Where did it come from?
There seems to be a spate of self-serving demands on the government by vested interests.
Farmers are ‘doing it tough’ and need to have the government step in and protect them from their own poor business decisions (like borrowing too much). See here.
Industry is facing rising energy prices and shouldn’t have to pay export-parity price for gas that is sourced from Australia. Indeed, some gas fields should be reserved for Australian use (at a cheap price). See here.
In isolation, each of these would be bad policy.
Many small businesses suffere from risk and poor business decisions. So why should the farmers receive special treatment? And if they do, what are the incentives for farmers to ‘get it right’ next time?
And ‘reserved gas fields’ is just an inefficient way to tax gas producers and subsidise energy-intensive industries.
If taken seriously, these demands will simply lead to more claims for support as vested interests work out that it is more profitable to lobby government than to run their businesses properly.
But perhaps the farmers and Australian Industry Group are simply following a path that was cleared by the car industry and the aluminium industry earlier this year.
As I have argued before – both the politicians and the populace would be better off if government could commit to not support these self-serving claims from vested interests. But instead, the politicians (at least in the case of the farmers) appear to be encouraging it.