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Day to Day Politics: Remember the IPA’s ‘Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia’?

Tuesday 8 August 2017.

Public Apathy and 75 Ideas to Make You Shudder

Since taking another look at the Institute of Public Affairs 2013 ’75 proposals’ for then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to radically change the culture and political landscape of Australia, I have wanted to revisit them. Mainly because the ideas they represent reinforce my view that we no longer have a Liberal Party but a neo-conservative party deeply entrenched in the very worst values of the extreme-right and serfdom.

Doing so has only strengthened my belief that the Australian electorate is in such a political malaise that it is totally incapable of taking an informed view of what an alternative government might do if they had the power.

Those who are familiar with me on Facebook will know that every day I post ‘My Thought For The Day’ quote. They range from the political through to almost any subject and often generate some good discussion. Here are four political examples:

“In a lifetime of following politics in this country I have never known the electorate to be in such a political malaise.”

Less-informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware. Therefore, conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need. And the menu generally contains a fair portion of untruths.”

Labor came before capital and is not related to it. Capital is what’s acquired from labour, and would never have come about if it were not for labour. Therefore, labour is superior to capital and deserves the higher significance.”

We live in a failed system. Capitalism does not allow for an equitable 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.”

It was a response to one of them by an American friend (Frank Innes) that caught my eye and afforded me the opportunity to comment on the IPA proposals. (By the way, Frank is a retired teacher and lives in Missouri).

He said:

Capitalism, socialism, fascism, neo liberalism and communism are only economic THEORIES! They are nothing more than words written on paper.

They are not active and they do nothing. Each theory is neither good nor bad. Each theory is ultimately what the people make of them.

Democracy is nothing more than a theory. The US Constitution and Bill of Rights have NO AUTHORITY … they are nothing more than what We The People make of them (when we the people ignore and neglect our government it is then taken over by self-interest groups to serve their own purposes and there is nothing that says that those who come to manage the government must be ethical, moral, or responsible to the people. When good people neglect their government lesser people then govern them.

We the People have the government we deserve. The fault of government or our economic system is within us; we the People! … the problem is to be found right behind your nose.

Therein is the problem facing the Australian electorate. It has to date been successfully conned by the then opposition of Tony Abbott and later the leadership of both he and his successor Malcolm Turnbull into believing that they have all the answers.

However, any enquiring mind could only conclude that the current government and that of Abbott’s are the worst ever.

Both leaders frequently lie but the public never turns its head.

One only has to raise the subject of politics in general conversation to gauge the utter apathy of the electorate.

Proof of the MSM of Murdoch deception can be evidenced when an opinion is sought about the government’s performance.

People will indicate dissatisfaction but cannot articulate why. And they have no idea what the government stands for or indeed what its policies are.

Even though I am a locked-in social democrat I have always considered myself a believer in democracy first and foremost. I originated this quote:

“You cannot possibly believe in democracy if at the same time you believe that your party is the only one that should ever win.”

I used to believe that, but now confronted with this government’s performance, together with its extremism, I am in fact absolutely frightened – no, petrified – by the prospect of them winning another term.

Frank Innes is correct when he says “isms” are nothing without public support. The ALP should take out full-page ads with these 75 proposals splashed in the boldest type for people to see just how demented most of them are and just how they would change the very fabric of Australian society.

They should also be extensively published on all categories of social media. Turnbull should then be asked to comment on those he might consider or implement … or deny them altogether.

The Institute of Public Affairs is a free market right-wing think tank that is funded by some of Australia’s major companies and is closely aligned to the Liberal Party. The 75 proposals were accompanied by an article titled Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia and attributed to John Roskam, Chris Berg and James Paterson.

Here is a short extract:

If he wins government, Abbott faces a clear choice. He could simply overturn one or two symbolic Gillard-era policies like the carbon tax, and govern moderately. He would not offend any interest groups. In doing so, he’d probably secure a couple of terms in office for himself and the Liberal Party. But would this be a successful government? We don’t believe so. The remorseless drift to bigger government and less freedom would not halt, and it would resume with vigour when the Coalition eventually loses office. We hope he grasps the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the political culture and stem the assault on individual liberty.

It is the essence of that last sentence that particularly grates. The following list (below) gives you some idea of the havoc that has been or is going to be caused by the IPA and this truly rotten government we have.

It’s time to wake up, Australia.

Those of you who so diligently follow my words each day might like to tell me which of the items have already been ticked off and those likely too.

Here is the list:

1 Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.

2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change

3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund

4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act

5 Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council

6 Repeal the renewable energy target

7 Return income taxing powers to the states

8 Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission

9 Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

10 Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol

11 Introduce fee competition to Australian universities

12 Repeal the National Curriculum

13 Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums

14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’

16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law

17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations

18 Eliminate family tax benefits

19 Abandon the paid parental leave scheme

20 Means-test Medicare

21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

22 Introduce voluntary voting

23 End mandatory disclosures on political donations

24 End media blackout in final days of election campaigns

25 End public funding to political parties

26 Remove anti-dumping laws

27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions

28 Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board

29 Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency

30 Cease subsidising the car industry

31 Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction

32 Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games

33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books

34 End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws

35 Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP

36 Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit

37 Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database

38 Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food

39 Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities

40 Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools

41 Repeal the alcopops tax

42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:

  1. a) Lower personal income tax for residents
  2. b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
  3. c) Encourage the construction of dams

43 Repeal the mining tax

44 Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states

45 Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold

46 Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent

47 Cease funding the Australia Network

48 Privatise Australia Post

49 Privatise Medibank

50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function

51 Privatise SBS

52 Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784

53 Repeal the Fair Work Act

54 Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them

55 Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors

56 Abolish the Baby Bonus

57 Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant

58 Allow the Northern Territory to become a state

59 Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16

60 Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade

61 Slash top public servant salaries too much lower international standards, like in the United States

62 End all public subsidies to sport and the arts

63 Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport

64 End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering

65 Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification

66 Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship

67 Means test tertiary student loans

68 Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement

69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built

70 End all government-funded Nanny State advertising

71 Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling

72 Privatise the CSIRO

73 Defund Harmony Day

74 Close the Office for Youth

75 Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

My thought for the day.

“Every day I write my opinions on a variety of subjects. They are my own thoughts based on my political philosophy, many individual and collective influences, and my world view based on 77 years of a living experience. I claim no ownership of righteousness. I accept that your words may be more worthy than mine.”


24 comments

  1. Terry2

    I see from this morning’s news that the coalition are going to re-submit their plebiscite legislation to the Senate this week.

    Why the hurry ? Well, last time this went to the Senate, in November 2016, it was rejected 33 – 29 but this time there are two Green Senators missing – they voted against last time as did Derryn Hinch. Hinch is now wavering and may well vote with the government this time around.

    We may well end up with Tony Abbott’s $180 million plebiscite after all : Malcolm loses again.

  2. Keith

    “Think Tank” and “Institute” are two terms that no longer have much meaning in my view. Both terms conjure up careful study and consideration of minute detail to come to a conclusion. “Public” suggests taking into account the needs of communities. The IPA displays none of these characteristics; it is an extreme odious Agency that searches for ways to undermine structures in communities. The IPA pushes neo con political views; that is, they display a very blinkered view of the world. The well being of others is of no concern to the IPA.

    An interesting read about what is happening in the US, suggesting that Trump might be a better option than Pence. Remember the cruel, callous 2014 Abbott budget? Abbott is a member of IPA.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/07/trump-out-in-year-usa-problems-just-beginning-paul-mason

    That is my polite version, I have had to delete some of comments I initially wrote as they could be construed to be libellous.

  3. Harquebus

    Most here have a preferred solution. None of us has the ability to actually implement it.
    The Labor Party doesn’t doesn’t have any solutions at all. Just a modified version of more of the same.
    The time has come for Labor to step up and do what is required and Bill ‘n’ Co. ain’t doin’ it.

    I only really popped in to post this. I am sure that it will go down well.

    “In short, capitalism literally kills people through commodification of health, education, etc. as well as evil collusions and other methods.”
    “workers of the world must unite to destroy capitalism, and bring about a socialist world order!”
    http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/capitalism-has-failed-the-world-socialism-is-the-viable-alternative-20170807

  4. Phil

    The IPA wish list is the path to corporate anarchy not to individual liberty which is merely a necessary euphemism.

  5. wam

    wow Lord, no truth today? Are there no positives from the 75?

    Who could object to 59??

    Any thoughts on 26? It would curb the green excesses in contesting every seat. Pauline may also be poorer?

    Surely if family trusts abolished, tax avoidance is exposed and farming tax rorts were stopped 67 may operate?

    If billy were to begin every question time with an IPA thought prefaced by ‘a previous PM …..’ the pot may be stirred?

    The windows of labor offices could be used to inform/incite???

  6. paul walter

    The program has been rigidly and purposefully imposed unrelentingly by oligarchy and its megaphones. Dumbing down and its parallel policies are probably past tilting point. Rupert and his allies in London New York and Washington are likely well-pleased.

  7. Graeme Henchel

    The fascinating thing about the IPA list other than its dastardly intent is the succinctness of its plan.

    If there was to be a counter anti-IPA list of 75 items what would it contain and be stated in a set of one sentence line outcomes.

  8. Robert REYNOLDS

    If the IPA ever achieved its aims through its stooges in the Liberal Party, or in fact by any other means, then we would quite quickly have a society that would make Dickensian England look almost appealing.

    And how would that most likely end-up?

    Well, in order to answer that question I would suggest that we would only need to look at what happened in France in 1789 or Russian in 1917. These free-market economic lunatics seem to be incapable of foreseeing the consequences of their insane policies.

  9. helvityni

    It’s a very grim IPA list of 75 items.

    I bet not even Graeme Henchel can spin them into poetry… 🙂

  10. stove_pupe

    Don’t forget old Bill Shorten is good mates with John Roskam. Stranger than fiction!

  11. nurses1968

    stove_pupe
    From 8 year olds at school. They took different directions in life, so what, lifelong friendships can be maintained

  12. Keitha Granville

    Like you John I am frightened – nay, terrified – at the future with a fascist government (I know it’s only a word but let’s call a spade a shovel).

    What can we do ? Tell me and I’ll do it. I talk to people about the parlous situation we are in constantly, my own children, friends: what else can we do ?

    I despair at the apathy of electorate, they are just giving up on their own lives.

  13. Jaquix

    Absolutely outrageous list of aims, which the Liberal Party is trying to implement.

  14. Christian Marx

    The IPA are a dangerous group of Psychopaths. They should receive life in jail.
    I place them on the same scale of evil as rapists and murderers. The damage
    they are doing to society is catastrophic. Pure evil, imo.

  15. Robert REYNOLDS

    Hi stove_pupe,

    Bill Shorten being good mates with John Roskam is not in any way, “stranger than fiction” to me. I am not even surprised. Such a relationship reminds me of the hobnobbing that Bob Hawke used to do with ‘the big end of town’ when he was in office. If there is one thing that the working class can, and should expect from the so called “Labor Party”, it is treachery. They, like their faux enemies the Liberal Party, throw you a few crumbs while their serious work involves doing the bidding of those who hold the real power.

    The sole purpose for the existence of both of the major political parties is to protect the interests of big corporations and the rich. That this is the case is simply just a little more apparent in the case of the Liberal Party.

  16. kerri

    Whilst voluntary voting has not yet occurred, a postal plebiscite can be regarded as a big step in that direction.
    Labor needs to heed the Time Warp and take a big, big jump to the left. Only with a big left step and that exquisite distinction bewteen left and right will the sleeping voters awake and realise the potential of a more moral, fair and benevolent government.

  17. Andrew J Smith

    I’m surprised (in fact not) that Australian media do not scrutinise IPA more, especially some of the support from international subsidiaries of fossil fuels and automotive, who have a strong anti government and pro business bias for the top end of town (like their Australian counterparts in other sectors); seemed to emerge around the same time as John Howard found his legs.

    According to Wiki this may include Exxon-Mobil, formerly Standard Oil the old Rockefeller company, and like the Fords etc. strong antipathy towards ‘other types’ e.g. ‘immigrants’ who are blamed (via ‘population growth’) for environmental issues under the guise of ‘sustainability’ and ‘anti-globalisation’ sentiment to avoid e.g. environmental and business regulation (Zero Population Growth ZPG movement).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institute_of_Public_Affairs

    Coincidentally the Rockefeller Commission was commissioned by Nixon in 1969 and they too came up with a list for ‘business’ masquerading as concern for the environment around ‘population growth’.

    http://www.population-security.org/rockefeller/001_population_growth_and_the_american_future.htm

    One has observed too many links with the WASP oligarch white nativism of the past becoming ‘resurgent’ under other guises including ‘astro turfing’, in addition to ‘sustainabilty’ etc., aka Brexit and Trump?

  18. Denise Drysdale

    Gee! the IPA have got you guys worried.

  19. Möbius Ecko

    Denise Drysdale, the real worry is that the IPA hasn’t got you worried.

  20. Robert REYNOLDS

    Denise, for me, Mobius Ecko’s succinct and pithy response to your original post, says it all.

    I would only add that I would have thought that any reasonable person who is capable of understanding what it is that these extremist economic zealots in the IPA wish to achieve, might be just a little concerned.

    While I am a great fan of reading Charles Dickens, I certainly have no desire whatsoever to live in the kind of society that he wrote so eloquently about and that is the direction that IPA policies are taking us.

  21. Andreas Bimba

    IPA = traitorous scum.

    Their agents the Liberal Party and the National Party are also traitorous scum.

    The Labor Party will probably betray us yet again perhaps not universally but in many vital areas like maintaining excessively open markets, having a stupid target of balanced federal budgets and austerity, ongoing high unemployment and underemployment, wage stagnation, more privatisations, maintaining a sociopathic system of social welfare, more coal mines, ongoing environmental destruction such as land clearing and destruction of Victoria’s alpine forests and letting the corporate robber barons generally do as they please. Yes the Conservatives are worse but are we a democracy or a corporate autocracy?

  22. Matters Not

    Andreas re the IPA. LNP. ALP et al.

    Down to ignorance or intent? A case of Forgive them for they know not what they do or conscious, deliberate decisions with full knowledge of the outcomes? Conscious or unconscious bastardry?

    Any thoughts?

  23. Andreas Bimba

    The electorate believed the lies of those politicians that implemented neoliberal policies. John Howard and Peter Costello were elected into office many times, Tony Abbott was elected to office and so was Malcolm Turnbull (just). To attract the vital swinging voter in the swinging seats the ALP offer slightly watered down neoliberal policies.

    Much of the electorate has become more self centred and ‘pro market’ given that society has become more of a rat race and is much more stratified (education/housing/health care/employment/justice) and huge mortgages, credit card debt and a precarious employment market means that bigger spending ‘socialist’ parties or ‘fringe issue’ parties like the Greens have been shunned by many.

    Many in the middle class see themselves as superior and do not want to share what they have worked (speculated) hard for but they unwittingly serve the interests of the super rich that are running off with the nation’s wealth. Give the pidgeons a few crumbs and they will follow. Many ‘working class’ people have also turned to right wing parties or have become ‘free market’ supporters.

    Why else does the electorate vote for its own destruction? A largely propagandist neoliberal mass media, including the ABC and SBS in the vital area of economics, mass ignorance and disinterest in politics and a huge electoral funding advantage for the Conservatives.

    The right wing media moguls and corporate robber barons especially in mining, the finance sector and real estate sectors plus a few other vested interests like the US, China, the defence/state security apparatus, some churches for example know how to ‘lobby’ and basically apply considerable incentives of various kinds or alternatively considerable punishment to ensure key politicians and entire political parties act in their interests.

    It was always like this but apparently after the two world wars, the establishment made some concessions to allow the democratic process to work for the many and not just the few but by the 70’s the establishment had had enough and began to apply considerable and relentless pressure to again swing the game totally in their favour. Don’t forget that Whitlam was destroyed by Murdoch, the mining sector and the rest of the right wing establishment, and by himself to a considerable extent.

    Only a large people’s movement is likely to bring the political system back under democratic control and given how society has degenerated this is not going to be easy. A Labor victory next federal election will not suffice.

  24. Robert REYNOLDS

    Matters Not,

    Please forgive this unexpected and unrequested reply to the question that you directed to Andreas. But I find it a little difficult to restrain myself from making a contribution.

    In my humble opinion outfits like the IPA., LNP., ALP et al. are totally undeserving of a “Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do”, response.

    My attitude to each of those organizations differs a little.

    My impression of the IPA is that it is mainly filled with free-market ideologues who genuinely believe that a laissez faire, free-market economy and society is the best and fairest way to run a society. These people seem comfortable with the idea that a Dickensian society is something that we should all aim for.

    The raison d’état of the Liberal Party on the other hand, is to ensure that the interests of the rich and powerful are looked after. It seeks to ensure that there is a constant redistribution of wealth, from the poor to the rich. It often seeks to achieve this aim by “throwing a few crumbs” to the poor while granting serious concessions to the rich.

    The ALP (Alternative Liberal Party) exists primarily to do the bidding of the rich also. However it pretends to exist to advocate for the less well-off in society but this is essentially a sham. The crumbs that the ALP throws to the poor may, on occasions, be a little bigger than the ones offered by the real party of the rich.

    The Liberal Party and the ALP are basically two sides of the same coin. They play a sort of ‘good-cop/bad cop’ game in which the winner is always the rich and powerful. Fundamentally, what we have in western societies is the illusion of democracy. When we alternate between the LP and the ALP there are rarely any meaningful changes. Rather than living in a democracy it is more of a plutocracy.

    If a political party emerges that attempts to offer meaningful change then the established powers that be, will ruthlessly smash it. The classic example of this is the destruction of the Chilean Socialist/Communist Government led by Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973.

    The current arrangement reminds me of the relationship between a parasite and its host. The last thing that a smart parasite does is kill off the host. The clever parasite just leaves the host enough of the necessities to ensure that it survives, while taking as much as it can without causing the host too much distress or death.

    However, if/when the capitalist class become too greedy or there is a major economic collapse, then all bets are off.

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