’s psyche as “the 1983 Americas Cup team or Don Bradman’s Invincibles”.

Too right Dave, a bunch of blokes floating in a boat off Fremantle whopping Yankee butt and another bunch of blokes embarrassing the “Poms” at their own game is nothing like Australians creating their own businesses from nothing, employing Australians to make the products (often the best in the world) and supporting a myriad of other Australian businesses in the process.

Indeed, the fleeting glory of a sportsman and the momentary warm, fuzzy glow one feels as one sees that sportsman waving the nation’s flag (dreaming of all the sponsorship deals coming his way) is nothing like the security felt as an Australian employee clocks off from his job and takes his pay home to his family, or that felt by an Australian farmer knowing his property is safe as he receives a fair price for his produce — unless the Woolies/Coles cartel chooses to import cheap and substandard produce from overseas.

Focusing on China and an imminent “Free Trade” Agreement, Penberthy once again takes a soothing tone reassuring us that we really only have a $480 million trade deficit with “our Chinese friends” once you crunch the figures. Let’s just ignore the fact these figures are prior to any FTA being signed with our so called “friends”. Let’s also ignore the inconvenient truth that China also has eyes on our mining sector as well as our farms, although, admittedly that will depend upon our nation liberalising any restrictions on both investment and the importation of labour — according to our Chinese friend, Xie Guoli, a senior Chinese Trade Official. Never mind Dave, I’m sure our bipartisan Federal parliamentary “representatives” can rectify that pesky little issue.

Furthermore, Penberthy and his ilk continue to ignore FTAs are not restricted to a single nation such as China, no, our governments are happy to sign anything shoved under their collective noses, including an FTA with Thailand, with Indonesia (let’s just forget their little party trick of suddenly adding tariffs on Australian primary produce so they have something to offer at the table in return for open access to the Australian market), with the US (we’re sure Penberthy wouldn’t need reminding that Australian lamb exports to the US actually increased considerably under the “protectionist” Clinton administration with their penchant for tariffs) — so the list goes on. Any two-bit dictatorship with ready access to cheap, even slave, labour will be lining up for a piece of the Australian market.

Penberthy would also have a convenient memory lapse regarding the signing of the US/ Canadian FTA. The Canadians were sold the same line given to us, the dangling carrot of lucrative exports, massive markets, increased standard of living, but the reality was a net loss of over 200,000 Canadian jobs. Nevertheless, internationalist journo hacks like Penberthy would probably just sneer at the ridiculous “impassioned affection” the Canadians hold for their jobs and suggest psychological evaluation.

It is probably a little unfair to focus on Dave’s attack on so-called protectionism, which in reality is akin to being slapped with a wilting lettuce leaf, after all, his column was just another in a long line of vocal attacks coming from such notable identities as PM KRudd, and former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who despite resigning from politics and costing taxpayers a bucket load of money for a by-election in Mayo, cannot seem to keep his nose out of it.

Collectively, these people use misinformation and outright lies about the protectionist position. They would have the Australian people believe “protectionism” is all about building an insular country, cut off economically from the rest of the world, spurning interaction and trade with our neighbours.

Isn-t it strange that such people never take the time to actually “interact” with the advocates of domestic protection in order to ascertain exactly what the position is that we support? No, it is much easier to fill newspaper columns with half-truths and twisted claims, omitting facts and continue to herd Australians like unthinking wildebeest into the global corral.

Protectionism merely recognises the reality there is no such thing as a level playing field. The introduction of moderate and sensible tariffs to protect local manufacturers and farmers in fact alleviates this discrepancy and helps local producers to compete on their home ground against goods produced by cheap or slave labour, by companies not bound by environmental protection legislation and other such criteria we in the West often take for granted.

The much maligned protectionists are not interested in building a wall around our respective nations. Australian protectionists call for a number of measures to ensure Australian consumers are better informed to make a choice of “economic nationalism” over “economic rationalism”.

Such measures can include more transparent labeling of products to inform consumers of country of origin, foreign ownership and the percentage of foreign produce used in the production of a good.

Protectionists also aim for a government which will increase R&D support to encourage value adding of Australian raw produce, rather than viewing our nation as a supplier of cheap raw material, shipping it off to some tin pot dictatorship to be made into shoddy products using slave and child labour and sold back to us at an exorbitant profit.

Advocates of the global village continue to launch themselves into a mindless panic at the mere thought of a return to industry protection. In a fashion reminiscent of the torment experienced by those who saw a “Red under every bed”, they seek to attack at any opportunity any possibility of an open discussion regarding support or preference for Australian producers. What do they fear? How do they think trade was conducted prior to their obsession with a borderless world?

Let’s face reality, if one party possesses a commodity desired by another, then the transaction will take place at a price agreeable to both — regardless of the presence of a moderate tariff.

Despite the hysterical claims by the likes of Downer and Rudd and the pseudo-intellectual sneering by the likes of Penberthy, the Protectionist “bogeyman” will not return the world to the dark ages nor will they build a giant wall around the continent.

All we are demanding is a fair go for our nation’s farmers, manufacturers and Australian workers. If you oppose that, then you are living in the wrong country.

Articles by Andrew Phillips