Tony Abbott’s Liberals triggered a minor controversy during Parliament’s first week back, when a party discussion paper on developing Northern Australia was leaked to the media. The paper discussed a free market approach to developing the Top End, by creating a Special Economic Zone with lower taxes and less regulation, to attract “capital” to invest there for profit. The kernel of the idea is similar to the call Gina Rinehart issued last year for a Special Economic Zone, to include lower wages for migrant workers. Labor’s response wasn’t to ridicule the obvious oxymoron of free market development, because they are free market zombies too; instead, they attacked the idea of building infrastructure in the north, pooh-poohing it as “white elephants” and “gold-plating”. Spooked by the controversy, the spineless Liberals disowned their discussion paper immediately.
Following is an example of a vision to develop Australia that is not chained to free market lunacy or political cowardice. It is excerpted from the CEC’s 1999 pamphlet, From the First Fleet to the Year 2000: The fight for an Australian Republic:
Dr. J.J.C. Bradfield: “Australia needs vision”
Dr. J.J.C. Bradfield, the engineer who designed the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Bradfield Scheme, exemplified the nation-building optimism of Australian patriots during the war. Compare Bradfield’s bold vision of Australia’s future—and its freedom from domination by the City of London—from Rydge’s Magazine of 1 October 1941 (p. 586), to what has happened to our nation since.
“To populate and develop Australia, we must spend money to make money. The money spent would all be for labour and materials of Australian origin. Australia has 2,000 million acres of land of which under 10 per cent are alienated. An expenditure of 5 shillings per acre or 500 million pounds, in well thought out schemes throughout Australia during the next 40 years would greatly increase the value of our heritage, and add the population we need to hold what we have. To do this we should endeavour to have a population of 40 millions say 50 years hence . We must plan how to get these millions; closer settlement and common sense in developing our primary and secondary industries will induce people to come here. Australia eventually should easily accommodate 90 million people, 30 per square mile.
“Europe has a population of 121 people per square mile, Belgium has 698 per square mile, the United Kingdom 506, Italy 339, Germany 352 and Russia 58 per square mile. Asia has a population of 73 per square mile, Japan 398 per square mile, China and India 200. Africa’s population is 13 per square mile, North and Central America 21, South America 13 and Australia 2.3…
“Australia needs to adopt a long range constructive policy to develop, populate and defend itself.
“Australia must control her own economic independence, not London. A rejuvenated inland, creating employment and settling a population in comfortable circumstances would be one part of such a long range policy.
“The nation without vision perishes, but the heart and mind of any vigorous people responds to the dreams of its national destiny and will endeavour to make full use of its heritage. We can hold the Commonwealth only by effective occupation.
“We must make no mean plans for our future development, for mean plans have no magic to stir any man’s blood or awaken enthusiasm in any one. The cost of the major works should be financed by the Commonwealth without interest, as Australia would be spending money to increase its wealth…
“WHITHER AWAY AUSTRALIA?: By a bold progressive policy of national development rejuvenate our arid lands; provide hydro-electric power for industrial purposes; open up our vast territory by highways, aviation ways and railways; house our people in healthy surroundings; manufacture our primary products into the goods we require; populate, develop and defend Australia; be a free and vigorous people keeping our place in the sun by our individualism?
“WHITHER AWAY AUSTRALIA: Let matters drift, do nothing, depend on other countries and nations, watch our fertile soil be eroded by the wind, and our arid inland become more arid, and probably become 50 years hence or less maybe, the helots of nations who now are made to subordinate themselves body and soul to an all devouring State because we cannot defend ourselves?”
Citizens Electoral Council leader Craig Isherwood reiterated today, “The CEC is committed to reviving Dr. Bradfield’s patriotic vision.”
He emphasised three steps Australia must take to reverse the decades of economic destruction caused by free trade and green fascism:
- A Glass-Steagall banking separation, to reorganise the present, bankrupt financial system, which is incapable of the long-term investments needed to develop Australia;
- A national bank, to direct public credit into long-term infrastructure investments;
- A national program of infrastructure development, including water projects such as the Bradfield Scheme to develop Northern Australia into a food bowl capable of feeding hundreds of millions of people.