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Living in the Dopey Country

I’ve just returned to civilisation after a month touring in the Outback: long distances on dusty roads and tracks providing ample reflection time.

I left home on Anzac Day and couldn’t help wondering how those young men who made the ultimate sacrifice would view the current state of our nation. We may have once been called the Lucky Country, but now we’re more aptly titled the Dopey Country.

We sign free-trade deals with larger, more powerful nations and get handsomely screwed; pull out citrus trees by the thousands so we can import Californian lemons; let our precious resources get pillaged by overseas corporations for peanuts and watch our productive and residential land get sold to foreign investors.

Let’s imagine a scenario where conflict in the Middle East and the South China Sea closes the shipping lanes to and from Australia. Now we have no choice but to be self-sufficient.

The Governor General forms a one-party Save Australia Government, headed by the very few politicians with brains, including Nick Xenophon and Julie Bishop, and the GG also gets Greg Combet and Lindsay Tanner out of the political wilderness.

State governments are simultaneously reduced in size and interstate legal differences are eliminated – especially those covering the now-critical manufacturing and transport industries.

The new Federal Government, in stark contrast to those of recent times, is committed to running the country, not amusing itself with trifling side issues and party-political rubbish that everyone is sick of hearing.

Now the fun starts.

Overseas-owned Australian land is resumed.

Sacked politicians’ entitlements are abolished and Fatso is forced to get a proper job, like he’s been suggesting everyone else should do.

Nationalising grocery chains allows profits to be redirected to farmers, letting them hire help like they used to do before ‘free’ trade.

Local manufacturing – downsized by successive governments since World War II – is ramped up and priorities are food, clothing, vehicles, powertrains, tyres and fuel. Real jobs, not mythical government-spin jobs, are created.

Although governments have let local truck, bodywork and trailer makers fight subsidised imports for many years without assistance, the nation is suddenly grateful that Kenworth, Iveco and Volvo/Mack have some truck manufacturing ability and that our struggling bodybuilders and trailer makers can still produce the goods.

Sure, axles, brakes and suspension bits have been largely imported, but there’s enough skill and machinery left to allow us to copy these designs. Engine production is trickier, but three sizes are selected and the necessary manufacturing equipment is built.

The Holden, Ford and Toyota plants are also nationalized, because the Big Three have already said they don’t want them anymore. Existing, excellent, Australian-made cars continue to be built and development of a much-needed 4WD wagon, ute and light truck range is begun with urgency.

In no time unemployment vanishes, because we’re a self-sufficient country once more.

Natural gas export ships, in port when the balloon goes up, are seized and used to transport liquid gas to Australia’s capital cities, where it’s sent to service stations on all major roads. Petrol and diesel engines are rapidly converted to LNG operation, using existing technology.

Coal is converted to lubricating oil and diesel fuel, using the Fischer-Tropsch process that the Germans used in WWII. Renewable energy projects, including the windmills so hated by disgraced ex-PM Abbott, get top priority.

Iron ore mine trains are shifted to the interstate rail network, shouldering much of the line haul burden by using our tragically underemployed rail lines, and road trains are allowed on all of the nation’s four-lane highways.

It’s a shame that it takes a global conflict to stimulate national self-sufficiency, but the Diggers would be proud.