The despair at the inaction of Labor is growing louder. The groups they are supposed to represent are under attack and all we hear is endless support for Tony Abbott’s warmongering.
Labor have been gifted a first year of Abbott government that has been so bad that they should be seizing the opportunity to reshape themselves as a viable alternative but all we hear is “our policies will be revealed in good time before the next election and they will be fully costed” or “we aren’t the government”.
A quick look at the last few days news stories provide endless material that, for some unknown reason, Labor seems too ineffective to capitalise on.
Our Prime Minister for Women has delivered a budget which modelling shows that the worst hit – by far – will be women in low-income households.
Just as Tony Abbott releases one of his ‘earnest and sincere’ videos saying that his government’s main motivations in future will be “protecting the vulnerable”, it might be opportune to point out that analysis, conducted by the Australia Institute, shows women in the poorest 20 per cent of households will be $2566 worse off in 2017 as a result of the budget. Women in the wealthiest 20 per cent of households will be only $77 worse off on average in 2017.
Or perhaps, as our Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs jets off on his long-awaited trip to Arnhem Land, it might be worth mentioning the report in the SMH saying
“Tony Abbott’s takeover of indigenous affairs is in “disarray“, public service insiders allege, with hundreds of specialist public servants retrenched, funding and programs stalled and staff morale in the “doldrums”.
Senior leaders in the Prime Minister and Cabinet department’s Indigenous Affairs Group have based themselves in Canberra’s dress circle, nearly 10 kilometres away from their rank-and-file workers, who are still reeling after repeated restructures to their workplaces.”
Now would be a good time to remind people of how much Tony Abbott has cut from the Indigenous Affairs budget and how many services are closing.
“For decades the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) has been providing legal aid in the remote town of Nhulunbuy, on the northern tip of Arnhem Land, as well as in the nearby community of Yirrkala and surrounding outstations.
But the agency is set to close its doors in Nhulunbuy at the end of the year, in anticipation of severe budget cuts, and is seeking a meeting with the Prime Minister during his visit.”
With the revelations from ICAC proving just how endemic corruption is in our political system, now would be a good time to push for a Federal ICAC.
As Errol Brandt points out at nofibs
“there is a deafening roar from social media calling for the establishment of a federal ICAC. Not because the public wants cheap entertainment, but because the revelations in NSW confirm what many have long suspected: entrenched unethical and illegal behaviour is festering in our the nation’s political shadowlands.”
Does anyone believe Bill Shorten when he says
“I think we’ve all been shocked at the revelations that have come out in NSW ICAC… I don’t believe the same case has yet existed to demonstrate these problems are prevalent in the national political debate in Australia.”
Rob Oakeshott certainly thinks otherwise as he calls for reform in the area of political donations.
“THE rules are simple: fight the bastards, bankroll the other side of politics, cause them damage until they learn to ignore treasury and finance advice and start listening instead to that grubby leveller in politics – money.
Whether it’s tax or carbon or gaming, this is the policy inertia of Australia today. Money is beating our long-term standard of living to death. It has sent many necessary policy reforms to the doghouse, and it keeps many others on the short chain.
Our key decisions for the future of Australia are now being outsourced at a level never before seen. Parliamentary democracy is going through its own sort of privatisation….”
Oakeshott points out the undue influence that wealthy people exert on political decisions which are no longer made in the best interests of the people. This is underlined by Gina Rinehart’s latest call for assistance as iron ore prices fall. Rather than facing business risk like the rest of us, she wants the government to change the rules to increase her profits.
“Mrs Rinehart singled out red tape, approvals and burdens as addressable bureaucratic policies.
“Each one of these adds costs and makes it harder to compete successfully, risking Australian jobs and revenue,” Mrs Rinehart told The Australian. “The government needs to better recognise this and world conditions, including various falling commodity prices and the contraction in jobs in Australia’s mining and related industries – and urgently cut bureaucratic burdens.”
The government needs to act to help reduce the costs placed on Australian miners, who are disadvantaged against international competition, Mrs Rinehart said.
Mrs Rinehart has previously warned that Africa is a much cheaper investment option, with workers willing to take jobs for $2 per day.
It was estimated at the time that while Mrs Rinehart was talking about pay rates for African workers, she was earning $600 a second.”
Andrew Wilkie is also angry at the influence of vested interests with Barnaby Joyce promoting the interests of his mates.
“The Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is reportedly set to exempt Saudi Arabia from the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, which would be the first step in undoing the modest animal welfare reforms of the last parliament.
“This is the government saying loud and clear to overseas markets: `we don’t care how you slaughter our animals’,’’ Mr Wilkie said. “This will have horrendous consequences for Australian animals that will be sent overseas to cruel and shocking deaths with the blessing of the Australian Government. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Australian Government is a pack of sadists who seem to get some sort of unholy thrill out of knowingly promoting animal cruelty.
Barnaby Joyce in particular is beholden to money and his mates in that tiny part of the red-meat industry which exports livestock. But even there he is incompetent because the only way to ensure the red-meat industry is commercially sustainable over the long term, and have broad public support, is to end the cruelty.”
As Tony Abbott woos the Chinese in search of a Free Trade Agreement, someone should warn him that they are likely to impose tariffs on our exports as they move to an ETS.
“Just two months after Australia trashed its carbon price because it was “too high” and would “trash the economy”, China has flagged that its planned carbon trading scheme will cover 40 per cent of its economy and be worth up to $65 billion.”
Tony Abbott keeps telling us that repealing taxes will create jobs but, on so many fronts, his actions show little regard for creating employment.
The main public sector union is demanding urgent talks with the Australian Taxation Office over a proposal to move outsourced backroom functions to Asia.
The CPSU says it is “deeply concerned” after revelations that a giant multinational contractor wants to take ATO work to the Philippines and that Health Department work has been going to India for years.
Support for mining and agriculture will do little to help as, at its peak, the mining sector employed less than 2 per cent of the workforce, and agriculture, forestry and fishing employs about 3 per cent.
Withdrawing support for the car industry will see a huge number of job losses with even more for South Australia if the government chooses to buy Japanese submarines to replace the Collins class fleet.
But at present, the only policy the government has to tackle unemployment is lowering wage rates by, for example, getting rid of penalty rates and introducing low junior wages.
As Paul Malone points out
“The conventional response that our tradeable services will compete successfully on the world stage, significantly adding to our export income and keeping large numbers of our population employed, is laughable. If we can sell architecture services via the net, so can lower paid Indians.
The currently much vaunted sale of education services is in reality an immigration marketing program, where many students study here in the hope that they can win the right to live and work here.”
While our students become increasingly concerned about changes that will see them saddled with huge debts, Scott Morrison is busy announcing a new type of visa that will allow foreign students to come and study diploma courses at private colleges like the one Frances Abbott attends which has benefited from a great deal of favourable government legislation since they gave her a scholarship.
‘The number of international students seeking to study in Australia continues to rebound positively, with an increase of over 27% in the number of visas granted to offshore applicants in the 2013/2014 programme year,’ he pointed out.
‘Extending SVP arrangements will help capitalise on these trends, reducing red tape and helping to attract further students from overseas,’ he added.
Invitations to participate will be sent to eligible providers in the second half of 2014. The government proposes to implement this extension by early 2015, under the stewardship of Michaelia Cash, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.”
Even though small business is a huge employer, they too have been attacked by the Abbott budget. It seems only billionaires and global corporations rate a mention nowadays.
“The Coalition has scrapped the tax concessions linked to the mining tax, including the company loss carry-back provision, which allowed loss-making businesses to claim back tax they’d paid in previous profitable years. Also cut were accelerated depreciation allowances or asset write-offs.
“The Coalition have said that they would be small business-friendly, they understand we are the backbone of the economy, that we employ a lot of people – all those sorts of things – and they would do anything they could to make sure our lives were easy enough so we could run our business, and they’ve done the opposite with this decision,” said Peter Strong, the executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA).”
While Abbott talks of growth, he seems to have little idea of how to achieve it and is actually working against measures to reduce inequality.
“The federal budget took active steps towards increasing inequality and that sits in stark contrast to the discussions held at the G20 and now the L20 meetings. Youth unemployment is a critical issue for the Australian economy but has largely been ignored in favour of a crackdown on ‘dole bludgers’ and ‘welfare queens’.
There is a clear disconnect between our federal government and the L20, who are promoting a return to more inclusive growth, which benefits workers across the income distribution. The L20’s focus is long overdue — the national income share from wages has been declining for decades — but it’s a message that has clearly fallen on deaf ears in Australia.”
Abbott tells us that we must be innovative but at the same time cuts funding to research and ignores the advice of scientists, much to the chagrine of our chief scientist Ian Chubb.
“In the space of a fortnight we were encouraged to be advocates for science and then rebuked for “whinging” by a minister who in the same breath claimed to be on our side. That came as something of a shock.
Much has been said and written about how Australia punches above our weight in research and innovation in the past and present. We have in no way reached our capacity. We need long-term research funding, clear translational mechanisms and strong links with business. We need more blue sky research, not less, and we need to figure out smarter ways of funding and translating it.
Most of all, scientists need allies in parliament, and increasingly it appears we have none. Acknowledging that isn’t being a “precious petal”, and it’s not whingeing. These are big-picture issues, these are long-term issues, these are dreams and ideas about what we think our country can do and how we can bring it into the future.”
These are just a few of the stories from the last few days yet the nation, including the Labor Party, have been mesmerised by talk of terrorism even though there is no discernible threat other than “tens” of angry young men who our police force already seem to be watching.
If Shorten cannot man up and start presenting some credible alternatives to the disaster that is our current government then I am very fearful for our future.