Australia remained a British territory until 1948, when the Australian Citizenship Act converted the Aussie from British subject to Australian citizen. Yet, the Queen of Britain remains Australia’s head-of-state, represented in Australia by the Governor-General and State Governors.
When Prime Minister Chifley placed his nation under US suzerainty, the ownership and control of Australia’s principal enterprises and rural properties by British and other foreign interests was increased substantially by US investors.
Thus, Australia became industrialised rather suddenly without going through the normal incremental changes. That the output by the US enterprises was limited primarily to the Australian market did not delay the higher standard of living which resulted. From my time in the Balance of Payments Branch of the Bureau of Statistics, I came to realise that it is a continuing foreign capital inflow which enables the nation to survive, and for us citizens to eat as well as we do.
Donald Horne was correct when he published ‘The lucky country’ in the early 1960s. But, why not credit God’s Will as the cause of our full bellies?
Is it not God’s Will that has now brought the formerly-feared ‘yellow hordes of the North’ to Australia, with deep pockets filled with cash, to buy up all manner of our nation’s assets? As well, how is it that we are able to grow a very thirsty crop like cotton, when the river which feeds this production is seemingly drying up at its mouth?
But is it God’s Will that we should compete with poor countries everywhere which rely on their cash crops for survival? While their former colonial masters are reportedly ‘screwing’ them as buyers of these rural products, do we need to compete with these poverty-stricken growers in producing tropical fruits? Are we capable of producing industrial goods for export, as Sweden does?
Ironically, Australia is reportedly also being ‘screwed’ by powerful foreign interests through their taxation arrangements; we are lethargic in capturing what is our due. Then there is the feat (enabled by concessions in our taxation regime?) which results in the taxable incomes of major enterprises operating in Australia to be a small fraction of their total incomes. As well, as the big-end-of-town political party seeks to have the company tax rate reduced, reportedly some companies pay no tax, others pay little tax, and none of the big ones pay the maximum rate of 30%.
The underlying logic is that, in these ‘exiting times,’ all of our major corporations will rush out to ’create wealth’ by increasing employment as soon as their tax rate is reduced. In the thicket of economic theories, most of which are good at forecasting only the past, this thistle will not take root.
Where do we go from here? That depends on whether our federal parliamentary reps can be shocked into accepting the adage ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ as a war cry, rather than rely on God’s Will; and on foreigners buying up the nation.