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The Coalition has some things right

The Coalition has some things right.

They are right when they say we must invest to create a better future for our children. Unfortunately, they think this means buying your one year old, or your twenty year old, a negatively geared property.

They are right when they say we should utilise our untapped resources. Unfortunately, they think this means mining coal and selling off public assets.

They are right when they say we should support the lifters in our economy. Unfortunately, they think that means boosting the profits of foreign shareholders.

Investing in the health, education and well-being of our children is both an investment that brings huge economic and social reward and an obligation that we have to preserve what we were given and to pass on a society better than the one we inherited.

Children should not be homeless in this country. They should not be living in poverty. They should not be living in fear of domestic violence.

They should have access to quality universal healthcare and public education. They should have the support necessary to achieve their potential regardless of their socio-economic background. Their aspirations for tertiary education should not be unaffordable dreams.

They should have a realistic expectation of meaningful employment after their education. The dream of one day buying a home should be attainable by hard work and saving without the assistance of wealthy parents.

The greatest untapped resource in this country is the vast number of unemployed and underemployed people. Getting them working would provide a huge boost to the economy just as women did when they entered the workforce in large numbers.

But you don’t achieve this by giving tax cuts to companies, many of whom already reduce their tax obligation to nothing by quasi-legal means, and tax cuts to the megawealthy who would rather pay an accountant than have to pay a cent in taxation.

Fifty-five of Australia’s highest earners paid no income tax at all during 2012-13, not even the Medicare levy.

Between them they reported earning $129.5 million, an average of $2.3 million. By the time their accountants had finished with them they reported losing a combined $12.8 million.

Forty of them claimed an extraordinary $42.5 million for the “cost of managing tax affairs” which is itself a tax deduction.

As Peter Martin suggests, the implausibility of someone earning $2.3 million and paying half of it to a tax adviser suggests some may be understating​ their earnings.

Most of the 55 claimed nothing for donations. However 10 of them gave between them $10.4 million, also suggesting their incomes were higher than reported. The gifts may not have all gone to charities. The Tax Office also allows deductions for gifts to political parties.

These people are presumably included in the “mum and dad investors with taxable incomes under $80,000” that Scott Morrison keeps talking about though I doubt any of them are nurses or teachers or police.

These people are not lifters. They are takers.

The group with the greatest potential to boost our economy is the group the government and the Murdoch press love to demonise – the unemployed.

To get the unemployed working, the government’s plan is to introduce an intern scheme called PaTH which will give employers a $1000 grant to take on free labour for up to twelve weeks with no sick leave, holidays or superannuation entitlements.

As Paul Syvret asks, “why, in a labour market where there are about 170,000 job vacancies but nearly 740,000 people unemployed, are we introducing this scheme at the same time as continuing to issue tens of thousands of 457 immigrant work visas each year?”

The first thing that should be done is to increase Newstart – even big business agrees.

A report by KPMG recommended raising the payment by $50 a week, an idea which has the support of the Business Council of Australia.

“It is so low that people are not job ready, they don’t have sufficient income to join the workforce, so that was one of our starting points that we need to solve that before we deal with other really difficult issues in terms of cutting expenditure,” KPMG’s head of tax Grant Wardell-Johnson explained.

The cost of this would be about $2 billion per year every cent of which, rather than being stashed in superannuation or negatively geared properties, would be spent and recycled through the economy.

Newstart is also indexed to the CPI rather than average earnings which means they do not share in improvements in living standards. Unemployment benefits have not increased in real terms since 1994.

If the unemployed have sufficient money to pay for essentials like rent, food, healthcare, clothing, transport and phone/internet needs, they will have a far better chance of getting a job and their children will have better health outcomes and education opportunities.

Next, vocational and skills training should be accessible to all ages and affordable. Industry is changing and people may have to reskill several times during their working life.

Rather than vilifying the unemployed, they should be supported and nurtured as they have the potential to truly stimulate our economy and to contribute to productivity, growth, and the increased demand that will drive more jobs. Lift them out of poverty and we will all reap the benefits.

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21 comments

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  1. Keith

    Tax payers provide infra-structure for the millionaires that are not paying tax such as: roads, education (whether private or public for their children), suburban trains, and hospitals. The millionaires not paying tax are the true leaners in the community. They are plundering the present as well as the future.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-06/hockey-negative-gearing/6431100

  2. Dragonlady

    So true, so clearly stated. Why can’t our government see the logic of this. Kaye Lee is a national treasure!

  3. Ruth L

    I am hoping that voters for the coming Federal Government elections show as much sense as those who voted for Waleed Aly in the Logies.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Dragonlady,

    I am just a middle-aged woman in jammies who reads a lot. We have many very clever people in Australia who have given our government the solutions they need. Unfortunately, government is run by politicians rather than people wise enough to listen to the experts.

  5. Robert Dodgson

    When is someone going to come up with an idea of a universal living wage paid to every Australian citizen over the age of 16 regardless of circumstance.

  6. Shaun Newman

    Kaye Lee is certainly one of our most prolific writers for truth and fairness, read everything she and Victoria write, you both have my admiration, and yes you are “our” national treasure Kaye.

  7. Shaun Newman

    Robert Dodgson, the unions fight every year in the Industrial Court for exactly that principle, but employer groups oppose the principle every year and so we end up with the compromise that we have to live with, as unfair as that is in most circumstances, God bless the ACTU.

  8. Stove-pipe

    The cynic in me says giving people everything they require except a job will entrench them. The compassion in me says give them the tools they need to get out of their situation. I guess we just have to bite the bullet.

  9. Kaye Lee

    ACOSS released a report in 2014 showing that 17.7% of Australian children live in poverty. Dr John Falzon, Chief Executive Officer, St Vincent de Paul Society National Council, wrote in the preface:

    “This is our beautiful struggle, we who are many; we who make up the massive movement for progressive social change. We have only one enemy. It is called inequality.

    And no matter how long it takes, we will win against this enemy. Humanity will win against humiliation. Because our solidarity is stronger than our sadness. And even though our struggle is enormous, so too is our hope.”

    http://www.acoss.org.au/images/uploads/ACOSS_Poverty_in_Australia_2014.pdf

  10. Phil

    Courier Mail asks why the PaTH scheme? I think the simple answer is ‘political expedience’ – it will distort the figures so government can claim a reduction in unemployment.

  11. Jaquix

    Unfortunately government is currently run by politicians in the grip of powerful lobby groups, rather than people wise enough to listen to the people. The Libs truly are beholden to lobby groups and their dontations – big business, Murdoch and the IPA etc. And themselves and their mates of course. I think we have become a little accustomed to this as being “normal”. Political donations in this country are called corruption in other countries. The fact that in Australia they have to declare them, does not change the nature of the “donation”. Bernie Sanders in the USA Presidential race has proved spectacularly that the people are not satisfied with this any more. He takes NO political donations, and in effect is crowdfunding his campaign and is yapping at Hillary’s heels.

  12. Kaye Lee

    Stove-pipe,

    The overwhelmingly vast majority of people would prefer to work. There might be a few who think subsistence living might be fun but it quickly leads to social exclusion if you can’t afford to have friends over for dinner or to enrol your kids in sporting activities or to register your car (public transport is not a cheap option), or to buy birthday presents for your family. Just existing can be soul-destroying.

  13. Jaquix

    Phil, the PaTH scheme will as you say distort unemployment figures. But it is also a wonderful shot in the arm for businesses (more votes for the Libs) who are going to be rewarded handsomely for receiving free slave labour. If there were more unemployed people than jobs, then the scheme might have some merit. The Libs seem to think there are hundreds of thousands of job vacancies and a small pool of reluctant people not wanting to work. The figures are the other way round, but it suits their purpose to stick to the old story.

  14. Florence nee Fedup

    Creating new entry level jobs is answer to youth unemployment, Not another version of baby sitting scheme, caling you are addressing the issue.

  15. Miriam English

    Another lucid, well-written article. Thank you Kaye.

  16. Johnathan123

    Australia is a country where nothing much happens of global significance apart of a desire to intervene in distant theatres at Washington’s behest. To a large extent, whether it is a dull union functionary or a former high flying lawyer who wins the lodge is of little consequence. All we are guaranteed is a show of the banal – and more pathetic television coverage.

  17. Keitha Granville

    the LNP (and let’s be fair, many in Labor) are included in the super wealthy who pay little to no tax. The only way around this is the Buffet rule – everyone pays some tax BEFORE deductions. No-one gets away with paying nothing. Especially the Medicare levy. It’s absurd. Those of us in the PAYG cohort have NO choice – we can’t wait until July and then have an accountant work out if we have any deductions so we can get a refund. Why should a super rich person be able to do this ?
    Surely there must be someone in either party who can see the total unfairness of this ? I fear it will always be the same. Which ever party wins in July.

  18. King1394

    Newstart and its cousin Youth Allowance are so low that getting the basics to allow an unemployed person a fair chance to compete for work is impossible. What are the main things you need to get and keep a job? A phone, internet access, driver’s license, money for fares if you live near public transport and access to a car if you don’t, are expected by most employers. Try paying for any of these if you aren’t living with parents or friends who pick up those costs. Add the cost of obtaining the licenses or certifications required for many jobs – Responsible service of Alcohol/conduct of gaming for most hospitality situations (around $200, or nearly $300 if you want/need barista skills); White Card (workplace health and safety for construction sites) $60 – $80, is an absolute requirement for anyone working as a labourer, tradesman’s offsider, road worker etc. Chemical Applications certificate is up to $400, and is needed in many work situations such as gardening. A driver’s license is out of the question for many young people due not only to the license costs but to the need to get 120-150 hours of driving done. A friend has recently done his HR truck license: $1600. Do that on Newstart.
    I think the Job Search Agencies should be required to help with these costs, and to be proactive in getting people the necessary skills and qualifications… at TAFE where possible.

  19. johnlward010

    While I was preparing this comparison of policies of the major parties for you, (dear reader).
    What I found really fascinating was the verbs used by the ALP and the LNP e.g
    ALP. Establish, increase, Change, introduce, improve, achieve, create.
    LNP. Privatise, repeal, abandon, withdraw, abolish, force, halt, end.
    Look at what The Australian Labor Party have achieved! _And what the LNP plan to do to those achievements. i.e.;
    LNP.
    They plan to privatise or sell off assets
    Privatise Medibank
    Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
    Privatise Australia Post
    Privatise SBS
    Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
    Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
    End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
    Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
    Privatise the CSIRO
    ALP. · NBN (the real one) – total cost $37.4b (Government contribution: $30.4b)
    LNP. Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and
    privatise any sections that have already been built
    Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
    ALP. · BER 7,920 schools: 10,475 projects, not just school halls, (completed at less than 3% dissatisfaction rate)
    · Gonski – Education funding reform
    LNP. Repeal the National Curriculum
    Introduce competing private secondary school curriculum
    ALP. · NDIS / Disability Care
    · MRRT & aligned PRRT
    LNP. Repeal the mining tax
    ALP. · Won seat at the UN
    LNP. Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
    ALP. · Signed Kyoto
    LNP Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
    ALP. · Signatory to Bali Process & Regional Framework
    · Eradicated WorkChoices
    · Established Fair Work Australian Labor Hub
    LNP. Repeal the Fair Work Act
    Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
    Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
    ALP. · Established Carbon Pricing/ETS (7% reduction in emissions since July last year)
    LNP. Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it.
    ALP. · Established National Network of Reserves and Parks
    · Created world’s largest Marine Park Network
    · Introduced Reef Rescue Program
    LNP. Repeal the marine park Legislation LP
    ALP· National Apology
    · Sorry to the Stolen Generation
    LNP. Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
    ALP. · Increased Superannuation from 9 to 12%
    LNP. Abolish the low-income superannuation contribution. This will reimpose a 15 per cent tax on superannuation contributions for 3.6 million workers
    earning less than $37,000 will pay more than $4 billion extra in tax on their super over the next four years.
    Abolish the proposed 15 percent tax on income from superannuation above $100,000 a year. The combined effect of these two superannuation changes is that 16,000 high-income earners with
    superannuation savings in excess of $2 million will get a tax cut
    End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
    Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
    ALP. ·Changed 85 laws to remove discrimination against same sex couples
    LNP. Defund Harmony Day
    ALP. · Improvements to Sex Discrimination Act
    · Introduced National Plan to reduce violence against women and children
    LNP. End all government funded Nanny State advertising
    ALP. · Introduced Plain packaging of cigarettes
    LNP. Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other
    products, including alcohol and fast food
    Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
    ALP. · Legislated Equal pay (social & community workers up to 45% pay increases)
    · Legislated Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme
    LNP. Introduce a paid parental leave scheme that replaces a mother’s salary up to $150,000. To put it crudely, this means a low-income mum gets about $600 per week while a high-income mum gets close to $3000.
    Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than
    260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
    Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
    Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
    ALP. · Established $10b Renewable energy fund
    LNP. Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
    Abolish the Department of Climate Change
    Repeal the renewable energy target
    ALP. · Legislated Murray/Darling Basin plan (the first in a hundred years of trying.)
    LNP.
    Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
    Encourage the construction of dams
    ALP· Increased Education funding by 50%
    · Established direct electoral enrolment
    LNP. Introduce voluntary voting
    End mandatory disclosures on political donations
    End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
    End public funding to political parties
    ALP. · Created 190,000 more University places
    LNP. Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
    Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
    Means test tertiary student loans
    ALP. · Achieved 1:1 ratio, computers for year 9-12 students
    · Established My School
    · Established National Curriculum
    · Established NAPLAN
    LNP. Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
    ALP. · Increased Health funding by 50%
    LNP. Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
    Abolish the means test on the private health insurance rebate. This will deliver a $2.4 billion tax cut over three years for individuals earning more than $84,001 a year, or couples earning more than $168,001. People on lower incomes will receive no benefit.
    Repeal the alcopops tax
    ALP. · Legislated Aged care package
    · Legislated Mental health package
    · Legislated Dental Care package
    · Created 90 Headspace sites
    · Created Medicare Locals Program
    LNP. Means-test Medicare
    ALP. · Created Aussie Jobs package
    · Created Kick-Start Initiative (apprentices)
    · Funded New Car plan (industry support)
    LNP. Cease subsidising the car industry
    End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of
    Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
    ALP. · Created Infrastructure Australian
    LNP. Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a
    searchable database
    End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local
    manufacturers in government tendering
    ALP. · Established Nation Building Program (350 major projects)
    LNP. Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including.
    Lower personal income tax for residents
    Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
    Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
    Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
    ALP. · Doubled Federal Roads budget ($36b) (7,000kms of roads)
    · Rebuilding 1/3 of interstate rail freight network
    · Committed more to urban passenger rail than any government since Federation
    · Developed National Ports Strategy
    · Developed National Land Freight Strategy
    · Created the nations first ever Aviation White Paper
    · Revitalized Australian Shipping
    · Reduced transport regulators from 23 to 3 (saving $30b over 20years)
    · Introduced NICS – infrastructure schedule
    · Australia has moved from 20th in 2007 to 2nd on OECD infrastructure ranking
    · Awarded International Infrastructure Minister of the Year (2012 Albanese)
    · Awarded International Treasurer of the Year (2011 Swan)
    · Introduced Anti-dumping and countervailing system reforms
    LNP. Remove anti-dumping laws
    Deregulate the parallel importation of books
    Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
    ALP. · Legislated Household Assistance Package
    LNP. Eliminate family tax benefits
    ALP. · Introduced School Kids Bonus
    LNP. Abolish the means-tested School kids Bonus that benefits 1.3 million families by providing up to $410 for each primary school child and up to $820 for each high school child.
    ALP. · Increased Childcare rebate (to 50%)
    LNP. Abolish the Baby Bonus
    ALP. · Allocated $6b to Social Housing (20,000 homes)
    · Provided $5b to Support for Homelessness
    · Established National Rental Affordability Scheme ($4.5b)
    · Introduced Closing the Gap
    · Supports Act of Recognition for constitutional change
    · Provided the highest pension increase in 100 years
    · Created 900,000 new jobs
    · Established National Jobs Board
    Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
    · Allocated $9b for skills and training over 5 years
    · Established Enterprise Connect (small business)
    · Appointed Australia’s first Small Business Commissioner
    · Introduced immediate write-off of assets costing less than $10,000 for Sm/Bus
    · Introduced $10,000 immediate write-off for Small Business vehicles over $16,500
    · Introduced Small business $1m loss carryback for tax rebate from previous year
    LNP. Return income taxing powers to the states
    · Legislated Australian Consumer law
    LNP. Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
    ALP. · Introduced a national levy to assist Queensland with reconstruction
    Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
    · Standardised national definition of flood for Insurance purposes.
    · Created Tourism 2020
    · Completed Australia’s first feasibility study on high speed rail
    · Established ESCAS (traceability and accountability in live animal exports)
    · Established Royal Commission into Institutional Sexual Abuse
    · Established National Crime Prevention Fund
    · Lowered personal income taxes (Ave family now pays $3,500 less p.a. than 2007)
    · Raised the tax-free threshold from $6,000 to $18,200
    LNP. Lower the tax-free threshold from $18,200 to $6000. This will drag more than one million low-income earners back into the tax system. It will also increase the taxes for 6 million Australians earning less than $80,000.
    ALP. · Australia now the richest per capita nation on earth
    · First time ever Australia has three triple A credit ratings from all three credit agencies
    · Low inflation
    · Lowest interest rates in 60 years (Ave mortgagee paying $5,000 less p.a. than 2007)
    · Low unemployment
    · Lowest debt to GDP in OECD
    · Australian dollar is now fifth most traded in the world and IMF Reserve Currency
    · One of the world’s best performing economies during and since the GFC
    · Australia now highest ranked for low Sovereign Risk
    · Overseen the largest fiscal tightening in nations history (4.4%)
    LNP. Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
    ALP. · 21 years of continuous economic growth (trend running at around 3%pa)
    · 11 years of continuous wages growth exceeding CPI
    · Increasing Productivity
    · Increasing Consumer Confidence
    LNP. Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
    ALP. Record foreign investment
    · Historic levels of Chinese/Australian bilateral relations
    · First female Prime Minister
    · First female Governor General
    · First female Attorney General
    LNP. Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
    Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced ‘
    Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
    End local content requirements for Australian television stations
    Eliminate media ownership restrictions
    Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
    ALP. A fiscal strategy to return to budget surpluses over the economic cycle without damaging its economy with austerity measures already proven to fail. A future linked to the National Broadband Network, renewable energy and greater productivity through higher education and infrastructure investment. Improved social equality and has a larger voice on the world stage.
    All this (and more) despite a hung parliament, a recalcitrant press and the most negative and
    asinine Opposition since Federation.
    In my view this has been one of the finest parliamentary periods in our history.

  20. The AIM Network

    Brilliant work, JohnW.

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