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An ambit claim for the Ruddfest 2020

By Valerie Yule - posted Tuesday, 11 March 2008

An ambit claim could be put in for Kevin Rudd and his 2020 summit - that a fair Australia can also be prosperous. That is, Australia Fair would still be able to Advance.

“Fair” means fairness in opportunities, fairness in rewards, and fair dealing.

This is an ambit claim because “fair” cannot be set out in legal terms. It arouses fears of a “nanny state” and of unrealistic idealism, among those who see the human world as being necessarily a jungle - with dogs eating dogs in a way real dogs do not.


Nevertheless, when conditions are perceived as fair, public morale is high, and people willingly join together in work and in facing emergencies such as those of climate change and resource shortages which are ahead of us. They can co-operate as well as compete in innovation and enterprise.

A government can work for fairness through the speeches it makes and the visions it sets, and by the fair laws it makes and the injustices it removes.

The ambit claim for Australia Fair can be applied to the ten Ruddfest topics for the April 19-20 Canberra Summit. Since all topics link together, every topic discussion needs to be headed with awareness of Australia’s three major challenges and emergencies. Otherwise, the separate discussions can be blinkered.

Foreign debt

Australia’s nearly $600 billion foreign debt is still increasing and is now nearly half our compulsory superannuation savings. It is not fair to future Australians to continue ignoring the immense costs of what is being done now to run up the huge current account deficit. Australian prosperity could suddenly pop, like the bubble it is, once we can no longer borrow to pay the growing interest or are called upon to repay capital.

Ways to reduce this huge public debt can include encouraging Australian-owned industries and enterprise; and encouraging Australians to buy Australian products and so reduce our imports. Banks can be discouraged from foreign borrowing we cannot afford, and turn to encouraging, rather than discouraging, small domestic savers to provide capital. There are long-term benefits to reducing the continuing stream of foreign takeovers of profitable Australian businesses that are then asset-stripped with the profits sent overseas.

But it is not fair to prosper at the expense of the poor in developing nations. Rather than import their goods produced by cheap labour, we can aid them to become sustainable themselves with fair wages and conditions.


Climate changes and looming resource shortages

It is not fair to future generations, or to ourselves, to waste the resources of the earth by consuming to excess - “conspicuous consumption" - with short-life products. By using these we waste at every stage, by increasing greenhouse gas emitted in their production, sales and wasteful disposal. The fastest ways to cut carbon emissions are to cut wasteful practices and reduce waste. Businesses can, instead, produce goods and services that are really needed: which have quality, can be repaired and have no deliberate obsolescence. These products should incorporate innovations to mitigate and cope with all the emergencies we are beginning to face.

We can conserve non renewable and barely renewable resources rather than exploiting them to their limits: from fossil fuels to forests and food sources. Buying water rights can be unfair as can carbon trading, with its profits and dubious offsets, which allow some to continue emitting.


It is not fair for the Australian government to fund pro-natalist policies, for two main reasons - national and international.

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About the Author

Valerie Yule is a writer and researcher on imagination, literacy and social issues.

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