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About the Video Clip:

Video Clip Synopsis:
The manager of a clothing factory explains how, in Australia, his shirt costs 42c a minute while in China it costs 1c a minute. Australia in it’s desire to compete with Asian Tigers means workers are pushed to the limit, like never before.

Duration:
1min 36sec

Competing with Asian Clothing Tigers is an excerpt from the film Land of the Long Weekend (55 mins), produced in 1994.

Land of the Long Weekend: Australia was the first country in the world to institute a 40-hour working week. It was the first to say there was such a thing as a fair and reasonable wage. Conditions like these helped win Australia its reputation as the mythical land of the long weekend. Yet today, for those with work, overtime has increased and penalty rates are disappearing. The nation’s population is increasingly divided between the over-worked and the under-employed. Now that Australia is more the land of the level playing field than the land of the long weekend, have we abandoned the idea of the “fair go”?

Land of the Long Weekend is a Film Australia National Interest Program.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: SOSE/HSIE
Year: 9-10
Theme: Civic Work

Key Concepts

Globalisation; Propaganda; Persuasion; Protection; Free trade; Fair trade

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Place and space – Environmental impact
Natural and social systems – Social systems
NSW:History Stage 5 Topic 8
NT:Soc 5.3
Qld:9/10 Civics – Place and space 5.2, 6.1
9/10 Geography
– Time, continuity and change D6.4
– Place and space 6.2, 6.3
– Systems, resources and power 5.4
9/10 History – Systems, resources and power 5.1
SA:Time, continuity and change 5.3
Place, space and environment 5.5
Social systems 5.10
Tas:World Futures – Creating sustainable futures. Standard 5
Vic:History 6.2
Geography 6.1, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5 ext
Economy and society 6.5 ext
WA:Place and space

Context / Background Information

Australia's manufacturing industry was a major employer during the twentieth century.

For most of this time much manufacturing was 'protected' — that is, there were rules which meant that cheaper imports, such as clothing, had to pay an extra tax, a tariff, to enter the country. This lifted their retail price, and meant that the Australian-made equivalent, usually costing more because of the better wages and working conditions available to Australian workers, remained competitive. It also meant that factories continued to produce goods, employing Australian workers.

An increasing belief in globalisation has meant that Australian governments have embraced the idea of the 'level playing field' — or the abolition of protection. The idea is that this will benefit those areas where Australia is competitive at world standards and can export its goods more cheaply; but it also means that those industries where Australia is un-competitive will increasingly fail without special support.

One such area in manufacturing is clothing.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What does the video clip show?
  2. What is the message of the video clip?
  3. For whom do you have sympathy in this video clip?
  4. How does the filmmaker achieve this?
  5. What impact, good and bad, would the continuation of this system of protection have for Australia, and for the workers involved?
  6. What impact would there be if the factory closed down?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Some countries justify maintaining protective barriers against cheaper foreign imports on cultural grounds (such as rice in Japan, or the film industry in Australia), or on the basis that an enterprise supports a community (as with French agriculture). Prepare an argument for or against.
  2. In theory the losers in globalisation will be ‘re-adjusted’ into the industries that are winners. Does this happen in practice? Invite a speaker who has experience of the process (such as a retrenched or redeployed worker, or a union official, or an economics academic from a university) to discuss globalisation and its impact in Australia. Prepare questions before the visit that will cover all the aspects that you particularly want addressed.
  3. Carry out a web search and select a manageable and representative example of a site in favour of globalisation and one against. Compare the two, commenting on set criteria such as their style, tone, substance, emphases, language level, main methods of persuasion, etc.
  4. Research a definition of the difference between ‘free trade’ and ‘fair trade’.

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 9-10, Health/PE Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10