The canary has fallen off the perch and our elected representatives are about to light a match.
The Herald Sun’s ‘Voteline’ poll on the 20th February asked the following question:
‘Should immigration be cut to protect local jobs?’
Out of a total of 2,948 votes, a resounding 88.7% said ‘yes’, a paltry 11.3% said ‘no’.
With the economy in a downward spiral it is perhaps understandable that such an overwhelming majority of people would feel that their jobs were threatened by allowing more migrants into the country.
By the same token, if this question were asked when the economy was booming, the response would most likely be the same. But that’s a whole other topic for discussion.
Agitate wonders what sort of response the Herald Sun would elicit from its readers if it asked the following questions –
‘Are you concerned that the pending Australia-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will cost Australian jobs?’ and
‘Were you aware that the Australia-Thailand FTA has resulted in the decimation of Australia’s car component manufacturing industry and with it thousands of Australian jobs?’
The majority would probably answer ‘no’ to both questions. But in reality, the Australia-Thailand and China FTA’s are bigger threats to Australian jobs than migrants are.
There was yet more evidence last week of the unintended consequences of FTA’s.
The receivers for Nylex were calling for expressions of interest in the purchase of Nylex businesses.
Prominent amongst these businesses were the following –
Melded Fabrics – manufacturers of a large range of quality non-woven fabrics, trims, carpet tiles for the commercial, marine and automotive markets
Fuel Tanks – manufacturers of plastic fuel tanks for major car manufacturers
Exacto Plastics – manufacturers of internal and external components for motor vehicles such as interior trim, wheel hub liners and brackets for air conditioning
Kennon – manufacturers of moulded carpets, boot lining components and foot mats that are supplied to the automotive industry.
It could be argued that given the attempt to sell the businesses as going concerns, the argument that the Australia-Thailand FTA is responsible for Nylex’s demise is incorrect.
If that turns out to be the case, then Agitate! will welcome such an outcome. However, there is little doubt that the Australia-Thailand FTA has played a part not only in Nylex going broke, but also a host of other car component manufacturing businesses.
For those unaware of the Australia-Thailand FTA, Thailand’s car component manufacturers have been given unfettered access to the Australian market. The consequences of this have been disastrous for the Australian industry.
With all the evidence that is beginning to mount, the government remains committed to fast tracking an FTA with China. And guess which industry the Chinese want access to?
That’s right, you guessed it, the car industry. The same industry that needs a $6 billion bail out from the taxpayer.
Agitate! has previously pointed out that it supports free trade and the many benefits that come with it. However, Agitate! is also concerned about the economic madness of giving $6 billion in taxpayers money to the sclerotic car industry while at the same time opening it up to competition from a country that enjoys lower labour and capital costs and comparatively little regulation.
What is currently happening to the car components industry as a result of the Australia-Thailand FTA ought to be the canary in the coal mine when it comes to FTA’s. However, our elected representatives seem to have already been overcome by the gas, but not before lighting a match in the form of the Australia-China FTA.