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Listen with both ears

It is excruciating listening to Coalition politicians responding to the question of what they have learned from the election result.

The initial response was “we was robbed”, “they lied”, “union thugs and GetUp intimidated voters”, “Tony would have won”.  For some, this is still the line they are using despite the almost universal condemnation of their blame game.

Someone must have pointed out to Malcolm that his election night speech didn’t go over well so he had another go.  This time he took full responsibility for the campaign because “that’s what leaders do.”  As to what went wrong and what they would change – they will “listen to the people”.

The problem is, and always has been, that they listen to the wrong people.

The only collective that have any voice in influencing Liberal Party policy are business groups.  The purpose of these groups is to lobby on behalf of their members to get conditions that maximise short term profit.  They focus on reducing regulation and taxation, minimising wages, and winning government subsidies and concessions for investment.

It is fair enough for them to present their case but, when all other voices are silenced, this echo chamber which is solely focused on private wealth creation for the owners of capital has distorted the purpose of government and deviated its direction to unfairly benefit them to the detriment of all others.

Funding for legal aid and NGOs has been cut by $1.5 billion and is dependent on them not acting as advocates for the vulnerable.   The Human Rights Law Centre released a report titled ‘Safeguarding Democracy’ in February, which argued governments were eroding Australia’s democracy.

“Governments are using a range of funding levers to make it harder for community organisations to speak out, to advocate on behalf of the groups they represent (and) the natural environment and that’s bad for the health of our democracy,” Human Rights Law Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser said.

“The combined effect of the savage cuts . . . requiring organisations to compete against each other to survive and the constraints in the contract against the ability to advocate has had a really serious, chilling effect,” said ACOSS chief executive officer Cassandra Goldie.

Ms Goldie said corporate stakeholders were increasingly better able to lobby government.

“Democracy doesn’t just happen,” she said. “The government has a core responsibility to ensure that there is (balance) in the dynamics of the democracy and we clearly haven’t got that balance right.”

Unions, the collective voice for the workers, have been demonised and undermined.  With their bargaining power diminished, workers are now seeing their standard of living go backwards with stagnant wages, attacks on penalty rates and workplace conditions like paid parental leave, a freeze on the superannuation guarantee increase, the increase in part-time and contract work, increased housing prices, and moves towards user pays in health and education and toll roads.

Despite a relatively good GDP annual growth figure of 3.1%, it has nothing to do with “transitioning to new sources of growth”.   It has been fuelled by greater production from the mining sector and increased public spending, particularly on defence and national security, and lower than expected imports, but disposable incomes are going backwards.    We are producing more but earning less.

Scott Morrison, in response to the threat to our AAA credit rating, has said we must “maintain the trajectory that the government has set out”, completely ignoring the fact that the downgrade was in response to his budget, not to the election result.

They don’t believe his assumptions about iron ore prices and they don’t believe the “zombie” legislation still counted in the budget will pass.  S&P also warns that there is a risk that revenue projections in the budget may get hit “if Australia’s inflation and wage growth is weak for longer than the budget anticipates”.

While the credit agency did express concern about Australia’s level of external debt it noted that this is “mostly generated by the private sector”.  S&P also blamed “a portion” of that debt on the surge of “unproductive household borrowing for housing during the 1990s and 2000s, which was intermediated by the banking sector”.

From 1995 to 2007 the level of housing debt as a percentage of household disposable income went from 50.3% to 112.9%.

But is Scott listening?  Absolutely not.  He insists on no changes to negative gearing or capital gains tax.

He seems incapable of understanding that property concessions steer investment away from productive areas like infrastructure and business investment that would generate jobs and income and improve productivity.

Like so many things, Malcolm used to know this was true.  In 2005, he described negative gearing as a ‘sheltering tax haven’ that is ‘skewing national investment away from wealth-creating pursuits, towards housing’ and has caused a ‘property bubble’.

Scott is also determined to further decrease revenue by going ahead with his company tax cuts despite the fact that businesses do not make investment decisions based on tax regimes regardless of what he says.

Removing the carbon and mining taxes did not result in increased investment.  Also, if the gap between the top marginal rate and the corporate tax rate is too large, it encourages people to divert their income through a company.

Revenue will be further reduced if he goes ahead with his income tax cuts for the wealthy.  I would also suggest that his one equity measure of reining in superannuation tax concessions will be in doubt with some very vocal opposition from his own party.

Peter Dutton is another whose response has been interesting.  He feels the close result was because he was so successful that he couldn’t find enough new people to torture on cue.  Where were the invading hordes, only kept at bay by his vigilance?  Where was a terrorist incident when you needed one to remind people of how afraid they should be?  His eagerness to share onwater matters during the campaign was thwarted.

It seems they take their lessons from their guru, John Howard – the master of not listening.  He would not say sorry to the Stolen Generation and he sure as hell isn’t going to apologise for the Iraq war.

If the Coalition want to be a successful government, they have to realise they are not there to act purely as a facilitator for business.  They must bring together representatives of all sides of society and use their expertise to negotiate a way forward where all Australians share in the growth built by their labours and the resources and assets we commonly own.

When deciding how to spend the money we have entrusted to them, instead of just looking at the cost, they should focus on the benefit.  Consider the return on investment, even if that may take a while to eventuate.  The NBN is a disgraceful example of a wasted opportunity.

The economic and social benefits of lifting people out of poverty, educating them, keeping them healthy, housing them, providing affordable childcare, an adequate safety net for the unemployed, sick and old, skills training and the infrastructure to support a growing population are inarguable.  This is what governments are for.  Business has a role to play in that but they are not the only players.  Without a healthy, skilled workforce and customers with disposable income, businesses are just an idea.

This is their chance to rethink and start listening with both ears but I fear any sense will be shouted down by those who think they were robbed.


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  1. Glenn K

    Kaye, you nailed it yet again. I wonder how long it takes for Scott Morrison to claim the LNP’s “mandate” which they won in the election!? Probably no later than Friday next week. I am disappointed with the results, mainly because the Aussie voting public are still uninformed. Yes, we can blame the MSM to a degree, but really people need to actually give a shit about the society in which they live. I suppose 25 years without a recession means there’s two generations of workers who fail to understand or don’t care how important who you vote for is. Perhaps we need a deep recession for people to care and get engaged again…..

  2. Stephen Brailey

    You have lovely flowing prose that states your message without laboring the point. If only the twats you speak of had a mind to listen we might actually have a rich and prosperous country for all Australians. However I fear the patterns I have seen being played out for the last 30 years are still producing their demented symphonies of worship for the rich, demonisation of the poor and a faux shug for the withering of the middle class.

  3. Jane

    There no difference in ISIS attitude to the Liberal party.

  4. Freethinker

    Perhaps some of the fellow bloggers are going to ask Freethinker to stop writing depressing views but I cannot hide the reality.
    We have the government that we deserve, we have the weak union movement that we deserve and IMO part it is because the attitude of “I am OK, bugger you Jack”
    Large majority of people still have a nice life, changing cars every 2 years, upgrading the home to one that have 3 bathrooms and a home theater room not to mention more than one TV of which one have to be massive.
    The market, people asking for big homes and are not longer happy with the 12 squares brick veneer home that we was happy on the 1960’s and 70’s.
    At any giving time there are more that 250000 caravans in our country roads and marinas run out of space.
    Greed, and consumption is what works in favor of the right side of the political landscape.
    Until there is more “suffering” and our middle class is not near depleted we will continuing as we are now.

  5. John Lord

    “Democracy doesn’t just happen,” she said. “The government has a core responsibility to ensure that there is (balance) in the dynamics of the democracy and we clearly haven’t got that balance right.”
    Sums it up really.

  6. Kaye Lee


    Coincidentally, a year ago today I wrote an article based on an IPA article published in 1960 which reflected on the significance of the accumulation of gadgets in the 1950s.

    “The great majority [of wage earners] are becoming “men of property” and men of property are conservative. What they have, they do not want to lose. This is economically, socially and politically one of the most portentous developments of the 1950’s.”

    Go Gadget

  7. Möbius Ecko

    Leaders saying they take full responsibility means squat if they don’t.

    We’ve just seen Blair do it in response to Chilcot, but he won’t face any sort of court or punitive action.

    Howard was prodigious in saying he took full responsibility for a long string of failures and malfeasances, but never took an iota of responsibility for anything. He would say it then blame shift and promote and/or reward those he blamed away from the spotlight. Of note he hasn’t taken any responsibility for the invasion of Iraq and his significant role in being cause for the current deterioration as a result.

    Turnbull has said he takes responsibility for the current result, yet he and his senior party colleagues have immediately come out saying they should change nothing because it will be a danger to the economy.

    How about when a leader states they take responsibility they are actually held to taking it, even if that includes facing courts and being punished.

  8. Freethinker

    Kaye Lee, I guess that going to a Harvey Norman store will show those in doubt how “hard” people are doing in Australia.
    The boom in sales of coffee machines is a good example.
    Those people that consume so much in luxury items do not have any idea what hard times are and it would not surprise me that a great majority of them are coalition voters.

  9. etnorb

    And just today I read where that inept, lying toe rag of a politician (his name rhymes with tine!), gloated about how great it was that the “mighty Liberal party” triumphed once again in the election! WTF?? They have “won” 6 out of the last 8 elections, whoppey doo! He is so smarmy it is is not funny! I really do not count this last election as having been “won” by the Liberals–sure they may get a slight majority over the Labor mob, but with the Senate being filled with many Independents etc, they will not actually have a mandate to just pass bills willy-nilly! Luckily for Australia anyway.

  10. mark

    What a pile of emotive rubbish. Unions demonised -more like they are being held accountable . John Howard mot saying sorry to the so called stolen generation when the courts cant find 10 people that were stolen because they were aboriginal or that the states had a directive to do so. Peter Dutton cant find people to torture when the Libs have closed 17 detention centres due to stopping boat arrivals. You need to get over the fact that the majority of Australians voted for the Libs and your big business premise is shallow .

  11. DisablednDesperate

    After hearing Morrisons words I’m sure that they will use that to spook unknowing Senators to agree to cuts. Excellent article as always

  12. Florence nee Fedup

    Every MP that enters parliament has a mandate to vote on behalf of those who elected them. No such thing as party or election promises mandate., #auspol

  13. Kaye Lee

    “the courts cant find 10 people that were stolen because they were aboriginal or that the states had a directive to do so”

    The Victorian Aboriginal Protection Act 1869 included the earliest legislation to authorize child removal from Aboriginal parents. The Central Board for the Protection of Aborigines had been advocating such powers since 1860. Passage of the Act gave the colony of Victoria a wide suite of powers over Aboriginal and ‘half-caste’ persons, including the forcible removal of children, especially ‘at risk’ girls. Through the late 19th and early 20th century, similar policies and legislation were adopted by other states and territories, such as the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897 (Qld), the Aborigines Ordinance 1918 (NT), the Aborigines Act 1934 (SA), and the 1936 Native Administration Act (WA).

    As a result of such legislation, states arranged widespread removal of (primarily) mixed-race children from their Aboriginal mothers. In addition, appointed Aboriginal protectors in each state exercised sundry guardianship powers over Aborigines up to the age of 16 or 21, often determining where they could live and/or work. Policemen or other agents of the state (some designated as ‘Aboriginal Protection Officers’) were given the power to locate and transfer babies and children of mixed descent from their mothers or families or communities into institutions for care. In these Australian states and territories, institutions (both government and missionary) for half-caste children were established in the early decades of the 20th century to care and educate the mixed-race children taken from their families. Examples of such institutions include Moore River Native Settlement in Western Australia, Doomadgee Aboriginal Mission in Queensland, Ebenezer Mission in Victoria, and Wellington Valley Mission in New South Wales.

  14. Carol Taylor

    I noted that Morrison completely ignored the 2nd portion of the S&P recommendation: revenue.

  15. Rossleigh

    I particularly liked Dutton’s complaint that his poor showing was a result of bikies, union thugs and… wait for it, activists!
    No, these bloody activists targetting a politicians purely on the basis that they disapprove of what he’s done – you know the sort, they protest, write letters, sign petitions. God, it shouldn’t be allowed…
    And if Dutton had his way, it wouldn’t be!

    Conservative supporters, on the other hand, are never “activists”; they’re merely people standing up to political correctness and exercising their right to free speech.

  16. Kaye Lee

    unions “being held accountable”

    The unions have sacked officials who did the wrong thing and have led successful prosecutions against others. Why hasn’t Kathy Jackson faced criminal prosecution? She has already been taken to court by the unions. Why have so many of the TURC referrals been thrown out of court?

    Turnbull talks about 100 officials facing 1,000 charges. That would indicate that we already have a system which holds people accountable. The construction industry does not have a good workplace safety record. We need unions to protect workers from danger and from exploitation. By all means work on improved governance and accountability – if only our government and big businesses would do likewise.

  17. Neil of Sydney

    Scott Morrison, in response to the threat to our AAA credit rating, has said we must “maintain the trajectory that the government has set out”, completely ignoring the fact that the downgrade was in response to his budget, not to the election result.

    No it was in response to the fact we have not run a surplus budget since 2007

  18. Kaye Lee

    “the majority of Australians voted for the Libs”

    If you put together the votes from all of the parties in the Coalition, they have 42.1% of the vote which means that 57.9% of the electorate did not vote for them.

  19. Florence nee Fedup

    Turnbull/Bishop doesn’t say facing charges. Says they are before the courts.

    Why haven’t they charged Blewett & Gillard’s Boyfriend of the time.

  20. Florence nee Fedup

    Not much use to listen with both ears, if there is nothing between them.

  21. Mim

    Thank you, Kaye for putting the problem so well. The government only listens to themselves and the business lobby groups. most of these people wouldn’t have a clue where Western Sydney actually is located. They all believe that Parramatta is western Sydney and they couldn’t be more wrong. Western Sydney turned red this election as the lesser of two evils but there has not been one acknowledgement of the real reason why. Only Susan Templeman of Macquarie has even mentioned it in passing. Western Sydney is disgruntled and will become more so as the word spreads.

    A second airport in the Sydney Basin is not sustainable. It was proven in the nineties to have serious impacts on the environment and health of all residents. Air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution and yet the business lobbies support it and Tony Abbott and Anthony Albanese endorsed it. The consultation process breached the Government’s own guidelines. The location cannot meet International standards for bird and bat strike or for noise pollution.

    Sydney is already our worst capital for air pollution and yet no politician is willing to admit this growing epidemic. Deaf, dumb and blind to research and our cries of inequity.

  22. Phil

    great article Kaye Lee – hits so many nails on the head you could easily be taken for a top notch carpenter.

    Admire your skill in arguing with evidence to effectivly refute ill-considered claims and statements made by some in these comment threads.

    And one more thingy – your approach carries a lesson for all – leave the opinion writer alone, no matter how provocative the views, instead hone in with deadly accuracy and compelling logic on the written lies, mis-statements, inaccuracies, propaganda or bias.

    Nice work, all strength to your pen.

  23. Kaye Lee


    Imagine if we had high speed rail.

    Line 1: Sydney to Melbourne (2 hours 44 mins) comprising of Canberra to Sydney (1 hour) and Melbourne to Canberra (2 ½ hours).

    Line 2: Sydney to Brisbane (2 hours 37 mins) comprising of Sydney to Newcastle (40 mins); and Newcastle to the Gold Coast and Gold Coast to Brisbane.

    Once complete, the High Speed Rail would stretch 1,750km linking 11 major cities and regions all the way from Melbourne to Brisbane. The preferred alignment includes four capital city stations, four city-peripheral stations, and stations at the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

    The estimated cost of constructing the preferred HSR alignment in its entirety would be around $114 billion (in 2012 dollars) which sounds like a lot of money until you realise how much we give away in tax concessions and how much we intend spending on the military over that period.

    It would address jobs and housing affordability and revitalise regional Australia.

  24. Kaye Lee


    They did express a concern that Morrison’s trajectory back to surplus was not believable. He is cutting way too much revenue and counting on unfair savings that are unlikely to be passed and on unrealistic assumptions. We don’t have to achieve a surplus tomorrow but we do have to show a credible path where spending is invested in the right areas to promote growth rather than wasted on defence and national security and the war on asylum seekers and fossil fuel subsidies. Now is not the time for tax cuts.

  25. jimhaz

    Another well structured and quite objective article from Kaye, as far as my subjective viewpoint can tell. It reads all true for me.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get content like that into media like the Daily Terror.

  26. FreeThinker

    About 15 years ago, on a trip to the USA, the world’s wealthiest nation, I was introduced to the massive wealth gap in that nation, in the snow-covered streets of Denver Colerado.

    Attending a conference at a large hotel in Denver’s CBD, the counterpoint to the 2,000 well-dressed delegates, the fine food, and the plush ambience of the hotel’s convention-centre were the homeless people living and sleeping in the streets. From my hotel window on the 10th floor, I could see below on the pavement on the other side of the road each night, a heavily-coated group preparing their meal on a portable stove, and then later, bedding down in their sleeping bags for night, in the sleet and the snow.

    A similar scenario is now emerging in our Australian capitals, a direct consequence of the failure to invest in public housing and polices which fan the flames of wealth accumulation in private housing speculation. A walk through Flinders St in Melbourne this winter will quickly demonstrate that this Denver scenario circa 2002, is developing in that city where the glass towers of empty apartments continue to proliferate, and the dozens of homeless congregate around the station.

    Thanks Kaye Lee for demonstrating that Australia’s major ‘deficit’ at the present time is a national collective inability to see and hear what is happening to this country, a nation that subscribes to what has become, the mirage of egalitarianism anda ‘fair go’ for its people. The ‘ jobs and growth ‘ metaphor, so mindlessly chanted by the LNP prior to the election best encapsulates this inability to listen and to understand.

    Michael the FreeThinker

  27. Freethinker

    Michael the FreeThinker, I share your views and what make me very upset is that parties (some of them) mention this problem during the elections and after is all left for the next one.

  28. Freethinker

    Meanwhile, the reaction to the election result from billionaire retailer Gerry Harvey says Australia has been ungovernable since John Howard was dumped from ­office and claims the only cure for the nation’s broken democracy — hamstrung by years of dismal infighting — is to install a dictator.

    This looks more and more like Uruguay in the early 1960’s,” if it is to in our way let repressing them and if they rebel we will use force”

  29. Kaye Lee

    This is going to be a nightmare

    “Mr Katter said migration should, ideally, be confined to Sikhs, Jews and Middle Eastern Christians.”

    Hanson interview with Bolt….

    “One policy area she will probably not rush to take up is climate change, which she described as “BS” and said the jury was still out on, arguing that “nothing has been put before us as scientific”.

    “Let’s know the truth behind all of this climate BS that (is) being dished out to us.

    “Let’s get these scientists off the pay packets and everything else.

    “This is going to head us down the path of destroying our economy, industries and manufacturing and more costs to normal mums and dads who can’t afford it.

  30. kerri

    I made similar comments as to ScoMo’s ineptitude as a treasurer when reposting an article from The Conversation this morning! ScoMo will blame the election for the AAA downgrade and the MSM will blindly report it as gospel truth! Scott has serious issues with the truth and is much like Abbott in believing he is OK until his god punishes him for his actions, and we all know that is not going to happen. The worst treasurer since Joe Hockey actually worse than Joe Hockey! At least Joe had his wife to pull him up now and again! We need to publicise urgently that the downgrade has zilch to do with the election. Even if we can only point out that a ratings agency does not make changes overnight and a week is a much longer time in ratings than in politics.

  31. FreeThinker

    Thanks Freethinker for your comment.

    Seems we share an agenda to facilitate a freeing up the thinking of some folks, such that they may become more open to appreciating alternative ways of seeing the world.

    Michael the FreeThinker

  32. Freethinker

    Yes Kaye, and comments by Gerry Harvey regarding the result of the election do not help, Quote:
    “Neither side can do anything about it because the minute they do they’re hammered. The only cure we’ve got is to have a dictator like in China or something like that. Our democracy at the ­moment is not working,”

  33. mark

    Kaye lee – perfectly true in regards to the legislation but it was passed to save children in danger through neglect or violence . There were many such cases where the children were truely saved from death. The stolen generation is refering to children that were stolen solely because they were aboriginal. Presumably to breed out the race. If it was widespread then why cant the courts find these people . Every one that said they were stolen has been proven to be saved or surrendered by the courts of this land. Even people L.ODonohue from the council has admitted her mother put her in a home to save her.

  34. Mark

    Kaye Lee. A very wide ranging report with lots of anecdotal evidence but does it stand up in court was my question. Things like sisters putting up their brothers and sisters because their parents were not around. Children being sent to schools or parents willingly giving up their children as they couldnt look after them. All of these are referred to as stealing them.Was there a systematic plan to take away all the aboriginal children to breed out the race or not . If there was then get the people into court and prove it. Stories of half truths and dream times dont cut it with me.

  35. Florence nee Fedup

    Answer Mark is yes. is found in records government departments and guidelines. Many incidences were present to the Stolen Children inquiry. They took half caste fair kids, while leaving darker siblings behind. Even took from whiter parents. Will have to do your own Googling.

  36. Florence nee Fedup

    I know for sure that girls were removed from families and darker siblings, place in Cootamundra Girls Home. Were encourage to see themselves as white. Wjere not allow contact with family. Not allowed to visit Redfern hnen in Sydney, talking about 20 year olds, not little kids.
    I know this, as my mother used to have them to help in the home. From reserve outside Lake Cargelligo and Cootamundra, I know the government took 4/5ths wages, few got back. I know my mother was ordered not to pay more or buy them such things as clothes. Yes, Mark, even as a child I knew what I witness in the offices Aboriginal Protection Board was wrong. I still recall the name of the old maid my mother dealt with. Also many ot the arguments s he had. Yes, she burnt the clothes they came with, outfitted them with new ones. She gave them time off to visit family at Redfern when we came to Sydney. 1950s

    Saddest part, many only seen themselves as white. Sadly the white community didn’t agree with them.

    Why would they lie?

  37. totaram

    kerri: the ratings agencies go through the motions of ratings for each country, because they like to think it all still makes a difference long after everyone left the gold standard, Bretton-Woods, etc. and started to issue their own fiat currencies.
    Every bond-trader knows that the rate at which the federal govt borrows is around the interest rate set by the RBA, irrespective of any rating given by these agencies. That is because the govt. borrows only in its own currency, which the RBA issues.

    To avoid further controversies, I will not go into the meaning of borrowing a currency that you are yourself issuing, but I invite you to think about it and perhaps do some research.

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