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Day to Day Politics: Pie in the sky politics.

Friday April 1 2016

1 The now Abbott/Turnbull Government spent three years in opposition before coming to power in 2013 on the back of Labor leadership dysfunction. During this time Abbott spent an inordinate amount of time being negative, opposing everything.

‘Oppose’, that’s what oppositions do, he said.

Policy groundwork was neglected on the grounds that simply being in office would correct things. When the Australian people gifted them with government it became immediately apparent that, despite the most educated bunch of ministers in Australia’s history, they were policy deficient.

It dogged Abbott for the better part of his tenure. So much so that his leadership was challenged. He survived and made the most astonishing statement that ‘Good Government starts tomorrow.’ In doing so he made a public confession that he had governed badly.

Deplorable government continued unabated to the point where it was no longer tenable. So he was replaced with the more affable personality of Malcolm Turnbull. People’s expectations (including mine) was that a new era of public discourse might come to fruition. It didn’t because Turnbull was unable to be his own man. To get the job he had sold his soul to the extremists of his party. Bequeathed on us was a centre left leader under the control of the right.

He promised a new economic debate centered on tax reform saying that everything was on the table. We quickly found that the menu was so good that everything was gobbled up by the extremes of economic obesity.

The latest addition to the menu is a proposal to allow the states to impose their own income tax to fund schools and health. You won’t mind if we continue to fund the private schools will you?

Yesterday I listened to his interview with Fran Kelly and I was left with the unmistakable impression that this was yet another policy cockup. They haven’t done their homework. It is but a blatant attempt to pass the buck.

For some time now the government has been saying that to repair the budget, cuts have to be made. That cutting expenditure was the answer. Revenue was not the problem. Yet during the interview with Kelly whilst trying to justify his proposal he said:

‘It’s not an attempt to raise taxes but there is a revenue problem’.

There may be some merit in his proposal but can anyone seriously persuade me that the states over time won’t raise taxes to accommodate their needs. Turnbull insists that the State Tax plan isn’t about raising taxes but it is, in fact, the very point of the exercise.

This is simply a handball job. The economic mess the Coalition has made for itself could be fixed if they would put their ideology aside for five minutes, govern for the common good, and take note of the recommendations of CEDA, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. (See their report ‘Deficit to balance: budget repair options’ laid the basis for economic recovery).

Has anyone considered the individual social inequality this will cause? Or state to state inequality for that matter. Or why would we even need a Federal Government.

What we are experiencing is simply ‘thought bubble on the run politics’. And from a man who should know better. And all because the Abbott/Turnbull Government has placed political egotism and ideology before sound policy development.

Further evidence of this government’s dysfunction was identified when the Treasurer soon after Turnbull’s announced his grand plan appeared to be at odds with his Prime Minister. The best one can say about their relationship is ‘it’s complicated’.

2 For me it’s odds on that the proposal will be rejected with some saving grace for the PM. However, we are no further advanced. A budget is looming in a matter of weeks. A budget that if the Treasurer is true to his word that spending is the only means of repairing the budget, should be a shocker. It has to be if he is fair dinkum. And what about the billions still there from the 2014 that is still stuck in the Senate? He can’t continue to leave it on the books, surely.

It’s hard to believe just how badly this Government is playing the political game.

3 Peta Credlin is to appear on Sky News as an election commentator. They apparently wanted her to join with Bolt to give the channel objectivity.

4 Billionaire retailer Jerry Harvey, the man who views the world through the prism of his own cash registers, reckons we need a two tier wage system where cheap labour is plentiful.

‘Australia doesn’t have cheap labour. Many overseas workers would be prepared to move here for a much better life and half the money Australians earn … I’ve got horse studs and it’s difficult to get staff‘ he said.

5 Conversely, I was reading the daily Morgan Report and would you believe the Fair Work Ombudsman did a nationwide investigation into the fast-food sector and found that nearly half (47 per cent) of 565 spot-checked employers have not been paying their staff correctly, with workers being paid as low as $6 per hour compared to the statutory minimum of $17.25 per hour.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigation found that in nearly one-third of cases, the flat hourly rate paid by the employer to its workers was not enough to cover hours attracting penalty rates and loadings, resulting in underpayments for which an employer could be ordered to compensate the underpaid worker, and fined for breach of the applicable Industrial Award.

Royal Commission anyone?

6 Just when we thought Donald Trump couldn’t go any lower, he does.

Trump was asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to define his ‘pro-life’ stance and assertions that abortion should be banned.

‘Do you believe in punishment for abortion – yes or no – as a principle?’ asked Matthews, during the taping of a town hall event.

‘The answer is there has to be some form of punishment,’ said Trump.

‘For the woman?’ Matthews said.

‘Yeah, there has to be some form’ Trump replied.

‘Ten cents, 10 years, what?’ Matthews asked again, pressing.

‘That I don’t know,’ said Trump.

My Thought for the day.

At some time in the human narrative ... in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But thats men for you’.



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  1. keerti

    Personally I doubt very much that Turnbull is not able to be his own man, he has always shown a sleazey, dishonest, n”niceboy” image rather than his real self. If he was any different and believed any different to what he has been putting out then he wouldn’t be able to hold the office of PM. That is if he had any integrety at all. He may once have held beliefs that were more “left wing”, but that was a long time ago. Now he is a tea-party man!

  2. Peter f

    If we re-elect the coalition we deserve what we get.

  3. John Kelly

    Yes, there was a point in human history when man claimed superiority over woman. She protested. He hit her. It proved just one thing. Man was superior in physical strength. Thereafter, he has shown by his actions that is the only reason. His thinking never progressed beyond that point.

  4. Terry2

    Why is it that important matters of policy, where the Commonwealth Government are supposed to be leading the country, we first hear about it in the form of a leak to News Corp.

    I sympathise with the frustration of some of the state Premiers who are being asked to comment on a policy that they heard about through the Australian on Wednesday and have not even received a formal written briefing prior to the COAG meeting. today.

    I think the relationship between the Liberals and News Corporation is far from a healthy one.

  5. Kaye Lee

    Malcolm has conceded that this is not yet a plan, just an idea to be worked on. So why announce it? It cannot be included in the budget. Malcolm has been criticised for his failure on tax reform so he needed something to announce. He knew he would be facing hostile Premiers at COAG because of the gutting of hospital and school funding from 2014. He will apparently offer them a tiny bandaid to get through the election but then wants to flick pass the problem to someone else – what we call in rugby a ‘hospital’ pass…you can see a huge guy getting ready to smash you so you pass the ball to a team mate and let him get smashed instead. Malcolm wants to be able to say “look, we cut taxes”.

    Regardless of his motivation, he will still be going to the election with no economic plan in place. And where is the talk of compliance costs for business in this latest thought bubble. I can see myself getting stuck with a lot more paperwork as I deal with two levels of government for monthly taxation.

  6. Kaye Lee

    Tony Abbott’s Federation Green Paper, released last year, said…

    “This option could, however, lead to very different funding models being applied across the states and territories and between the government and non-government sectors, leading to differences in the level of public funding for schools with similar population characteristics.

    “This is likely to give rise to concerns about fairness, as well as introduce perverse incentives for governments to shift costs within the system.”

    It could also limit state governments’ ability to effectively regulate non-government schools and improve and ensure consistency across all sectors.

    “It would also undermine the considerable degree of cooperation across the schooling sectors that has built-up over many years,” the green paper found.

    The paper was far more positive about an alternative proposal to give state governments full responsibility for all schools.
    This option would provide “absolute clarity” about who is responsible for schools, promote better service delivery, provide more budget certainty and allow better planning.

    The Abbott government’s National Commission of Audit recommended the states take funding responsibility for all schools, including the non-government sector.

    But Catholic and independent schools want to maintain their historical relationship with Canberra

  7. Michael

    Thank you for your insightful Fridays.

    The latest ‘agilised and innovative’ idea is an extension of the ‘divide and rule’ tactic running through LNP collective veins – lining up the States and Territories like ducks on a wall – so they will fall for the bidding trick – who can offer the lowest price at your and my expense – one off against the other and let’s sit back and enjoy – they have already done that with the TPP – for a meager saving in GDP (all the hard lifting has been achieved in dare I say Labor days) we get the ‘agile and innovative’ Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions at the expense of our sovereignty.

    I vote for Jerry Harvey to be the next Australian Minister for Caste-ing – a Rahodes study scholarship to lands north to get the clues.

    And to help young, floundering, beam-me-up lifter, Scotty – perhaps this could be the perfect example of ‘agile and innovative’: our very own

    Now for the weekend.

  8. Matthew Oborne

    the government tried increasing jobs by allowing businesses a huge limit on instant write offs, didnt work, they tried offering $10 000 to employers to take some people, didnt work, both schemes show businesses need people to have more income.

    now that some smokers in some states pay up to $200 a week to smoke and it is expected to increase again it is time to look at seriously whether this high tax regime is causing harm or helping.

    a ten percent GST on tobacco would be fair, help smokers with allowing them access to e cigarettes and dont charge tobacco excise on patches and quit smoking products that get taxes similar to tobacco.

    a person buying a packet of 50 cigarettes is now paying $200 a week for something that costs less than $7 a kilo, gram for gram silver is cheaper than tobacco, is that lost on people a readily available plant costs more to a consumer than silver.
    The same tax regime applied to a carton of beer would make beer retail at just under three thousand dollars a carton.
    could any government sanely propose making a carton of beer nearly $3000.00

    Smoking is a devastating to peoples health simply put it is madness to smoke, it is madness to do a lot of things legal or illegal and we dont choose to make them an easy target for taxing.

    Taxes are good as we all know, shame taxes work but only to a degree. We have a situation where people who smoke are burdened.

    Drop the tax back and that $200 and soon 400 a week goes to that person having been given back enormous buying power.

    That is the point isnt it.

    There is no other product where we would expect a person to spend thousands each year on taxes, you couldnt add a tax like that to petrol, sugar, any other consumable really without huge public outcry.

    More addictive than heroin and we punish them by taking away hundreds each week from them.

    if the government proposed a two hundred dollar a week tax on all drug users there would be much more said than this.

    Why we treat a legal stimulant that does massive harm as a source of revenue is beyond logic.

  9. Matthew Oborne

    50 percent of Aboriginal men smoke. 44 percent of aboriginal women smoke who does this proposed tax hit hardest?

  10. Graeme

    Abbott agrees. He recently called tobacco excise a “workers tax” on smokers.

  11. Matthew Oborne

    Abbott wouldnt know a social ill if he slept with it.
    the simple fact is children of smokers are have less money spent on them and we are expected to blame the smoker.

  12. Matthew Oborne

    shame tax at the same level would make a carton of beer cost around $3000, You think Abbott the idiot would be the only one saying thats insane.

  13. Douglas Pye

    In all the world we are under the same sky …. and viewing similar social circumstances! The following is copied from an article written by a Nurse in the U.S.( displayed in a current Dandelion Salad blog post ) :-

    ” ELECTIONS IN the U.S. are usually a pretty miserable time for union activists.

    We spend hours fighting small-scale struggles, with few resources at our disposal and many institutional barriers before us. We try, often unsuccessfully, to convince co-workers to engage in basic actions on our own behalf. We face union-busting corporations and “non-profit” organizations, right-to-work laws, and demands for huge concessions on wages, pensions, and health care–while the politicians of both parties are busy giving tax breaks to corporations and dismantling public services like health care, education and other vital municipal institutions.”

    Whilst thankfully, we still ‘lag behind’ the U.S., our Conservative shape (alarmingly) mirrors theirs in respect of what’s dealt with above.

    That “only in America” tag may not apply quite so aptly soon!! ….union busting corporations? …tax breaks? …. corporations concessions? …. health care? …. education?…..local councils? …. along with punitive bans on public protest … etc. etc.

    Further along in the article , personal tax breaks on offer from political parties as an inducement rang a familiar bell! …

    For whom the Bell Tolls!

  14. David

    I really believe Turnbull and Morrison underestimate the strength of the Labor Economic team in Chris Bowen, Tony Burke and Dr Andrew Leigh. They stand tall by comparison. I am looking forward to the debates, that is if Scummo has the danglers to face Bowen

  15. Backyard Bob

    In a very real sense Turnbull is a far worse PM than Abbott. In the case of the latter there were no expectations of anything positive. In the case of the former, well…

    And there’s nothing “left” about Turnbull at all, not even his position at the centre,

  16. Michael Taylor

    I thought I would have been able to tolerate a Turnbull government because I had wrongly assumed that it would at least be a bit moderate and perhaps a bit progressive. Wow, was I wrong. ByB is right. The expectations were high. And wrong.

  17. 2353

    ABC Factcheck looked at Abbott’s claim of a smoking tax being a tax on workers this morning and declared it to be spin. Turnbull is no better, as his latest thought bubble shows.

  18. Florence nee Fedup

    What I can’t understand is why anyone would have high expectations of Turnbull anytime. Then I don’t understand when one looks at Shortens history, why people’s expectations would be so low.

    PM didn’t put forwarded a plan. Nothing but mere proposal with no details.

    I suspect panic is in the air leading to desperate PM. Polls seem to be bad for LNP across all states.

  19. David

    Florence as the polls steadily improve for Labor across the country, I keep reminding myself of Queensland and Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ‘impossible’ 2015 election win. That outstanding lady proved even the most improbable victories can be achieved.
    Bill Shorten and his team are now performing like they also believe the improbable is achievable. Signs across the country are supporting that belief.

  20. jamess

    Whether you vote or not is of no consequence, not one of the men or women of the competing parties for your vote will serve the Australian community in any form of compassion, integrity or honest intent. It is revealed from week to week, and yet the pubic consciousness or awareness is lost to this fact. The majority of the corporate structure are at war with the workforce (slaves). Very little has changed since the 17th century. Change will only come about from the bottom up.

  21. John Massam

    The Henry Report recommended, among other things, real land tax. My idea of that is every bit of land except crown land and aboriginal reserves ought to be taxed the amount equivalent to what the rent would have been if it was leased to someone. Land only, not improvements. No exceptions. Remember how the non-religion Scientology, threatened with some prosecution, became a religion ? How many more “religions” would spring up if they were exempt from the proposed 10 per cent land tax ?
    All other taxes must then be phased out, or eliminated – consigned to the dustbin of history.

    If that is too hard for the politicians and the public to bear, what about a real concerted effort to make billionaire global companies pay their company tax ? The law ought to be changed so that if their accountants show they made little or no profit, an alternative could be their choice of a one per cent turnover tax, OR a tax on the increase of their share value average on the stock exchange. What about making millionaire Australians do the same, if their accountants prepare books showing little or no profit ?

    – John C. Massam, of W. Australia

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