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PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES by Greece of constant contraction of the economy and reduction in fundamental demand levels. The cost of health care in the United States is 17 per cent of GDP; still, 60 million Americans are not covered. In Australia, the government spends around nine per cent of GDP on health care and complains that it wants to make more cuts in the four coming years. We cannot desert the sick and dying. In the days of Prime Minister Menzies, our debts were around 40 per cent of GDP, which would still only make us 60 per cent or the OECD average. We need to use this ability we have to generate more capital and more demand, to push our economy to even greater heights than it is at today. We must do whatever is needed to be done to fix health once and for all. The Australian government is the main petitioner of bankruptcy and company liquidations across Australia. As companies close, employees lose their jobs, the government loses group tax, people are transferred from gainful employment to Centrelink, company taxes are destroyed and services spiral down. Government must stop driving businesses to the wall. We must keep the system going to keep people employed productively. Transferring people from gainful employment to unemployment just guarantees misery. We need a chapter 11, like they have in the United States, where, when companies fail, the business continues—so families keep their jobs, government keeps their taxes and the nation keeps its exports. As has been said, ignorance and illiteracy, unskilled workers and school dropouts are the failures of an education system in the past that bred failures in our social and economic system, such as delinquency, unemployment, chronic dependency, a waste of human resources, loss of productive power and purchasing power, and an increase in tax-supported benefits. The loss of only one year’s income due to unemployment is more than the total cost of education to high school level over 12 years. Failure to improve our educational performance is not only poor social policy; it is poor economic policy. At this time, we need to invest—and the government has not done enough of that in this budget—in ourselves. If we do not have confidence in ourselves, who will have confidence in us? We must educate our children, as our most valuable resource. The problems that have been made by Australians can be solved by Australians as well, so we need to attack the issue of confidence to show leadership and vision for this country. We need to support regional Australia. The government had a great opportunity to introduce regional zonal taxation but missed it with this budget. Japan has become the world’s third largest economy by processing Australian resources. The cost of energy in Japan is more expensive. Japan suffers from the tyranny of distance and its wages are higher; yet Australia sells its mineral resources at $40 to $100 a tonne to Japan, they process it and sell it for $20,000, creating exports for and an economic powerhouse of Japan, while Australians in South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland, and even Western Australia, go without any hope for themselves. Minerals from Western Australia and Queensland should be processed in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania or elsewhere in Australia. Let Australians do what they do best, using our natural advantages in the world so that we can provide real competition on a massive scale. No longer should we give up the future of our children in this country or the opportunities that we have to countries in Asia and others north of us. Some of those resources can be processed in this country. Because of the high cost of establishing plants like this—$6 billion or $7 billion or more— the Japanese, Chinese and Korean governments have learnt that it requires government leadership and innovation to make this happen. Yet our government has done nothing in this area for over 30 years and we have lost these opportunities in Asia. We see declining unemployment in places like Tasmania and other places. We would have to grasp the nettle and realise that there is a real opportunity in the future to process our resources in this country, to return Australia to a large, highly skilled technological manufacture base. This is an opportunity that could have been addressed in this budget, as could the chapter 11 provisions, which were not. They are opportunities lost and forgotten for Australians, and I think it is a matter of great regret. We can only look to the future and hope the government in next year’s budget will look at some of these things that they could have done today. The Last Sentry at the Gate: Clive Palmer & the 44th Parliament of Australia 111


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