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Day to Day Politics: Why did he do it?

Sunday 18 March 2018

I sit before my computer, fingers poised, well two of them anyway, searching for a beginning and I cannot find one. By the time people are reading this the Batman by-election and the South Australian Election will be done and dusted. Or perhaps we will have to wait and see. Both are filled with there own political complexities, intrigues even.

What effect will Bill Shorten’s controversial decision to announce cuts to Franking Dividends make in the Batman by-election?

If longevity of tenure was a measure by which you judge a government then Labor in South Australia, with 16 years consecutive years of governance must surely be applauded.

I shall come back to this later but first, there are a few matters to clear up.

1 Some tweets.

Wayne Swan Verified account @SwannyQLD

“Excessive executive pay drives a further wedge into Australia’s deepening economic inequality. Bank CEOs received 100 times more than average Australians in 2017. We ignore these gross distortions in distribution at our peril,”

Craig Emerson

“Howard-Costello buy votes with unsustainable spending – middle-class welfare, Baby Bonus, imputation refunds. Falls to Labor to unwind it against trenchant opposition from LNP & NewsLtd. #HandsOffOurLurks”

Bill Shorten Verified account @billshortenmp

“You either think Australians deserve a pay rise, or you don’t. I believe Australians deserve a pay rise.” #realPM

This tweet came to me via Geof Mason. I am an admirer of brevity in writing. This one is impressive.

Tweet by “Queen Victoria”:

So let me get this straight: Dutton wants to bring white South African farmers to Australia who aren’t refugees and don’t want to come, but he won’t let any actual refugees who aren’t white, who want to come, come at all? Makes perfect sense.

Tweet by “Edo Voloder”:

Under Labor’s policy a wealthy person who currently pays $0 tax, won’t get a franking credit refund..for tax they never paid saving the federal budget around $8billion dollars a year, which can be spent on vital services instead.

How is this bad Turnbull and Morrison?”

2 Some other thoughts.

The Tasmanian election is clearing the air and what do we find? Well, it’s certainly historical but who will notice? Tasmania has become the first Australian state to return a female-majority parliament.

Thirteen women and 12 men have been elected to the House Of Assembly as counting is finalised in the state election which was held on March 3. It should have received more media space but you know how it is with women.

3 Peter Dutton’s undoubtedly racist comments about the white South African farmers was totally unnecessary, but as usual, he couldn’t help but take the opportunity to express his white superiority. Most racists tend to want to hide the fact, but not our Peter.

As I thought about it, the plight of the remaining Asylum Seekers on Manus and Nauru came to mind. This Immigration Minister – who delights in showing his toughness – still hasn’t found places for them, meaning he has condemned them to a lifetime of incarceration without ever having committed a crime. What sort of man would do that?

4 On the Franking Credits, it must be remembered that of the $10 billion of franking credits, the overwhelming majority flow to high-income households, 75% going to the top 10%”!

5 I had a thought about those school kids protesting the ridiculous USA gun laws. “It is the children of the USA who lead the need for gun reform. You would think it is the adults who should know better.”

6 The conspiracy theorists are out again with the killing of the two Russians in England. The question is, is it mere coincidence that two weeks prior to the Russian Presidential elections and after Mr Putin says “We are under attack from the West” that these uncanny events take place?

7 It’s rather like if you were Prime Minister of Australia and your deputy had a voice louder than your own, what would you do? The sequence of events surrounding Barnaby Joyce’s resignation were also a touch conspiratorial. What do you think? Notice how there is only one voice speaking for the Coalition now?

8 I have had a bad week on Facebook, being attacked for my perceived bias. After giving it much consideration I thought the best way to describe a biased person is thus …

“I would say it is either an inability or unwillingness to want to understand an opposing point of view.”

9 Now back to where I started; “Why did he do it?”

Why in God’s name did Bill Shorten pick last Tuesday to announce a rather contentious policy? In the full light of day knowing that there was a must-win by-election the next weekend, and a South Australian State election? What sort of basic political thinking was going on in the head of Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen that on the surface at least sounds incredulous?

Was there thinking that a large section of the community would see Labor as progressive on tax reform, even courageous taking on problems that the Coalition didn’t have the guts to? But did it meet the fairness test? Fundamentally, yes.

Was it a risky proposal that they thought worth it, given they were well in front in the polls? Only time will tell if they were right or wrong.

Conversely, why wouldn’t they see the traffic jam of dissatisfaction that would confront them? Sure there would only be a small number of people affected but they would react like kids being stung by a bee’s nest.

Putting aside the fact that this initiative, politically speaking, is a good one what really did they have to gain. It could have waited until a better time. People are intuitively wary of change. Even beneficial change. Tinkering with a policy where the goal posts seem to be moved every week puts people on edge.

But however, you look at it something has to be done. Caitlin Fitzsimmons is the Money editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. She sums it up this way:

“The Howard-Costello largesse is now unsustainable. We have a tax system that can no longer pay for all the services that older people have been accustomed to all their lives.

The deficit in 2017-18 is estimated to be $24 billion. It’s unreasonable to expect working people – many of whom can’t afford their own home – to shoulder the entire burden of budget repair.
It’s also about intragenerational fairness, since it overwhelmingly affects well-off retirees, not all older people.
The fact we have so many retirees chasing fully franked dividends – where there’s a full credit because the company has paid the full rate of tax – is a huge distortion for the sharemarket. It means an excessive amount of money flows into the stocks of the big banks and Telstra.
There are many vested interests who cry foul over the proposals, but there are those in the investment world who acknowledge the status quo is far too generous.

Interestingly the Labor proposal doesn’t really affect pooled super funds – that is, the big industry and retail funds most people are members of. They have enough members paying tax to make the full use of all franking credits.

While the measure is aimed at well-off retirees, it catches some part pensioners and a very small number of full pensioners. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten hinted at some sort of compensation scheme for pensioners, before concluding that “we will make sure that pensioners are OK, full stop”.

My sources suggest a specific scheme is off the mark but there’ll be further announcements closer to the election to make sure pensioners are better off overall under a Labor government than a Coalition one.

Time alone will tell just what if any this announcement will make to peoples voting. Given the hole the Government is in it may not make any difference.

Whether we have the results for these two important elections we will continue to debate the merits of Shorten’s decision.

The Batman by-election will determine the structure of the current Parliament. Will the Greens pick up another seat or will the status quo prevail?

In South Australia will the Government hang onto power after 16 years or will the Nick Xenophon experiment against the major parties work? Or can the Libs form a Government?

Whatever happens, how will we judge Bill Shorten’s decision?

 

My thought for the day

The word “Frugality” is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying and a consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.

 

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26 comments

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  1. Kaye Lee

    Katherine Murphy had a few ideas on the timing. In an article written before the election results were known, she suggested Labor needs to get these savings booked before the May budget so they can fund their policies and maybe match income tax cuts. Murphy assumed Labor would lose both elections and pondered how, after a poor result like that, the announcement of a contentious policy would look.

    “So in this scenario Batman is lost, and the pontification complex is already off and racing, and then Shorten unveils the cash rebates policy, which triggers the public backlash we’ve seen this week. This would be written up as a colossal misjudgment, potentially as some kind of panicked response to events, and that would give Shorten’s internal critics an inch.”

    The tweets you have included show that Labor is going to go hard on inequality which, if presented well, should be a vote winner as well as being necessary.

    As for this year’s deficit being $24 billion, it was already over $28 billion at the end of January so that’s unlikely unless we are expecting a large windfall in the next few months.

  2. ajogrady

    I find it ugly and repulsive that Australians conscience and morals are so easily swayed by the MSM and conservative politics that some very wealthy peoples rort is being diminished that is being characterised as “stealing” from them while there are far more children living below the poverty line and homeless in need. This welfare for the wealthy rort has been at the expense of those in real and desperate need. I really do not recognise my country anymore.

  3. johno

    ajogrady, well said, greed seems to be king.

  4. Egalitarian

    Greed kills everything.

  5. Terry2

    Yesterday Peter Dutton delivered a speech to the ASEAN meeting in Sydney, on the subject of terrorism and regional security. I wonder if he warned the assembled Asian leaders to restrict their borders by excluding Muslims and people by the colour of their skin in favour of fast tracking white South African Farmers ?

    Dutton has excelled himself in the past week by plumbing new depths of depravity, initially by transferring a woman from Nauru to Taiwan for urgent heart surgery. He tried to say that the surgery could be performed in Port Moresby , PNG (which it couldn’t) and whilst it could be performed in Australia or New Zealand he he refused those options based purely on his personal obstinacy.

    Then he allowed his Border Force thugs to remove a Sri Lankan refugee family from their home in Biloela regional Queensland where they had settled in well and were contributing to the community. This raid was conducted before dawn and the family, including two children born in Australia, were initially taken to Victoria and were scheduled to be flown out of Australia [to Sri Lanka ?] on a chartered aircraft but for the eleventh hour intervention of our courts.

    The adults had fled Sri Lanka because of the persecution of Tamils and had sought sanctuary in Australia. Sadly for the children who would normally automatically acquire Australian citizenship if born in Australia the Department of Home Affairs have prevented this as at least one parent must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of the child’s birth for citizenship to attach.

    55,000 real Australians in the Biloela community have signed a petition calling on Dutton to release this family back into their community : the Department of Home Affairs and Peter Dutton’s office yesterday confirmed it was not reviewing the case.

    Mr Dutton, you have again thumbed your nose at the rule of law and international norms for the treatment of refugees and in the process you have shamed us all.

  6. Kaye Lee

    For too long government policy has focused on wealth creation instead of the provision of essential services, equal opportunity, and protection of the vulnerable. Australians have become used to it and it has led to a selfish society where people only consider themselves. They are happy to invest in shares, but ask them to contribute $10 a week to save the planet from climate change and they will vote the government out. Ask them to give up an unreasonable unsustainable unnecessary rort and they scream blue murder. Yet these are often the same people who castigate politicians for rorting entitlements.

    We desperately need a rebalance.

  7. johno

    Terry2, Well done to the 55,000 australians who signed the petition. More shame heaped on Dutton.

  8. helvityni

    Who is our PM, Mal or Peter ; why is Turnbull not interfering with Dutton’s inhumane dealings; he must agree with heartless man…

  9. johno

    Wow. thanks, I will sign it.

  10. Keitha Granville

    well done to the voters in Batman who have put another woman into Federal parliament, and a Labor woman at that.
    South Australians nearly re-elected the Labor government, but after 16 years I reckon they felt that a change was necessary. The Libs better put on a good show over the next few years or they maybe find their electorate is not so generous next time.

    Nick X should have stayed in the Senate.

  11. Freethinker

    The SA election is another result towards a win for the Coalition in the next federal elections.
    In far to many posts here and in another sites I have said that greed and selfishness rules in the majority of the Australian electorate and the last two results prove it.
    I have said that when there will be not enough bread at the table to feed the family changes will happen and I said that by my previews experience 60 years ago or so.
    Do not get me wrong, I am not trying to put down the Australian people, greed and selfishness is on the human genes, it is in their history and the minority, the upper class have the skill to use to divide the masses, the majority.
    Before the next election we will be bombarded with statements:
    The ALP will take the money from all those that worked hard to save for their future, their superannuation will be not safe under Labor
    Small business will go broke if an excessive pay rise is given to the workers
    Energy prices are down and will come more down under the Coalition Government
    The ALP will be run by the Unions and extreme left officials like Sally Macmanus will push for irresponsible pay increases and illegal industrial actions.
    Etc, etc

    In the last two year consumerism have increased considerable, (yes I know that savings come down dramatically but people do not care or know that or perhaps do not concern them) just on the RV industry caravan and motor homes are selling at record numbers and not purchased by the rich families, they are purchased by families where the two are working or self employed people.
    This people do want a change as long as they are Ok.
    Parents know that their children will have a tremendous debt after finishing their studies, that they are going to be unable to purchase a home with that debt but do not care, in any case “The Labor is the same”
    This year, in Tasmania 3 people died in the ambulance outside the hospital because there are no beds, the electorate know that well but do not care, “Tasmania never was so good” “only the Liberals know how to manage the money”

    Cheers

  12. Joseph Carli

    Freethinker..I see it all as a reflection upon the emotional immaturity of many of the Australian voters. Mostly those who make decisions from their childish fears and insecurities.
    Near where I live is a hill where the Sturt Highway to all points east drops off down a steep slope called “Accomodation Hill”. At the crest of this hill is a parking bay where hundreds…of soft-toys..mainly teddy bears, have been attached to the wire fence..crucified, if you like, as a kind of universal “Lets all join in” celebration of childish foolishness of sticking things like pairs of shoes in highway-side dead trees or shooting-up road signs..
    I don’t like to imagine a parent upon passing this “crucifixition of childhood”, suddenly feeling inspired to snatch their child’s soft toy from the very embrace of the toddler and “nailing” it to the fence in a celebration of ; “being as one with my fellow bogans”…but I cannot erase the image!
    I am afraid that until situations arise..as you have mentioned above..the emotional immaturity of the Aust’ voter will continue to be the driving force that will be used by the Right-wing govt’s to lead the electorate by the nose.

  13. Karl Young

    Great post’s Joseph and Freethinker.

  14. townsvilleblog

    helvi, From what I can gather Dutton leads the extreme right wing faction of the Liberal Party, so Turnbull is beholden to him, and even if he believes differently he is not game to say anything because he wants to be the Prime Minister.Sadly in South Australia the people there are about to feel real cost of living pressure as the L’NP begin privatizing everything in sight. On a brighter note great news with Ged Kearney, the first nurse to be elected to the House of Representatives and she’s a fighter for everyday Aussies, and would be a great Workplace Relations Minister in a Shorten Labor government.

  15. townsvilleblog

    If the Australians electorate could somehow be woken from their slumber and have it explained to them that unless they vote Labor in the next federal election it is very likely that there won’t be enough bread on their tables. From memory Sall McManus was keeping a list of actions by this Abbott/Turnbull government as to benefits that they have cancelled for working families, remember in some families one partner cannot work and single income families are really doing it tough. The last time I saw the list it contained in excess of 300 separate actions this miserable extremist right wing government had taken against the working class (I don’t believe in middle class) no wonder Australia has in excess of 3 million people living below the poverty line in a nation of 24 million, and the 3 million is sure to expand under the tories.

  16. paul walter

    Xenophon could have played a useful part in South Australian affairs but his credibility was shot to bits over his odd response to environmental matters like the Murray Darling, his involvement in the stiffing of the Guardian just before he left Parliament and most of all, his disloyalty to SA re electricity.

    Particularly the last.

    In his medievalist attack on renewables in the wake of breakdowns caused through inadequacies in the national power generation and delivery system he shattered his carefully nurtured reputation as an enlightened centrist and enabled the Tories to blame Weatherill for problems associated with flaws in the national grid caused largely by their servility to power and gas interests and neo liberal user-screwed ideology.

    The amount of tax and royalties Chevron and Shell have dodged runs into the tens of $billions, and down stream costs for gas fracking in Australia are ultimately costly downstream, but these folk seem so big as to be beyond challenge.

    I suppose the result in Batman and in South Australia mean that Adani is up and running again, with its attendant rip-offs.

    Too many more “victories” like those of the last couple of years and they will be at the gates of Berlin.

  17. paul walter

    Dutton is a crank. Is there any point in even commenting upon him?

    I suppose, given the breathtaking gullibility of Australians on other matters. They laughed to their cost to the little mustachioed ranting corporal from Austria nearly ninety years ago, to their cost, so I suppose we will have to keep an eye on the likes of Dutton.

  18. corvus boreus

    paul walter,
    Dutton has, thanks to his appointment as head of the newly amalgamated ‘Home Affairs’ portfolio, personally amassed more positional powers than any similar governmental minister in our nation’s history.

    As ‘Minister for Home Affairs’, Dutton is not only in direct charge of most matters pertaining to immigration and border security, but also exerts significant influence over the operations of ASIO, the AFP and the ACLEI.

    That is a hell of a lot of power for such a dishonestly incompetent extremist to be wielding, so yes, I think that the words and actions of the cranky Dutton creature warrant, at the very least, serious examination and considered commentary.

  19. paul walter

    Sorry Corvus. No one would agree more with that than myself, but while the public keeps being stupid, what can we do?

  20. John Boyd

    I did wonder about the timing, but on reflection I think it was fine. One thing it did is to flush out the purely opportunistic reaction from the Greens, who claim to be the only real progressive party, but who chose to amplify the government’s spurious claims about the supposed effects on pensioners, of what is a very progressive policy. They have done this sort of thing before, on the original carbon pollution reduction scheme, and the ‘Malaysian solution’. It looks could go down as did the Democrats, and now, it appears, Xenophon.

  21. helvityni

    townsvilleblog, I’m so very pleased for Ged Kearney, yet another good woman for Labor….

  22. Kronomex

    Can’t that disgusting, revolting, and overbearing creep Christensen sink any lower? Well folks, if your answer was “maybe” then this will come as no surprise –

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/mar/18/george-christensen-attacks-own-government-over-abortion-services-funding

    Unmarried, probably unbedded (being polite), white male, rabid right wing, self serving religious nutter who know what’s best for everyone . Makes me want to throw up!

    Anyone feel sorry for LNP Lite Xenophon? I don’t. Now he’s considering another run at federal politics. Could it have anything to do with not getting in in SA and not having his snout in any tax payers funded trough? Nah…

  23. Kaye Lee

    The replacement senator for George Brandis, Amanda Stoker, joined in with Christensen at a pro-life rally. Great, just what we need, another ultra-conservative who wants to impose their religious views on the rest of us.

    ” Ms Stoker, who is due to be sworn in as former Attorney-General George Brandis’ replacement next week, told the crowd the true measure of a society was how it treated people who couldn’t speak for themselves.

    “Children and babies may not be able to vote but we must ensure that they are heard and protected by all those who govern,” she said.”

    So I assume she will be demanding that the asylum seekers incarcerated on Manus and Nauru be brought here. I assume she will be demanding that the government enact the recommendations from the Uluru statement to give aboriginal people a voice. I assume she will insist on the reinstatement of a disability commissioner at the human rights commission. I assume she will insist on funding being removed from the religious schools who abused so many children for so long and who have fought so hard not to pay compensation.

  24. helvityni

    …there are not many Liberals, who are colour blind…they can at least distinguish between white, brown, black and yellow. Dutton certainly can, Rohingya people are brown, SA’s farmers are white, if they are brownish, it’s just suntan…he knows, he’s from Queensland….

  25. paul walter

    Bram Stoker’s great great grand niece?

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