A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

The obsession with supporting jobs impacted by economic changes in pursuit of reducing carbon emissions is ignorant and selfish

It frustrates me seeing some in the National Party and some in the media raving on about necessary support for jobs that will be lost if Australia pursues reasonable carbon emission targets.

They bleat and moan that we have to support the miners and others who will have to re-train.

It’s pathetic really.

Here in the Australian newsagency channel we have been going through and dealing with extraordinary structural change, loss of core income, loss of core shopper traffic, all in plain sight and all without a cent of government support.

While more recent changes have come about because of worldwide disruption to the print media model, the bigger changes began in the late 1990s when the Howard federal government took away protection for local small business newsagents, protection put in place by the federal government, in support of big business mates in supermarkets and a national convenience store chain.

Yes, the federal government took away protection, sliced off a ton of business newsagents relied on and they did this without any compensation to newsagents whatsoever.

The miners have seen the mess of climate change worsening for decades. Smart people in that industry prepared. It’s only the laggards complaining now, wanting government cash to protect them, when they should have been better prepared themselves.

It appalls me that the government may chuck billions at helping a relatively small number people / businesses adjust to a world chasing reductions in carbon emissions considering the history of the federal government forcing structural change on our newsagency channel and offering absolutely no support whatsoever.

I guess the situation speaks to how the Liberal and National politicians see small businesses compared to big businesses. The thing is, through their actions and inactions, we know they do not see us.

I have been writing about the failure of the Liberal / National Party coalition federal government to appropriately support local small business newsagents on whom they imposed deregulation and took away considerable business value. This, for example, from 2005, offers some background:

Newsagents and pharmacists are two forever-protected species as far as the coalition is concerned. 

This is a quote attributed to Joe Hockey, the former Minister for Small Business in the Howard Government.  It’s on Page 12 of the Perspective insert in the Australian Financial Review (Dec 30 – Jan 4).

Joe Hockey and his colleagues demonstrated their commitment to newsagents through their years in office by:

  1. Facilitating the elimination of exclusive newspaper and magazine distribution territories without compensation for taking away from newsagents this century-old right.
  2. Driving newsagents to enter into new contracts with publishers and permitting this to be done by newsagents negotiating on their own behalf and not using professional negotiators.
  3. Allowing poor leadership of newsagents at the time to wipe off more than $100 million dollars of value of newsagent businesses without compensation.
  4. Permitting a contract relationship for newspapers and magazines which deregulated one side of the transaction and left newsagents with an expensive and inefficient system which was designed for a regulated marketplace.
  5. Permitting the 865 Government owned Australia Post retail outlets to become more and more like newsagents, moving into areas traditionally serviced well by newsagents.
  6. Refusing to intervene in 2004 when Australia Post was engaged in what I’d consider grossly unconscionable practices when newsagents tried to establish an alternative bill payment network.
  7. Refusing to respond to newsagent representations in 2004 about an unfair magazine distribution system which operates at a loss for many newsagents.

Joe Hockey is wrong about newsagents.  The Coalition has not demonstrated any concern for newsagents other than hollow words.

My point is that it looks like people in dinosaur climate-impacting sectors are about to be showered with cash by the federal government for reasons that were as relevant to the small business newsagency channel a few years ago. If it happens it speaks to government support for big business mates over small business retailers.

In fact, the situation newsagents had to deal with were bigger in that they were government created. Newsagents played no role in the changes coming about.

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  1. Michael

    Well said Mark. My parents were newsagents in the late 1990s and the deregulation gutted them and ripped into the goodwill value of their business. Thanks John Howard.

    5 likes

  2. Jeff

    This is a good point. The miners and other carbon expensive industries have seen this coming. Newsagents were given very little warning and the leaders of the day were not up to the task of managing it well for us.

    4 likes

  3. Amanda

    Shame on the miners and the donors to the National Party for continually having their hand out calling for corporate welfare from the government and shame on the government for always caving in. How they treated newsagents twenty or so years ago is a good reminder of how little we matter to these politicians.

    3 likes

  4. Tony

    The support that the National Party get for farmers is unbelievable. And the taxation treatment for them is the eight wonder of the world.

    1 likes

  5. Jim

    What is ignorant is city political elite thinking regional communities do not deserve a voice. These communities have a lot more to lose than city folk who live in diverse ecosystems. I would expect more empathy from someone in small business.

    2 likes

  6. Mark Fletcher

    The National Party does not give regional or rural Australians a voice. They have come late to the matter of climate, and even then they have arrived with smoke and mirrors rather than authentic engagement. meanwhile, the National Farmer’s Federation and myriad other regional and rural groups have been engaged on matters climate for many years.

    As Landline on the ABC and other programs and news reports show, plenty in regional and rural Australia long ago pivoted from climate environmentally endangering practices.

    The National Party is concerned only for itself. It is not concerned about those it claims to support.

    5 likes

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