One of the most peculiar aspects that I find of modern economic and political life in Australia is the woefully inadequate and unsuccessful lobbying by small business and farmers of the various institutions of power.
While it can appear at times that the opposite is the case (i.e., on ad-hoc issues where band-aids are applied with loud claims of continued support), it appears that the philosophical ground of support is continuously being whittled away, and nowhere is this more evident and worrying than in Coalition ranks, where it appears big business is seriously in danger of obliterating small business and farmer input.
I can surmise a number of reasons for this:
• the lack of finance and the difficulty lobbying associations have in organising a large number of dispersed members;
• the narrow economic idealism taught in universities, etc., that does not intellectually equip even the officers of these lobbying associations to understand and argue effectively on issues of concern;
• the excessive number of lawyers and merchant bankers in institutions of power whose natural affinities are with big business and turning public and mixed goods upon which farmers are particularly reliant into tradable commodities; and
• a mistaken belief that big business is speaking on behalf of the good of the nation when in fact global corporations’ interests are no longer national but international.
Finally, I also suspect small business and farmers undervalue their right to lobby on issues that affect them. Big business, despite its high-blown rhetoric, is never backward in attempting to tilt the playing-field in its favour.
Similarly, even in the land of free enterprise, there has always been a significant gap between rhetoric and actual action. At least News Weekly supports small business and farmers, but their lobbying associations need to be persistent, unapologetic and noisy.
(Mr) Chris Hilder,