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Health and education or tax cuts for businesses and high income earners?

When you ignore the distractions, this election has come down to a clear choice.

One side of politics wants high income earners and businesses to pay less tax. They believe that, by supporting the owners of capital, benefits will somehow trickle down to the rest of us.

The other side of politics want to support the human capital on which everything else depends.

One side sees health and education as high cost commodities. The other sees them as civil rights and an investment in the long term prosperity of the nation.

In 2013, the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency produced a report which suggested that, on average, an additional year of learning increases an individual’s wage by between 5 and 16 per cent and would result in a 3 to 15 per cent growth in GDP per capita in the long-run.

Studies showed, however, that those that would expect the highest returns from learning (i.e. generally the least skilled and most disadvantaged) may be the least likely to undertake it.

Foundation skills are a crucial factor but they are also some of the most difficult skills for adults to develop. In contrast, the literature suggests that intervention early in life (including in primary school) is likely to provide large payoffs.

The study also points out that tertiary education is likely to be more important for advanced economies such as Australia. Advanced economies are closer to the technological frontier, requiring firms and labour to engage and absorb more complex technology and to engage in innovation to further enhance welfare.

Germany and all the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – provide higher education free of charge for their own citizens. These governments realize that the knowledge people gain through education helps develop an economy and leads to economic growth.

Learning also produces flow on effects. Studies have found associations between learning and improved health, societal and environmental outcomes. In addition, it is also likely that investment in learning by one worker increases the productivity of his or her co-workers.

Overall, the benefits of investing in learning are compelling. Learning is good for individuals, firms and the economy. They enhance material welfare in terms of wages and profits and promote a more innovative, adaptive and inclusive economy.

Similarly, investment in preventive and primary health care brings enormous economic returns.

In 2011, the World Economic Forum produced a report showing that heart disease reduces global GDP by 33%, cancer by 18%, and mental ill health by 35%.

The AMA has actively joined the election campaign stating that “Investment in health is the best investment that governments can make.”

They are calling on the government to lift the freeze on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) patient rebate and for substantial new funding for public hospitals. They want effective policy on Indigenous health, medical workforce and training, chronic disease management, a rural health strategy and Investment in preventive health measures.

Harmful use of alcohol, illicit drugs, poor food choices and overconsumption, combined with an obesity epidemic, sedentary behaviour and a lack of physical activity are contributing to Australia’s high rates of cardiovascular conditions and poor health outcomes.

Health prevention is an investment not only in the individual; there are social, economic and community savings by helping Australians to be healthier and make better health decisions.

The Coalition government has chosen to invest an enormous amount of money into national security which does not add to the yield of production output. If just a fraction of the money they intend to spend on unproductive war toys was directed instead to health and education, it would provide a far greater boost to productivity and growth than any company tax cut could ever hope to do.

We have choices.

If, for example, we chose not to give tax cuts to high income earners and big companies, to halve our orders for submarines and fighter jets, to stop paying fossil fuel subsidies and to price carbon rather than paying polluters, we would have well over $100 billion to invest in things that will actually make a difference.

Labor’s proposed changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax would also raise more revenue, stimulate construction of new dwellings, and slow the increase in housing prices.

On July 2, Australia gets to decide which course of action is more likely to improve the opportunities and standard of living for all Australians – investing in health and education or a $7 billion windfall to the big four banks.


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  1. Matters Not

    Germany and all the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – provide higher education free of charge for their own citizens

    And for many of those countries named, there are no fees for international students as well.

    In addition to the benefits mentioned, children whose parents have higher education tend to achieve better in schooling as well.

    Going down the US higher education path where students graduate with enormous debt is just crazy and reason enough alone to punish the LNP at the polls, particularly when many of these very people had a ‘free’ education.

  2. John Kelly

    Education and Health will always be an election issue because the Coalition always want to limit the services offered. Labor, on the other hand, always give them their number 1&2 priority. This election, it seems the voters have both issues at the forefront of their concerns, ahead of border protection or the economy. I would much rather take a risk on the economy, knowing that my health and my grandchildren’s education will not be compromised.

  3. Matters Not

    we chose not to give tax cuts to high income earners and big companies

    Let’s not forget there are 579 large companies operating in Australia who pay no tax to the Australian government. Not a small amount but zero tax. For US companies in Australia that pay some tax locally, at a rate less than the 35% charged in the US, then they must make up the difference by paying extra tax in the US. So less tax paid in Australia means more tax paid to the US government. Hilarious.

    But wait there’s more:

    One group of owners who might see an increase in the “after tax return” on their investment is foreign investors who cannot use Australian “imputation credits” to offset their personal tax liabilities in their home country. But while few Australians understand that the main “benefit” of a cut to the company tax rate is to foreign investors, it seems not even Turnbull government ministers understand the implications of Australia’s “bilateral tax treaties” with countries such as the US.

    Again there’s more:

    Neither the public’s “commonsense” nor Treasury’s modelling incorporates the existence of such tax treaties into their analysis. Indeed, the Minister for Finance seems entirely unaware of the complexities of the tax system that he oversees. When asked if it was true that the less tax US companies paid in Australia the more tax they would pay back home to the IRS, Mathias Cormann responded “[the Australia Institute] completely ignore how these things actually work in practice and the way these things will work in practice, is that more competitive company tax rate in Australia will help us bring more investment into Australia, it will help us grow the economy by more. It will help us create more jobs.”

    Why are we providing tax cuts to these foreign investors? Does the United States need this ‘foreign aid’ provided by Australia.

    And we certainly don’t need a Finance Minister promoting changes he simply doesn’t understand.

  4. Jack Russell

    Yes, it’s all down to education and health as a solid foundation.

    I read a comment the other day that I thought indicated that younger generations might just be waking up to the fundamental importance of both: “Have you noticed that most over-50’s have really good spelling and math skills?”

    That’s the first time I’ve ever seen a comment on that subject on social media from a young person.

  5. Kaye Lee

    More reasons to consider how you vote…

    The CSIRO is being run by a venture capitalist who doesn’t have a clue

    The failure of the NBN

    As an update on my NBN nightmare, on Friday my business was finally (re)connected. We were only without EFTPOS and security for 6 weeks! Lots of strings had to be pulled because they are taking no more orders for the NBN in my area but I already had a complaint in with the ombudsman since March when my service first dropped out. The technician who came to install it echoed the refrain I have heard from everyone involved – “it’s a f*cking nightmare.”

    There are 6 technicians employed to cope with the area between Sydney and Newcastle. Because we are marginal seats they rushed the roll out of FttN and stopped any copper connections. It has been hell. FttP on the other hand seems to be going well to those lucky enough to get it which includes my in-laws who are in their 90s. Their area was scheduled before the change of government.

    I don’t know who Ziggy is talking to – perhaps Malcolm and Mitch write his script for him because everyone from the sales team to the technicians, and certainly the poor customers, can tell you it’s a shmozzle.

  6. Matters Not

    The technician who came to install it echoed the refrain I have heard from everyone involved – “it’s a f*cking nightmare

    Didn’t know they employed female technicians. ?

    As for the ‘over 50’s’ (sic). Seems like they can’t handle the ‘apostrophe’ either

  7. John Lord

    150 % agree.

  8. Backyard Bob

    150 % agree.

    Apostrophes and Math. They get everyone. 🙂

  9. silkworm

    “Harmful use of … illicit drugs” If by this you mean cannabis, then bullshit. Cannabis is the most efficacious, least harmful medicine on the planet. If the AMA was really concerned about the health of the population instead of keeping themselves in employment, then they would be championing this wonder herb.

  10. Kaye Lee

    Maths is truthful which is why some of us find it a haven in a world full of lies.

    As for cannabis, like all drugs, there are good and bad things about it.

  11. Matters Not

    Yes ‘maths’ like ‘logic’ is truthful and ‘consistent’ (given certain initial assumptions) while ‘science’ employs concepts such as ‘degrees of probability’ or ‘margins of error’ and the like, one must operate in (give meaning to) a social world which is perhaps much more complex.

    No easy ‘answers’ via maths, logic, science (whether that be the physical or social variety).

    Perhaps religion (based on faith) is the answer? (Just jokin …)

  12. jane

    Another blinder Kaye.

    It astonishes me that the Liars still think we’re in 1816, not 2016 and that decent healthcare and education should be confined to the “deserving” wealthy. Do they think we’ll waste them on cigarettes and gin?

    They also haven’t grasped the fact that trickle down economics is a complete furphy. Not only doesn’t it work, but it leads to high debt and deficits and very poor outcomes for the average wage earner and catastrophic outcomes for people who at the bottom of the income heap. A fine example of this is those two neocon idiots Reagan and Thatcher.

    Far from leaving their economies in robust health, they were in tatters, facts that the msm studiously avoided reporting.

    Hopefully, in this country we will make the right decision this time round, ignore anything NewsCorpse has to say and kick the Liars out until they come up with some policies that will benefit the 90%, not just the 10%.

  13. jim

    Liberals idea of education is to have catholic preachers telling our kids that they are very very bad sinners and that they should burn forever and ever in the flames of hell all because they listened to a talking snake and they ate the wrong apple before they were born. and as for women well they’re nothing but a spare rib.

  14. Steve Laing -

    The Liberals DO understand the value of education!! Why do you think they are pumping so much taxpayer money into private schools? But they are using it as a tool to maintain a class distinction, a weapon to maintain their grip on their privilege. Rich kids good, poor kids bad. It is class war, make absolutely no mistake about it.

  15. Arthur Plottier

    Not only Germany and all the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden , Uruguay with a GDP of 54 U$A billions have free education and health care.

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