Sugar Industry Co-Dependency

The decision to grow sugar is a bit like the decision to get married and have kids. Both raise issues of bilateral dependency and asset specificity.  Once you marry someone, you are locked in, or at least it’s hard to redeploy -- likewise with growing sugar. Read more

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

The Jewish people did not lack for self-proclaimed messiahs seeking to stir trouble against the Roman occupiers. Why is only one of these men remembered today? Read more

If CQ was a State, we'd be Richest of All

If Central Queensland were its own state, it would be the richest state in the nation. Central Queensland produces $40 billion of wealth for Australia every year, from a population base of just over 400,000. That’s an income per person of more than $100,000, double that of Tasmania. Read more

Trading Laws Need Tune-Up

I was in Mareeba recently talking to growers about the difficult market structure they faced.  I asked: "Why don't you get together and collectively bargain so that you can counterbalance the power of buyers?"  The growers said to me they tried that a few years ago.  Three big growers had had enough: they all agreed not to supply the Cairns market the next Saturday.  The next Saturday came, and the grower who left at 5.30 in the morning passed the other two who were already on their way back from Cairns. Read more

Labor’s Energy Policy Nothing But Wind

George Orwell once said that political language was designed to “give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”.  Step forward exhibit A and the Labor Party’s explanation for refusing to fix the mess that is Australian renewable energy policy. Mark Butler says that Labor will not “stand by and watch” billions of dollars in investment in renewables head overseas. Read more

Welcoming the Bitcoin Challenge

The emergence of Bitcoins and other forms of digital currency could revolutionise money markets. If competition is so good in markets for products, why shouldn’t we allow competition in markets for currency too – why should governments have a monopoly? Read more

'Black Jack' Truth Revealed

THIS year is the 80th anniversary of John ‘Black Jack’ McEwen’s election to Parliament. John McEwen is generally no longer thought of so much as a leader of a political party but as a prophet of protectionism. Read more

Food needs affordable energy

THE last time I was at an anti-mining protest, there was a sign saying, “We can’t eat coal”. I couldn’t argue against that: coal is fossilised plants 200 to 300 million years old. It is well past its use-by date. But then, in another sense, we do eat coal, or at least the embodied energy that all food contains. Read more

We Can Conquer the Debt Mountain

DEBT is the only mountain that is easier to climb up than trek down. The agricultural industry has climbed the mountain at speed in the past 20 years. Read more

Dodgy Sums on Renewables Don't Add Up

THE advocates of renewable energy would have you believe that they have discovered the economic equivalent of the fountain of youth. According to them, we can adopt more expensive ways of doing things, yet that will lead to cheaper prices. Read more


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