The ten firms that control Australia

Via Domainfax:

In a firebrand speech in Canberra this week, delivered with the enthusiasm of someone with their eye on the party leadership, Mr Dastyari told a Politics in the Pub audience that he thought he understood power before coming to Canberra as a senator.

“You will not find somebody who came more from the ALP machine than me,” Mr Dastyari told the audience, in a recording obtained by Fairfax Media.

“I’m a product of the machine like you would not believe. I joined the Labor Party when I was 16. I took over my first branches by the time I was 17 … [so] I thought I understood the brutality of politics simply by my time in the NSW Labor Party and my time in the NSW Labor machine.”

“[But] none of that braced me for an understanding of just how concentrated, brutal and aggressive a handful of businesses operate [in Australia], and the real corporate power where it actually rests in this country,” he said.

He then claimed there are 10 companies that wield the most incredible amount of power in Australia, to the point where it has stifled proper democratic and economic progress.

“Four banks, and we all know who they are – the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac, and ANZ – three big mining companies, in Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, and Fortescue Metals, you’ve got your two big grocery chains, and you’ve got your big telco, which is Telstra,” Mr Dastyari said.

They have “unprecedented concentration of corporate influence” in Australia, he said.

“The entire political debate has become so dominated by the interests that they’re pushing, and the agenda that they’re pushing. And [we’ve] ended up with this complete crowding out of a proper political discourse in this country because there is one sectional interest that is so much louder than every other voice out there combined.”

Readers will instantly recognise that as true. It is the houses and holes business model that now defends itself whenever reform threatens. Like all successful systems it has a powerful self-generating capacity that turns what might be threats into allies. Political influence is one way. Another is the self-selection of system huggers to the bureaucracy. Another is through controlling ideas and dominating discourse. For that reason, if I had to make my own top ten I would remove the supermarkets and replace them with the media duopoly of Domainfax (ironically) and News. Although much smaller firms, it is they that are the thought police keeping the nation tied to the apron strings of its houses and holes corporate masters.

There are only two ways out:

  • a new political force must rise;
  • or, the system must crash (and even then a new political force is needed).
David Llewellyn-Smith
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Comments

  1. I reckon you could leave the massive grocery (& gambling & alcohol) duopoly in and have another top ten of organisations that exist solely because they slavishly serve the needs of the top 10 – the media corporations sit in this space.

    The Liberal and Labor parties have been irretrievably corrupted by the corporate lobby, it is absolutely time to bin these failed institutions.

    • Tassie TomMEMBER

      You only have to look at how many overweight and obese people are around to realise how much influence the Big 2 supermarkets have. It isn’t so much in the regulation of food but controlling the public discussion of food – people think they understand what constitutes a healthy diet but clearly they’re wrong. The Australian Dieticians Association too is horribly conflicted and militantly defends their unscientific positions on dietary advice “balanced diet, everything in moderation, food pyramid” etc.

      When you’ve only got a population of 23 million, how do you increase your revenue? Get them all to eat 50% more each.

      • Look at how beer companies etc don’t have to disclose calories/sugar content etc, like every other bottled drink company in Australia. One of the great Sht stains re vested interest groups being able to alter what should be basic, good government policy

      • Josh MoorreesMEMBER

        It always amuses me when people drink low carb beers thinking they are better for you. People Don’t seem to understand that alcohol is pure energy, hence why you can run a car on it. Those ads on the radiotalking about beer being low sugar just blow my mind that people fall for it.

      • desmodromicMEMBER

        Tom, do you have any evidence for the conflicts of interest in the DAA? I know several members of the board past and present and I can pass it on. This country is addicted to alcohol and sugary drinks, is bombarded by advertising for both, and governments are lobbied incessantly not to change the labelling and advertising regulations. Maybe the conflicts lie elsewhere?

      • TT – I am fat because I eat too much (not the sugar drinks – I drink diet, makes no difference though), its nether Cole’s or Woolies that made me do it.

        I think people grab these conspiracy theories because they are easy to digest, and play with people fears that there is some grand plan somewhere. The truth is, the further you get to the top, the more you realise how clueless people are. If there was any grand plan, they would have exposed it on 60 minutes or something.. four corners probably.

        There is no grand plan, just us, and you bad choices. IMHO I think we should take responsibility for our own actions. In my case – go to the gym, liposuction or something… actually, gastric band would be good.

      • Tassie TomMEMBER

        @ Desmodronic – just an example – the ADA recently renewed their major sponsorship deal with the Australian Grains Corp.

        But that’s ok because grains are healthy, right? Well, maybe, maybe not, but there will never be any evidence to the contrary come to light while they are sponsoring the peak nutritional advice body.

      • desmodromicMEMBER

        TT, given that the cultivation of grains was what transformed humans from hunter gathers to hipsters I expect that you might be waiting a long time. Thus, confirming your conspiracy theory.

      • “TT – I am fat because I eat too much (not the sugar drinks – I drink diet, makes no difference though), its nether Cole’s or Woolies that made me do it.”

        RT, that might be your experience, but mine is very different. I too am overweight, but I can pretty much eat as much unprocessed food as I like and still lose weight. But as soon as I reintroduce junk food back into my diet (because I’m weak) i quickly put weight back on. I agree that the problem boils down to poor personal choices, but that doesn’t change the fact a lot of the processed food on the market is utter junk and has far more sugar, salt and fat that is healthy. You really don’t have to eat much of it at all to put on weight.

        Hell, you’d have to eat almost 1 kg of carrots to get the same amount of Kj that you get from a 60 gram chocolate bar! It’s an extreme example, but added sugar and fat in processed food adds up faster than most of us realise. At the end of the day it’s not about how much food you put in your mouth, it’s the amount of Kj in the food that matters.

      • I think people grab these conspiracy theories because they are easy to digest, and play with people fears that there is some grand plan somewhere.

        You do not need conspiracy, or a grand plan, for people to have common goals.

        There has been vast effort invested in creating chemical, biological and psychological dependencies on bad food, and working against transparency and the promulgation of good food. It is not conspiracy – just watch “The Men Who Made Us Fat” – it is simply the expected outcome of decades of intense profit-seeking (much like everything else that is fucking the world).

      • Tassie TomMEMBER

        @ 8mill – yes it’s bullshit that alcoholic drinks don’t have a nutrition information bar. Over 70% of the calories in even high-carb beer come from the ethanol alone.

        @ RT – yes it’s your fault that you’re overweight, but only partly. All the odds are stacked against you. Just like at the pokies – it’s the gambler’s fault they put the money in the machine, but they are no match for the best psychologists in the land, developing addictive machines and creating the whole environment and surrounds to promote gambling addiction. I disagree that it’s not Coles and Woollies’ fault – they manipulate your buying habits in ways that we don’t even notice. If there was not a system problem then 2/3 of the population would not have a weight problem.

        For example, ever gone to the service deli and asked for 200 grams of something? Do they ever put 175 grams on and say “is this ok?” No – it’s always 220g or 230g – and suddenly you’re eating 10-15% more than you planned to. And that’s only an obvious one.

        The most awesome masterstroke is that Coles & Woollies deflect the blame (never directly and never attributable to them) to take-away food. Bullshit – I’ve met 120kg vegans.

        @ RobW – obesity is ultimately a disease of calories in vs calories out, but it should not be thought of that way. It should be thought of as a disease of hunger vs basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is the major source of calories out. Sugar is a direct stimulant of hunger largely via leptin inhibition, and carbohydrates are an indirect stimulant of hunger via insulin release which a) stores rather than immediately metabolises calories, and b) suppresses ketogenic and gluconeogenetic machinery as there is always a glycogen reservoir.

        A low carbohydrate diet will a) make you less hungry, and b) increase your basal metabolic rate particularly for the 6-8 hours after meals. You feel like crap for a month while your ketogenic machinery cranks up, but it is of no physiologic disadvantage.

        But of course, “whole grains are important”, “you can’t exclude a whole food group”, “everything in balance and moderation”. Garbage!

      • Retardtime….

        Pulitzer prize Micheal Moss…

        “Every year, the average American eats 33 pounds of cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and 70 pounds of sugar (about 22 teaspoons a day). We ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese. It’s no wonder that 26 million Americans have diabetes, the processed food industry in the U.S. accounts for $1 trillion a year in sales, and the total economic cost of this health crisis is approaching $300 billion a year.

        In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we got here. Featuring examples from some of the most recognizable (and profitable) companies and brands of the last half century – including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, Nestlé, Oreos, Cargill, Capri Sun, and many more – Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, often eye-opening research.

        Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed – in a technique adapted from tobacco companies – to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt”. He talks to concerned executives who confess that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products even if serious regulation became a reality. Simply put: The industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar, and fat. Just as millions of “heavy users” – as the companies refer to their most ardent customers – are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again”

        http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15797397-salt-sugar-fat

        “The discussion took place in Pillsbury’s auditorium. The first speaker was a vice president of Kraft named Michael Mudd. “I very much appreciate this opportunity to talk to you about childhood obesity and the growing challenge it presents for us all,” Mudd began. “Let me say right at the start, this is not an easy subject. There are no easy answers — for what the public health community must do to bring this problem under control or for what the industry should do as others seek to hold it accountable for what has happened. But this much is clear: For those of us who’ve looked hard at this issue, whether they’re public health professionals or staff specialists in your own companies, we feel sure that the one thing we shouldn’t do is nothing.”

        As he spoke, Mudd clicked through a deck of slides — 114 in all — projected on a large screen behind him. The figures were staggering. More than half of American adults were now considered overweight, with nearly one-quarter of the adult population — 40 million people — clinically defined as obese. Among children, the rates had more than doubled since 1980, and the number of kids considered obese had shot past 12 million. (This was still only 1999; the nation’s obesity rates would climb much higher.) Food manufacturers were now being blamed for the problem from all sides — academia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. The secretary of agriculture, over whom the industry had long held sway, had recently called obesity a “national epidemic.”

        Mudd then did the unthinkable. He drew a connection to the last thing in the world the C.E.O.’s wanted linked to their products: cigarettes. First came a quote from a Yale University professor of psychology and public health, Kelly Brownell, who was an especially vocal proponent of the view that the processed-food industry should be seen as a public health menace: “As a culture, we’ve become upset by the tobacco companies advertising to children, but we sit idly by while the food companies do the very same thing. And we could make a claim that the toll taken on the public health by a poor diet rivals that taken by tobacco.”

        “If anyone in the food industry ever doubted there was a slippery slope out there,” Mudd said, “I imagine they are beginning to experience a distinct sliding sensation right about now.”

        Mudd then presented the plan he and others had devised to address the obesity problem. Merely getting the executives to acknowledge some culpability was an important first step, he knew, so his plan would start off with a small but crucial move: the industry should use the expertise of scientists — its own and others — to gain a deeper understanding of what was driving Americans to overeat. Once this was achieved, the effort could unfold on several fronts. To be sure, there would be no getting around the role that packaged foods and drinks play in overconsumption. They would have to pull back on their use of salt, sugar and fat, perhaps by imposing industrywide limits. But it wasn’t just a matter of these three ingredients; the schemes they used to advertise and market their products were critical, too. Mudd proposed creating a “code to guide the nutritional aspects of food marketing, especially to children.”

        “We are saying that the industry should make a sincere effort to be part of the solution,” Mudd concluded. “And that by doing so, we can help to defuse the criticism that’s building against us.”

        What happened next was not written down. But according to three participants, when Mudd stopped talking, the one C.E.O. whose recent exploits in the grocery store had awed the rest of the industry stood up to speak. His name was Stephen Sanger, and he was also the person — as head of General Mills — who had the most to lose when it came to dealing with obesity. Under his leadership, General Mills had overtaken not just the cereal aisle but other sections of the grocery store. The company’s Yoplait brand had transformed traditional unsweetened breakfast yogurt into a veritable dessert. It now had twice as much sugar per serving as General Mills’ marshmallow cereal Lucky Charms. And yet, because of yogurt’s well-tended image as a wholesome snack, sales of Yoplait were soaring, with annual revenue topping $500 million. Emboldened by the success, the company’s development wing pushed even harder, inventing a Yoplait variation that came in a squeezable tube — perfect for kids. They called it Go-Gurt and rolled it out nationally in the weeks before the C.E.O. meeting. (By year’s end, it would hit $100 million in sales.)

        According to the sources I spoke with, Sanger began by reminding the group that consumers were “fickle.” (Sanger declined to be interviewed.) Sometimes they worried about sugar, other times fat. General Mills, he said, acted responsibly to both the public and shareholders by offering products to satisfy dieters and other concerned shoppers, from low sugar to added whole grains. But most often, he said, people bought what they liked, and they liked what tasted good. “Don’t talk to me about nutrition,” he reportedly said, taking on the voice of the typical consumer. “Talk to me about taste, and if this stuff tastes better, don’t run around trying to sell stuff that doesn’t taste good.”

        To react to the critics, Sanger said, would jeopardize the sanctity of the recipes that had made his products so successful. General Mills would not pull back. He would push his people onward, and he urged his peers to do the same. Sanger’s response effectively ended the meeting.

        “What can I say?” James Behnke told me years later. “It didn’t work. These guys weren’t as receptive as we thought they would be.” Behnke chose his words deliberately. He wanted to be fair. “Sanger was trying to say, ‘Look, we’re not going to screw around with the company jewels here and change the formulations because a bunch of guys in white coats are worried about obesity.’ ”

        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?_r=0

        Skippy…. you and your ilk like 3d1k et al have deep psychological disorders in order to be so blind [willfully or not] to the facts, wrt cause and effect of a great many anti – socially destructive activity’s… to endlessly blame the victims or better yet the marks and play the free will card at any blow back to your stripes machinations…. sick puppy’s….

      • “it’s the gambler’s fault they put the money in the machine, but they are no match for the best psychologists in the land, developing addictive machines and creating the whole environment and surrounds to promote gambling addiction. ”

        Now Tassie Tom, I’m sure that all that operant and classic conditioning that can be observed is purely coincidental!

      • Tassie TomMEMBER

        @ Skippy,

        Thanks.

        Even more ingenious than blaming the victims – the obese out there generally blame themselves.

        As for fat – it’s a bit more complicated. Saturated fat (the “bad fat”), generally animal or nut fats such as in cheese, is actually good for you – it fills you up. Most fat that we we eat (usually without knowing it) is unsaturated fat – vegetable oils. They don’t fill you up – you don’t even notice them except that the texture of whatever you’re eating is good. There is increasing evidence that unsaturated fats promote chronic low-grade inflammation, contributing to a range of diseases and ailments, from low back pain to carpal tunnel disease to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

        Mind you, if you have a high-sugar high-carbohydrate diet, then it will suppress the satiety that you get even from saturated fat and you will continue to overeat.

        Next time you’re at the supermarket not how many packaged food items do not have added sugar, carbohydrates, or unsaturated fat. Even half the meats are marinated in something sugary these days.

      • “Next time you’re at the supermarket not how many packaged food items do not have added sugar, carbohydrates, or unsaturated fat.”

        I also like the way some companies list sugar different ways (e.g sugar, brown sugar, sucrose etc) so the don’t have to list sugar as a main ingredient.

        “Even more ingenious than blaming the victims – the obese out there generally blame themselves.”

        I can’t speak for other obese people, but while I agree with much of what you and Skippy have said, I also agree with RT. Yes, many of these companies are unethical and predatory, but they are what they are. At the end of the day I know better, yet I still eat their crap. I can’t deny responsibility for that.

        What makes me sad is seeing my friends feed their very young kids large amounts of junk food. What hope do they have when they develop poor eating habits so young

      • Tassie Tom a great deal of my working life has been in the construction of processing plants and distribution architecture, besides the aforementioned above and your comment I would also add the fiddling with weights and volumes e.g. gang needles to inject brine into meats to add weight, lower content in products replaced with water et al….

        Skippy…. the great part is 3d1k and sorts like RT will pop up again and again to endlessly bloviate about stuff they have absolutely no knowlage of or worse obfuscate about it…. and some people give pedophiles a hard time… whats the difference… it feels good and I wanna do it…. freedom [tm)….

        And some bang on about money being devalued…. sigh….

      • Re: salmonella in packaged salad
        I spoke to someone this morning who said, they know a person working in a laboratory in Melb. The are in the process of testing 1,000s of samples. They have found the cause, chicken manure. Now they have to find out how the contamination happened.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2669443/Pre-packed-salad-will-lead-to-increased-food-poisoning.html

        ” “In their efforts to eat healthily, people are eating more salad products, choosing to buy organic brands and preferring the ease of ‘pre-washed’ bagged salads from supermarkets, than ever before,” he said.

        “All of these factors, together with the globalisation of the food market, mean that cases of salmonella and E.coli poisoning caused by salads are likely to rise in the future. “

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        Who needs to eat food when there is a bacon and egg roll of goodness in every stubbie of beer

      • Your root cause analysis has fallen short of the true issue.

        Meat and Livestock (including dairy) industrial machine.

        Not enough money in an “just eat plant powered” diet.

        There’s still plenty of $ in such a diet for supermercados.

      • Tassie TomMEMBER

        @ Note to – Yes, it’s RobW’s fault that he eats that crap. But, given that 2/3 of Australia’s adult population is overweight or obese, it’s clear that it’s not entirely his fault.

        If 2/3 of the population were unemployed and starving, you’d say that there was some sort of structural problem with the economy. If 2/3 of the population were homeless, you’d say that there was something structural wrong with the housing market.

        The point of the article is – who is pulling the puppet strings of the government and therefore the country? I’m arguing that Coles and Woollies are doing so in a big way. They sell more food than we need to eat, and it makes them more profit and it makes us fat. It’s a HUGE profit-making industry. And nobody thinks they’re really at fault for the damage they’ve done.

        The thing is – they’ve conned at least 2/3 of us. Many of the 1/3 of us of healthy BMI are also conned but have lucky metabolism – we have less of an insulin response to carbohydrates and therefore have higher BMR, more hunger suppression, and less fat storage when we eat food.

        BMI of 25-30 is NOT the new normal – it is still sick. It is still an illness which causes all sorts of problems and early death. It is still an impediment to employment, friendships, relationships, and happiness – and so it should be. Partners want someone healthy to help nurture 50% of themselves, and employers want someone healthy to represent their business.

        I’m not trying to be a “fat shamer”. Even though it is the fat people’s fault because nobody else holds the fork to their mouth, it is not completely their fault. They are essentially the unwitting victim of Coles and Woolworths’ profit. And that applies to 2/3 of us, and probably a lot of the other 1/3 too who just happen to be lucky.

        So, who runs the country?

      • Tom – with all due respect (and as an ex fattie).

        Coles and WOW may, to a small degree, be complicit in Industrial Food. WOW has Jamie Oliver on board – a huge meat pusher. They equally advertise fresh fruit/veg.

        At the end of the day, they sell what makes money and I do not begrudge them the right to do so.

        The real culprits here are Meat/Dairy $. Including the likes of MacDonalds (arguably are getting better, obviously only due to demand).

        And, to a large degree, people.

        Here’s the real pointy end: who forces you to cook some chops for tea compared to rice and vegies.

        Advertising has a bit to do with it – that’s its job.

        It’s self realisation/actualisation/introspection.

        Garth David, Durianrider, Rich Roll, peeps. That stuff ain’t hidden. Doesn’t have the $ behind it. but it’s there.

        Peace, plants.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      “If I had to make my own top ten I would remove the supermarkets and replace them with the media duopoly of Domainfax (ironically) and News.”

      Why don’t we just make it a top 12 arseholes list and be done with it.

  2. A good defence against this would be making ASIC company data completely free and open. That data would give us the complete picture of precisely who owns how much of what, regardless of how many interposed shell companies are used. Marry that up with already open AEC donations data and that’s some pretty good transparency. Yeah! That’s what we should do!

    Oh wait…. we’re privatising that…

    • Just to add on a more serious note, I can’t believe the insanity of privatising a government legislated monopoly that has near 0 marginal cost of production (it’s literally an automated database query that spits out a PDF).

      In fact, it’s insane public policy for ASIC to even be charging for it now (at least while it’s still in public hands).

  3. Is not the South Korean economy dominated by a handful of chaebols?

    So why does AUS have to have mass immigration if South Korea does not.

    I think a lot of airports in USA are government owned.

    So why the hell does not the Vic Gov own MEL airport for the benefit of Victorian voters.

    Norway, Hong Kong, USA, China, Delhi, and maybe other places have big tax breaks for electric cars.

    Why the hell does AUS not have tax breaks for electric cars.


    • Why the hell does AUS not have tax breaks for electric cars.

      Because there are no Australian manufacturers of electric cars to lobby for such tax breaks?

  4. “or, the system must crash (and even then a new political force is needed).”

    The fact that we didn’t have a indepth government inquiry into the behaviour of our banks after the financial planning scandal was exposed (when we were having royal commissions into almost everything else) shows how compromised our politicians are.

    I mean we had a clear example of our banks acting in an unethical and predatory manner and they are basically sent off to self regulate. These things can bring down our economy! Can we trust the culture in this institutions? We keep holding up are regulators as world class, but are they really? Or have they (and we) just been lucky?

    Thankfully a few in the media picked up on what was going on before the Coalition further deregulated this area!

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      “they are basically sent off to self regulate.”

      Discracefull stuff,… sure,… but at least the gov is cracking down on union organisers pilfering 100s of thousands of dollars of members dues.

      Once the Union is completly broken, Im sure all will be fine.

      • Not sure is your post is a bit of sarcasm , but anyway, there is corruption in unions, just like there is corruption in corporates and of course in the government/public sectors. The HSU wasn’t so much corruption, but more about governance and ASIC uncovered that well before the RC made it a political football. The outcome of the Royal Commission revealed as much corporate wrongdoing as unions. Cramping down on unions isn’t going to solve economic problems.

  5. Sam Dastyari is doing good things.

    He was ropable that the greens help waterdown his efforts in legilsative changes to stop companies paying zero tax, I think this speech has something to do with some of findings he has since found out.

    He is capturing the hearts of young voters.

    • Ha! The self-confessed creature of the political power machine, comes to office only because of his connections, at the expense of others who probably had the real-life experience and insight to address such issues….shh Sam….back in your box mate. That’s not how this is supposed to work…..

  6. Tassie TomMEMBER

    Good on you Sam Dastyari – an Emperor’s New Clothes moment. I hope to hear more from you in the near future about exactly how these 10 rulers of Australia run the country – with detailed examples if possible. Thanks in advance.

    • Sam’s wardrobe might need a bullet proof vest.

      Its dangerous to have such anti-establishment thoughts/discussion.

      • Sam mentioned he grew up in the ALP party machine – expect that he bought his first knife-proof vest around the time he first stacked a branch (apparently at age 17), and has no doubt been keeping some bullet proof vests in wardrobe from pretty much the same time.

  7. system will crash and new political power will rise and nothing will change
    just have a look at Greece or Spain or ….
    democracy is just a mirage while economic crises are happening by design and serve the purpose of fast wealth transfer from poor to rich
    just have a look at Forbes list from 2005 to 2015 (from $2.2t to $7.05t) during the worst economic decade since great depression.

    it’s simple and obvious

  8. When East Germany collapsed many say it was all a result of Gorbachev tying Honecker’s hands to prevent any military action against the people.but if you asked the average East German at the time, they’d say the wall came down because there was absolutely no other way forward. What most history books forget to mention was called the “gruener weg” which was basically a process by which East German citizens were going on holidays to Hungry or Czechoslovakia and simply parking their Trabbies in the forests as close to the Austrian boarder as they could and walking across the border into Austria and onto West Germany.
    While this migration was small in absolute numbers at the margin it still tipped East Germany from a functioning society into complete chaos. Naturally those that left were not the ones sitting around collecting welfare nor were they the politically connected with their outsized wage packets, no it was primarily the young and highly skilled that left the East bound for the West. This group understood that they had no future in East Germany so it was better for them to just give up everything and start afresh in the West of course they took their skills with them.
    From a practical perspective it was this skilled migration that tipped the balance of power and bought about the complete collapse of Communist control in East Germany, Gorbachev simply recognized the military action was pointless and self defeating, bit like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

    Australia’s still a long way from having it’s skilled young workers mass migrate to elsewhere in the world but it is sure doing it’s best to get there and it’s both parties leading the way.
    Insanity trumps stupidity is probably the best working definition of Australia’s political reality and it all comes at a huge opportunity cost especially for those young Aussies that would see their work build a better Australia.

    • such a naive reading of history

      hint – people don’t matter, skilled or non-skilled simply they don’t matter

    • While I sadly agree with docX (think N Korea), I seem to have become aware for some time of more and more talented young and even not so young Australians just getting pissed off and leaving indefinitely or permanently or seriously mulling about leaving. It’s not a good sign, but reflects the increasingly limited range of opportunities outside the usual suspects and extraordinary costs of urban land for any purpose.

      • I agree,for Australia the fix is relatively easy it all comes down to creating a social system that delivers opportunity and value to the next generation, unfortunately it’s the implementation that’s politically impossible. But ins’t this is exactly what you get when the political process is corrupted by powerful interest groups and I’m not just talking about corporate power, because there were an awful lot of the 40/50 plus crowd (of both political leanings) that cheered on the insanity.

      • desmodromicMEMBER

        In a conversation with my 25 yo engineer son last week “this place ticks none of the boxes”. Current work is tenuous, alternative work is non-existent, the cost of living is high and he has no prospect of owning a house in Sydney. US or Europe beckons “at least they make stuff”.

      • this is not about fix we used to have system that was much much better in delivering opportunity and value to the next generation.
        the real question is how we ended up in this situation and who is responsible for it (both from political leadership and supporters)
        maybe it’s time to starts charging ex leaders for crimes against humanity

      • @ desmodromic

        believe me USA and Europe are not much different (I lived there and they don’t make almost anything) – it’s a global sickness and cannot be avoided by running away from it.

      • Concur dx so the next question is how did become a global problem e.g. how was this ideology exported internationally, whom funded it, and what is exactly its goal[s….

    • rob barrattMEMBER

      CB
      Anna Funder’s book “Stasiland” is the definitive guide to the real George Orwell’s 1984. Moving and unbelievably – factual. The basic problem though – is us. Me, Me, Me …. repeat a thousand times. My guess is that insects – ants specifically, will inherit the earth. They have a thing called social co-operation – virtually unknown in the human world. This morning I learn the world’s “best” restaurant is briefly visiting Aus – $500 for a helping of Michelin bush tucker – 28,000 already on the waiting list.
      At the risk of being repetitive, I always like to watch the luggage carousel after a crowded flight. Instead of standing 2 meters back where you can:
      a) See your case coming; and
      b) Get to it without knocking other people over
      Guess what happens…… Yeah, a real success story, that’s us, and our politics and politicians reflect our characters, now, and forever. No new system I’m afraid. Just change your politicians regularly and expect absolutely nothing of the [email protected]@@@rs.

      • I always like to watch the luggage carousel
        Did you see me there? I was the one standing 2m back shaking my head at the 99% of morons.
        Interestingly when they get behind the wheel of a car they reverse their behaviour. At intersections many will sit 3,4 or 5 metres back from the car in front, and thereby block access to the right turning bay.

      • @rob Just change your politicians regularly and expect absolutely nothing of the [email protected]@@@rs.
        I believe this is called the Italian way, specifically you change them so often that they can’t ever actually implement meaningful change. Call me a commie if you like, but I’ll take a Chinese 5 year plan approach any day over Italian political dysfunction.

      • rob barrattMEMBER

        CB
        I would agree there’s an optimum period that needs to be allowed. Call it a “use by” date. You can plan a clear course of action in opposition, announce this in a manifesto and perform the action if elected. Failure to have done this consistently is a clear indication of the fickle nature of the electorate and the resultant tactics of the (always unreliable) politicians. The system itself won’t get any more efficient for the reasons I’ve outlined. Unless of course you hand over power to a party who then abolish democracy. That has it’s obvious and terminal drawbacks. The base problem with democracy is the electorate.

      • Good Book I read it a while ago.
        Interestingly about 6 months after the wall came down I was working on a project near Stuttgart and living in this Hotel / pension. Most of the other guests were East German construction workers (many of them were actually degree qualified Engineers but were working construction to make a quick buck) There weren’t many places to eat in the town so most of us took the meal plan at the hotel and sat around in the evening drinking beer and bs’ing. Since East Germany was history everyone felt free to tell tales of what they got up to and how they really got by under communism. So many amusing tales of the human spirit/ will overcoming the rigidity of the state system. All was not forgiven or forgotten because they also made it a point to compare notes on who they thought was Stassi and why.

        Interestingly I found out years later that I had also worked closely for over 5 years with a high ranking Stassi officer in west Germany before the wall came down. Apparently he escaped over his back fence while the Police were running in the front door and somehow got back to Russia, nothings been heard from him since It’s funny to think about the Global uncertainty associated with that period and compare the social / economic progress that was achieved with the social degradation (rich to poor ratios etc) we’re seeing today under relatively benign geo-political circumstances.


    • Australia’s still a long way from having it’s skilled young workers mass migrate to elsewhere in the world

      I’m not sure that’s right – there’s been a culture of young people looking for something bigger and better across the seas since at least the sixties.
      More importantly, 310k people emigrated from Australia last year, which is a very high number in such a small country. To give context, it was virtually the same as the number who left the UK.
      It’s really only that we maintain higher rates of immigration that hides the trend to emigration here.

    • Possibly not as significant as the past 10 years in middle Europe whereby a significant democratic deficit has emerged due to demographics and youth/working age mobility. The electorates, mostly key regional, are ageing and declining being dominated by older monocultural generations, lacking experience of the outside world and informed by e.g. the socialist 1950s, like their leaders.

      Meanwhile, the younger and working age population in the bottom half of the voting median age are availing themselves of EU mobility, paying taxes, acquiring skills, learning languages and ‘foreign ideas’ while sending money and expertise home, yet if not excluded, are precluded from voting…..

      This also happens with (younger) Australians who depart Australia for more than one year, even though born’n’bred in Oz, tax paying citizens, will lose their right to vote (now must repay HELP loans etc.), meanwhile the median voting age is rising…. and has benefitted materially from ‘middle class’ welfare, i.e. money follows the voting electorate…..

      Most monocultural leaders seem uneasy with savvy multicultural younger generations emerging….

  9. No better example of corporate interests making the rules than the lock out laws in Sydney, where everywhere must shut / limit service except the casinos.

  10. I look forward to the day that Labor returns donations from these companies and refuses to accept them in future.

    Until then it’s all talk.

  11. Top 10? Big 4 should be considered as just one company, given their cartel behaviour. And I might throw in Wesfarmers – who have perfected the art of buying into Australian duopolies.
    But that is just shenanigans. What really interests me is the foreign ownership of these Top 10+. We are familiar with some of the large foreign ownership numbers for the miners. But does anyone know what lays underneath all the nominee holdings of the rest?

    • AK I was listening to something the other day and they said the whole ASX is about $1.5T It set me to wondering how much of that was now foreign owned.
      Nobody in power wants the Aus people to know what has been going on so foreign ownership has become one big unknown number.

    • adelaide_economistMEMBER

      Good point. Whoever sits behind the nominees/custodians of the big four banks (the largest being HSBC, JP Morgan and Citibank) it’s safe to say they aren’t locals.

  12. “new political force must rise”

    Yes, but to make a positive difference that political force needs to be the Australian people (through some form of direct democracy, giving power back to the people), rather than another bunch of politicians.

  13. SoMPLSBoyMEMBER

    Well, it’s the obligation and responsibility of the people to vote for representation that reflects their view on how things should be.
    But just as Twain said, “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.”

    • The way the two major parties chop and change, break election promises, delay reform, misdirect and obfuscate after getting into power, there is no likelihood of things changing to ‘the way they should be’ as voted by the Australian people based on party marketing in the election process.

    • rob barrattMEMBER

      Nice quote SoMPLSBoy. I hadn’t heard that one before. You can see my humble view on politicians a few blogs above…..

  14. I think it’s fascinating that this dude comes from a political party that by his own admission let him “take over branches” (note the plural) by the time he was 17. So it’s true, the Labor party *is* run by children.

  15. The top 10 companies have say 10 directors each. Lets say they each have 3 other boards. That gives them tentacles to another 300 companies, but allow 50% for overlap so it’s 150 new companies and government authorities and QANGOS. Does anyone have a chart of these directors’ networks? Thye are the men (in about 85% of cases) that run Australia.

  16. Dastyari’s comments stem from his recent experience in the senate with his inquiry into financial advisers in the banking sector. Apparently he was pushing for a royal commission but got put back in his place by the banks. CBA which usually donates $2m to each major party threatened to donate all their $4m to the Libs and none to the ALP if there was a Royal commission. Thus a Royal commission has not been forthcoming. That anecdote is from a very good source.

  17. I don’t have a problem with this. In fact, I struggle to see any real problem at all.

    Happy for someone here to illustrate a genuine example of egregious harm, apart from the obvious case of media bias that exists in this nation, a bias that sacrifices economic reform tomorrow for a headline today.

    • “I don’t have a problem with this”

      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

      Sums you up 3″d1k?

      • Because of pay to play electoral games over some decades coming home to roost…. it is what you payed for 3d1k…

        Skippy…. please don’t tell me you have buyers remorse…. now….

      • The company I work for spends no money on training or laptops. Because they don’t need the tax breaks, they make billions in revenue and pay zero tax.

        Employees get fed up and buy their own laptops even though they have crippling mortgages, if they don’t get the work done there are plenty of 457’s with better laptops.

      • Skip, I’ve always urged retrained, modest, sensible public sector spending. Good grief, I didn’t even agree with Costello’s baby bonus. Limited government, limited taxation and out of people’s bedrooms!

        It’s an unholy nexus, politicians and the voters. Need dependency counselling.

      • @3d: ” I’ve always urged retrained, modest, sensible public sector spending. ”

        one more time yeah!…….
        “THE $150 BILLION SUBSIDIES TO WEALTHY CITIZENS AND CORPORATIONS
        Joe Hockey has set the standard: “The age of entitlement is over and the age of personal responsibility has begun. … Everyone has to help do the heavy lifting here”. YET, NONE of these government handouts to the undeserving wealthy and corporates were touched!!!
        1. Excessive tax cuts to filthy richest $15.8 BILLION
        2. Fossil fuel subsidies $12 BILLION
        (24 times the car industry subsidy that returned 200,000 jobs and $30 BILLION)
        3. Superannuation tax concessions in FY15 $36 BILLION
        4. Negative Gearing $ 6.8 BILLION
        5. Capital Gains discount on home to FY18 $19 BILLION
        6. Capital Gains discount (CGT) $ 9.1 BILLION
        7. CGT discounts for persons & trusts in FY18 $28.3 BILLION
        8. Imputed Rent Exemptions $ 9.6 BILLION
        9. Mining Industry Subsidies $ 4.5 BILLION
        10. First Home Vendors Grants $ 1 BILLION
        11. Private School Subsidies per year 09-13 $ 9 BILLION”

        That means you’ve always urged restrained modest sensible corporate welfare spending.

        Splendid!

        Edit: It’s an unholy nexus, politicians and corporations. Need dependency counselling.
        Fixed.

      • I should also tell you our now sacked CEO used to always boast about his Canberra connections, and saw it as part of his job to ensure that he rubs shoulders with politicians.

        It’s Australian operations which have the dependency problem.

        This rent seeking creates fat, ineffecient companies which don’t have the leadership to compete within Asia!!!

      • 3d1k….

        Your prostrations aside… the company you keep and the cults you belong to indicate a completely different story…. that you have zero ethical problems with lying through your teeth does not instill any sort of confidence in your expressed opinions… quite the contrary… or opposite imo…

      • Econofart – some of those figures are riduculously misleading. Don’t rely on reports from TAI, you’ll get data screwed every time.

        That said our overly complex taxation regime engenders distortions. No doubt. But it is was it is and unlikely to ever be substantially reformed we muddle along – so take care not to confuse legitimate deductions etc with corporate welfare…and speaking of government largesse in 2015/16 alone we as a nation are to spend more than $250 billion on social welfare related expenses, a not insignificant sum.

      • It is a testament to the corporate class that they require $150billion worth of “legitimate deductions” in order to function in our economy. It takes incredible business nous to pull that one off. More credit to them.

      • Econofart. Your list is a ludicrous exaggeration. It’s includes concessions to individuals, has a nonsense fossil fuel subsidy figure then doubles up with one for mining too. You’re dazed and confused my friend. Stop reading TAI, you’ll go blind.

      • So your employer doesn’t just rely on Corporate Welfare from Australian Taxpayers, she needs a dose from U.S ones too. Oh maaaaan!
        http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/gina-rinehart-the-corporate-welfare-queen-20140324-35eq3.html
        ——
        “What’s up with Fossil Fuel Subsidies
        It’s time the Australian Government said no to polluter handouts, and yes to billions more dollars for clean energy, health, education and other important government priorities.

        Right now, the federal government spends around $10 billion a year as handouts – in the form of subsidies, cash, tax breaks and infrastructure – to big polluters. 1

        These handouts make fossil fuels (like coal, gas and petroleum) artificially cheap. So companies use more fossil fuels than they would with a level playing field – creating more pollution, blocking clean energy projects and fuelling the threat of climate change to all Australians.

        The Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency has said removing fossil fuel subsidies around the world could cut half the emissions needed to avoid exceeding two degrees of warming. Major international organisations like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the OECD and the UN have all said fossil fuel subsidies should be scrapped.”

        http://apo.org.au/resource/real-corporate-welfare

        You know a thing or two about being blind 😉

      • ‘Big polluters’ is an Orwellian perversion of language. These entities are energy providers: you and everyone else utilises their services every day in every way.

        Keep it rational.

      • 3d – “energy providers” is that like the jawb creators shtick….

        Skippy…. wellie when you lobby against mitigation of negative externalities because it might hit the bonus bottom line you’ll get that kinda response…

      • So when you use Orwellian speak (as you do regularly) does that make you irrational? Otherwise, yes, energy providers, we use their services every day in every way – and they happen to be big polluters. That is why we need to move to renewables.
        It is not just the pollution, but the issue of finite resources.
        http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/05/02/207994/grantham-must-read-time-to-wake-up-days-of-abundant-resources-and-falling-prices-are-over-forever/

      • CO2 is essential to life. It is not a pollutant. Another Orwellian mischief.

        That much hypocrisy in so few words would probably kill a normal human.

    • Wellie 3d1k then you have to go back to how the media became so concentrated and journalism became infotainment….

      “In 1983, 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S. At the time, Ben Bagdikian was called “alarmist” for pointing this out in his book, The Media Monopoly. In his 4th edition, published in 1992, he wrote “in the U.S., fewer than two dozen of these extraordinary creatures own and operate 90% of the mass media” — controlling almost all of America’s newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, books, records, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies. He predicted then that eventually this number would fall to about half a dozen companies. This was greeted with skepticism at the time. When the 6th edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 2000, the number had fallen to six. Since then, there have been more mergers and the scope has expanded to include new media like the Internet market.

      In 2004, Bagdikian’s revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations — Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) — now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric’s NBC is a close sixth.”

      http://www.corporations.org/media/

      Skippy….. so what agency drove this agenda and what was the premise for it….

      • Yes, journalism as infotainment is a scourge – alas a remarkably popular one. Journalism as editorial rather than impartial presentation of the facts, pros and cons, is a particular fancy in Oz. I speculate that the media in Oz plays a more powerful role than that in the US or UK.

      • I get all misty eyed at the good old days when Rupert and Kerry used to spend in up at the private room gambling no time zones…. priority’s I guess…

        Skippy…. thanks for the non comment…. its like watching a drunk look for car keys under a streetlamp… it can be humorous… for a bit…

    • That’s a bit like the spider dismissing the flies caught up in his web.

      “What’s the problem here, a spider’s gotta eat. What are you suggesting, that spiders don’t have the right to exist ? Well I just happen to use a web to catch my food, and I shouldn’t be punished for my success in casting it so widely and effectively. Who gives a shit about them stoopid flies anyway, buzzy little whingers. If I need to take out some of them other spiders along the way, then so be it. Nobody owes them bitches a living”

      • You’re back!

        And you’re getting there! The economy is indeed a web, a web of interests each seeking a preferential outcome or at least a decent hearing. Business is no exception, a Charlotte in the Web giving voice to save the corporate sphere from the agrarian Left – alas beware SJI (Social Justice Inc), a Wolf Spider hungrily devouring the young of the next generation…

      • Oh 3d, you are a funny chap when you’re being entirely disingenuous. (that metaphor was especially for you, I know how you like to spin that web). As if business is just looking to get a ‘decent hearing’. Risible.

  18. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    “As if business is just looking to get a ‘decent hearing’.”

    Ya gota hand it to him, he always stays on point. I often wonder if 3ds Ayn Randian posts reflect his own personal opinions or just paid for content.
    Its hard to be successful within a system your cynical about.

    https://youtu.be/olbbhTSwDIk