Australia’s lurch to the left will lead it down the same path as Greece

Australia’s lurch to the left will lead it down the same path as Greece, by Maurice Newman.

Venezuela is richly endowed with a year-round growing season, first-class tourist destinations, the world’s largest oil reserves, gold and other minerals, and a population of only 30 million. Venezuelans should be among the most content and prosperous people on the planet. Not so.

Thanks to 14 years of socialist experimentation under Hugo Chavez, they are in the grip of ­tyranny and hyperinflation. According to government data, last year infant mortality rose 30 per cent, maternal mortality shot up 65 per cent and cases of malaria jumped 76 per cent.

Chavez died in 2013. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, vows to protect the “socialist fatherland” against all threats. Demands for elections have claimed the lives of 75 demonstrators.

Only 10 years ago a group of Australians including the ABC’s Phillip Adams and the Greens’ Lee Rhiannon enthusiastically invited Chavez to visit Australia, telling us he was the champion of a “new socialism for the 21st century … stirring hope in the hearts of many people — and fear in a few”. Kevin Rudd was urged to follow his lead.

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told us Chavez had made “massive contributions to Venezuela and the world”. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders taunted fellow Americans: “Who’s the banana republic now?”

Well, Greece for a start. It too has run out of other people’s money and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a former communist, is trying to persuade his socialist EU neighbours that impoverished, overtaxed Greece is a worthy charity.

Well he might. Almost 1.5 million Greeks live in extreme poverty, most of them young and unemployed. More than 2.5 million are without healthcare coverage. Hospitals no longer conduct basic blood tests because lab ­expenditure has been pared back.

You won’t read that in The Age or hear it on the ABC. They counsel that “ignorance is bliss”. Pay no heed to Churchillian warnings: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” It’s all so yesterday. …

South Australia is a harbinger of our future?

South Australia has the ­nation’s worst unemployment, the largest per-capita public service and ranks as our highest taxing state. Its reckless pursuit of renewable energy has given it the world’s most expensive electricity. Yet it denies that high taxes, unreliable and uncompetitive energy, foolhardy industry protection and a highly unionised workforce have anything to do with its poor economic performance.