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A comprehensive to-do list for Labor in 2023

The year 2023 will be a hard slog for the government. Perhaps a momentous one in terms of urgency and necessity. There is no point in prioritising one over the other because they are all critical.

It seems incredibly unfair that many in the mainstream media refuse even the slightest praise for a government that has performed exceptionally well, given the wreckage they confronted when acquiring office. But with the number of campaign promises it has ticked off, its popularity has increased.

But according to the mainstream media, newlyweds have no honeymoon anymore.

Therefore, before addressing 2023, I need to acknowledge just a few triumphs made in the government’s first six months in office.

Even though Labor has created a National Anti-Corruption Commission and taken meaningful action on climate change, sections of the MSM seem reluctant to express any kudos.

They have endorsed pay rises for aged care workers, and work on a voice to Parliament for First Nations people is well underway.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has re-established Australia’s relations with China after the Damage Morrison and Dutton did.

Now for 2023. Albanese and his ministers face the most indulgent of problems, both domestic and international.

Indigenous voice to Parliament

When he won government, Albanese promised to enshrine a voice for our First Nations people in our constitution. A large proportion of Australians agree with this.

The referendum on this is due to be held later in the year, with Minister Linda Burney saying it may be as early as August. It is only possible (historically at least) for a referendum to be won with the support of the opposition. The ultra-conservative Nationals have already given it a big No without even waiting for the detail. I am concerned that the other half of the LNP will only lend its support if they perceive it as political gain.

Many protractors claim there is not enough detail, but this is patently untrue. Seek, and thou shall find.

Even Ken Wyatt has strongly refuted suggestions from his side of politics about a lack of detail. Any successful referendum:

“… requires a double majority – an overall majority of voters plus a majority of voters in at least four states.”

Needless to say, Labor has a ton of work in front of it.

Energy

Energy costs will dominate the political conversation in 2023. The opposition needs more to discuss (it cannot talk about itself) so that it will target anything and everything. If you remember, Parliament was recalled for an extraordinary sitting in December to pass the energy relief package.

Facing international markets that have given the energy sector huge profits, the government has to make this work. It all comes in a year wherein Labor is expected to make further announcements about its climate policy. The May budget will include some aspects.

There is also an electrification package Labor is working on, which is part of a deal with the Greens, on energy subsidy plans for low and middle-income earners on the east coast.

And it all has to be done while appeasing the gas industry and toiling over a code of conduct. Oh, then there is the plan to “rewire the nation.”

I hope Chris Bowen is wired up for the year ahead.

The cost of living

We repeatedly heard, “Everything is going up except your wages” during the May 21 election campaign. But the reality is that there is little the government can do about the cost of living.

With real wages falling faster than ever since 1997, living costs have become a nightmare for low and middle-income earners. We have a cost problem. The cost of housing, energy, food and rent are at a crisis point. My observation tells me that many companies are taking advantage of a bad situation. Even full-time workers are still looking for housing.

It will be touch and go if Australia avoids a recession. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be tough. It will be a walk down a street in darkness. As is usual, it will be the poor who will take the brunt of it.

Inflation and the global landscape

Inflation is the enemy of any economy.” It was expected to rise to 8% and gradually decrease this year. The RBA has signaled that it will continue to raise interest rates until it defeats the enemy. It is the only firepower it has.

The latest report from the IMF shows that Australians are dishing out 40% of their income on housing. One of the highest in the OEDC. At that rate, it raises questions about whether we are close to experiencing a bust in the housing market.

Because we are at the mercy of global inflation, there needs to be more the government can do domestically, but there isn’t. The US, UK, Europe, and China face trickier situations. Australia is vitally linked to these economies and requires them to perform well to combat its own inflationary issues.

Stage-three tax cuts

I have covered this elsewhere, however, it needs repeating:

“Since the election and the disclosure of Australia’s authentic debt, with the enormous amounts required to finance campaign commitments, repair the NDIS, and care for the elderly, the imperative for the cuts is now unwarranted.

The Stage Three Tax Cuts will overwhelmingly benefit the rich, but will they help the economy? The short answer is “no.” Those who benefit from the reductions won’t spend it and will probably invest it in accumulating more wealth. Nor would it encourage them to work any harder.

Given there are so many justifications for cancelling the cuts, Labor is allowed to demonstrate the philosophy they talked about before and during the election campaigns. That being equality and a fairer society.”

The tax cuts defy logic when stacked against the reasons not to. They will not improve equality.

Albanese will build up enough public goodwill to get away with their cancellation. That’s my view.

“Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.” (Martin Luther King Jr)

Social security and JobSeeker

As part of a deal, he struck with Labor to pass its industrial relations legislation through the senate, ACT senator David Pocock negotiated a yearly review of the adequacy of jobseeker and associated social security payments. Australia has around 13.4% (or 3.3 million) of its population living below the poverty line. While the government isn’t under any obligation to increase these payments, there is an expectation that it will.

The second round of IR changes

Then comes the battle over the second round of changes and the commitment to a broader industrial relations overhaul. These include tackling “same job, same pay” arrangements and an extension of minimum conditions to employment-like work conditions.

* * * * *

And if that’s not enough work that needs to be done, Labor has committed to implementing all 55 recommendations of the sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins’ Respect@Work report. Then it needs to do something about the country’s debt. Let’s remember the jobs market.

After that, there are day-to-day emergencies that come out of nowhere.

My thought for the day

The left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is concerned with those who can.

 

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17 comments

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  1. margcal

    In no particular order….

    We don’t have a cost problem, we have a greed problem. From companies price gouging, profiteering, taking so-called windfall gains, Individuals being paid (no way earning) obscene amounts, and both companies and individuals manipulating the system to pay little or no tax.

    The government “is” under an obligation to increase social security payments. Or have moral obligations ceased to exist? We are a wealthy country, despite the “better money managers” delivering the opposite of that self-claimed title.

    The government is failing to take advantage of the position it finds itself in… unassailable at the next election, probably the one after that, and possibly the one after that.
    So why has it
    – not can cancelled the tax cuts
    – given the go-ahead for more/new gas drilling
    – not included pork-barrelling in the NACC
    – given a less than just and fair wage increase to our lowest paid workers and on top of that staggering the increase instead of giving it immediately
    – not shown the slightest interest in getting rid of negative gearing

    You have not mentioned defence, or more correctly preparation for the next US war, with the US now in charge of Australia’s security, joined at the hip as we are via AUKUS which appeared as a statement out of nowhere, no discussion in Parliament. Labor is Liberal when it comes to lying down for the US to trample all over us.

    That is more than enough for a start.

  2. Stephengb

    Very good JL
    Now let’s talk truth
    1. Pay increases Yes the ALP influenced the Fair Work Commission to raise the lowest pay, absolutely needed and yes they got a $1 (one) per hour, raise. 1 yes one lousy dollar, $2080, meanwhile on the 30 June those at the top end of town will get ~ $9000, whilst the Low and Middle Income earners Tax Offset (LMITO) will end on the same day taking ~$1500 of those who can least afford it. Net increase around ~$580 per year. That’s ~$11 per week. Big bloody deal.

    Indiginous ‘Voice’
    It is a good thing to close “the gap”, a gap caused by the wide spread racism of the immigrants toward the indiginous people. I do not believe for one second that “the voice” will stop racism, if anything I suspect it will create more division. Meanwhile I believe that “the voice” will do nothing to close the gap and is in itself an insult because it us going to have not one tooth to affect any law that affects the indiginous people, if we were fair dinkum we would give “the voice ” the power to veto any proposed law that might affect the indiginous people.
    Energy
    Chris Bowen has done well, but before we all get excited, “the energy cap” is still ~50% more than they currently pay for energy, that means we can still expect the 40% increase in energy bills that the energy companies forecast before the so called “cap”.
    Cost of living
    Apparently the government can do nothing about the rising cost of living, sorry but that’s rubbish, of course the government can do some things it can cap energy so it can cap prices, it did during WWII, so it can ! As you rightly point out wages have stagnated since 1997, that’s 25 years, where ‘natural inflation’ has ravaged the low and middle income earners so much so that the government gave everyone a minimum wage increase of ONE DOLLAR per hour. See item 1.
    The housing situation is an absolute policy decision, the price of houses and the obscene rents are a pure example of ‘capital’ GREED. Of course the government can do something, it can compulsary purchase every unpccupied house and every rented property and add them to the public housing inventory,then they can charge a rent based on the income of the occupiers. OR the government could freeze (cap) rents. See item 3.
    Inflation and the global landscape
    The inflation the world is facing is a result of supply disruptions and the war in Ukraine, as sich is a temporary situation, it will return. It is NOT caused by wage increases, it is caused by predetory price hikes by energy giants and multinationals, it is in fact another example of pure GREEDISM. Of course the government can do something, it can “cap” freeze any price it so wishes.
    The RBA is hiking base interest and is in fact punishing theclow and middle income earners for not spending their ONE DOLLAR wage rise. The RBA is NOT independent of government, the RBA Act is a government statutory law , it can repeal that law or modify it any which way it like. Apart from that, the RBA Act specifically requires the RBA Governor to liaise with the Treasurer with regard to decisions by the RBA.
    The fact is that the Governor of the RBA is lying the current infation will not be tamed by increasing interest rates.
    Stage 3 tax cuts.
    These tax cuts are not just “unwarranted” they are an anathema to decency, they are a bastardry to equality, and the ALP in defending these cuts, are showing their NEOLIBERAL credentials. Yes Albo and chalmers (lower case intended) are wearing their Neoliberal membership on their sleeve.
    As indicated in item 1. these tax cuts benefit the rich whilst punishing the poor, however the cuts should be repealed NOT (by popular oppinion) because the money can be used for welfare, because TAXES DO NOT PAY FOR GOVERNMENT SPENDING (upper case intended).
    Actually the primary purpose of taxation is to create a demand for legal tender, to reduce inflation caused by excess money in circulation, and to influance behaviour. The effect of taxation is also reduce excessive wealth accumulation which can usurp the power of government, the fairer distribution of excess money in circulation improves equity.
    Social,security and Jobseeker
    Seriously Pocock did nothing, chalmers had already said that jobseeker is and will be reviewd at budget time, on other words annually, but I note that the ALP specifically refused to up the jobseeker rates, has not increased pensions above the bi-anual CPI rise, and have done nothing to ease the suffering of the 3.3 MILLION people living below the poverty line.
    But hey someone has to pay for the -~$9000 windfall for those on ~$200,000.

    Last I am not anti Labor, I have voted Labour/Labor all my life. I do believe that so far the ALP have done well, but I am not blind to the fact that all that’s been achieved whilst is a benefits for all of us, BUT they benefit the already wealthy more than the poorest among us.

    We the progressive egalitarians, need to keep our feet on the ground especially when a Labor Party in government is still pursuing the Neoliberla Ideological Agenda, when history has shown the folly of neoliberalism.

  3. Keitha Granville

    Cancel the tax cuts, that’s a given with the current state of things. Bring them back later on when it;s affordable.
    Don’t bother with a referendum, that just demonstrates division. The election was won by Labor where they said they would do it – just do it.
    Negative gearing on more than one property MUST be cancelled. “Mum and dad” investors may have one investment house to help in retirement, any more than that and it;s a tax dodge for property developers.who aren’t moving in the right direction on climate change.
    Forget all subsidies for any businesses. The coal industry has had years to prepare to be obsolete, they’ve had years to transition their workforce. It;s all obfuscation and delaying tactics, just do it. Move to wind , solar, wave, geothermal – anything but coal, gas, diesel and nuclear.
    Build social housing the way they did in the 50s. whole suburbs full of them, get everyone into a home.

    Keep this government in power for at least 10 years, then we have a fighting chance.

  4. Stephengb

    I tried to enumerate my comments but it would not work

  5. Stephengb

    JL
    Whilst I was writing (then trying to edit) my diatribe, I see that two others are thinking exactly like me.

  6. Terence Mills

    Yes, John I agree that the Stage Three Tax Cuts now appear as totally insane and need to be repealed : a good lesson for us that you cannot legislate for tax cuts into the future when you have no idea what the future holds.

    What I’ve yet to see and what I want to hear from this government is that never again can a politician hide a brown paper bag full of money, anonymously donated, hidden under the fig-leaf pretense of a blind trust.

    Negative Gearing spot on Keitha : it makes no sense to encourage property speculation on housing !

  7. Caz

    Agree with all the above and the one thing that the government can do now is demand the return of Julian Assange. If we have any weight as equal partner in AUKUS prove it to me. The US and UK let us think we are one of the team but treat us like the ball boy, necessary but insignificant really.
    If Albanese cannot achieve this then cancel the subs and spend that money here at home where it can do some good.

  8. Clakka

    Yeah, and not to forget the franking credits imbroglio. It’s simmering in the background, and the usual screechers are seeking to bring it to a searing boil.

    I guess Chalmers will just have to sneak up behind them and bang ’em on the head after referring to grandfather on the ouija.

  9. Keith

    Generally the ALP are streets ahead of the LNP. The Nationals have displayed exceptionally poor policy management in relation to the Voice. They had stated that they will vote No even though the referendum question has not been delivered. That displays laziness and a lack of critical thinking ability.

    Over the last 9 plus years voters have been abandoned by the LNP, that has been particularly the case with the aged and disabled. The question is did they handle anything well during the 9 plus years? What policies have they managed to push through Parliament? They were able to save some businesses and employment through a hastily put together plan which displayed poor management ability when major employers were able to skim high profits. Then there are the dodgy deals such as sports rorts and train station car parks. We no longer see politicians in their high vis jerkins pumping out inane commentary for the sake of being visible.

    Labor has done well in fixing, or beginning to fix the mess left behind by the LNP.

    Whether Labor will be as adept at managing climate change and environmental biodiversity remains to be seen. The signs have not been particularly good till so far. No new coal mines or coal mine extensions, and no new gas fields would display a positive sign.

  10. Andy56

    A serious look at how cenrelink operates is very much needed. From first hand experience, i cant say its main purpose is to help people. It seems that the robodebt mentality is still running the place. I am lucky i can fight back to get my entitlements but its like getting blood from a stone. I can write a small book about my encounters with this mirage of a service. And then we are told to do everything on line when clearly their software just isnt up to the job. And then the backline people rush through decisions because they dont read the whole list of notes and attachments. You are given short shift and communications is woefull.
    Refugees need to be treated with a bit more respect. It costs a stagering amount of money to lock them up. Much cheaper and efficient to just case manage them out in society. Because you know, of the 10 million or so immigrants we have had so many terrorists we cant keep count. What the fuck were we affraid of?
    Yes labor have a lot of cleanups to do

  11. Stephen S

    If you check the literature, or just check with ordinary common sense, global emissions track global population. So their “meaningful action on climate change” is at once contradicted by their manic immigration and population drive, which takes Big Australia to new heights it has never seen before.

    Have a look at the cynical “Population Statement” released Friday. Population policy sits in Treasury portfolio, which is still all powerful. Climate policy sits in the weak Climate and Environment portfolio, doing damage control. Is Treasury doing anything to reduce logging and land clearing? Nope. Tax fossil fuel extraction for community benefits? Nope.

    The Coalition feeds the rich and flogs the environment, gleefully. Labor does the same, with virtue signalling and pious regret. Hope your kids have got rich parents. Two of my three have gone overseas.

  12. Andy56

    Stephen S, your barking up the wrong tree. Its not population increase per se that causes global warming. Its how we use ths place that make the greatest difference. Its not the water we put in the trough, its how we manage to defecate in the water.
    Its not immigration thats making suburbs stretch out for 80km, thats our fucked planning and economic stupidity at play. I would rather live in thailand than the great ” australian dream”. Words i wrote for a song… the streets are oh so clean, not a soul to be seen. Man its so sterile.
    We could easily support 50million living on the coast, IF we could stop wasting our efforts on building our own mini empires

  13. Harry Lime

    I see two elephants in the room….climate change the obvious one,but global conflict,which is already ramping up,causing the mass displacement of populations and increasing the refugee crisis,is the other one.Labor’s problems will pale into insignificance compared to what’s coming down the highway.We are merely treading water in the meantime,global events which are beyond our control will dictate the governments next moves.The world does not revolve around our domestic politics,and we are nowhere near important enough,except perhaps as a US military staging post.The sleazing of Netanyahu back into power is very disturbing,only adding to the likelihood of major conflict.
    WW3, anyone? It will solve our population problem, and probably our climate problem as well.The human cost?…unimaginable,but we don’t seem to have learned much,as history attests.

  14. New England Cocky

    @ stephenb: ”Progressive Egalitarians” ….. yes, I put my hand up for that description!!

    I also note that there has been little egalitarian change to the current LABOR policy drive to overcome nine ((0 long years of negative politics from the Rabbott Turdball Scummo trifecta of LIARBRAL losers.

  15. Stephengb

    NEC
    Yes, the Neoliberal Agenda is still strong in the Labor Party.

    The ALP are however a damn site better than the LNP

  16. andy56

    stephengb, labor need to be elected once more before they take that “brave” pill. In the mean time they are out to show that they are good managers. I actually agree with you and am sadened that we have reached this point in time where radical things need to be done to revitalise our society and economy but wont happen in the short to medium term. Housing, industry, education, UBI and retirement income are all things we need to address. Neocon economics and ideology wont fix anything, its what got us here.

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