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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

a global economy « Previous | |Next »
January 21, 2012

Australia is part of the global economy. Quarry Australia, for instance, is dependent on Chinese demand for raw materials for its economic growth and it has to live with Chinese forms investing in Australia's digital economy. Though Australians are happy to invest in property overseas--the cottage in southern France--they are uneasy about Asians buying property in Australia--despite the existence of Chinatown in most state capitols.


If we dig a little deeper we uncover the bedrock of racism: it's okay for Americans to buy the farm but not the Chinese embodied in the Spooner cartoon. This refers back to the colonial past before Federation in 1901 with Frederick McCubbin's Down on His Luck (1889), which depicts an unlucky gold prospector contemplating his future as he sits by a small campfire in the Australian bush. The gold prospector stands for the national character.

This was at a time when most miners worked for the big companies that increasingly controlled the mining industry, rather than for themselves, and secondly Chinese miners were not welcome in the Australian goldfields.

Many Chinese miners had initially landed in Robe, in South Australia and then made the long trek on foot to the goldfields of Victoria or New South Wales. Unlike the majority of immigrants who came seeking their fortune on the goldfields, the Chinese were greeted with fear and suspicion from the white miners.

Chinese miners were frequently harassed and attacked, but this violent resentment came to a head in the Lambing Flat Riots of 1861 and the Clunes Riot of 1873. Just after we in 1901 we have the 'White Australia' policy.

The white underpinnings of Australian nationalism runs deep like an underground river. Until the 1970s, Australian immigration policy ensured that non-white ‘undesirables’ would be prevented from migrating to Australia. It basically constructs a white fortress in an Anglo-American empire.; a construct that surfaces with the conservative's hostility to asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat.

The emergence of multiculturalism in the 1970s meant the construction of a different kind of Australian nationalism that was more open to the world. This openness was reinforced by the emergence of the internet and broadband, which allowed Australians to surf the world and their favourite overseas newspapers online.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:14 PM | | Comments (13)


Not entirely. My response when the Japanese started buying in big in the eighties was, we exchanging one set of masters for another.
I doubt whether you'll convince most Australians that TNC's or bureacratic statist equivalents buying in too big and influencing local decision making for communities here, as with gas fracking and mining.
Going to the nub of it, The AUSFTA is a working example neolib, favourable to outside capital and big corporations, even imperialist overtones. This is how the Brits got a toe hold in India in the eighteenth century and China in the nineteenth. And how the USA operated as per Iraq; "protecting our interests".

racism has subsided since the 1960s but it is still emerges here and there--especially around Muslims and Islam in Australia. Many see Islam as waging a war on the West and attacking Christians.

This sort of reverse racism seems to me another instance of "cultural cringe".

Aren't we saying that because we are only miserable second-rate colonials we don't have any right to limit foreign interference with our affairs? Are we are fated to be the deferential instruments of whoever has a pocketful of investment money at any given time?

we don't have problems with American investment--eg., the car companies. It is welcomed. There should be more of it is the general consensus.

You cannot say the same about the Australian reaction to Chinese investment

Peter S. Stock, speak for yourself. I worry just as much about US investment - or Toyota investment - as about Chinese.

Not that I'm opposed to all foreign investment; I'm not. But I suspect there is a difference between investing in a car plant and buying natural resources. A car plant can be built anywhere if you you have the money to build it. An iron or coal or other mineral deposit is where it is. An investment of money can't create a mine where there are no minerals.

the world of the 1890s is very different to that of 2012. Australia became an open economy in the 1980s--under WTO rules that means increased capital and labor flows.

Many of the mining companies in Australia are global and foreign owned, eg., BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.

The spin from the manufacturing industry is that once Quarry Australia runs its course as it will, then we need manufacturing to plug the gap/hole to ensure economic growth.

Therefore federal and state govts need to subsidize the car industry because that industry is the core of manufacturing. Its mass production provides the skills and innovations that spreads out to other sectors of manufacturing.

It's an old argument that ignores the emergence of a digital economy. Australia is becoming an information economy with the investment in the national broadband network.

The information economy? I thought that label for groundless optimism died in 2008 - if it hadn't already died in the dot-com collapse of 2001. Read "The Roaring Nineties" (Stiglitz) and "After the New Economy" (Henwood) again.

Google, Facebook, the games industry, e-Bay, animation, software etc died in 2008?

Doug Henwood's 'After the New Economy' refers to an unprecedented technological and organizational revolution was ushering in an era of rapid productivity growth and had extinguished the threat of recession forever. Mass participation in the stock market would transform workers into owners, ideas would become the motors of economic life, and globalization would render national borders obsolete.

This refers to 1990's American rhetoric by techno-utopians or what Alan Greenspan called the "irrational exuberance" of the '90s---ie., touting the perfection of the unfettered market.

I keep on reading newspaper headlines about how the retail industry is doing it tough because of the internet--ie., people buying online overseas. I also read that the business model of newspapers collapsed because their "rivers of gold' have moved online? That is the digital economy of 2012.

Joseph E. Stiglitz's book, The Roaring Nineties: A New History of the World's Most Prosperous Decade, offers a coherent critique of the policies of financial liberalization pursued by Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and William Jefferson Clinton.

It links these to the economic excesses that culminated in the Enron, Worldcom and Tyco scandals and in the collapse of the bubble economy.

He argues that by surrendering to the tyranny of the financial markets, the Clinton Administration sacrificed its social agenda on the altar of a false god, the balanced budget. The core argument is that financial deregulation and deficit reduction were counterproductive.

What has this to do with the emergence of an information/digital economy in Australia from government investment in the infrastructure of the national broadband network ?

most people don't understand how high speed broad band to the premises is changing how we do things.

Alan Kohler gives a little, but telling example, of the digital economy in his The endless, futile war on digital dealing at The Drum:

Netflix, the US movie streaming subscription service, has 20 million customers at $US7.99 a month. Apparently this service on its own accounts for about 25 per cent all American internet traffic (although BitTorrent traffic accounts for more).

Netflix does not operate in Australia, but Quickflix is now getting about 10 per cent of its revenue from streaming movies over the internet rather than posting DVDs. It has 120,000 subscribers and is targeting 1 million by 2016 when it expects to be mostly streaming the videos.

The TV is increasingly being linked to the internet and you will be able to download movies directly.

That means using bit torrent peer-to-peer protocol --Murdoch ain't too happy about that.

Gary Sauer-Thompson, try the index under "New Economy".

And when Nan downloads movies, she will only be able to download movies controlled by foreign copyright holders - see this article on the AFACT case: