From: JL on
On Dec 2, 7:54 pm, Iain Chalmers <bigi...(a)> wrote:
> In article
> <b54fa57a-e203-4809-95ad-294afad0c...(a)>,
>  JL <jlitt...(a)> wrote:
> > The big danger is we continue the dumbing down of Oz that has been
> > going on for the last 10 years. If we lose the knowledge we lose the
> > capability. We need to spend significantly more on both higher
> > education and trade training (tafe and apprenticeships). The current
> > situation where we are engaging fewer apprentices than we need and
> > then have to import them is unsustainable and bloody madness.
> I dunno how relevant it is to manufacturing, but we've been steadily
> bleeding smart people to countries where they're employable in their
> area of expertise and able to use their skills. My circle of friends is
> largely in IT, but also contains examples of chemistry postgrads/phd's,
> physicists, microbiologists, sales/marketing, even artists and musicians
> who've all left Australia to further their careers. Most of them aren't
> looking to come back. These are largely the smartest people I know. I
> have no reason to suspect that people who's circle of friends include
> industrial designers, product designers, manufacturing process experts,
> materials scientists and the like don't all have similar stories to mine.
> Assuming for a moment we _do_ want to (and have the capital to) restart
> an Australian manufacturing industry, do we have the people we need to
> run it any more?

Well Doug didn't like it when I pointed out all the reasons why I
shouldn't be here and then didn't leave, so I dunno if I'll be able to
argue the case without flak...

Financially and logically, the best should leave Oz as things
currently stand, we give them no reason to stay other than than it's
your birth place (and that is admittedly an emotional argument that
has some impact). In all fairness it's not just Australia, NZ suffers
it worse than we do.

Setting that aside, even though we don't have all the best still here,
I think we do still retain most of the skillsets, I don't think we're
dead in the water yet, but if we don't turn around the brain drain and
the lack of attention to skilling our population we will reach a
turning point where it is too late, and we will be unable to do so.

(and yes most of the people I know who topped my subjects at Uni are O/
S - my anecdotal evidence supports your observation as well)

From: JL on
On Dec 2, 8:08 pm, Zebee Johnstone <zeb...(a)> wrote:
> In on Tue, 2 Dec 2008 00:42:35 -0800 (PST)
> JL <jlitt...(a)> wrote:
> > On Dec 2, 4:06 pm, Zebee Johnstone <zeb...(a)> wrote:
> >> If excrement encounters airconditioning, you need to be able to make
> >> things you can no longer easily import.
> >> Oz was able to make weapons and clothing in WW2 and be self sufficient
> >> in food.  There was enough manufacturing capacity that we weren't
> >> helpless.
> > Indeed - that's exactly the best non-monetary reason to subsidise
> > local manufacturing capacity that exists. Of course the most likely
> > scenario for a war is one we have a snowball's chance in hell of
> > winning (although if I'm physically capable I'll be bloody well on the
> > front line with whatever weapon I can lay my hands on) - which is a
> > Chinese invasion in about 10-25 years pursuing more land and
> > resources- it's the only realistic threat we have in the near future
> > unless Indonesia finds an unexpected pot of gold that would allow them
> > to finance the venture they'd love to execute but can't afford to.
> I think the Brisbane Line idea is still viable.  There's a whole lot
> of nothing between Asia and the usable bits of Oz.

Now you're just TRYING to upset Doug - telling him he's
expendable ! ;-)

To be honest though, I disagree, if you look at the global warming
rainfall shift trends, we need to huddle north and south, large blocks
of Oz that are currently heavily populated are going to be
increasingly hostile (and hence less valuable to protect). Arthur C
Clarke's(1) water wars are looming (and he said 2020 too...
prescient). I think the map of what's worth defending is being
redrawn, and in 50 years time it may well be that Sydney and Melbourne
are far more expendable than Briz-Vegas(2).

> The Chinese probably have enough naval power and enough boots on the
> ground to make a good go of taking the North, but holding it and
> prospering is another matter altogether.

I think the military reality is that we can't possibly defend all our
shoreline, but like the Russian winter the climactic harshness and
lack of development of the north protects the more remote southern
population centres from easy invasion by land. Of course if they nuke
Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane they wipe out, what, 60% of the
population ? Might make an invasion a bit easier (or make the
remainder dig in and become really intransigent).

> On the other hand, if there's a serious amount of fighting and a
> number of failed states along the freight lanes, we could all be
> living in the Gulf of Aden...  Plenty of pirates already after all.
> Have them with better kit and training and it could get nasty.

I'm not quite sure I follow that - if you mean we could have troubles
receiving our freight due to dangerous freight routes, then yes, in an
apocalyptic scenario, sure. It's not however terribly likely.

> > True enough, it's very rare to see it coming. It behoves a nation to
> > be prepared, and Little-Johnny wasted a lot of money sucking up to the
> > yanks that could have been better spent building our capacity to
> > defend (Abrams tanks for fucks sake ? You can't even move the fuckers
> > around in Oz without breaking a bridge or a road)
> Not to mention all those expensive fighter planes that can't make it
> North because they can't carry the fuel, and can't land at the
> airstrips we have.  

Don't get me started. Our military are supposed to be here to protect
Oz last I looked.

> Maybe we should see if anyone still has any F111s in a cave somewhere?
> (Cue a quick chorus of the F111 song!)
> > Mmm. Possible but I suggest unlikely - I think we're more likely to
> > pay in time than dollars - you can sail from Japan to Oz in under a
> > year if diesel became prohibitively expensive, how long before sails
> > (albeit in a high tech format) make a come back ? The only reason we'd
> > be cut off is war, not cost. Wind and tide won't abate any time
> > soon.
> They are already using sails to help freighters on long relatively calm
> legs,

Have they implemented that already ? I saw the articles when it was
mooted but didn't realise it was "in production" (what's the correct
phrase there ?).

> I wonder what the costs will be  generally given that the trips
> to Oz can be ugly for sailing vessels.  When would it be cheaper to use
> mostly sail?

Mmm does it really matter - profit will drive people to find solutions
to move freight, and it's not really that bad a sailing trip from Asia
to Oz as long as you avoid the reefs as I understand (but I'm not a
navy guy so take with a grain of salt.

> War and pirates, and lack of reason to sell here perhaps.  

War and pirates yeah, in an apocalypse, but in a civilised world no
real dramas - the Sudanese pirates are under serious attack and that's
about the worst we've had since the Malacca Straits were cleaned up.

Lack of reason to sell ? Money talks, always will. Has for a couple of
millenia anyway.

> > Even in your scenario, we can build manufacturing for most things
> > reasonably easily and those we don't currently have capability for
> > like RAM and LCD/plasma screens are relatively high value per Kg - ie
> > the shipping costs are a relatively small proportion of their value by
> > weight.
> I wonder what we do need.  Solar panels come to mind, and heavy
> machinery.  But see your point below...

Mmm but we have either the existing factories or the capacity to build
both those - yes BP shut down a factory, but we still (just) have the
skills in unis.

> > The big danger is we continue the dumbing down of Oz that has been
> > going on for the last 10 years. If we lose the knowledge we lose the
> > capability. We need to spend significantly more on both higher
> > education and trade training (tafe and apprenticeships). The current
> > situation where we are engaging fewer apprentices than we need and
> > then have to import them is unsustainable and bloody madness.
> Yup.  The number were cut in the last recession, and when there was
> plenty of money we just hired "trained" labour.  Now there's not the
> money or the people to train them.
> I suspect that the only way out is going to be to revamp the
> apprenticeship system.  IN good times the pay's too low, in bad times
> the profit is too low.
> One way is, of course, to bring back the big government training
> workshops.  Heaps of tradies got their start in the railways for
> example.  The govt can do the training without the short term profit
> requirement.
> I suspect a lot more would be done for the country if this
> infrastructure money had requirements for apprentice training in
> trades attached.  

Can't argue any of that. Yes, I agree.

1 assuming I'm correctly recalling the author in question - it's been
a couple of decades since I read any SF
2 although I don't think it's very likely - Brisbane is more likely to
suffer population constraints from limitation to water supply given
they are already struggling
From: Aeek on
On 1 Dec 2008 23:12:39 GMT, Zebee Johnstone <zebeej(a)> wrote:

>The problem for Oz will be that much of the land isn't useful for
>anything but housing and we aren't putting houses on it... And if we
>did, there'd be no water for them.

We're putting housing on the land that is actually useful for
something else!
From: bikerbetty on

"Andrew Price" <arathorn(a)> wrote in message
> Just back from a long promised long weekend out of Sinney.
> Bell's line, then the old Tarana road to Bathurst, twice round the
> mountain
> as homage to sacred ground, then the back road past Abercrombie Caves and
> through Tuena (the front road, through Oberon and Taralga, is now wholly
> sealed and the locals at Crookwell say its got the better views).
> If that's so, then those views would want to be pretty good as mine were
> spectacular for about 80k

> Recommended therapy - anyone tried the Tralaga road recently and can say
> if
> its good?

Yep, last Saturday - and the views were indeed lovely. The clouds were low
and black and occasionally they leaked and spoiled the view a bit, but it
was a nice ride. The last of the unsealed bits are now sealed, and a few of
the old sealed bits need resealing. Around Black Springs there are some
impressive potholes.


From: Andrew Price on
Zeb wrote -
> Well, they could maybe resurrect the small arms factory at Lithgow.

And that's almost as much respected ground to me as Mt Panorama.

In about 1910 the infant military and the gov't of the day here worked out
that our total dependence on Mother England for armaments was a bit of a
strategical risk and Australian manufacturing requiring real skills was born
there - if you call in there have a look at how we did a lot with a little,
and perhaps as importantly, took our first baby step into not being totally
reliant in a sycophantic way to the major power of the day.

It was the first step on a journey towards national maturity that will be
continuing for many years yet.

Another small step that will I think be seen as hugely important was Rudd
apologizing to the first Australians earlier this year - ... "from little
things ..."

Best, Andrew

(still buzzing from the run; wonder if I will like the first day at my
[track] school day next week?)