From those of us who long lamented the waste of taxpayer dollars propping up the automotive industry, it's time to declare "come back, all is forgiven". Perhaps it's not too late to throw a few billion at Detroit and Tokyo to get them to stay because, compared to its replacement, automotive protectionism was bargain basement stuff.
In unveiling its Naval Shipbuilding Plan today, the government gave some hard numbers to the cost of propping up Australia's uncompetitive naval construction sector and the diminishing number of Liberal-held seats in South Australia. And they're horrific. To build a succession of frigates, patrol boats, submarines and smaller naval craft in Australian shipyards in coming decades, the government has committed to spend at least $195 billion, not merely on building the vessels, but in upgrading shipyard infrastructure to handle the task (the cost of maintaining the vessels is a whole, and much larger, separate bucket of money). The big-ticket items are the $50 billion submarine contract and the $35 billion future frigates project, both of which will be built in Adelaide, although the future frigates project still awaits a decision on a successful tenderer.