Hmmm…. File under “
anyone no-one could have predicted that”.
For most readers this will be a theoretical question (and if it isn’t, email me and I’ll reply with my PayPal details for a donation), but if you had a spare $300,000,000 would you invest it in a steel processing plant in a heavily-unionised country with a currency trading at an all-time high against the rest of the world while demand for the end product is falling? What do you think your return on investment would be?
If you said “NEGATIVE return on investment”, you’d be bang on the money.
Trouble is, if you were a taxpayer in Australia since 2011, that’s just what you did.
Those brilliant people in the Federal government pissed about $40 of every taxpayer’s money into the Australian steel industry in 2011 (assumption; about a third of the population are net contributors, i.e pay more tax than receive handouts. I have a nagging suspicion that I’m being optimistic). From what I can tell from the scheme, we didn’t even get any shares for that, just chucked it in the bank account of the affected companies as a “competitiveness assistance advance”.
“Competitiveness assistance advance”. You couldn’t make this shit up, could you? It’s like Franz Kafka and George Orwell sat down over a bottle of classic recipe absinthe and tried to come up with the most ridiculous double-speak description for a naked big handout payment.
Here’s an idea, Australia; when you get to Rio in 2016, why don’t you put your men’s 100 metre sprinter 25 metres up the track before the starting gun. Let’s call it a “competitiveness assistance advance” and see how that goes for you. I suspect Usain Bolt will still win, though.
And how DID the brilliant Steel Transformation Plan go for the affected firms? Well, here’s one of them; BlueScope got a nice $100,000,000 suck on the government tit in 2011 and yet this year are still more fucked than a ten dollar streetwalker at 6am on the Sunday after payday.
The economic genius that is Cesar Melhem, the Victorian Secretary of the increasingly inaccurately-named Australian Workers’ Union (my apostrophe) was on the news last night calling on the State Premier to “do something”. In an exquisite piece of unintentional irony, he’s also questioned whether the one hundred million smackeroos were spent well?
OF COURSE THEY FUCKING WEREN’T, CESAR!
To be fair, he means “did BlueScope spend the money well?”. Who knows? Who cares? It was flushed down the shitter the moment Julia signed the cheque, probably best not to grieve over it at this late stage.
So back to the original question. Who in their right mind thinks that, in a country suffering from a classic case of Dutch Disease, there is any point trying to prolong the life of the steel industry with taxpayer money?
Or the car industry.
Or the wine industry.