Industry policy, shmindustry policy

The Abbott Government has established a plethora of reviews covering a multitude of issues. Off the cuff they include Energy, Renewable Energy, Education, Defence, Competition, industry and yesterday we had a Green Paper on Agriculture released.  

Some of the reviews – that on Agriculture being a prime example – are nothing more than wish lists.  The agricultural green paper wants less regulation except where regulation might strengthen farmers’ hands: getting mining royalties, subsidising energy audits, bashing Coles and Woollies, concessional loans. The green paper also seeks expanded roles for the bureaucracy with counselling, debt mediation, and additional regulatory codes. 

Barnaby Joyce picked the best eyes out of it, giving a heads-up to Sid Maher  in which he identified 27 new dam prospects, an anathema to a bureaucracy with a thirty years of opposition to these. 

Last week’s release was the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. Its focus is on deregulation, skill formation and programs for skilled worker employment and investor immigration.  It restores the conventional and generally available R&D support that Labor took from major companies, and re-establishes incentives for employee shares ownership. 

The spending showpiece is $35 million a year for five new growth centres covering food and agribusiness; mining equipment, technology and services; oil, gas and energy resources; medical technologies and pharmaceuticals; and advanced manufacturing.

If this money is to be wasted it is at least an improvement on the $60 million a year for 10 “Industry Precincts” under the Gillard Government’s Australian Industry Participation Plan (AIPP).  AIPP was also to include a $378 million venture capital finance facility, tailor made, like the Industry Precincts, to be headed by socialist luminaries who would fritter away the money in vote-buying failures.

More insidiously, Labor’s AIPP also brought massive new red tape to force major project firms into high cost local sourcing and it embarked upon a new aggressive anti-dumping program designed to ferret out area where overseas suppliers are just too competitive.  Naturally, these aspects were greeted with warm applause from union chieftains, including Paul Howes, who saw it as a means of wresting back some of the jobs their cost-inducing industrial policies had destroyed.  Deloittes in its client advice struck a sober note, saying, “major project proponents should not underestimate the significance or resource commitment of being required to submit and report on an AIP Plan”

The famous five new growth centres identified by the Competitiveness Agenda appear to fit with general perceptions of ideal Australian development (though “advanced manufacturing” in spite of its evocative title seems to cover everything from robotics to “sustainable green processes”).  The problem is that the committees judging the beauty contests of worthy ideas and paying for them with Other People’s Money so often underperform and tend to be swayed by fads and political considerations.  And that outcome remains likely even though the Liberals generally avoid Labor’s policy of appointing political time-servers onto such committees. 

On a more positive note, the Competitiveness Agenda’s subsidy scheme is placed within a supportive framework that seeks to lower costs rather than increase them.  And Josh Frydenberg, the Parliamentary Secretary for deregulation has focussed attention on aspects of the policy that promote this.  He has claimed savings of $700 million a year with 10,000 regulations abolished from his first announced regulation cut.  In foreshadowing further cuts, he instances 140 pieces of legislation burdening the plastics industry.

Mr Frydenberg also said the government will avoid duplication and recognise overseas approvals for chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Such a process was recommended in a 2008 Productivity Commission report but its antecedentary reaches back into the 1980s, when, as head of the Office of Regulation Review, I made the same recommendation in two reports to government.  Nobody put a cogent case against this but political and bureaucratic interests ensured that, 25 years later, the same proposals emerge.   Time will tell if Josh Frydenberg has the clout to ensure his proposals are followed through. 

Time will also tell if all these reviews achieve mutually consistent outcomes.

 

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67 Responses to Industry policy, shmindustry policy

  1. Robert Crew

    “The agricultural green paper wants less regulation except where regulation might strengthen farmers’ hands”

    Isn’t that the standard mantra of the National Party: Socialism for me, but not for thee? This sort of thing always reminds me of Major Major’s father in Catch-22

    “Major Major’s father was a sober God-fearing man whose idea of a good joke was to lie about his age. He was a longlimbed farmer, a God-fearing, freedom-loving, law-abiding rugged individualist who held that federal aid to anyone but farmers was creeping socialism. He advocated thrift and hard work and disapproved of loose women who turned him down. His specialty was alfalfa, and he made a good thing out of not growing any. The government paid him well for every bushel of alfalfa he did not grow. The more alfalfa he did not grow, the more money the government gave him, and he spent every penny he didn’t earn on new land to increase the amount of alfalfa he did not produce. Major Major’s father worked without rest at not growing alfalfa. On long winter evenings he remained indoors and did not mend harness, and he sprang out of bed at the crack of noon every day just to make certain that the chores would not be done. He invested in land wisely and soon was not growing more alfalfa than any other man in the county. Neighbors sought him out for advice on all subjects, for he had made much money and was therefore wise. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” he counseled one and all, and everyone said, “Amen.”
    Major Major’s father was an outspoken champion of economy in government, provided it did not interfere with the sacred duty of government to pay farmers as much as they could get for all the alfalfa they produced that no one else wanted or for not producing any alfalfa at all. He was a proud and independent man who was opposed to unemployment insurance and never hesitated to whine, whimper, wheedle and extort for as much as he could get from whomever he could.”

  2. Steve

    “He has claimed savings of $700 million a year with 10,000 regulations abolished from his first announced regulation cut. In foreshadowing further cuts, he instances 140 pieces of legislation burdening the plastics industry.”
    10,000 regulations
    How did we ever expect to compete under the burden.
    Whole industries of grubs building empires to administer against the interests of the rest of us.

  3. struth

    We shall develop a paper on paper about paper development.
    The initial study of paper development will be developed on paper.
    This will help us to study the development of paper development on paper initially.
    The paper will be developed by the new bureaucracy on paper development and after a suitable initial development phase the department of paper development or D P D will develop strategies in an environmentally sustainable development phase………..on paper.

    Yep that’s how you get rid of red tape in 2014.t

  4. Pyrmonter

    Well, I hope Mr Joyce applies to these dams the cost benefit analysis techniques the government (rightly) says should have been applied to the NBN. If so, he may come up with rather fewer of them; while green messages may be the cover, the real reason most of these dams haven’t been built is that they’re no more viable than the Ord River nonsense, as to which Bert Kelly was right.

    http://economics.org.au/2011/06/bert-kelly-feels-a-dam-coming-on-at-each-election/

  5. Ant

    “…headed by socialist luminaries who would fritter away the money in vote-buying failures.”

    Well, no, the primary objective was to:
    a.) Line the socialist luminaries’ pockets.
    b.) Buy votes.
    Not necessarily in that order.

    In that respect, you’d have to say the rackets were relatively successful. By Labor standards, that is.

  6. Fibro

    Yep, lots of reviews, lots of white papers and nothing. Sounds like Jules and the crowd revisited really, just without the passion.

  7. struth

    Pyrmonter…..what planet are you on?
    I have taken many road train loads of produce out of the ord and they haven’t even used lake Argyle water yet.
    All of the areas massive output is due to just the small dam that created lake Kununurra.

  8. entropy

    I think that is the point, Struth. They haven’t used most of it yet. Mind you, if they waited for development to be ready before building argyle, the greenies would have stopped it. And we wouldn’t be talking about ord stage 2&3 now.

  9. .

    Dams are good, but it would be better if the government got out of the way.

    State Water NSW are a very bureacratic, non progessive and unbusiness like organisation.

    It’s not their fault, it is simply characteristic.

  10. struth

    They haven’t used it due to aboriginal issues.
    The point is that it holds so much water that could be used but for the corruption now endemic in Australia it isn’t. Not because it would be impractical.
    Pyrmonter quotes the opinion of basically an academic public servant just like the many who told C Y O conner that a pipeline to Kalgoorlie was ludicrous.
    They still drink from it to this day.

  11. Jeremy

    TYPO? Para 7 – who saw it as a means of wresting back some of the jobs their cost-inducing industrial policies had created should be destroyed

    oops!! Thanks Reward a free downloaded copy!

  12. Pyrmonter

    @ Struth

    I quoted the sensible views of a practically minded farmer-turned politician, whose point was that “infrastructure”, be it roads, dams, railways or any other “service” is no less subject to the phenomenon of opportunity cost than any other field of economic activity. And time and again, the costs of dams, even excluding environmental costs, have exceeded the benefits that have flowed (excuse the pun) from them. Most infrastructure problems are pricing ones: be that congestion charges or user charges; when properly charged on a marginal cost-recovery basis, the problem disappears, just as it disappears for the scarcity of goods in any other market.

  13. struth

    That’s a mouthful pyro.
    It’s also bullshit.
    The dam at kununurra is a little dam that cars pass over .
    It’s economic benefit has far outweighed it’s cost.
    Fraser was also a farmer turned pollie.
    Please don’t quote a southern public servant who went to the territory to try farming up there in regards to infrastructure.

  14. .

    Most infrastructure problems are pricing ones: be that congestion charges or user charges; when properly charged on a marginal cost-recovery basis, the problem disappears, just as it disappears for the scarcity of goods in any other market.

    That’s great, but the price incentives to dam a river don’t exist, because it is illegal and otherwise virtually impossible for private enterprise to do so.

    In lieu of that, the next “best” thing is scientific economic planning…

  15. Pyrmonter

    Struth, leaving aside your attacks on me, and on the late Bert Kelly, a rather more substantial figure, neither of which seems to go anywhere, exactly what is your point? That the dams were viable? If so, why is any government money necessary?

    Private finance has supported most agricultural development in Australia, whether through family enterprise or larger undertakings like AMP’s investment in the 90 mile desert, or more recently the development of Cubby station. Publicly finance “infrastructure”, and in particular water “harvesting” has a history of responding to local political agitation and of low or negative rates of return. In those cases, the funds invested would better be applied in almost any way, whether as tax reductions or public debt reductions.

  16. Pyrmonter

    Dot – you know better. The road to Hell, (the Argentine Road?) is paved with well-intended “second best” solutions. Ask yourself, by what “scientific” metric are they to be assessed? Has the CSIRO solved the socialist calculation problem? If so, there are probably greater calls on its capacities than working out which marginal National Party seat needs a new dam in it.

  17. wreckage

    Run up debt building dams, or the ALP will run it up building jack shit.

  18. wreckage

    He has claimed savings of $700 million a year with 10,000 regulations abolished from his first announced regulation cut.

    Go in hard, the other side will be merciless in generating fluff and twaddle to hamper the citizenry with.

  19. wreckage

    Nats generally end up opposing dams.

  20. Pyrmonter

    Struth – these links provide a good introduction to Bert Kelly. I was honoured to meet him once – twenty years ago at an excellent lecture given by Max Corden at Adelaide Uni – at a venerable age he was still sharp.

    http://bertkelly.org.au

    http://cis.org.au/images/stories/occassional-papers/op-60.pdf

  21. .

    Pyrmonter
    #1486375, posted on October 21, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    Dot – you know better. The road to Hell, (the Argentine Road?) is paved with well-intended “second best” solutions. Ask yourself, by what “scientific” metric are they to be assessed? Has the CSIRO solved the socialist calculation problem? If so, there are probably greater calls on its capacities than working out which marginal National Party seat needs a new dam in it.

    So what are you going to do if you know we have demand for water but can’t get a bill through Parliament to get the conservationists to back off and let the market do it’s thing?

    Is doing nothing really the best thing to do?

    If you were Milton Friedman in China in the 1960s, and they wouldn’t liberalise, would you tell them not to industrialise?

  22. struth

    You only equate dam building to farmers needs?
    I am stressing the lake kununurra dam as a prime example of great and needed piece of infrastructure as it was in particular the ord river scheme you were sneering at.
    It is small and also a road bridge and allows there to not only be farming but there to be year round life . I’m sorry but I see your argument as very ANU.
    You don’t support the construction of the very things that support your life daily.
    You go off track arguing the thoughts and experiences of a man you look up to.
    I get the distinct impression you are a university educated city dweller.
    I could be wrong as I try never to judge a book by it’s cover, but could it be he is the only person you know that went bush?

  23. Pyrmonter

    Dot – “demand for water” – at what price? Water is underpriced for agricultural and industrial purposes; so much so that in the past peace all the major urban centres in this country have imposed absurd restrictions on (expensively priced) domestic water supply use as a “second best” solution to an artificial scarcity, before, in most cases, outlaying billions on redundant desalination “infrastructure”.

    Struth – I don’t sneer at the idea of dam building per se, and certainly not at farmers: many of our most viable and valuable industries are agricultural. But most of them carry a significant net tax burden and do not benefit from the infrastructure subsidies to which agri-politics attaches; but I do sneer at the popular rhetoric that equates government-funded dam building with progress or “economic development” or some such mantra. This country has a culture of socialism, and it isn’t confined to the Left.

  24. Pyrmonter

    peace = decade – something weird with spell check/typos

  25. Tel

    Dams are good, but it would be better if the government got out of the way.

    A plan would be to get all the approvals out the way now. Approval certificates are quick to print and post out, then building some or all of that pre-approved infrastructure can be dealt with at leisure.

  26. Tel

    Run up debt building dams, or the ALP will run it up building jack shit.

    Understandable reaction under the circumstances. Ends up like Greece with a weak and corrupted government, where each group just channels free money to their own mates.

  27. entropy

    You are right in a pure sense, Pyrmonter. But life is more murky than that. But I must be careful as I have some peripheral involvement in this and know people intimately tied up in a few of these proposals.
    I would expect that some dams will be built largely by the public purse, and the irrigators pay a price for that water that will generally cover the cost of access and maintenance.
    A lot of public infrastructure is built of businesses (e.g. roads, rail, ports etc, that do not have all their costs met by the main beneficiaries. There are a lot of businesses that would be created or enhanced due to the construction of these dams, and I am not talking about engineers while the things are built, but tourism etc.

    There are also businesses potentially at some risk, such as gulf fishing. the access to water must take that into account.

    A government might have multiple goals for building a dam beyond helping a few dozen farmers increase their production. regional development, urban water supply*, general economic expansion, exports etc.

    And then, I would rather see the money go to something like this than say, a whitlam institute shrine where the only *real* purpose is to mythologise for the ALP.

    Anyway, many of these proposals are in-stream dams. I suspect a lot of the northern Australia irrigation development will be mostly off steam storage in ring tanks restricted to harvesting water at high flow periods. An example of this set up is the lower balonne river system in sw qld, of which Cubby station is the most famous example. These dams would be built with private money. Greenies would argue that the investors get the water cheap, but to be frank, until it is harvested, it isn’t worth anything beyond what someone is prepared to pay to get a licence.

    *generally, dual use dams have high priority water for uses such as urban consumption that override access to medium and lower priority water such as irrigation. I good example is Paradise Dam near Bundaberg. The cane growers are always railing against the high priority water users, who, by the way, pay more for the water.

  28. Combine_Dave

    Struth – I don’t sneer at the idea of dam building per se, and certainly not at farmers: many of our most viable and valuable industries are agricultural. But most of them carry a significant net tax burden and do not benefit from the infrastructure subsidies to which agri-politics attaches; but I do sneer at the popular rhetoric that equates government-funded dam building with progress or “economic development” or some such mantra. This country has a culture of socialism, and it isn’t confined to the Left.

    Yes but as Dot pointed out:

    “That’s great, but the price incentives to dam a river don’t exist, because it is illegal and otherwise virtually impossible for private enterprise to do so.”

  29. wreckage

    Dot – “demand for water” – at what price? Water is underpriced for agricultural and industrial purposes; so much so that in the past peace all the major urban centres in this country have imposed absurd restrictions on (expensively priced) domestic water supply use as a “second best” solution to an artificial scarcity, before, in most cases, outlaying billions on redundant desalination “infrastructure”.

    Pyrmont in Summary: don’t build dams because there isn’t enough water! also, I have no fucking idea how water licenses or water trading work!

  30. entropy

    I should also add that some of these dams would be built by mining companies, with irrigation secondary.again no public purse.

    Wreckage and combine have a point. Regardless of how these projects may or may not stack up economically, if the Qld LNP lose government early next they won’t be happening. Ever. The opportunity will be permanently lost.

  31. .

    Dot – “demand for water” – at what price? Water is underpriced for agricultural and industrial purposes

    No, not for agriculture.

    It is underpriced for industry, for sure. For homes it is virtually not priced and despite a tiny level of demand we have a stupid rationing system when it is industry which wastes the most water.

    Actually if you want to argue why in an open (but artificial) market, why $1000 for a megalitre per year of permament water in areas which get 26-28″ of rain, along with intermittent floods and adequete bore water which is abundant, is underpricing water – please go ahead.

    The fact of the matter is there are few wild rivers left, these can be damned in a way to not disrupt environmental flows, fish migration or cold water release, and rivers which are already mitigated are also underexploited.

    We ought to have many, many more dams than we already do for water and power purposes. A real water trading system would see cheaper and more abundant water. Downstream/lower reaches would see more weirs but these can allow for irrigation and recreation/tourism. (I’d be interested to know if any engineers can tell us the feasilbility of water diversion/storage without traditional damn structures – I am talking about diversionary canals into off stream resivoirs which are then directed into a power station and another channel back into the main stream – can we have hydro power without ‘dams’ as such?).

    (Take for example the upper Murrumbidgee – it is only damned once (Tantangara) before hitting Burrinjuck Dam.).

    The market is best placed to do this over the government. What do we do in the meantime?

    You can expand the water supply in NSW, but it is not as easy as boring deeper and finding fresh water that State Water has previously not mapped. They assume they know where all of the water exists, and that building a channel out to sea is the best thing for the environment, not slowing water flows as much as possible (ala Peter Andrews).

  32. struth

    It is not socialism to require a limited and open government to build infrastructure with your tax dollars to allow business to grow.
    Are you saying that the massive interstate freeway system in the united states that was built in the fifties and arguably help make that country a super power was a socialist project?
    Getting government to build infrastructure with your tax dollars is not socialist.
    How and who they tax is more of a determinant.

  33. Steve

    I would think that if the government recovers the development costs from the eventual users, then it is not socialism. If they don’t recover those costs from users then it probably is socialism.

  34. Pyrmonter

    @ Struth – the argument that taxes are some sort of payment for governments to do “good things” is the very essence of socialism.

    @ Steve – even supposing full cost recovery, how do you measure the risk of the capital deployed? Mere “cost recovery” is quite consistent with the Quiggin argument for complete socialization of capital markets.

  35. Steve

    I guess that in the case of freeways, where to even have them in the first place, compulsory acquisition is required, either you accept it is socialism, or you put in place policies to ensure recovery of all costs, and a subsequent market with the least amount of distortion, and kind of say it isn’t.
    Otherwise we won’t have freeways, major dam projects. Not because the private sector couldn’t develop these things, but because in order to have them at all, you have to place some limits on individuals property rights.

  36. Pyrmonter

    Compulsory Acquisition powers can be given to private firms; both the UK and US railway systems were built that way.

  37. .

    Are you saying that the massive interstate freeway system in the united states that was built in the fifties and arguably help make that country a super power was a socialist project?

    Roads are not pure “public goods”.

    They ought to be charged on a transfer pricing basis to run at zero profit.

  38. .

    Otherwise we won’t have freeways, major dam projects. Not because the private sector couldn’t develop these things, but because in order to have them at all, you have to place some limits on individuals property rights.

    What? If there is some land in the way they can buy out the owners.

  39. Steve

    Buy out the owners without government compulsory acquisition? Perhaps. But I am pretty sure that without the power of governments to compulsorily acquire swaths of suburban land, that the cost of planning and individually negotiating the acquisition of hundreds of properties would prevent any freeways being built.

  40. wreckage

    The problem with acquisitions for dams or roads is that the last person to sell their land to the project has effectively infinite market power. The market is broken before it even begins. The only way I can see to avoid that is to have all leases auctioned every ten years or so.

  41. wreckage

    Pyrmonter: so, fine, do it privately. Dot claims this is already happening, anyway.

    But a dam or road built by the public purse is a massively better thing than having no infrastructure because the government would have had to build it.

    Also, the government as a commercial service provider isn’t the essence of socialism, you TOTAL drongo. Making the government a pay-per-service commercial entity is entirely compatible with anarcho-capitalism!

    Collective ownership is the essence of socialism, or if you prefer, the government as a benevolent master who makes everything fair and even by redistributing resources from those who create, refine or value-add them, to those who don’t.

  42. Marion of the Glades

    Alan, there is another angle. If Abbott’s policy allows people like Cochlear and CSL to get a hearing for what’s wrong for them – what handicaps are created for successful new industry that is globally competitive – then it has to be a good thing. Fact is that our infrastructure is operationally poor (looking here at port handling, etc) and often it’s because we have uncompetitive cartel or other arrangements that push cost to the consumers. And Cochlear, for example, can point to the core problem of flexibility – not wages – as far as unions etc goes.
    If we assume that our economy is the one where markets work purely we will end up with the obvious result. Not that I am advocating more subsidies for aluminium etc. Merely that you need to have some idea (like Singapore etc) of what industry you are likely to be competitive with.
    My personal favourite is natural gas. We have resources that are apparently among the most abundant of any country, yet our domestic pricing has somehow jumped to Japanese levels! Talk about levelling the playing field!

  43. .

    ??

    No. Land does not have an infinite value.

    Also note Wran sold off the M4 corridor so now they have to buy the land (M4 East) to finish it off anyway, or otherwise compulsorily acquire – at a “just” price, which means at the market price or better.

  44. .

    Also, the government as a commercial service provider isn’t the essence of socialism, you TOTAL drongo. Making the government a pay-per-service commercial entity is entirely compatible with anarcho-capitalism!

    Um? I’m failing to see Telecom Australia as characteristic of free wheeling capitalism.

    Carry on.

  45. Steve

    Dot.
    This is like that argument that we are all good to dance on the corpse of manufacturing because your next car is going to be 3d printed, bearing surfaces, steel belted tyres, lead acid batteries shiny metallic paint and all. (It isn’t).
    If we can’t competitively manufacture, isn’t that because of our fundamental problems of expensive labour market, over regulation, competing against overseas labour markets that have almost slave labour conditions?
    And leaving major infrastructure decisions to that part of the electoral cycle where the socialists are in power doesn’t help us compete does it?
    Gives us desal, school halls and electrified ceilings.
    After all, if say, the Chinese were to buy up all the dairy farms, run them with 457 visas, process it offshore, would that still be an Australian dairy industry? I don’t think it would be. Or just barely sort of.
    What other sector could compete using local labour against such a scenario?
    The only difference with manufacturing is that they could put the plant and equipment on boats and relocate it.
    You can see it in the shops, the stuff has all been made exactly the same way on the same jigs, machine tools and presses, that it was thirty years ago when it was made here.
    If we want to continue to develop, we need massive private and government investment in new plant, equipment and infrastructure, labour market reform and massive deregulation and slashing of all forms of taxation, including tariffs. Massive cuts to all levels of government. Slash and burn welfare. Sort out all this green energy bull dust, build dams and power stations and an atomic industry.
    Put the damn country back to work, doing competitive productive things.
    Stop warehousing thicky kids in schools and unis doing gender studies into their late thirties.
    Manufacturing may never again be as big here as it was, but we can’t just give up on it.

  46. JC.

    If we can’t competitively manufacture, isn’t that because of our fundamental problems of expensive labour market, over regulation, competing against overseas labour markets that have almost slave labour conditions?

    WTF?

  47. Infidel Tiger

    Manufacturing may never again be as big here as it was, but we can’t just give up on it.

    I’ll let you in on a little secret. No one actually wants to work in factories or manufacturing.

    Manufacturing is for poor people and is a shithouse existence. Even the Chinese are relocating their manufacturing to other shitholes like Mexico.

  48. .

    This is like that argument that we are all good to dance on the corpse of manufacturing because your next car is going to be 3d printed, bearing surfaces, steel belted tyres, lead acid batteries shiny metallic paint and all. (It isn’t).

    It is nothing like the manufacturing argument at all. The reason why 3D printing hasn’t taken over is simply because it is early days, not because it doesn’t work.

    After all, if say, the Chinese were to buy up all the dairy farms, run them with 457 visas, process it offshore, would that still be an Australian dairy industry? I don’t think it would be. Or just barely sort of.

    They can’t and they can’t. End of story.

    If we want to continue to develop, we need massive private and government investment in new plant, equipment and infrastructure, labour market reform and massive deregulation and slashing of all forms of taxation, including tariffs.

    I agree nearly totally.

    We don’t need government investment. We need them to get out of the way. The M7 for example is a fantastic road, privately built and operated.

    We want to fund massive tax cuts, cutting spending serves that purpose other than productivity growth.

  49. Steve

    Manufacturing is a shithouse existence for poor people

    Only because the west missed out on the chance to develop it further.
    Because our unions did everything possible to stop the use of labour saving devices, robotics, cnc etc.
    And companies responded by off shoring.
    Our initial decline was due to sabotage, and you are just viewing the response.
    We should have mega factories, robots programmed and built by other robots, etc etc.
    You should be able to go online, customise the car you want, and pick it up the next day.
    And we do have that to an extent. (Just not in oz)
    But mostly we have the case you just high lighted, companies making the same old stuff, with the same old techniques, using third world labour, in Victorian conditions.
    Dancing a merry jig over this situation doesn’t make you a free market liberal, it makes you a part of the problem as our western societies slip further into indebtedness, social welfarism and decline.

  50. Steve

    Dot.
    I don’t know to what extent 3d printing will get used. And neither can you.
    However, you can imagine a quarter panel from a car, made in a large die on a press.
    Kerr chunk, ker chunk, …. Now you have a pile of 1000 quarter panels. Try 3d printing them, and see what the unit cost is.

  51. .

    Steve
    #1487306, posted on October 22, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Dot.
    I don’t know to what extent 3d printing will get used. And neither can you.
    However, you can imagine a quarter panel from a car, made in a large die on a press.
    Kerr chunk, ker chunk, …. Now you have a pile of 1000 quarter panels. Try 3d printing them, and see what the unit cost is.

    How can you presume to know it is more expensive?

    What matters is scale…what makes 3D printing win that race is that is transferrable. Can you make medical devices, phones or footballs with a die and press?

    No.

  52. Steve

    An analogy would be 2d printing. If you want a book you either read it on a screen, or if you want a physical book, you buy a manufactured product. You don’t print out an electronic version. Printers don’t use a process with cartridges and toner, they are not efficient, they use good old ink and a press.
    There are many industrial processes that making a cartridge and printing in any form would not replace. This is just evident to anyone who has worked in mechanical engineering.
    As for no one wanting to work in factories, I worked in factories and on the waterfront from the age of 14.
    I look back fondly at my time in those dirty old factories. And I prefer the old waterfront towns of factories and workshops to the haven for wankers they have become. My gut churns when I go past old sites turned into twee little “villages”.

  53. Steve

    This insidious myth that people who worked in factories hated it, peddled by people like Keating and Latham, needs to be firmly squashed. Those workers, and their sons and daughters would much prefer to work in factories making goods for sale, than on welfare or in some service sector job, making coffees and mowing your lawns. Making coffees is what you do to work your way through uni, mowing lawns is what teenagers do for pocket money. These are not the basis for an economic future.

  54. .

    No one should say what jobs are better or worse.

    If you are paid more to do X…then so be it.

    All that matters is that these are rational private sector decisions. If we have a demand for lawn mowing, so let it be met. If we can manufacture and employ less people directly, then so be it.

    Australia still manufactures…the unions and other rent seekers ensure that manufacturing remains in the dark ages and employees ultimately earn less.

  55. Steve

    No one should say what jobs are better or worse.
    So,
    Personal injury lawyer = mine worker,
    Web cam girl = brain surgeon,
    Telephone sanitiser = inventor of surgical devices,

    And if our economy were to mainly consist of personal injury lawyers, web cam girls and telephone sanitisers, rather than miners, surgeons and inventors, we should just shut up.
    After all, 3d printing.

  56. struth

    Still on the ….if government spends its socialism.
    If government spends on what it wants with disregard to it’s citizens. ….that’s socialism.
    If it taxes different groups to it’s own twisted idea of who should pay…..that’s socialism.
    If a government goes to an election saying it will spend the taxes collected on infrastructure and the people vote for it…..that’s a government for the people and by the people and definitely is not socialism.

  57. struth

    Socialism is not so much about government activity but government control.

  58. JC.

    Steve

    Stop thinking to hard as you’ll end up with a brain explosion. No, we won’t all be brain surgeons like we all won’t be currency traders or street sweepers. And yes 3D will take over manufacturing.

  59. Steve

    No it won’t.
    Most manufactured goods involve things like bearings and lubricants and coolants and surface coatings and heat treatments and composites and resins and hundred other things I could list that do not easily lend themselves to being printed. Imagine 3d printing a lead acid battery or a rifle cartridge or a steel belted radial tyre.bIt is nonsense.

  60. Pyrmonter

    wreck: the problem with government ownership and provision – on a cost recovery basis or not – is pricing, and in particular, what price the risk?

    I can say for my generation of South Australians, the under-priced risk of the State Bank – a socialized institution founded on agricultural populism, supported by stalwart Liberal and Country Party farmers among others – was disastrous.

  61. Steve

    Presumable the manufacturers of ammunition, for example, will purchase special 3d printers with cartridges containing powdered lead, copper and nitro-cellulose after throwing out their existing tooling. The manufacturers of radial tyres will purchase printers and cartridges loaded with powdered rubber, which will magically be vulcanised, along with heat treating the powdered steel belts as they are formed in an electric arc, without damaging the surrounding rubber. And each and every industry, will be able to order its own special cartridges processing everything from stainless steel, pigments, lacquers to rubber and chemicals and lubricants, within the same component.
    Firms that currently extrude aluminium through dies in huge quantities through a known and reliable process with no wastage will instead print from powdered aluminium cartridges. If you can’t visualise the absurdity of this, I give up.
    When the first commercially produced, printed 3d toaster arrives I shall admit myself a massive dill and swear to abide absolutely be any of your future pronouncements.
    It will be made from a cartridge which contains a heat resistant substance, like a ceramic, stainless steel, plastics and nickel chrome. Like the rest of your expectations of 3d printing, it is a fantasy.

  62. Pyrmonter

    Steve – the point is that what will happen is not a matter of deduction from what is known, but a somewhat chaotic process of experimentation that balances the multitude of subtle details that distinguish a profitable from an unprofitable venture. That “local” knowledge is something that develops more or less randomly and cannot be divined, either by a central planner, a “corporate strategist” or a blogger. Consider the example of the app market – something Apple seems to have thought of as a minor issue, but which has driven innovation in the use and usefulness of smart phones beyond any plausible prediction. The existence of this distributed information which is lost when a “scientific observer” looks at matters is the very reason state planning inevitably fails (and why, if they are to happen, dams should be built through private action using private money).

  63. Steve

    Pyrmonter.
    Agreed.
    But that doesn’t mean that we look at the demise of Australian manufacturing and go “that’s nice”.
    And the argument that it doesn’t matter that we don’t manufacture, while the rest of the world does, because, “oh well, we will all be 3d printing cars soon” is just garbage.
    So is the argument that people hated working in factories. We loved it.
    And if Australian manufacturing has problems, those same problems will come home to roost in other sectors. They are:
    High taxation,
    High compliance costs,
    Poor government infrastructure decisions,
    Too much government,
    Welfare dependency,
    Labour market
    Etc, etc, etc…
    You should be looking at manufacturing as the little bird in the mineshaft, instead, many here, because their ideological enemies were ensconced in manufacturing unions and the Labour Party factions that feed off them, are gleeful.
    Wrong, wrong, wrong.
    The same issues coming to your sector soon.

  64. .

    Steve
    #1487539, posted on October 22, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    No it won’t.
    Most manufactured goods involve things like bearings and lubricants and coolants and surface coatings and heat treatments and composites and resins and hundred other things I could list that do not easily lend themselves to being printed. Imagine 3d printing a lead acid battery or a rifle cartridge or a steel belted radial tyre. It is nonsense.

    No it isn’t. You don’t understand what 3D printing can do.

    Your list of issues is however correct.

    A rifle cartridge is not in the list but it ranges from 12″ slugs to jet engine parts to machine guns:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_notable_3D_printed_weapons_and_parts

  65. Steve

    Dot you are not getting me.
    I suspect unless you spent ten or more years working in general manufacturing, on computer controlled lathes, in toolmaking shops, on extrusion dies, fitting on marine diesels where the pistons are larger than you are and you can walk around in the crankcases, and working on pneumatics and hydraulics and with an good knowledge of a wide variety of engineering and manufacturing processes, you will not get it.
    So let’s just leave it with this: when the first 3d printed toaster comes online you will be proved right. When do you expect that?
    So I know when to concede the point. (I don’t expect to have to concede the point)
    We can in future refer to this as the 3d printed toaster test. It could become a thing.

  66. Steve

    And a “shotgun bullet” is not a complete cartridge. It is not a finished useable item.
    And I suspect the firearms applications are driven mostly by getting around gun laws and some pretty nefarious reasons why people would be motivated to get an untraceable, albeit inferior weapon.
    These things would not compete in any way, even on cost, with a manufactured product for any legitimate purchaser.
    Yes there will be many applications for 3d printing.
    But not the way you think.

  67. Steve

    As we speak there is a program on abc 24 on 3d printing. Knee joints, organs, micro robots, fascinating stuff.

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