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'Are imports economically sensible or a threat?'
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'Are imports economically sensible or a threat?'

Amanda McClintockIf foreign imports of agricultural and other products continue to grow, many domestic Australian companies could face closure, with dire social consequences, argues 18-year-old Amanda McClintock.

For decades, Australian’s have been eating the apples of Australia and nowhere else.

In an economy that is so commonly importing its products, apples have stood the test of time as an Australian-only product.

Over the years this has resulted in strong farming cultures, especially in the Queensland area, giving security to Australian farmers and creating more jobs for locals.

But, in early 2011 this all changed. The government made the decision to start importing apples form China.

This poses a huge threat to local farmers. The price of labour over in China is such that one day’s work in an Australian orchard could be equal to up to 49 days work in a Chinese orchard, meaning lower prices on imported apples and no chance for success for local growers. Let alone the addition of food travel miles, the fruit isn’t as fresh or tasty.

For many people this may not seem like a huge problem when they think it only refers to one food type, but the reality is that the same problem is happening across the board in Australia.

Foreign produce and products are coming into Australia at much cheaper prices, prices which Australian companies are unable to compete with. In the short term this may mean savings in the consumer sector, but long term the situation is looking a lot more bleak.

If foreign imports continue to grow at this rate, many Australian companies will have to close their doors as they can no longer afford to operate in the competitive market. This results in job loss across multiple industries, which in turn results in higher levels of unemployment, posing a risk to Australia’s economy.

Another problem we face is the lack of work available to farmers living in remote areas of Australia. These farmers will no longer have work, forcing them to move into the larger cities. This in turn could create a whole list of problems, such as high population density which, with limited resources, cities may be unable to cope with.

It isn’t just imports that are going to reap these consequences, but also Australian companies who are shifting their labour and production to Asian countries, cutting their costs in production, resulting in a loss of jobs in Australia for Australians.

At the end of the day, high levels of imports and movement of labour puts more strain on the Australian economy. Jobs are lost, more money is needed for welfare payments. This increases taxes for those who still have work and it is a cycle that continues getting worse and worse.

I’m not saying that Australia should stop importing any products full stop because on a very basic level, imports can be beneficial in many ways. But instead the government needs to be very careful about what and how much we are importing.

This may not seem like an issue for you personally but it should be something all Australians think about, at the end of the day, even if you are 80-years-old, it will affect your family for generations to come.

We may not be able to stop imports or the transfer of labour to overseas countries, but we can raise the issue for the government to see that this is not what we want.

After all, Australia is a democracy isn’t it? You know what that means? All citizens get a say in what happens.

So take a stand for something you see as important and help the generations who are going to live in this country long after we ourselves are gone. Everybody wants to leave behind a legacy right?

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Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. All articles are published in a spirit of improving dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please click here.

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