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John Passant

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January 2012



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



A car industry or real action to address climate change?

Kim Carr has been in the US offering bribes to Ford and Holden in an attempt to keep them producing cars in Australia. For Ford it was $34 million. For Holden it might have to be $100 million.

Ford has agreed to stay till 2016.

Over the last decade the cost of subsidising the car industry is estimated at over $6 billion. 

The car production model in Australia is in the long term not viable. The market is too small, and the Australian industry is not competitive enough to be geared up for general global production in competition against low cost manufacturing sites in Asia and elsewhere.

The high Australian dollar, courtesy of the mining industry and our high interest rates, means it is cheaper to import small cars than pay big bucks for the dinosaurs Holden and Ford until recently favoured.

Neoliberalism presents two options. Intervene to save the car  industry, or let it collapse.

Those debates are playing out among the politicians of profit in the ALP and Opposition. Some are prepared to let the industry go to the wall by winding back support. Others want to support it.

It looks like Labor will take the latter route, not least because it can then paint itself as the friend of blue collar workers.

There is an alternative.

Climate change is real, and presents an existential threat. Rather than imagining (or should that be dreaming?) that the market will solve the problems of the market, maybe it is time to go on an economic war footing against global warming.

Certainly the UK Campaign Against Climate Change thinks so. It says

In some ways, the model for what we want to do is what happened in World War Two. Then all the great powers of the world took control of their economies and directed industry to make as many weapons as possible, as fast as possible, to kill as many people as possible and win the war.

One example will give the scale of this. When the US entered World War Two in December 1941, government expenditure exploded. GDP had doubled in three years. The car factories in America closed in January and they made no more cars for the rest of the war. By the end of March, the car factories reopened, making tanks, weapons and, by the end of the war, 66,000 bomber aircraft.

The Soviet Union, Germany and Britain all did the same. This rearmament boom did not bankrupt the governments. Instead, it created jobs and lifted the whole world out of the Great Depression. We need to do the same thing now, but in order to save lives.[1]

Imagine the car plants in Australia being geared up for production to address climate change. They could produce buses for mass public transport, light rail vehicles, high speed rail and trains, electric cars, solar and wind farms…

Of course it would cost money. But when faced with an existential threat shouldn’t the State be prepared to pay for ways to address that threat?

Taxing the rich would easily cover the cost anyway. It is their system. Make them pay for it.

It is not as if we don’t already have subsidies locked in – over $6 billion in the last decade just to the car manufacturers alone. Add in the billions each year in fuel subsidies and there is a shit load of money for addressing global warming.

There just isn’t the vision or the will.

Imagine using that money for socially useful purposes.

This would not only save car workers’ jobs; it would create many more manufacturing jobs. 

The government would most likely have to take over the manufacturers to do this. So be it. The threat is great. Better still would be the workers taking over the factories and running them to produce these socially useful products.

And to make working in this industry even more attractive, there could be a 30 hour week without any loss of pay.

None of this will happen. Short term profit making (either of the free market or state supported variety) is what dominates capitalism and its thinking.

Nero lives in a Parliament and board room near you.

[1] Jonathan Neale, ‘One million climate change jobs: Solving the economic and environmental crises’ (London, 2010) 9, available online at <>.



Pingback from Put car industry on war footing to fight global warming | Independent Australia
Time January 17, 2012 at 10:30 am

[…] story was originally published at En Passant on 15 January 2011 and has been republished with the author’s permission.) Be […]

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