Denniss alludes to the oft-expressed desire of lefties to move to New Zealand during conservative administrations. It probably did make more sense when our friends across the Tasman had a left wing government. Personally, although I yearn for different destinations, I’m hoping Tony Abbott will follow up his HECS for apprentices by giving folk who want to go a $20 000 loan for the wherewithal to relocate.
There’s a serious point here, though. (Though the above is also a serious point.) We live in a world where human and ecological interconnections are stronger than ever, even if we’ve largely stopped talking about ‘globalisation’ in the academy.
I liked what a friend told me the other night – that he was seeing himself increasingly as a “rootless cosmopolitan” and that from that perspective, retrograde decisions on climate change (say) in Australia were only a little local difficulty.
Of course, he’s only half serious, but it does point to the fact that there are still points of intervention out there. Increasingly, and animal rights and protests over Russian homophobic laws point to this, we are aware that our concerns are global, and that our mission is often to give voice to the voiceless or amplify the voices that are censored or constrained.
So I think we need to think more about this – how do we argue for a progressive politics in Australia from a global perspective? I think that’s potentially a more powerful speaking position from which to address Mr Abbott’s Fortress Australia.
All this raises the question of whether some of Denniss’ list of policy areas where there *is* scope to intervene locally are equivalent to “economic nationalism”. He mentions (as well as Coal Seam Gas) land ownership and the duopoly of Woolworths and Coles as points of fracture (frackture?) in the Coalition.
Smart thinking, but wasn’t Kevin Rudd pilloried for making similar arguments?
But the local is the global. And the global is the local.
FDI in land inflates the housing market as well as distorts capital markets in agriculture. At the same time, food security is international, and Australia’s food culture, and ability to pay a living wage to our producers, are both negatively impacted by the duopoly. We, or many of us, buy Fair Trade coffee. Do we think about Fair Trade as between Australians?
The reflex “oh noes! it’s protectionism!” cry, raised within the Labor Party as well as the right wing press, should be ignored. There are things to think about here. And reasons for hope.