The Common Debt of Australia has deep roots in the economic transformations witnessed over the past 40 years. In this relatively short span, Australia has undergone a drastic shift from a thriving, self-sufficient nation to one grappling with significant economic challenges.

Not too long ago, prosperity was abundant, with jobs readily available throughout the country. Families thrived on a single income, and iconic industries such as iron ore, steel, shipbuilding, and car manufacturing, including renowned brands like Holden, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Ford, fuelled the nation’s economic engine. Australia proudly manufactured a diverse range of products, from household appliances to vehicles, fostering a sense of national pride with the label “PROUDLY MADE IN AUSTRALIA.”

Rural towns were vibrant hubs connected by an extensive rail network, and local businesses, including corner stores, milk bars, and hardware shops, thrived. Flea markets dotted the weekends, offering fresh and local produce. Public utilities like power stations, water, and gas employed thousands, ensuring affordability, and sustaining various industries nationwide.

However, the narrative took a turn as the government shifted its approach, corporatizing itself and engaging in direct competition with private enterprises. Local councils expanded their reach, acquiring tourist parks and dictating terms to others, leading to a decline in community strength.

The downward spiral accelerated with the outsourcing of industries and businesses, facilitated by free trade agreements that allowed foreign competitors to flood the Australian market with cheap, sub-standard products. The once tight-knit community, marked by mutual respect and a friendly “G’day,” began to erode, replaced by security screens, burglar alarms, and a pervasive sense of fear and stress.

Foreign countries entered the scene, acquiring Australian resources, displacing farmers, and taking over power stations. Educational funding was cut, trade skills teaching slowed, and 457 visas were introduced, replacing skilled workers with cheaper foreign labour. The sale of public assets, such as forests, to foreign owners further weakened the nation.

To compensate for lost income, the government introduced new taxes, levies, and funding cuts to essential services like emergency services, police, and public housing. The public was burdened with additional costs, including the controversial Goods and Services Tax (GST). Meanwhile, politicians enjoyed hefty pay raises, seemingly disconnected from the struggles faced by ordinary Australians.

Now facing a massive debt, the government urges citizens to tighten their belts, forcing the elderly back into the workforce until the age of 70. The once-mighty manufacturing plants now stand as empty monuments to a bygone era, and the ubiquitous “MADE IN CHINA” label serves as a painful reminder that the nation is funding its own demise.

As the government grapples with financial challenges, the question lingers: How did this once self-sufficient nation fall so far, and what will it take to reclaim its former glory?


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One comment

  • Robin November 18, 2023   Reply →

    Dr Dambisa Moya, an economist and author among other things, published a book titled, “How the West Was Lost” that explains much of our problem.

    Too often, we’ve taken the easy way out eg, importing skills rather than teaching them so we have hundreds of thousands of people on womb-to-tomb welfare who could have been ‘forced’ to gain skills (if they had the mental and physical capacity) rather than cutting back TAFE funding and hiring overseas trained labour.

    My fear is that, like previous empires, the Western Empire will self-destruct and civilisation with it. Fortunately, I won’t be here for the main event.

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