Why are people missing from the liberal narrative on jobs and growth

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Last nights Q and A was a corker, really telly-shaking and bellowingly entertaining and not least because the liberal representative Steve Ciobo (Minister for Trade and Investment) seemed determined not to let one of two audience members with real, valid questions stand in the way of his ideology. Not a small business person and certainly not a member of the working poor.  Oh no.

I want to know why people are missing from the liberal ‘jobs and growth’ mantra?

Sure people are the recipients of jobs but when you don’t tell us what jobs and what growth and what we have to give in order to get these opportunities we start asking questions and challenging the basic assumption that jobsandgrowth is good no matter what.

No matter what?

Just listening to the guy who is one of the growing number of working poor. ¬†Not everyone can access jobs that earn them an income that gives them choices, many people earn incomes that just about allow them to maintain a roof over the families head and a bit of dinner on the table. ¬†You only have to go as far as what has happened recently with the farmer’s milk price issue to know that many families can’t even afford the dignity of choice of ¬†being able to vote with their wallets to help save their own – to pay the extra dollar or two a litre that might just trickle back to farmers and keep them in business.

And these people often can’t afford to live next door to work. ¬†More often than not work is concentrated around the cities and cities are expensive to live in, ¬†even outer suburbs are expensive¬†now because there are so many people trying to cram into such a small space to get so few jobs. ¬†In NSW around Sydney we are talking $400,000 plus to afford a basic house 50Km from the CBD – 50Km that could leave you with up to a two-hour commute each way for the privilege, plus the fuel and wear and tear if public transport doesn’t happen to work for you or doesn’t link up to your neighbourhood.

And when these people get to their jobs they will be lucky to be earning a decent choice-making salary. ¬†$40-$50,000 per year is a pretty decent slab of cash for someone working in retail, ¬†call centres, customer service or hospitality. ¬† Double that for both partners (if there are two) working full-time and guess what? ¬†You STILL don’t have money left over at the end of the week for a coffee in a coffee shop, ¬†a choice in how your child or children are educated or a different brand of milk. ¬†Oh and now, and ¬†now you have the added complication of who looks after the children while you are making your way to and from work each day. ¬†Who pays for that?

Choice? You tell me where the choice is here?

So then up pops a cafe owner who (rightly in my opinion) says something to the tone of ‘shove your tax break for my business government, I’d rather my community had more money as my income comes from them and a tax break on my business would only amount to around $8 per week’ ¬†and to that I say ‘fair point, well made’.

And you would have thought that Steve would have started by saying something along the lines of ‘good point mate’ or whatever but no. Instead he proceeded to carry on with his rhetoric as if the good man WITH a business wasn’t relevant.

Which again makes me wonder why the liberal party are not picking up on this. ¬†Look I can’t lie, I’m voting for the Greens this time and will put labor ahead of the Libs but not because of reasons of the economy, my reasons fall outside of that. ¬†However, I’d still like to be able to get past the distrust I feel when¬†the human element of policy is minimised and into some policy discussions with the liberal party rather than feel like every time they open their mouths its to re-confirm my suspicions that we, people, REAL people are not really the focus at all. ¬†That growing the economy IS more important than anything else and that the economy shall be made to grow in spite of everything including the environment, Peoples mental health, ¬†the fairness of a policy or how effective it actually is at doing its job.

I am particularly sensitive to this at the moment because of what is happening out here in the West, the way that we feel we are being shoe horned into accepting an airport the size of Dubai surrounded by thousands of homes and a World Heritage Listed National Park in order to deliver jobs on our doorstep. ¬†OK so we might (and I say might because these jobs aren’t well-defined), might address one problems of local jobs but the trade-off is ¬†dangerously high pollution, 24 hour noise, choked roads and the potential of loosing Heritage listing on our National Park.

I am really hoping that the Liberal part start to think beyond their ideology and ‘great on paper’ policies (if indeed they are great on paper) as soon as possible as reality won’t go away. It will just get bigger and bigger and uglier until we don’t just have one or two people asking awkward question in an audience, we have a whole generation standing up and asking ‘what went wrong’ regardless of what our economic KPI’s are telling us.

People are the reason we do all of this.

Let’s get the people back where they belong.

 

 

Is Capitalism the problem?

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you dont hate mondays you hate capitalism

Every Friday social media is awash with ‘TGIF’ type posts as people (well, some people) look forward to two whole days of FREEDOM.

Then every Monday we get the reverse with the ‘It’s too early for this’ type of shenanegans.

Eventually some people get so sick of the life as a wage slave that they take to the streets with banners such as those above. But is capitalism really the problem?

As a kid I loved money almost as much as I loved chocolate. I would do anything in my power to earn more, save more and count more. ¬†I even resorted to scouring the house for loose change and pocketing that from time to time – a regular kindy sized crook I was. ¬†My fiscal fascination didn’t go un-noticed and became a slight source of worry by my mum (I seem to remember) as I’m sure at one point she thought she must have given birth to Thatcher 2.0 (I grew up in England in the 70’s – 80’s) but no, that wasn’t it. ¬†See in my house I knew that money was power and I wanted the power and self-determination that money could bring. ¬†I still appreciate the power of money but these days I’m a bit more socially aware than I was when I was 7. ¬†Good job too!

So capitalism has a place in my heart and when I think about economics, capitalism is my default setting and as such, when I see banners like the above my brain starts doing funny things and asking nagging questions like:

  • But what is the alternative to capitalism?
  • What type of capitalism are they talking about or is it all bad?
  • Are bankers always evil?

Let’s have a look and see, keeping in mind that I’m just a writing person with a science background and not an economist. My aim here is to simplify without reducing it to absurdity.

economic models

The first thing that I notice about my table is that I’ve gone and put the economy at the top. ¬†That’s mainly because it was what I was focusing on explaining and not a reflection of its overall importance. ¬†That said I think it is worth mentioning that ‘economy’ is just a word for how trade is carried out and trade is a pretty natural thing for people in a community to do. ¬†As long as there have been people there has been trade although these days the ethics – moral principles that govern an action – of trade are somewhat more complex given the global ‘market’ in which we find ourselves.

So there are different types of economy from your basic family farm, barter and trade Traditional model to the type that I’m used to living in – a mixed market with a capitalist spin on production.

Mixed market economies vary HUGELY from country to country depending on how each government approaches the market.  How governments approach the market usually depends on how they see their people and their ability to generate wealth.

Jobs and Growth.

For a country to be rich enough to create a surplus for investing in infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, schools and the like it needs to be able to¬†generate wealth over and above the basic living expenses of each person. ¬†A good way to do that is by having enough decent¬†local jobs that create value – turning something basic into something that’s worth more money, manufacturing or farming for example. ¬†This keeps money flowing back into the economy. ¬†In the olden days when I was a lad and everything was black and white this was pretty easy. ¬†There were lots of factories in the UK where I come from, making everything from fabrics and footwear to steel and motor cars. ¬†Food was mainly farmed at home (locally produced) with the odd exotic thing like a banana or tea thrown in for good measure. ¬† The ‘buy British’ days were relatively good for the country in as much as lots of people had jobs, the government had money and investments into infrastructure could be made BUT that didn’t mean that everyone with a job was being treated fairly or paid a living wage. ¬†Jobs and growth doesn’t guarantee fairness and equality.

But that’s another story.

Up until the second world war the UK economy was propped up by local manufacturing and production plus imported goods coming from the fruits of colonialism – fair trade? ¬†Possibly not. ¬†The net result was a very wealthy England albeit a little bruised and battered thanks to the war. ¬†After the Second world war everyone agreed that it was totally horrible and that a good way to prevent such a thing from ever happening again would be if we all got together and traded more openly with each other. ¬† The World Trade Organisation was born. Countries that didn’t want to participate were shamed as ‘protectionist’ and the era of ‘free trade’ was born. ¬†We are still on that path albeit holding on by our fingernails as people grow increasingly disenfranchised with the realities of globalisation on an individual level.

Basically free trade meant that countries like the UK could now scout the world for places to produce their goods, places that might be able to offer things cheaper or at a better quality. Sometimes this was good but often it was bad, especially bad for workers who witnessed as their ‘real’ jobs disappeared off to Taiwan or wherever else was flavour of the month.

The good thing about this was cheaper goods and more choice for consumers, cheaper production costs for the government (for industries where they still owned the means of production) and cheaper labor costs.

The bad thing about this being the fact that consumers are not just entities they are people who need jobs and those were rapidly vanishing.

There are probably more costs and benefits but you get the picture. 

NOTE: A real job is a job that produces real, tangible added value either in terms of growing, building or assembling something OR creating something be it a theory, piece of art, book or other piece of intellectual property.  Typically there are more people who want jobs in the growing, building or assembling trench than there are people wanting to do the creating. 

By 1973 in the UK productivity was dropping and we were suffering the first of many hang-overs from this World Trade arrangement. At this point an important thing happened РVAT was introduced (GST here in Australia).  Between 1940 (the WTO came into being) and 1973 there was a consumption tax in the UK called a purchase tax that was levied on luxury items the definition and tax on which changed depending on the issues of the day. The general theory behind setting this tax was to prevent valuable materials from being wasted (commoditized). The fact that it taxed the production of luxury items meant that it impacted the rich making discretionary purchases more than it did the poor.

Again, I’m no expert but looking at the facts what I see is this. ¬†When¬†a country loses control of the production they switch from being a net producer to a net consumer. The government still needs to raise revenue and so turns its attention to taxing spending over producing as that is pretty much all that’s left to tax.

¬†Consumption is even more unequal than production given that there is a limit to how productive a person can be (8 hours labor a day, 5 days a week) and also given that peoples ability to capitalise on an opportunity depends not least on their individual skill set, personality and will whereas the¬†only limit on what a person can consume is what they can afford and in a global market it doesn’t matter where the cash comes from as long as you spend it!

Anyway, back to the big wide world.

Post war and up to the early 70’s a chap called Bretton Woods called the economic shots. Here is a Wikipedia entry on him and his stuff.¬†¬†Basically his work was pivotal in forming the IMF (international monetary fund) which pegged exchange rates and made global trade much easier. ¬†The Bretton Woods vision started after the second world war, a time when people were hurting and it was very easy to feel socially responsible and patriotic. ¬†Governments around the world made sure that social welfare provisions were front and centre to policy. It was also relatively easy to find local jobs as so much building, food production and material fabrication was required to replenish the war ravaged country. However, as time went on the sparkle began to rub off. The Bretton Woods currency system went into meltdown when the US stopped allowing the dollar to be directly converted to gold unless it was done on the open market. This was dubbed the ‘Nixon Shock’ ¬†and sent international currencies spinning. ¬†I can’t quite work out all of the implications of this but suffice to say it heralded a new change.

Just out of interest here is how UK politics was stacking up. 

In the UK between 1951-1953 we had a Conservative government  (Nordic Model Capitalism like)

From 1964-1970 was Labour (Nordic model)

1970-1974 – Conservative (the rise of liberal capitalism)

1987-1979 – Labour (liberal capitalism)

1979-1990 – Conservative (to Neoliberalism)

What I’ve summarised from al of this so far is that the type of economy you have in a country is separate from the ruling political party and that while different political parties and ideologies can push for ¬†or create a particular type of economy the economy isn’t re-imagined every time a new party is elected to govern. That is a shame really as that could be the best bit…..

I must admit that I haven’t studied in great depth at this stage the various nuances of the mixed markets throughout this 39 year period but suffice to say that what started out being a mixed market with relatively large public ownership of the means of production and a large welfare state (similar to what we now call the Nordic Model) turned into an economy with relatively small public ownership and a smaller (but still significant) social welfare (a model that we are not typically referring to as neoliberalism).

So capitalism.  What are all of these different types and how does that fit into the economy?

So once a country has decided on what type of economy they want (see above diagram) they then have to decide on the way they are going to make that happen. The detail.  If they choose a market economy they could choose to run a socialist market but we will focus on capitalism for now and this is where the different types of capitalism come in and where different outcomes originate from.

  • State Capitalism. ¬†This is rather like Russia or China where the state manages all trade and you quite literally work for the country. The opportunities for personal gain are low and you are pretty much at the mercy of your government as to whether you have a decent standard of living and some individual choice or not.
  • Welfare Capitalism. This is the sort of system that emerged after the war and is now what is called the Nordic model but also encompasses Rhine Capitalism of the type found in Germany and Denmark. ¬†Basically it puts people and social welfare at the centre of policy so while the aim is for business and the country to make profit, the profit is for the good of the people above all else.
  • Liberal Capitalism is one that favours business and private ownership. The type of landscape that favours entrepreneurs and owner businesses. ¬†Liberal capitalism is the type that the USA, UK and Australia have been built on in recent history. ¬†This system is perfect for creating lots of individual wealth and private enterprise but how that feels as a citizen of a country operating with this economy depends on your ability to take advantage of that because if you can’t you might end up feeling taken advantage of. ¬†While there are various levels of liberal capitalism depending on the degree of regulation the government imposes and the level of asset the government owns generally the end game is a free market which is basically where business is allowed as much rope as they need. ¬†Neoliberalism fits in here.

So is capitalism the problem?

Looking at all of this and reflecting on the different economies of the world and given my background I am still saying no, capitalism ISN’T the problem. ¬†I personally love the fact that I live in a country where my efforts and enterprise can be financially rewarded in a unlimitless capacity. ¬†I personally feel that is quite motivating both physically (getting me out of bed in the morning to do the grafting) and philosophically. ¬†If I can generate great wealth I then have a great capacity to choose how that wealth be divvied up. ¬†I can choose to be socially responsible. ¬†I do practice being socially responsible, I donate to charity every month and value resources enough to limit my spending and consumerism so as not to be such a burden on the environment but just because I do that (and I could be better) I don’t expect everyone else to.

My favourite type of capitalism is welfare capitalism where people and their welfare is at the centre of what drives profit-making endeavours.

My least favourite type of capitalism is what we have now, neoliberalism where the key driver is profit for profits sake. The winner is the one with the most money. ¬†That’s not to say that a neoliberal economy can’t¬†be altruistic and can’t produce philanthropists but in this system it is a personal choice rather than an obligation and we all know that people can and do often choose to look after their private selves first.

Economies can and do move as we saw with the UK between the 1940’s and 70’s but looking at what has happened in the past the move towards a welfare type of economy has to be deliberate or essential. ¬†As I said in the beginning to trade is to be human and the instinct¬†to succeed, to profit ¬†goes to the heart of western culture (I say western because profit taking and ‘winning’ isn’t the way of all cultures. Co-operation is a viable alternative and co-operation without communism is absolutely possible). But we have to keep our eyes open. We have to remember that the economy is not something to be worshiped and held over us like a knife poised to cut us to the bone. The economy serves us and in order for it to serve us properly we have to direct it.

I feel that it is time to put people back at the centre of the economy and to re-imagine profit and corporate success in terms of happiness, wellbeing and environmental sustainability. ¬†That doesn’t require us to turn our back on capitalism, it requires us to turn our attention to the point of it.

There is a new economy out there just waiting for us to grab it. It’s called the renewable energy market and it can drive everything.

Well that’s what I think anyway…..

Amanda x

PS: These are my thoughts as they are today. I am sure I’ve made some blunders in my appraisal of the last 40 years of the UK and world economics but I think the point remains the same even if the detail is possibly lacking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Song for the NIMBY’s

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When the milk you buy is tainted by the smell of corporate greed

When the farmers want a payday but the boss says there’s no need

And the land that raised your children

Is attacked from underneath

That’s the day you know democracy is dead.

So don’t just stand their feeling down and shaking heads

 

When the gate you used to lock is not your own to stand behind

And the trees you love just got incinerated in the night

And the motorway is coming and your house is in the way

And the bastards, yes the bastards just won’t pay

Got arrested just for standing up today!

 

Airport EIS is riddled with mistakes, that’s by the way

Because the lobby group saw to it that there’s no bad news today

And the jobs for Western Sydney come with no sleep and no air

But that‚Äôs OK ‚Äėcause you‚Äôre ‚Äėout there‚Äô and we‚Äôre not you

We won’t be shedding tears to blur our harbour view.

 

And in case you feel like dancing we’ll be having none of that

‚ÄėCause the lock-out laws are made to keep Star City Growing fat

And live music is corrupting

‚ÄėCause it‚Äôs art and art is dead

So you’d better all be getting home to bed.

Like the corporate suited plutocrats have said.

 

Well there has never been a more exciting time to stand as one

To cast off NIMBYISM tag lines and to march to that one drum

‚ÄėCause at the heart of all that matters is the people that create

The city, district and the regions we want great

Deserving of an equal voice in this debate

 

Democracy is for the people and the people are not dumb

You can remove elected members but you can’t move everyone

And you won’t be able to hide behind consultants and some cash

When the sky and the economy both crash.

Because your lies will come and kick you in the ass!

 

So as there’s never been a more exciting time to stand as one

Let’s just get on up and do it

I’ll be there, just come along

You’re worth more than just a number in another rich mans game

And I know that you and I both feel the same

And together we can try to change the game.

We can change the game.

 

Just how many pies can a lobbyist stick their fingers into?

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Ok so I’m not in a position to be able to talk about the legalities of lobbying here although I would point anyone interested to this government site, but I can say it as I see it and what I see at the moment, in my situation looks ethically questionable, that’s for sure.

My question ‘just how many pies can a lobbyist stick their fingers into’ comes from a situation that is festering (yes, that’s how it feels) around the area that I live at the moment, a situation that feels like it has come at us like a wrecking ball (and thanks to that Mylie Cyrus song yes I would like to have a swing on it).

The situation is the latest incarnation of the Badgery’s Creek airport.

The problem, as far as I can see is that the Badgery’s Creek proposal,¬†from the EIS which was released in October 2015 and had to be reviewed and back by 20th December 2015 (busy times as it is the end of school year here in Australia plus Christmas and our longest holiday period) to today’s community engagement sessions have a sickening feeling of speaking (and ‘engaging’)¬†not to understand but just to reply ¬†or worse, to just ‘tick the box’. ¬†Then, when¬†the replies come they have typically had more than a little air of ‘stage managed’ about them……..

Dali Lama

The way the process has been prepared and subsequently managed has led me into a¬†situation where I feel deeply mistrusting of the whole shebang, as if my voice as a voter (and subsequently as a protestor) is being drowned out, ignored, marginalised and that this ‘full-of-holes’ ¬†proposal could go ahead anyway placing a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week airport in the back corner of the Sydney Basin where pollution will be trapped against the World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains before it swirls back onto the good people of Western Sydney. ¬†Good luck making your way through the smog to your Jobs and Growth guys, that is if you can get out of bed at all (who needs lungs anyway)……

At this point I would like to make it clear that while I do FEEL that the process has been a sham and I obviously have very serious misconceptions about the lobbying involved I am still capable of listening to understand, I honestly do want to spend my time working towards getting the best deal for Western Sydney because I live here Рunlike some of the lobbyists Рand I  feel morally obligated to challenge a proposal that will lead to extraordinarily more pollution in the Sydney basin.

Those of us like me that HAVE had time and MADE time to research this proposal fully have ended up feeling like the government are treating us with contempt and hoping that we haven’t and won’t notice. ¬†A hope that is pretty easy to maintain given the fact that the lobby process has close ties with at least one of Sydney’s largest newspapers.

Malcolm-X

This airport has been proposed and defeated time and time again but THIS time there is an extra layer doing deals and WE DIDN’T VOTE FOR THEM.

OK so what are the relationships of this lobby group?

Firstly,¬†none of what I am saying is based on information that I’ve either made-up or gotten through dodgy sources, I literally just googled the money trail after going to the ‘Out There’ summit (and what a great show of truth that little event was…..)

Lobbyist X is a company that focuses on:

corporate advisory, public affairs and strategic communications

The company

 brings to its clients deep experience in government relations, corporate advisory, marketing & brand, public policy, management consulting, strategic media engagement, stakeholder relations and project management.

Customers of this company currently include the following, many of which have the lobbyist integrated into their boards or management structures.  I am not at all sure if that is normal or not.

  • LendleaseInfrastructure building and planning, mentioned time and time again when Badgery’s Creek comes up. ¬†¬†The attached article pitches them as ‘independent’ to the process.
  • Sydney Airport Corporation – Kingsford Smith has first right of purchase of the Badgery’s Creek airport and is of course interested in how a second airport might pan out.
  • Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue – ¬†Set up to ‘engage’ Sydney in a¬†productive discussion about Western Sydney. ¬†Involves Western Sydney Uni, WSROC, Sydney Business Chamber and the Western Sydney Community Forum.
  • Celestino Pty Ltd – Property Development company with plans laid out to develop a Science Park.
  • Liverpool City Council¬†
  • Leichhardt Council (which now doesn’t exist, I wonder if they will take on the new amalgamated council?)
  • Western Sydney Rail Alliance

The founder of this lobby company is also Chairman, special adviser to the Secretary General, United Nations World Tourism Organisation which might well be why we, in the Blue Mountains are constantly told ‘don’t worry’ about the World Heritage Listing on our national park (although I am just speculating here). ¬†In addition to that the founder has a background in tourism and was the Managing Director of the Tourism and Transport Forum until 2010 if I remember rightly.

On top of this the other lobbyist in this company is an ex-newspaper journalist who also happens to be intimately involved with at least one of the consultancies clients.

So let’s recap.

We have ONE lobby group that is making representation to government on the needs and wishes (presumably) of various councils, business communities, property developers, travel and environment (via UNWTO) transport and the public.

Oh and they also happen to have fingers in various sporting ties too Рsport is big in Western Sydney РI heard that at the Out There summit too and went away wondering what they tell them at the Western Sydney Wanderers games. 

And that same lobby group produces NEWS

 

So just how many pies can a lobbyist stick their fingers into?

I don’t know but I’d like to think it wasn’t this many.

and they certainly don’t speak for me.

 

Amanda x

 

 

 

 

Behind the signs

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airport t shirt

The only people that seem to shout abuse at me as I protest are the tradies. ¬†The tradies in their new shiny utes all scrubbed up and expensive looking. The tradies that work bloody hard for a living, that got off their backside and built something, fixed something, created something. ¬†The tradies that have to deal with people like me everyday, people like me who want a new kitchen or bathroom, ¬†need a leaky tap fixed or a new fan putting in. ¬†People like me who don’t understand what it is like to be knee deep in shit on a winters morning.

But people like me do understand.

I am a tradies daughter.

I have been a tradies wife – he is now in retail, I didn’t swap him, he just swapped his job.

I know exactly what it feels like to be a do-er, a mover and shaker, a get-up-and-go’er because as often as I could I’d get up and go with my dad and find out, learn the business that he so playfully told me ‘wasn’t for girls’.

And even now, in my own job while I’m not strictly a tradie myself I am a hard working, self-employed grafter who just happens to graft over batches of cosmetic products and formulas rather than u bends, engine blocks or transistors.

Anyway, to politics…..

Here in Australia the liberal government do a good sales job on the owner-business tradie because they have traditionally been the party for the entrepreneur, the self-starter, the small business owner, the boss.  Thinking back to when I was a child growing up  in England with a tradie father I knew just how much the governments decisions meant to my family, how incentives allowed my dad to get new tools, new vans, houses to do up, tax breaks and training.  All this under Thatcher and to a lesser degree Major.  True Blue.

But those were the 1980’s and 1990’s

Global warming wasn’t much of a thing then.

When Maggie closed the mines it wasn’t coal generated CO2 she was worried about.

And when the UK governments of the day enthusiastically promote renewable energy at least 33% of their enthusiasm comes from fears relating to fuel security.

where does the UK gas come from

But that’s by the by when you are standing by the side of the road holding a ‘No Western Sydney Airport’ sign while being told you are an ‘f’ing wanka’ from the car window of a ute. ¬†I reflect on how I am now just ‘one of them’, ¬†someone who has nothing in common with the ute warriors. ¬†Nothing. Well, that is as far as they can see from their elevated window position.

What I want to say is this, that I appreciate the need for airports here in Australia. ¬†We are a country of migrants, migrants from all four corners of the world. We need to go ‘home’ sometimes, back to where we came from to see parents, siblings, aunties, friends. ¬†And they need to come here. ¬†We need tourists to cater for, show the sights, boost our economy, ¬†we need the suits to come in on the red-eye and make deals for our Aussie made produce and commodities. ¬†We need to be connected.

So when I stand with my ‘No Airport’ sign please don’t take that so literally.

Also, I want to say that we, out west, ‘out there’ also need jobs, good jobs. Jobs that can allow us to own our own homes so that we can renovate and put in that new kitchen or bathroom. ¬†A castle to call our own, to retreat to when our world gets too much.

AND I want to say that we deserve investment, that yes, we are a large and growing area that has been neglected for too long, that still doesn’t have full broadband access DESPITE being less than one hour from a global city.

But I also want to say this.

Not at any cost.

It is not the 1980’s or 1990’s.

We know that carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are killers. ¬†We know that the seas are heating up and rising, the air quality in Sydney’s basin isn’t winning us any prizes NOW so why make it worse than it needs to be?

The Liberal party mantra of ‘jobs and growth, jobs and growth, jobs and growth’ can still be achieved but it SHOULD be achieved¬†for the west WITHOUT all of that pollution. ¬†Breathing isn’t optional. Our kids, the kids we work so hard for do deserve a future, a healthy as well as wealthy future.

So let’s look at some clean energy job opportunities and see how Australia is stacking up against my old home country of England.

In 2014 the UK’s Solar Trade Association predicted there could be up to 50,000 full-time jobs in the Solar industry between now and 2030. ¬†The number of actual jobs in 2013 was thought to be around 15,620. ¬†That same year sunny old Australia with acres of space was employing 13,300 people – a dramatic rise on the 2008 figure of 1800 employees but still a chunk under the Uk total (although as a percentage of population it would look more impressive). Meanwhile a report by the Climate Institute here in Australia predicted up to 33980 jobs in the electricity energy sector with the majority of those being for clean energy by 2030.¬†¬†So that’s still less than the UK, is not solar specific and is in spite of us experiencing hundreds more hours of sun a year than England achieves. ¬†Maybe there is a jobs and growth opportunity right there for Western Sydney? We certainly have the factory space and work force for manufacturing the solar panels and infrastructure.

In terms of transport I have mentioned before about my love of fast train options as an alternative to air. ¬†Time and time again studies have found fast rail trips of between 300-1500 Km’s to be much more time and energy-efficient than making the equivalent journey by air. ¬†These distances would easily encompass Melbourne – Canberra-Sydney-Newcastle-Brisbane so why not do that?

Australia has a steel industry, we have the ability to manufacture rolling stock and both of those PLUS the running of the train station, ticketing and transport hub would provide jobs and growth so why aren’t we talking about that I wonder?

So back to my ute drivers that spew out abuse as they pass slowly by, held up by traffic lights, congestion and protocol.

I don’t expect everyone to have the same view as me and to reach the same conclusions but I do hope that at least some of the ute driving tradies can stop for a moment and consider that maybe a few of us have walked in their boots before and can see another way. ¬†It isn’t all that radical when you think about it.