Tag Archives: Infrastructure

Australia a Management Issue

Australia Condobolin NSW Indian Pacific Railway a vast land image Shane Aurousseau
Australia Condobolin NSW Indian Pacific Railway a vast land image Shane Aurousseau

Australia comprises a land mass of around 7.629 million square kilometers. It is about 50% greater than the European Union. When I did my first trip overseas in the early 1970s the population was around 10 million today it is 24 million people. The latest visit to my homeland started to give me an insight into the deficiencies in the infrastructure of this vast and exciting country. I mentioned in a previous blog the difficulties in travelling to the major inland city of Dubbo from the National Capital. There is only one bus a week Saturday and this travels through many outback small towns. Australians whom I spoke to and as an Australian I do understand the lingo generally felt that there are not enough people to justify building the infrastructure. This is rather like saying that Woolworths and Coles with their 18.3 million customers and total control of the $85 billion grocery market should not have built stores until the 18.3 million people where queuing up in front of the vacant plot picked out for the first store.

I spend my time now between Spain and Australia and have pointed out on many occasions the strong High Speed Rail Network that has gone together in Spain – Alta Velocidad Española (AVE)

Spain the AVEs High Speed Trains lined up
Spain the AVEs High Speed Trains lined up
Spain the AVE High Speed Train Image Shane Aurousseau
Spain the AVE High Speed Train Image Shane Aurousseau

Now I know that much of this network is built via EU (European Union for those Australians who don’t know where the EU is) loans. This money is however much better spent on infrastructure than going into some greasy politician’s pocket. The last 6 months have seen Spain coming out of recession with a growth rate as good as Germany’s. The infrastructure in Spain will pay off the country now has the second best High Speed Rail network in the world after China, where is Britain and Australia. The road system of Spain is now mostly silk like highways. Goods and tourists can move faster companies like this type of investment. Ford motor company is putting 2.8 Billion Euros into manufacturing in Valencia what a confirmation of trust; one of the biggest car manufacturing investments ever. What of Australia’s car manufacturing it has stopped, even the

Australia the Iconic Holden RIP Image Shane Aurousseau
Australia the Iconic Holden RIP Image Shane Aurousseau

iconic Holden has left the shores. Australia loosely welcomes 5 million tourists per year. I will add that at least half of these tourists are probably Chinese families coming in and out to visit relatives. Spain has 70 million tourists, France 85 million and Britain 35 million. Now most Australians while over the Barbie will tell you that it is due to the distance, from where the antarctic, Asia including China and Japan are in striking distance as is much of the East Coast of the USA. Tourists can lift an economy the Greeks may have to survive off the tourist industry. Greece attracts 22.5 million tourists per year with a population of 11 million; tourism contributes over $30 billion US per year to the economy. Now it is the birth place of democracy whatever that is, however Australia has a people who can be traced back 50,000 years and are living on one of the oldest continents on earth. The differential between what other countries achieve in attracting tourists and what Australia with its stunning and much unspoilt countryside, outback and beaches achieves should make the tourist board ashamed.  Thailand gets 22 million plus Tourists annually.

Australia is generally believed to be a dry land once away from the coast.  However the Great Artesian Basin is the largest and deepest artesian basin in the world covering 1.7 million square kilometers  some 23% of the continent this is a massive sweet water cache, It is also an under used resource with many of the great Australian Rivers being pumped dry.

Australia Darling River Loading Wool-Tolarnost 1914
Australia Darling River Loading Wool-Tolarnost 1914

The Darling river with its tributaries is 2,844 km long making it the largest river system in Australia. The Murray river is Australia’s longest river at 2508 Km. The  Murray Darling confluence is at Wentworth New South Wales.The Murray Darling river system is one of the longest in the world.

Australia Darling river transport
Australia Darling river transport
Darling River water Conservation Scheme The pride and expectation
Darling River water Conservation Scheme The pride and expectation

There was a period when steamers came up the Darling river today you would be lucky to paddle a canoe up this great river. Industry and to some degree intensive cotton farming and its hunger for water have had a great effect on the water level of both the Darling and Murray rivers.

Australia the dry Darling River Image Shane Aurousseau
Australia the dry Darling River Image Shane Aurousseau

The Murray still has some depth to it but the Darling has little left. Cubbie Station located near Dirranbandi South West Queensland  the largest irrigation system in the Southern Hemisphere covering some 240,000 acres has dammed of more water than the total volume of Sydney Harbour from the Darling river system.. All of this intensive agriculture is damaging the environment and having an effect on the  native commodities wheat and the wool industry. The problem seems to be that successive governments have been more concerned with their political power and personal financial gains rather than investing management skills into protecting this exciting continent and  growing the real wealth of the country. It is hoped that the Aboriginals who control the rights to most river banks will step in and help fight this destruction of the environment.

The only state at the moment that has a sound financial base is New South Wales but I wonder how long that will last, possibly NSW should go for independence the Scots would support them. With sound management Australia has the mineral / commodity wealth to be one of the leading countries in the world.  Australia is the 11th wealthiest country in the world, Spain is the 12th. Generally speaking the country left to the Australians would go bust. It’s lucky that the Chinese have come however the joint deals need to be managed so that the Australians also benefit. There is the population for both a manufacturing base and commodity base. The Australian Dollar is at the mercy of commodity and especially mining prices – good business spreads the risk.

Australia Belswick Merino Stud Condobolin NSW Image Shane Aurousseau
Australia Belswick Merino Stud Condobolin NSW Image Shane Aurousseau

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Photographer Shane Aurousseau

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Australia the last Frontier

 

Australia the last Frontier

I  recently finished a photographic tour of inland western and northern New South Wales  my home state.  its  development has been an interest for me for sometime. What I found during this trip was a worrying trend of an’ I’m OK Jack’ culture..

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Australia NSW Condobolin preparing the flock

Australia is a country that offers so much especially from it’s richness in commodities much of which it has a ready market for in China. The issues that worried me were ones of development and management. When I first travelled from Australia 40 years ago the country had a population of around 9 to 10 million, today it is 23 million mainly coastal inhabitants. However much of the wealth is not drawn from the coast but the Outback once the great dividing coastal mountain ranges are crossed. The country has the potential to be commodity self sufficient.

Australia NSW Condobolin Merino Sheep
Australia NSW Condobolin Merino Sheep the finest wool


The potential for self sufficiency is confirmed  by the amount of mines,  farms, cattle ranches and sheep stations. Merino wool  is still the world’s finest.

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Australia NSW Lightning Ridge Black Opal mining

Much of Australia’s manufacturing industry has been lost, the final blows coming with the withdrawal of the car industry manufacturing including the Australian iconic Holden brand.

Union and government inability to see eye to eye and manage this incredible country has been a contributing factor. however having said this the attitude of the coastal Australian is one of ‘ let’s have another barbie and go to the beach’ few even realise that their farmers have failing crops due to lack of rain and many have had their land repossessed by greedy banks who don’t give a damn for the development of the country. The immediate quest for short-term  profit seems to be the goal of many banks the world over. I have always said that ” banks that do not contribute to the management of society are irrelevant to society”.

A major contributor and hinderance to Australia’s development is infrastructure. Bring this up to most Australians and the retort is but we don’t have the money or people and to add we don’t give a damn, Taxing major corporations properly could change this issue. The  only time that the average Australian will give a damn is when food and retail commodity prices hit totally unaffordable levels. Then their will be wailing and gnashing that the prices are too high and still it will take a term for the penny to drop that the farmers and commodity  developers should have been taken care of.

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Australia NSW Dubbo road transport

Infrastructure there are many developing regional centres, you only have to look at the size of the supermarkets that have grown up in regional centres mainly Woolworths and Coles but now challenged by Aldi. These groups are the real business people and see the advantages and potential for growth. If you look at Spain and the infrastructure that is going into place  in a country that has just gone through a major recession you have to ask why not Australia. The average myopic Australian would argue that Spain has a larger Population. The average European will say that Spain has ripped of the Euro Zone for that money – better than  being spent on expenses by corrupt Euro politicians. Spain now has one of the finest high speed rail networks in the world after China. Link Sydney, Dubbo, Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and you will develop the interior of those states. Link Perth and you will develop Western Australia. Have the guts and the people will come.   Getting a bus from the national capital Canberra to the major centre of Dubbo is a substantial exercise. Only one goes on Saturday and it goes through half of New South Wales.

Australia gets only 5 million tourists per year, half of those probably Chinese coming in and out to visit family; Spain gets 65 million, France 85 million and the UK 35 million. Now some would say that this is due to Australia’s isolation. I would however argue that the differential is too great and needs a closer look. Australians seem to be in cop-out mode. Promotion of Australia is mainly in English in the UK and yet the cross section of other nationalities in Australia has now become great indeed.

It is almost a no brainer to develop a rich country like Australia if there is a government without vested personal interests.The Australians are so limited in their thinking that unless they take action to manage this great country they will lose it. Already the Chinese own almost everything employing the Australians.   Now I don’t have a problem with the Chinese investment in Australia without it the Australians would have bankrupted the country. The Chinese bring a lot of good things and should be welcomed. However when you own something and sell it you should retain a interest in what you have built especially as it is  your main home.

The-Outback-(4-of-107)
Australia NSW Wilcannia the dry Darling
The-Outback-(1-of-107)
Australia NSW Wilcannia the dry Darling river
Dry river outback NSW
Australia NSW the dryness of the Outback

The damage done to the Darling river and many other rivers adding to the mismanagement of water through the country. Once steamers travelled along the Darling river. Australia’s Artisian Bore covers 23% of the country one of the biggest water basins in the world yet it is not tapped properly in times of distress for farmers. The Snowy river scheme which was one of the engineering wonders of the world is not working properly and generating the irrigation that it should.  Cubby station in Queensland dams off more water  than  Sydney Harbour contains.  The South Australians are plundering the great Murray river without a management system in place

To get the development right you need a government with the will. , Link the great centres  and the people will come; Australia has one of the best living possibilities in the World and could be the leading light in Asia.

Photographer Shane Aurousseau