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Beware the man in the trenchcoat offering lollies

The Coalition claim to be better economic managers – a claim that the evidence does not support – as they call for lower taxes and less regulation.

It’s a threadbare ideological position.

At a time when the despicable bank practices have been exposed, when the Aged Care Royal Commission is revealing heart-wrenching stories of abuse and neglect and impossible working conditions, when the Murray-Darling dries up while a lucky few are paid for stealing water, when three miners have died in Queensland in the space of a few months, when four young men lost their lives implementing the government’s home insulation program, when high-rise units in Sydney are crumbling, when aquifers are being contaminated due to mining activities, when hundreds of species are on the brink of extinction, when the reef is dying and the natural disasters are worsening – is it really the time to have less regulation?

Even some actual monitoring and enforcement of existing regulations would be a start.

Or better still, a clear idea of what benefit to society comes from their proposals.

Aside from John Howard’s gun laws, the Coalition has fought tooth and nail against pretty much every social reform, against the very things that make Australia such a great place to live.

When Gough Whitlam tried to introduce universal healthcare, it was repeatedly blocked by the Coalition in the Senate, providing the trigger for the 1974 double dissolution election.

Whitlam won the election, but not the Senate where the Coalition once again rejected Medibank, which was only eventually passed by holding a joint sitting of the two houses. This drawn-out process, and prolonged negotiations with the states to end means testing of public wards in their hospitals, meant Medibank only came into effect in July 1975.

After 1975, despite promises to preserve Medibank, Malcolm Fraser’s Coalition government undermined the new scheme. Medibank was abolished in 1981. However, the Fraser attempt to build an alternative based on private health funds degenerated into chaos, with four major changes to Medibank in five years.

Large sections of the population were again denied access to affordable health care. When the Hawke government revived Medibank (under the new title of Medicare) in 1984, the Coalition remained intransigent in opposition, but no longer commanded the Senate.

It is a similar story when it comes to superannuation.

Compulsory national superannuation was initially proposed as part of the 1972 Whitlam initiatives but up until the 1980s superannuation was solely the privilege of predominantly male professions, clustered in the public sector or available after a long qualifying period in the private sector.

In 1985, a deal between the government and the ACTU saw the trade union movement forfeit a claim to 3% productivity improvement as wages to instead be paid in compulsory superannuation – endorsed by the Arbitration Commission and managed by superannuation funds with equal representation of the unions in the industry and the employers.

Leader of the Opposition, John Howard, responded:  “That superannuation deal, which represents all that is rotten with industrial relations in Australia, shows the government and the trade union movement in Australia not only playing the employers of Australia for mugs but it is also playing the Arbitration Commission for mugs”.

The Coalition has steadfastly opposed every increase in compulsory superannuation since that time, whether it be from 3% to 6%, or 6% to the current 9.5%.

In the 1995 budget, Ralph Willis unveiled a scheduled increase in compulsory super from 9% to 12% and eventually to 15%. It was to be one of the Keating government’s major legacy reforms.

In its superannuation policy for the 1996 election, Super for all, the Coalition, which had hitherto been implacably opposed to Labor’s policies, promised it would enforce the scheduled increases in the superannuation guarantee, only to abandon this promise after winning the election, saying it was too expensive.

In 2012, the IPA’s John Roskam wrote “Compulsory superannuation offends practically every principle of what should be Liberal Party philosophy. If an Abbott government does keep compulsory superannuation it must, at a minimum, make drastic changes.”

This week, the newest member of the Morrison government’s frontline economic team, Jane Hume, said it would be immoral to ask Australians to put more of their money into an inefficient super system as she signals a major shakeup of the $2.8 trillion sector.  Klaxons blaring.

It’s interesting how mandates only apply to some promises.

In 2002, when Tony Abbott was Employment Minister, he told a Liberal Party function in Victoria, “Compulsory paid maternity leave? Over this Government’s dead body, frankly.”

After Julia Gillard introduced government-funded parental leave, Tony Abbott had a change of heart and took a much more generous scheme to the 2013 election.  That also took less than six months to abandon after he won.

In 2010, the Coalition promised that “To achieve the goal of one million additional solar energy roofs by 2020, the Coalition will provide an extra $1,000 rebate for either solar panels or solar hot water systems.”

Two days before the 2013 election, the rebate promise was reduced to $500 capped at 100,000 rebates per year with a time frame of ten years to achieve the one million additional installations.

This was also abandoned straight after the election.

It’s all very well to offer tax cuts but it kinda feels like a man in a trench coat is offering us a bag of lollies.

How will they simultaneously deliver surpluses whilst collecting $158 billion less in revenue, and keep the economy growing when it is only government spending and a temporary boost in commodity prices that is keeping us out of recession?

Increase the GST?  Increase the pension age to 70?  Introduce GP co-payments?  Sell off the ABC?  Increase fuel taxes?  Tighten eligibility to family payments and disability support?  Underspend on the NDIS?  Tougher compliance rules for Newstart?  Workchoices 2.0?  Increase university fees?

Before you gleefully grab the bag of lollies, you should be wary of what’s under the trenchcoat.

 

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18 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    Roskam is and always was an ignorant, conservative, fanatical nazi type pseudo philosopher, a rotten remnant of a supremacist, triumphal, overbearing, vain, deluded, greedy primitive attitude. These filthy grabbers, snotty plantation owner types are merely huns and savages in outlook. Australia desperately needs to navigate towards social democracy, the fair go, the voice heard, the inclusive policy developed. Conservatives want to isolate themselves from social inclusion, responsibility, justice, salvation for all.

  2. Kaye Lee

    Phil,

    It’s all about the money for them. Wealth creation for individuals is their only goal. User pays. If you can’t afford it, tough shit.

    From the deck of their yachts, they claim “a rising tide will lift all boats”, seemingly oblivious to the fact that many people don’t own a paddle let alone a canoe. No lifejackets for the people who are drowning. If you couldn’t afford swimming lessons that’s not their fault. Tread water quietly please. No noisy splashing as you go under. Here, have a lolly.

  3. John Lord

    Amazing what history throws back at us but only a few read it. However the Libs continue to have amazing economic luck when in office. Commodity prices for example.

  4. Kaye Lee

    John,

    The irony is that commodity prices are high now because of a lack of regulation causing a dam to collapse and natural disasters disrupting supply through flooding etc. Likewise they brag about high lamb prices due to the drought.

    Bring on more disasters seems to be the aim.

  5. Roscoe

    they are already underspending on the NDIS by making it too difficult for people to apply so they give up, that is why they have money left over from it, not because there are not enough applicants

  6. Keitha Granville

    They sell stuff to make the balance sheet look good, they use mining booms to make it look good, and when those fail they need a war.
    No prizes for guessing what is next then . . . . .

  7. Kaye Lee

    Roscoe,

    The monthly financial statements for May say “Total payments were $1,729 million lower than the 2018-19 Revised Budget profile”

    The Revised Budget profile was from the budget they delivered in April. In one month, they spent over $1.7 billion less than they expected to a month before.

    Meanwhile, underemployment grows, wage and GDP growth forecasts are cut.

    On the other hand, company profits are still increasingly rapidly and the top 10% continue to increase their share of wealth in Australia.

    Josh might deliver a surplus and a recession all at once.

    Keitha,

    We are aiming to expand our new arms export industry. The fixer is on it. No qualms about selling to Saudi Arabia….there’s a market there since most of the rest of the world decided it was a bad idea to facilitate genocide. India is stocking up big time. We approve your mines, you buy our arms maybe?

  8. whatever

    Well, you know how the good people at Costellofax’s SMH were saying house prices were falling because of the Labor Party? They are still falling, but the SMH is no longer reporting it as ShockHorror headline news. I guess that means we have entered into the usual conservitard Twilight Zone of superior economic management, where everything looks like a Recession unless you are rich.

  9. Keyboard Progressive

    The NDIS has been explicitly designed to be so vastly complex that an entire industry had to be created surrounding it. Even people working for the NDIA can barely navigate the complexities. It can only get worse under Stuart Robert.

  10. Patricia

    Thanks Kay Lee, a necessary reminder of what the liberals, nationals and PHON do, or don’t do.
    Considering that the LNP has been in government for 17 of the past 23 years it is a wonder that there are any government services left.
    If the ALP does not appose everything that this government now says it has a mandate for then we will see more and more services that we actually pay for with our taxes disappear.
    I keep asking the question, as government has basically abrogated is responsibility to the people of Australia and reduced so many services why are we still paying the taxes that we do? Should we not get a tax reduction every time that they reduce a service, or underfund a service, or lease or sell off a service. After all, government services are the excuse that they use for taxing us it is logical that as each service that government used to provide is privatised that our taxes are reduced.
    Yes, I know, they spend less on services for the people but spend more on subsidising their mates and donors.

  11. Kaye Lee

    The obstruction continues.

    Despite claiming credit for marriage equality, the Coalition fought it all the way until the public made them change their mind. Miffed at their failure, they seem determined to find some other way to appease Christians’ desire to make gays feel like they are evil.

    The same will happen with carbon pricing. The investment community know it, the business community know it, the scientific community are getting frantic at our lack of action….sooner or late the change will be forced on us, no doubt with greater disruption than if we managed it ourselves.

    That’s the trouble with conservatives – they think things like the internet are a waste of money.

  12. Phil

    ‘ That’s the trouble with conservatives – they think things like the internet are a waste of money.’

    Indeed. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  13. Peter F

    I think they know that the internet is extremely productive. The only problem is that they have not been able to limit access to those who can make a profit out of it. The undeserving poor seem to be able to use it!

  14. Terence Mills

    Just an off subject comment on private health insurance at a time when Medicare is struggling.

    For 2019 the subsidies to private health insurance companies by way of the rebate are :

    < age 65 25.059%
    Age 65-69 29.236%
    Age 70+ 33.413%

    If you have private health insurance, you won’t see this rabte on your renewal notice ; for some reason they don’t want you to know.

    The Grattan Institute has questioned the value of the $6 billion-a-year rebate, and suggested the funds could instead be poured into the public hospital system. But Mr Hunt has said that if the government was re-elected it would increase the private health rebate to 30 per cent of the cost of premiums as soon as it had achieved a “sustainable” budget surplus.

    The take home message is, they don’t want to privatise Medicare but they do want to degrade it to such an extent that it becomes simply a safety net for the poor and aged.

  15. Kaye Lee

    I never understood why Labor was accused of lying in what became known as the Mediscare campaign.

    Medicare is a payment system – you can’t sell something that doesn’t make a profit. But you CAN pay for private contractors to keep the records and deliver the payments which is EXACTLY what the Coalition was looking into doing. They had a whole ‘taskforce’ devoted to it.

    In February 2016 it was reported that:

    “The politically risky move means billions of dollars currently disbursed through Medicare, Veterans Affairs, and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme would be outsourced, with the new system geared for instant online transactions using smart phones and contemporary digital applications. The controversial plan is well advanced within the government ”

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/medicare-architect-hits-out-at-privatisation-plan-reports-20160209-gmpe0r.html

    If they think outsourcing services makes them more efficient, they have never had to deal with Telstra. Not to mention the loss of jobs.

  16. Terence Mills

    Kaye

    As you will have found, all Telstra customer care is now handled out of the Philippines and with our numerous problems we have established harmonious relationships with some of the ladies in Telstra downtown Metro Manilla : some will soon be on our Christmas card list.

    They really do try to sort out the problems but short of us all going to live in the Philippines they just don’t understand that compared with their system we have a severely degraded, underfunded and outsourced telecommunications system in this country.

    They find it quite quaint that we can only get a viable mobile connection at home when there is a South Easterly blowing !

  17. New England Cocky

    During this present overwhelming drought many agricultural business proprietors are recognising that a vote for the National$ is a vote to get nothing from the Morriscum Liarbral Notional$ misgovernment in terms of effective drought relief policies or finance.

    The Lazy Nasty Politicians can easily gift Murdoch about $30 MILLION to balance the books at Foxtel, but are too slow granting farmers a measly $2,000 per financial year to put food on the politician’s plates.

    Could that $30 MILLION gift have been buying favourable publicity for the 2019 Federal election?

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