Life of Riley: Nothing but air

Issue 

Life of Riley

Nothing but air

Psst! There's money to be made between us. Big money.

Betwixt wherever thou art and me is air. It's colourless, normally odourless, weighs hardly anything and comes in such quantities that there's more than enough to go around and around the big wide world.

Air. Sniff in. Sniff out. Enjoy.

I bet you were thinking that air was an everyday substance that we could take for granted. We suck it in every minute or so, swill it around a bit, swap a molecule here and there — and without being particularly aware of the goings on, blow it out, usually the way it came in. That's respiration for you. In and out. In and out. All day, everyday. Why, it's as natural as breathing.

But who would have thought that there was money to be made selling off a piece of the action? You better believe it because that's where the money for your schools, hospitals and Collins Class submarines is going to come from. Betwixt wherever thou art and me is billions of dollars worth of the stuff — air, air, beautiful air, everywhere.

Gone are the days when it was thought the done thing to tax the rich to fund the poor. Such archaic concepts went out donkey's years ago. With broad-spectrum megahertz air space wafting under our very noses it seems silly not to package and market the stuff for the common good.

It's like a perfume — just catch and bottle it; then sell it off to the highest bidder. If that isn't the sweet smell of success I don't know what is.

And it has taken a pioneer like Peter Costello — visionary, federal treasurer, master of the airwaves (especially now that John Laws opinionated himself out of the top spot) — to take this country and its mobile phoning millions into the new millennium.

My fellow Australians! In future we'll be talking to each other wherever and whenever we please. Many more of us will be walking the streets of our fair cities alone chatting away with a hand cupped to an ear. It won't be schizophrenia. It's OK. Another voice is sure to be talking back.

All that is asked of you — despite your troubles, your joblessness, your collection of miscellaneous bills, etc. — is to join in. Go mobile.

If you won't do it for yourselves, then do it for the rest of us. If we want to continue to enjoy our schools, hospitals and Collins Class submarines then we need your help in making the airwaves pay for the features of our existence that used to be funded so completely by personal taxation (now there's an archaic concept).

So coming out of this year's budget there's a lesson to be learnt: put away the banana. Say no to Cavendish and Lady Finger look-alikes leftover from lunch. It's time we all started talking into the real thing.

By Dave Riley