Williams’ Word with Ray Williams | March 20


If Gilbert and Sullivan were still around they would have a wonderful plot with Australia’s strange gas export program, if the reports are true. The reports showed that Australia receives less income from the natural gas that we export to Japan than the Japanese Government receives in import levies. That would be ludicrous.

But the report said that Japan levies an import tax on the 30 million tonnes of natural gas it receives from Australia that totals $2.9 billion while the Australian Government will not receive a single cent from these exports.

It’s all too complicated for your ancient scribe’s Winnie-the-Poo type brain but there is something very wrong with the agreements made with the Japanese who must be chuckling at the stupidity of the Australia decision makers.

Maybe the answer could be that Australia starts putting some similar tariffs on things like motor cars that we import from Japan – and other countries as well.

Why not?


The election in Western Australia showed clearly that the voters were strongly opposed to privatisation. One commentator said it was a message to all politicians that voters were fed up with privatisation.

It should send a clear message to the NSW Government, for example, that the proposal to privatise the NSW title system, the Torrens Title system (said to be the most secure title system in the world), is just not on. To privatise the Australian-designed system for recording land titles would simply give the buyer an opportunity to charge more.

Can anyone produce evidence that any past privatisation has been to the benefit of the people of NSW or Australia?

The people of Australia are now paying for the short-sighted policies of previous governments, both Labor and the Coalition, to privatise everything they could sell. Take the sale of Mascot Airport which is now one of the most costly airports in the world and we, the users and original owners, are the bunnies.

The future of our electricity services is a good example. The investors who bought the electricity services were simply not interested in long-term planning and the people of Australia are now being asked to pay for new coal-fired generating plants. (Sorry, the Government says that should be generating plants using ‘clean coal’. We need clever scientists to create ‘clean coal’. Maybe the next discovery will be dry water – it’s just as feasible).

The pollies use the logic that if we sell some of the successful undertaking created by previous governments there would be money available to fund new projects. The only trouble is that they can only sell undertakings that can be used by the private sector to make money and we, the taxpayers, are left with all those that will never make a profit. That doesn’t seem like a logical business practice.

So, why not a scheme that opens the door for future governments to sell part ownership of the undertaking with the government retaining, say, 50 per cent ownership but the private investors actually running the show? It seems a terrible business practice to sell off potentially profit-making enterprises and by privatisation the pollies are admitting that they are lousy managers, so if they sold 50 per cent to the better managers in the private sector who could run the show (and make a profit) it would mean that we, the original investors, would have a steady stream of income to help run our country.

Once, years ago, the people owned things such as the Commonwealth Bank, the Government Insurance Office and Telecom but various governments sold them. If we had retained part ownership the profits would surely add to our national income.

Whatever happens, we can’t afford to continually sell off all the profit-making enterprises if we are left to finance those that are not profit making and are not saleable.


The pollies are showing concern about a future shortage of natural gas in Australia. The reason is, of course, that we are selling our large resources of gas to foreign countries because it brings in money. We even helped finance the infrastructure that enables other countries to buy our natural resources, the same way we helped big international corporations to develop iron ore and other mines and we have sold huge amounts of minerals at bargain prices to foreign corporations with no attempt to part-process the minerals before they have been exported.

It all suggests that Australia badly needs a few long-term thinkers to plan for the future. Our pollies seem incapable of thinking beyond the next election. Sure, elections are important but governments in the past have been able to think and plan for the future. Take the Snowy Mountains Scheme, building the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the opening up of rail services, just a few examples of past governments that were prepared to commit to big and costly projects which would never return income for that government but would benefit a future Australia. How many long-term projects has any recent government, of whatever political banner, even hinted about any long-term thinking on any project?

The VFT will surely happen one day but the present government even scrapped the committee set up to investigate the project and by the time someone gets around to making a real decision they could be faced with the fact that developers have built homes and factories on the most logical route for the fast train.

It seems long-term thinking is just too difficult for the people we elect to run our country. Maybe Ms Hanson’s Australia Party might produce a different sort of politician.

No more Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan!


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