Thursday, February 27, 2014

Australia lags as world adapts to new industries

With the very public collapse of manufacturing in Australia you might think the country would nimbly leap to new industrial opportunities. Instead, we are losing them to more progressive nations.

Victoria's Hazelwood open-cut brown coal mine
still burning after some weeks.
Our race to the 19th century in fossil-based energy generation has robbed us of our once world-leading position in clean energy technology. Meanwhile South Korea, for instance, has a 3-month fast-track patent process for local innovations in clean energy, part of a program that devoted 2.7% of GDP to clean energy. By contrast, we have boosted our filthiest fossil fuel source, Victoria's brown coal mines, one of which is ironically now burning out of control after heatwave-induced bushfires. It is expected to burn for another two weeks. [Note: the fire was 'under control' as of 9 March - it burned for a little over four weeks. However there are coal mine fires on every continent except Antarctica including one in Pennsylvania that has burned since 1962.

Note#2: Radio National News reported on 21 March that the fire was officially "out"]

Then there is the Abbott Government's patchwork National Broadband Network. In a country ruled by 'the tyranny of distance', you might think state-of-the-art communications was essential.

The Coalition's internet connection vision.
But no, Malcolm Turnbull's fibre to the node concept will leave my copper connection to the home operating out of this pit just outside my front door (pictured). The cost savings inherent in this second-best model do not take into account the cost of repairing/replacing these copper tangles  left over from 100-year-old telephone technology. Impressive, no?

Now it's industrial hemp, a forest-saving, low irrigation crop with a thousand uses. As it has no intoxicating effects, there was never even any justification for banning it and now even the USA, which invented the ban, is legalising the growing of hemp. But conservative, backward Australia remains in the dark ages as it misses out on yet another opportunity to compete in the 21st century. Once the 'lucky country', should we now be known as the 'dumb country' as we race towards banana republic status?
Just say no - emblematic of Australia's
attitude to everything?

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