BHP’s medium-term economic forecast means Australia’s extraordinary run of good economic fortune should continue for long enough to pay for investment in the post-resources boom future – if we’re smart enough to make it.

That basically means education and infrastructure, with greenhouse issues effectively a subset of infrastructure. They also happen to be the issues the next election should be fought on, although the coalition will prefer its “good economic management” mantra plus a probable scare campaign about superannuation.

The scorecard on the real issues remains poor, whichever way the numbers are fiddled. On infrastructure, there’s already a great visual example of missed opportunity off the port of Newcastle and it’s about to get much worse. Lloyd’s List reports a flood of new vessels will arrive off the Hunter coast in the next fortnight, pushing waiting times out towards four weeks.

That’s many, many millions of dollars in demurrage costs and lost opportunity.

On the education front, the statistics can be sliced and diced any number of ways, but the bottom line remains that we’re falling behind the OECD pack on just about every facet – making Julie Bishop’s recycled whinge about school accountability and such not much more than a distraction.

The more Julie talks, the more she sounds like she could go the way of another conservative Ms Bishop.

Peter Fray

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