Globalisation — At what price?

Andrew Phillips discusses the implications of globalisation for Australia and the negative effects of so-called “free trade” agreements.

For decades, Australia has had governments of various hues continuing to pursue the goal of closer interaction with our neighbours.

The advocates of economic rationalist dogma and those besotted with the dream of a Global Village claim that globalisation, or the “New World Order” is inevitable and if we wish to trade in the Global Community, then we’d better get used to it.

Of course, our nation’s producers need to trade and only a fool would think otherwise, but at what price? What costs must the Australian nation be willing to pay in order to engage in commercial activity with our neighbours?

With the rise of independence in many Asian nations following WW2, the ground rules for trade had started to change and Australia’s leaders would have become more acutely aware of our position of being one of the few nations in the region inhabited by a majority White population.

As an attempt to reach out to our newly independent and developing neighbours, Australia introduced the “Colombo Plan” which allowed students to come in from Asian countries to gain education and skills to take back to their own lands in order to help the development of their own people.

Certainly a noble and altruistic move. Unfortunately this appears to have been merely the first step towards enmeshing our nation’s future with a diverse, turbulent and culturally alien region for the elusive goal of financial gain for a mere few.

Many readers may well be aware of the infamous 1975 Lima Declaration which is regarded by many as the blueprint for the campaign towards globalisation.

This document called for a raft of measures guaranteed to ensure the transfer of financial and technical resources as well as capital from the developed nations to those of the developing world.

The Lima Declaration also called for the elimination of tariffs for the expressed purpose of facilitating the increased export of manufactured goods and agricultural from developing countries to the developed world.

It is plain for all to see that this philosophy is not interested in ensuring a system of free and fair trade for all world producers. It is clearly a one-sided agreement to facilitate the transfer of wealth, technology and employment from countries such as Australia, the US and Europe to Asia, Central America and Africa!

Coupled with the push by both Paul Keating’s Labor government and John Howard’s Coalition government, and now that of pro-China Kevin Rudd, it is not too difficult to see the future of Australian manufacturers and farmers in such an environment.

Australians continue to be told that Free Trade Agreements will ensure increased access to ever more people around the world, thereby consolidating the position of our local industries and producers.

Not only will Australian workers produce for the local market, but apparently 1 billion Chinese are clamouring for our products as well.

Speaking from personal experience, I know this is not so. Employed by a so-called “Australian Icon” in the past, we were assured that provided we accepted a loss in conditions with every “workplace agreement” – and worked harder, smarter, with more flexibility – our company would be a world player.

The company became a world player alright – it seemed every 6 months department after department shut down and moved off to China, with Australian workers being forced to look for work in other sectors.

The last report I heard, the company was paying out quite decent dividends to shareholders and its vast property in Adelaide was a holding shed for imported products bearing its logo (which incidentally has been changed to no longer include the Australian flag).

It is little consolation to know that our counterparts in countries such as Canada suffer the same situation. With the signing of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), the Canadians were promised unfettered entry into the enormous US market. Unfortunately for the trusting Canadians, the agreement left them with a net loss of over 200,000 jobs.

Of greatest concern at the present time is the looming prospect of a Free Trade Agreement between Australia and Communist China.

Naturally the prospect of having access to a population of 1.3 billion Chinese with a ravenous appetite is enough to excite the imagination of any poor struggling farmer currently pushed to the wall by the retail cartel that is Coles and Woolworths.

Unfortunately in this case, Aussie producers have been misled and betrayed.

Australian Farm Institute Director Mick Keogh is on record as saying “China’s labour intensive agricultural commodities such as horticulture, intensive livestock and vegetable production appear likely to expand and will provide increased competition in the markets of developed countries”.

Even before the signing of an FTA with Communist China, Australia’s trade with that country is currently showing a $5 billion surplus, in China’s favour.

Our nation has lost a reported 11,000 farmers in the last decade, many of those that remain have their backs to the wall and official government reports have shown one farmer takes his own life every week.

What will be the situation once the details of an FTA have been nutted out and the ink is dry?

A Free Trade Agreement will not aid our nation’s rural producers or the surrounding communities they support. An investigation by the Greens Party showed that the vast majority of so-called locally packaged frozen vegetables contain almost 100% imported content – mostly originating from China. In one variety marketed by Simplot it is reported that of the 9 vegetables in the mix, only the cauliflower stalks were sourced from Australian producers, with the florets being tossed into the fields to feed stock.

There is indeed a simplistic view held towards the benefits of FTAs by those advocating the global village.

They claim that tariff reductions, open markets and unfettered immigration result in increased sales of commodities, but during the period of the Clinton Administration tariffs were maintained on the imports of Australian lamb, yet this period saw lamb exports to the US rise from $149 million to $184 million in one year alone!

In the wake of China’s increasing penchant for the aggressive takeovers of Australian mining companies, they have also expressed an interest in buying up Australian farmland.

However, this apparently comes at a price. A senior trade official, Xie Guoli has stated that “Australia and China have a basis for long term agricultural co operation, since Australia is rich in land and China is rich in labour. But developing such a relationship will depend substantially on Australia’s policy on importing labour”.

In 2006, Australian Trade Minister Warren Truss and Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai agreed that both sides will continue talks on how best to eliminate existing barriers to investment (Advertiser, 15 November 2006).

This sentiment has been further pursued by Simon Crean who, through begging, has convinced China to begin the final talks for the FTA, citing the recent furor over China’s aggressive takeovers of Australian mining companies as a reason to liberalise restrictions on foreign investment.

However, one has to admire to a certain degree China’s stoic determination and predatory nature in the world of business.

Not willing to be discouraged by the wait for an FTA guaranteeing them a takeover free for all, the Chinese have put forward a proposal whereby “billions of billions of dollars” (Frank Xu, the head of mergers and acquisitions at China International Capital Corporation) of funding from Chinese mineral companies will be pooled in an investment fund to be administered by local “professional fund managers” (thus putting an Australian face to a Chinese body) for the purpose of acquiring a stake in Australian mining operations and circumventing current investment restrictions.

“Billions of billions of dollars” is an interesting figure, considering under the proposed investment changes in the FTA, China would be permitted to pump in up to a billion dollars before requiring approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.

The prospect of an Australian economy heavily reliant on Chinese investment and under Chinese control does little to ease the mind.

With the Chinese reputation for corruption and bribery in business and legal proceedings, scant regard for health, safety and environmental regulations and a voracious appetite for consuming the resources of others, such a move is clearly not as appealing as the rosy picture painted by advocates for a Global Village .

Of course, the advocates of FTAs continue to say there will be concessions on the part of our Asian neighbours in any agreement.

The recent negotiations for an FTA with Indonesia are a fine example, with Indonesia suddenly applying a 10% tariff on Australian wheat flour products as discussions begin. One can only assume by the timing that Indonesia has done this so they have something to offer Australia in return for opening our borders to cheap products and imported labour.

The process to enmesh our nation in the Global Community and transfer control of our productivity, resources and national sovereignty has been a long and continuous process experiencing few setbacks.

Australians are continually told there are great financial advantages to be won by selling our birthright, by trusting our leaders who seem more focused on winning approval from big business and internationalist organisations than representing the best interests of future generations of Australians.

Our parliament sees no problem in opening the borders to imported labour (indeed, it seems this is part of any FTA worth its salt), no problem with manufacturers ceasing operations and moving overseas, no problem with Australians consuming imported food produced under dubious conditions while Australian farmers who have produced quality healthy food for generations are forced to walk off their farms.

The Labor Party in particular bears a great deal of culpability for this parlous state, despite their claim that they seek to represent the interests of ordinary working class Australians.

Sections of the Labor movement have displayed a long and undying infatuation with communist China, particularly since the Whitlam government’s recognition of communist China in 1972 . As stated by Rudd in a speech given to the Central Party School of the Chinese Communist Party on 1st July 2004:

Labor Prime Minister Whitlam extended diplomatic political recognition to the PRC, diplomatic recognition based on a firm commitment to the principles of the One China policy”. [Thus throwing aside the democratic Chinese government in Taiwan, in favour of the communist government on the Chinese mainland].

“During the 1980s, the Hawke Labor Government developed a closer relationship with China at multiple levels. It was during this period that Prime Minister Hawke and his Chinese counterparts brought about the first Chinese resource investment abroad – the Channar Iron Ore Mine in Western Australia. Back in the 1980s, Labor Prime Minister Hawke began outlining a long-term vision for the future of the Australia-China relationship based on the strongest levels of economic cooperation between the two countries.

This vision was sustained during the 1990s under Labor Prime Minister Keating who sought to deepen and broaden Australia’s bilateral relationship with China as well as enhance China’s multilateral engagement with the region through APEC.

Such expressions of undying love for China, coupled with Rudd’s support for an EU-style Asia Pacific Union can only reinforce our suspicions of any moves by these people for closer ties.

It is abundantly clear that time is running perilously short for those who love this country and are concerned for the future of its people. The time for in-fighting or leaving the fight to someone else is long past.

You can make a difference in small ways.

First, join and become active in a socially responsible pro-Australian political party.

At election time, only give these organizations your primary vote, leaving preferences to those like-minded candidates and putting internationalist parties last.

Support your local producers. Buy at the farmgate if possible or at markets, ensuring Aussie producers get the price they deserve and avoiding giving money to the cartel retailers such as Woolworths and Coles, who prefer to support foreign producers over our nation’s farmers.

If you can’t do this, shop at businesses who give preference to local producers.

Protecting Australia – it’s more than a philosophy, it’s a lifestyle.

Speak Your Mind