Work is going to completely sideline me today, but before zipping off I thought I’d note two news articles showing that the Swedes and Aussies seem to be getting closer in policy terms.
The first is an article in an Aussie newspaper today and it’s squarely focused on motoring. In an editorial in the Melbourne Herald-Sun, a writer is chanelling Maud Olofsson:
GM recently handed a restructuring plan to the US Treasury but the 117-page document contained just one paragraph on the future of Holden.
It mentioned “changes in market preferences”, which in plain English means that Australians don’t buy Holden’s cars any more.
It promised “to bring to market a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle”, only admitting that such cars have never been built by Holden.
And it made it very clear that without permanent grants from the Australian Government, the company could not restructure. You could be forgiven for calling this blackmail.
But where was the public outcry in Australia? Did anyone stand up and say “Hang on: Why should we pay for your bad business decisions?”
In fact, in Sweden that’s precisely what happened.
Swedish car Saab is equally in trouble. But Swedish Industry Minister Maud Olofsson remained bold: “Voters elected me because they wanted nursery schools, police and nurses, and not to buy loss-making car factories.” Quite.
I can’t imagine Australia without Holden, but then again, a few months ago I couldn’t imagine Sweden without Saab.
and a Swedish report not concerned with cars….
In Sweden’s English-language news service, The Local, there’s a report about the Swedish government considering paying a baby-bonus for people to have kids. They’re concerned that the population is not growing at an appropriate rate and want to creat an incentive for people to have kids.
We’ve had a baby bonus scheme here in Australia for a while now. I don’t know too much about it as we’ve not had kids or considered the idea seriously.
It was a lump sum, initially. Somewhere in the order of A$5,000. Sweden are considering a payment of just over US$1,000. That $5,000 per kiddie has seen several trends – a large number of youngsters having kids, and a large number of plasma and LCD TV screen purchases. I think it’s now maid as a small amount per two-weeks to eligible recipients rather than as a lump sum so as to better supplement the ongoing costs of the infant.
Our former national Treasurer, known around the country as The Smirk, was famous for encouraging Australian families at a press conference to have “one for Mum, one for Dad, and one for the country” before urging reporters at the press conference to “go home and do their patriotic duty!”
Australia and Sweden. We’re getting closer all the time.