GREG RAY: From grizzles to grub

ANYBODY else get annoyed when they hear the mining companies whinge about how Australia is becoming uncompetitive?

As if it’s your fault, or my fault.

As if it’s the fault of mine workers for getting paid a decent wage.

I will be the first person to put my hand up and say that mining investment is a good thing.

But like any good thing, just because a bit of it is good doesn’t mean more is always better.

Some really good things are poisons in overdose.

You can have too much of a good thing, and that includes mining.

Why are wages high in mining? Because the companies were fighting tooth and nail for labour and they bid it high.

They pinched trained workers from wherever they could and they offered high pay to get them.

The mining companies say Australia is uncompetitive because of its high dollar.

Well, who did that?

Most of the reason can be sheeted home to finance capitalists and bankers in Europe and the USA who ruined the economies of their host countries in their quest for new ways to suck profits out of anything with a pulse.

The deflation of asset bubbles and the aftermath of the first round of the global financial crisis has led to governments – too chicken to make the bankers pay for their own criminal actions – frantically printing money.

As they devalue their currencies in a mad race to the bottom (old debts will be repaid in cheaper future dollars with a much smaller buying power) Australia and little countries like us are left sitting like shags on their respective rocks.

The mining companies say that investments are being put on ice because other projects, in other parts of the world, are coming on line.

Oh. Derrr. So now cyclical booms and busts in mining are our fault too? 

No, actually they happen because when it becomes apparent that there’s good profits in mining at a certain point, everybody tries to jump on board. 

The early entrants make big bucks but by the time everybody else gets their mines up and running the boom has peaked and you get oversupply. 

It’s been happening since Adam was a boy.

Now the mining companies say the only answer for Australia is to cut wages, slash regulation and cut taxes. Wrong again.

Look around the world and see what the exact same mining companies that operate here in our backyards will do if you let them dictate wages, taxes and environmental regulations.

 Think about that for a few seconds, if you are willing to see the truth.

The government stuffed up big time when it chickened out of a super profits tax on mining. Now it’s too late, and the runaway boom has helped gut many of our other industries.

The right answer is to find ways to rebuild that broader economy. Don’t worry about the miners. Their day will come again. We can’t afford to compromise any further to accommodate them

Australia should be trying every trick in the book to stimulate non-mining sectors. One way is to use our immense energy reserves to give our home-grown industries a competitive advantage and help them create jobs.

The world is getting hungry and Australia can provide food. But let’s own the businesses and keep the profits here this time.

The government is being urged by some to forget about its promise to boost mandatory superannuation contributions. Maybe that’s a good idea. 

People have put the brakes on spending because they are worried about their jobs and squeezed by rising prices. 

Do something about jobs, do something about prices.

But just don’t cave in to the mining companies again.