Vikki Campion guest post. Unfeasible feasibility studies

FLEEING communism, war and poverty, they worked Australian soil with ingenuity, paid for with risk and hard labour.

Here, they could provide for their families growing tobacco with autonomy from their former socialist serfdom – until dogooders decided they might also have a crack at stepping on their necks to remind them of home.

We, the bogans at the pub, couldn’t have our cheap North Queensland durries homegrown in sandy soil. It had to be grown overseas. Growers, left with nothing but bad backs and skin cancers after decades in the field, got the edict to “diversify”.

Between bunches of dry leaves at the last tobacco sale, tears flowed, none were convinced corn and mangoes would save them.

Diversification came in the guise of government-funded studies for areas of economic disadvantage.

There was $800,000 for Golden Circle, which later became a US subsidiary of Heinz, from the Queensland government to investigate the feasibility of a mango puree and sweet corn facility in 2000, and $347,728 by the federal government in 2003 on the promise the company would build a processing plant in North Queensland.

Suits in Canberra and Brisbane had the answers for them 1700km to 2500km away. Today no such plant exists. What came of the feasibility studies paid by the taxpayer to a now overseas-owned company? Zilch.

Studies are used to excuse inertia even if it means farmers have to rip up crops without water, manufacturers forced to close without affordable power, all ultimately leaving us vulnerable as a nation by reducing the fundamental attributes of our sovereignty.

Now we have councils doing feasibility studies as a matter to determine where to plant a tree. Not because they have to, but so when someone complains, they can say “we did a study” instead of “we made a decision”.

The shiny shovel photographs of politicians at announcements belie a web of lawyers and consultants, paid by taxpayers whether a project proceeds or not.

They are paid to find problems, so problems they find. It sustains them.

Name the project and you name the study to stop it but not the cost of the stop or the salaries of the stoppers.

Deep in Canberra, someone’s screaming in anxiety that we’ll kick over the engine and start pushing up dirt.

A defined cure to eliminate asbestos waste that has passed the strictest controls in the EU and the US suffered two feasibility studies in Australia, one that cost $5m and now another that costs $8m.

Inner urban forces which outwardly pledge support to Indigenous communities have halted repeated efforts to give them reliable water. The latest being the Northern Territory government commissioning a $1.3m feasibility study into dams off Adelaide River after a $2m study into the same dam – even commissioning the same consultancy to provide “technical expertise”.

This followed a 2.5 year $15m study by CSIRO on water storage options for the whole Top End.

In Collinsville, where solar farms have provided bare minimum jobs, $3.3m has been granted for a feasibility study for an Indigenous company to turn the old power station, which closed in 2013, into a $2bn new high-energy, low-emission power plant – which the Greens and Labor have been fighting in the Senate and will no doubt use to kill the project.

If Labor were authentic about wanting projects delivered, they should open amendments to streamline the EPB&C Act, introduced under their tenure.

Now the term “diversify” has been replaced with “transition”.

And instead of tobacco, it’s mining.

We have seen this story before.

Not much grows on old tobacco farms now. The drying sheds are being torn down and sold as lumber.

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33 Responses to Vikki Campion guest post. Unfeasible feasibility studies

  1. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV) says:

    The neo-dark age isn’t going to just bring itself in.

  2. egg_ says:

    Noice pic o’Vic.

  3. Botswana O'Hooligan says:

    “Not much grows on old tobacco farms now. The drying sheds are being torn down and sold as lumber.”
    Just don’t you worry about that for the odd shed is still there to remind us, and so are the sons and daughters who now grow sugar cane, mangoes, and bananas, and they mostly vote conservatively, but how does one stem the Labor tide of public servants in bureaucracies established all along the coast in the main cities?

  4. Entropy says:

    I don’t think comparing mining to tobacco growers is a very good comparison. At all.

    Mining is export oriented, profitable without subsidy, even before you worry about the product itself.
    Tablelands tobacco growing was a bunch of import substituting agrarian socialists who spent most of their time convincing the government to rig the market in their favour rather than running an efficient business. Price was set by government above cost of production, so that their comparative market position inevitably got worse and worse over time, surviving only via statutory market setting. Price always above a collective cost of production, and import and production quotas to stop the incentivised expansion of production that a guaranteed profit would encourage as the cost structure ended up ludicrously high compared with the international market.

    Just the other day we had a pub argument about who got most money from the feds and the state government in “adjustment assistance” in the last thirty years: tobacco growers or canegrowers (who at least export and thus have a price constraint). In totality sugar cane growers win because there are so many of them, but tobacco growers, or at least their lobby organisation, were definitely grand masters of the art.

  5. Entropy says:

    The greatest things that could happen to enable development in the north to happen again would be for Vicki to get her husband to lobby for:
    *the repeal of the EPBC Act. In total. None of it sneaking into other legislation. None of it. Did I say absolutely one of it?
    *Get the federal government out of land management altogether. It’s a state government function. This means the WE part of federal DAWE ceases to exist.

    I am amazed that some silly Nat politicians thought combining the federal Ag department with Environment would solve their constituents’ problems. In real life, big fish eat little fish.
    So much bigger Environment Department dominated the little ag department. Who took over who? A look at the former work history of the executives will tell the tale. And remember, this happened in a (admittedly Turnbull) coalition government. And the nats let it happen.

  6. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Feasibility studies are only as good as the assumptions you put into them. Government supported feasibility studies always have crazy assumptions included, like renewable energy being cheap – which it isn’t. Or that dams emit vast amounts of dangerous pollutants, which they don’t.

    So if it’s a feasibility study from government then it’s usually not worth the paper it’s written on. The old carbon tax modelling by Treasury was like that: pure rubbish, which I demonstrated at the time. The assumptions were nuts, and therefore the study results were also nuts.

  7. Roger says:

    The invisible hand of the market will always be many times more efficient than government at determining the feasibility of a business endeavour. When governments engage in it it’s just a public service boondoggle. The role of government is to provide services to communities who pay their taxes through profitable endeavour. And there aren’t many local services that can be efficiently provided from Canberra unles you live on the Molonglo Plain. Ergo

  8. Roger W says:

    Prosperity and freedom taken for granted – the 3 generation cycle seems hard-wired into human beings. We older Australians should be grateful we lived through the good times, they are about to end.

  9. Paul says:

    Its this services industry that the globullists told us we had to shut down industries and adopt.
    And they can’t work out why our middle class is poorer while the wealthy communists China have our industries

  10. sfw says:

    All the tobacco farms in NE Vic lay fallow for quite a few years after the growing was stopped, they were sold cheap to cattle farmers and still produce a return but only a fraction per acre that tobacco paid.

  11. Spurgeon Monkfish III says:

    Bruce – see also numerous cost/benefit analyses conducted by governments over the years. Thankfully, they seem to have stopped even bothering with them nowadays. For example, I don’t remember one being conducted for Sydneystan’s beloved new toy train network.

    GIGO.

  12. Roger W says:

    “The invisible hand of the market will always be many times more efficient than government at determining the feasibility of a business endeavour.”
    But the arrogance of second-rate minds always assumes they know better and centralized control will work, however many times it inevitably fails.
    Leak’s cartoon today sort of captures it (paywalled, unfortunately).

  13. Mother Lode says:

    Our leaders have no idea how’re private sector, that they feast upon for their own sustenance, works. If they do it is without sufficient conviction to oppose the lowing cattle they work near.

    And their solution when their meddling has crippled a place or industry is not to step back, but to add another layer of meddling in the form of subsidies and incentives.

  14. Primer says:

    Taxpayer’s earnings get redistributed to Consultants because the Consultants are always connected and that’s the way the world works…. buddies of some politician/ PS mandarin or something similar.
    The cream has to be skimmed.

  15. Crikey Entropy, show us on the doll where the farmer touched you.

  16. FlyingPigs says:

    sfw says:
    July 17, 2021 at 10:05 am
    All the tobacco farms in NE Vic lay fallow for quite a few years after the growing was stopped, they were sold cheap to cattle farmers and still produce a return but only a fraction per acre that tobacco paid.

    sfw

    A large part of the reason that NE Vic ex-tobacco farms lay fallow was from diktat because the “evil” tobacco farmers had used ‘debil debil chemicals like DDT during tobacco growing process and a study determined that any livestock that stepped foot on the land HAD to be quarantined prior to sale.

    That was certainly the situation 30 years ago and I doubt it has changed.

  17. Pedro the Loafer says:

    The invisible hand of the market will always be many times more efficient than government at determining the feasibility of a business endeavour.

    Roger at 10.01am. Preach it, brother.

    Liberty quote.

  18. wazz says:

    Must re-watch some episodes of Utopia – the good ole Nation Building Authority. How will they cope with all the material from our Covid years??

  19. Tom says:

    Amazing what you can find in the ruins of the economy we are in the middle of destroying.

    Superbly researched and written, Vikki.

    I haven’t seen the circulation figures, but, being a newspaperman, I reckon your weekly read is selling plenty of copies of the Saturday Daily Telegraph.

    I will be down the shop shortly to buy the Melbourne Herald Sun and I hope they have the option of picking up your column when it’s not dealing with a specific NSW issue as most columns are of national significance — especially tobacco which is now becoming a lucrative illegal industry in Victoria because of the feds’ mad tobacco taxation cash grab.

  20. FlyingPigs says:

    tobacco which is now becoming a lucrative illegal industry in Victoria because of the feds’ mad tobacco taxation cash grab.

    has been lucrative for some for 40 years Tom…

  21. Entropy says:

    Let’s just say I am more of a fan of the uncosseted ag industries like grazing and grains Salvatore.

  22. Boambee John says:

    tobacco which is now becoming a lucrative illegal industry in Victoria because of the feds’ mad tobacco taxation cash grab.

    And the UK obsession with punitive taxes on salt and sugar will establish a couple more lucrative illegal “markets”. One might almost suspect that some of the pubic serpent “scientists” pushing these various “nudge” schemes are somehow being rewarded by the beneficiaries (those principally being the purveyors of illegal market options).

    Let’s see: Mary Jane, Coke (aine), tobacco. Big markets, billions involved, while the same pubic serpents bleat about increasing taxes and prohibitions not leading to their promised Nirvana.

  23. FlyingPigs says:

    The ‘punch line’ of Vikki’s column is in the last 4 sentences,

    Now the term “diversify” has been replaced with “transition”.

    And instead of tobacco, it’s mining.

    We have seen this story before.

    Not much grows on old tobacco farms now. The drying sheds are being torn down and sold as lumber.

    Australia has more “locked up” resources than any other Country or Nation on Earth.

    You can ‘bleat’ about Agrarian Socialism all you like, whilst conveniently ignoring the Antarctic sized Iceberg of Non-Agrarian Socialism, but what happens to the cities when the coal mines are shut and the power don’t flow?

  24. Timothy Neilson says:

    Feasibility studies are only as good as the assumptions you put into them.

    True, BoN.

    But what’s “good” is of course up to whoever’s commissioning the study.

    I think it was someone on this blog who described a “feasibility study” that concluded that the north west couldn’t be developed for agriculture because there wasn’t enough water, and who reported that:
    (a) when challenged on that, given the massive rainfalls in the north west, the authors explained that the rain fell at the wrong time;
    (b) when challenged as to why that couldn’t be solved by dams, they explained that building dams was against government policy.
    So the report was merely a bogus way of disguising the fact that government policy was preventing agricultural development in the north west.

  25. Howard Hill says:

    Unfeasible feasibility studies

    Just another source of lootonium for the parasites to pillage from the plebs, that’s all.

  26. Rex Anger says:

    Must re-watch some episodes of Utopia – the good ole Nation Building Authority. How will they cope with all the material from our Covid years??

    Shibboleth and taboo territory right there, my good man.

    The ABC would never poke fun at their Comrades locking us all up for their own good.

    It would expose far too much to we lumpenproles…

  27. roman says:

    It’s properly time that we each consider what political steps we will take. Such as considering a new conservative party with people who actually want to do actual real things. That has actual policies that are actually normal re education, industry, oh and how to manage a pandemic when it turns out it’s isn’t really. Not politicians but people trained in getting stuff done.

    Pointing out that something is wrong is step 1. It’s not much of an achievement in and of itself.

  28. FlyingPigs says:

    roman says:
    July 17, 2021 at 2:25 pm
    It’s properly time that we each consider what political steps we will take.

    don’t be ridiculous!

    We love our Jabberwocky politicians and bureaucrats.

    We particularly LOVE being Tax Slaves and bowing to their UN masters of the universe.

  29. FlyingPigs says:

    Paying Tax to the scummy bastards is what is wrong.

  30. egg_ says:

    The invisible hand of the market will always be many times more efficient than government at determining the feasibility of a business endeavour.

    Roger at 10.01am. Preach it, brother.

    Liberty quote.

    Just look at the evolution of telex > fax > email…

  31. Let’s just say I am more of a fan of the uncosseted ag industries like grazing and grains Salvatore.

    We’re on the same page there.
    (I’ll extend the bracket of ‘cossetted’ to include much/most of the public service.)

    Though as the column would indicate, tobacco ain’t exactly ‘cossetted’ any more. The loser being Australia.

  32. Chrism says:

    Vicki MUST seek preselection for Lib Dems in the Senate

    we need your common sense and views

    in the big place in Canberra

    please

  33. FlyingPigs says:

    Chrism says:
    July 17, 2021 at 9:37 pm
    Vicki MUST seek preselection for Lib Dems in the Senate

    we need your common sense and views

    in the big place in Canberra

    please

    golly gosh… gush… how does Vickie know how to tell Vikki????????

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