Aug 30, 2011

The return of protectionism: the gang’s all here

Protectionism is alive and well and has strong allies in the public policy arena.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The successful economic reform project of the last 30 years stands at an important juncture. A key component, free trade, is under increasing pressure from organized labour, the balance of power party and conservatives, and all that stands in the way is a minority government.

I suggested a fortnight ago that in their obsession with securing power, the Coalition had “defected” from the consensus of the last 30 years, abandoning the rules by which the political game had been played in Australia, give or take the occasional breach by both sides, since 1983. Events since then have only reinforced that perception.

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50 thoughts on “The return of protectionism: the gang’s all here

  1. Bellistner

    And just the other day, Abbott came out and all but admitted that he’d bring back Workchoices MkII.

  2. Jimmy

    When will true liberals realise that Abbott is not the man they need and if he wins the next election his complete lack of economic management and his ridiciulous magic pudding promises will cause the liberal party irrepairable harm.

  3. Holden Back

    You missed Sharman Stone complain about inequitable rules for acquiring property for Australians and New Zealanders in each other’s country.

    No, really.

  4. John Newton

    Fee Trade Bernard – you mean like NAFTA? You mean like American farm subsidies? Why not Fair Trade?

    And as for New Zealand apples, when the WTO ignores environmental protection, I really do think we should tell them to go jump.

    Read Raj Patel’s Stuffed and Starved for some interesting information on that benevolent organisation the WTO.

  5. Michael

    The only way to save Manufacturing.

  6. Gavin Moodie

    Of course Crikey has its own advocates of protectionism in Margaret Simons and today’s anonymous editorialiser, this time to protect ‘quality’ print journalism which is apparently crucial to support Australian democracy, presumably in the same way that Athenian democracy depended on quality papyrus journalism.

    US farm subsidies are destroying US agriculture just as much as European Union agricultural subsidies are ensuring that European agriculture remains permanently crippled. The World Trade Organisation doesn’t ignore quarantine protection but it does ignore trade protection using excessively protective quarantine conditions.

  7. Scott

    Are people forgetting what Productivity is? It’s just GDP/labour hour. So if your labour hours are growing faster than GDP, productivity will drop.
    Over the years than Workchoices were in (2006 – 2008), monthly hours worked grew faster (at 0.28%) than monthly GDP growth (0.24%). So of course, productivity suffered. But more hours worked is not a bad thing, especially for those that now have some income.
    The 2 years before (2004 – 2005), monthly GDP grew at the same rate (0.17%) as monthly hours growth (0.17%).
    The 2 years since (2008-2010), monthly GDP has grown at a higher rate (0.1%) than monthly hours (0.04%).
    Productivity is not the be all and end all. It doesn’t tell the full story. It’s important, but I would argue that job creation is more important. Job creation turns into higher GDP/capita (i.e Standard of living) whereas productivity sometimes does not.

  8. Mark Duffett

    So what did drive productivity growth in the 1970s? Capital investment and technological innovation?

  9. [email protected]

    You can’t have any sort of productivity increase without a job to increase the productivity of. Mining employs less than Manufacturing. Therefore, to increase the nation’s productivity we need to keep creating the Manufacturing jobs of the future as the old ones wither and die on the vine.

  10. Jimmy

    [email protected] That is completely true (although you could probably just say “jobs of the future” rather than “manufacturing jobs of the future”) and the MRRT package and the Carbon Tax package both seem to provide the opportunity to do just that.

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