Tuesday, June 21, 2005


For Sale: Australia - Crazy knock down prices

Tiring now of the internecine squabbling that’s occurring in the Victorian ALP, The City scans the horizon to see what other muck we can uncover. What other skankiness we can sniff out. And it doesn’t take long. There’s an outrage lurking in every newspaper every day that needs to be exposed to the air and sunlight.

Today’s story though is one of sad and bitter regret, as the breathing gets fainter and the pulse weaker in Australia’s Information Technology Industry. There was once a time when we thought we could, cowboy style, leap at full gallop from the sheep’s back, onto the IT gravy train and ride prosperously into the sunset.

Sadly no more, for as The Age reports, we’re buggered.

The news gets worse each year. Again the Australian Computer Society has released its annual report on the national information and communications technology trade deficit and again we have gone backwards.

Last year Australia imported $19 billion more in ICT goods and services than it exported. Over the past three years, imports have gone up by nearly 20 per cent and exports have gone down by 10 per cent. Over the past five years, we have imported about $90 million more in ICT equipment and services than we have exported.

To put this in perspective, our ICT trade deficit is higher than our total exports of iron ore, beef and wheat combined. Australia's overall trade deficit is at record levels, exceeding $25 billion last year. ICT makes up just about all of that and the proportion is increasing.

Did you get that last para? The hard work of all of our wheat farmers, our beef farmers, and those millions of tons of Iron ore that we dig up each year, still doesn’t pay for all that electronic gadgetry that we buy from overseas.

Contrast that with Malaysia, a country of similar population, (and yes admittedly shocking and rude manners when it comes to diplomacy), who earned something in the order of $55 Billion in export in this industry.

As The Age says:

You would think this would be front-page news. But our political masters are not concerned. Their attitude is that we gain more from our use of ICT than we lose from paying so much to import it.

This is not just a problem in IT though. Back in February the Age noted
Local manufacturing output has risen by an underwhelming 6 per cent in three years, while manufactured imports have risen 48 per cent. Even countries such as Japan and Germany have had export volumes grow by 21 and 28 per cent respectively in the past three years, while Australia's has grown by just 1 per

Yet all Mr. Costello seemed to be able to do when Australia’s trade deficit hit
its highest ever back in March, is to whinge about the states, and that because of their poor planning and lack of investment in infrastructure, we couldn’t ship coal to China fast enough. As though that was the solution!

Yeah right on Mr. Costello, and now that you’ve managed to swing your deal with the States, and they’ve given you want you wanted on GST tax reform – where are you? No more whinging about infrastructure we notice, and why? ‘Cause the pressure’s off. We’ve all moved on to something else.

Meanwhile, more and more jobs get exported overseas, and you have no plan to nuture our industries of the future. That’s the real problem, and what are you doing about it? Nothing!

Use your noodle Mr. Costello. Bring back Noodle Nation. It’s available in a remainders bin near you.

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