We need to look ahead far enough to see what policies will enable the country to arrive at a suitable new normal with least destruction of people's lives

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Who would have ever predicted that Australia would become a socialist state under a Coalition government?

Well – actually, the socialist-style policies have been adopted, as a temporary measure, in extraordinary circumstances, by a multi-political group of politicians and advisers (possibly with some of them having to firmly grit their teeth before agreeing to the proposals), and unravelling the situation post-pandemic will be, to put it mildly, challenging!

We have already seen the entente developed between Christian Porter and Sally McManus put on notice by Porter’s latest gambit.

So at this stage, we need to look ahead far enough to see what policies will enable the country to arrive at a suitable new normal with least destruction of people’s lives.

After all – what is the point in falling over backwards to stop people from succumbing to Covid-19 and dying prematurely, if they are then going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel to eke out a hand to mouth existence?

Let’s look at some likely issues and solutions:

  • Action on climate change cannot be put on hold any longer than necessary, and if we can show that, using largely cheaply accessed, renewable and natural resources for energy generation – sun, wind and water – we could set an example for others nations to follow as they emerge from the maelstrom and work to recover.
  • Many who have lost their jobs will not be employed immediately once conditions ease, and many will not find any employment, particularly those in older age brackets.
  • Many in this last group may be carrying a HECS debt or have other financial commitments such as a mortgage or other debts.
  • Perhaps existing HECS debts should be waived along with fees for public education at all levels, while private schools should cease to receive public funding, unless, maybe, they offer scholarships to able students who cannot afford the fees.
  • Along with increasing available energy, we need to develop industries that will offer employment and reduce our dependency on imports, while possibly even offering exporting options other than minerals, agriculture and livestock.
  • Universities may have to re-think their normal selection criteria, given the disruption to education, and state/territory TAFE colleges should be revived to replace the corrupt and exorbitantly expensive private system.
  • Centrelink has become an unwieldy and inhumane leviathan, and traversing its systems challenges even highly intelligent people. It has proved incapable of using outsourcing and algorithmic processes effectively – or legally – and its scope needs to be severely limited.
  • Recent public enquiries have made it very clear that, without proper oversight, regulations are ignored, so all regulatory bodies need to be beefed up!
  • Throw out the cashless welfare card once and for all and provide help to people whose budgeting skills are limited! That would mean more money under government’s control and available for the needy, rather than in the pockets of the cards’ providers!
  • NDIS will require a transfusion and needs to ensure that all staff dealing with applicants for assistance are properly trained and backed up by a competent and suitably qualified appeal systems.
  • No caring organisations – health, aged care, disability support etc – should be held by private, for-profit organisations.
  • Our working Visa system is also out of control, and under-regulated, seemingly designed to make money, rather than to ensure that we encourage suitably qualified people to seek work for which there are no qualified Australian job seekers, and, in a world that has been turned upside down, we need to re-examine our refugee policies and ensure they deal with applicants in a humane way.
  • After the Ruby Princess debacle, maybe the Home Affairs portfolio needs to be separated out again as it is not working well in its current format.
  • We need to seriously look at a UBI if we want to simplify Centrelink.
  • We need to put caps on CEO salaries, at the same time as we completely remove donations to political parties, replacing them with a tax payer funded election allowance.
  • Clearly tax reform is essential and the ability to minimise tax so remarkably that often none is paid has to be nipped in the bud!

That is not everything needing consideration and it clearly cannot all be done at once.

Which is why Parliament should be sitting! NOW!

Some countries still use barter systems.

We use money.

Both are designed to enable people to trade goods and services in a reasonably equitable manner.

Problems arise when some, by inheritance, hard work or illegally, amass far more than they need, and fail to either use the excess to invest in new industries or follow philanthropic paths to assist the less fortunate.

So if the economy slows down, those with barely enough to cover basic needs cannot spend on extras, while those with more than they require, take the surplus out of circulation in ways which minimise tax paid on investments.

Smart – but not conducive to a cohesive society!

I have specifically studied mathematics, including statistics, law and basic economics and worked as a teacher, a lawyer and a mediator. I am not an expert in anything and there are many, like John Hewson, Greg Combet, researchers in CSIRO and in the universities, with much higher levels of skills and experience, who could contribute to establishing policy guidelines and priorities.

Being a politician does not preclude accepting advice from experts – as is being demonstrated currently by our National Cabinet.

My three great, grandchildren are all under 10.

I want them to have a future!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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  1. Told You So

    And what we can learn from history?

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children.

    And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

    Ezekiel 25:17 (Tarantino, Pulp Fiction, 1994)

  2. New England Cocky

    A very perceptive and inclusive analysis Rosemary, but sadly it may be a little too optimistic. We are presently in the ideal capitalist existence where a natural calamity has broken the system so it is time to practice socialism for the undeserving wealthy and corporates, just as Marx and Engels proposed.

    1) Socialise business losses and privatise business profits; the first rule of this new socialism for the wealthy. Too bad about the principle that poorly managed businesses go broke and their business opportunities are re-distributed among competent competitors.

    2) Every business is too big too fail, so long as you are a paid up member of the Liarbral Nazional$ COALition political parties, thus all corporate executives should have uninterrupted over-generous salary packages while the workers starve on unemployment worrying about having a roof over their heads and whether their kids will be in school.

    3) Hand outs to foreign owned corporations in cash and kind should be generous because it is taxpayers money and “we must look after our mates”. Workers are on their own.

    4) Taxation reform increasing legitimate tax deductions for everything will keep the trickle down economy holding all the wealth of the nation in the top less than ten percent (10%) of Australian voters, foreign owned multinational corporations maintaining their “no tax paid” status, thus failing to contribute to the cost of doing business in a politically stable country.

    5) National politics will continue to flourish at the direction News Ltd ensuring the nomination of inept candidates to the unelected political hacks who control pre-selection, allowing the elected politicians to receive their full Parliamentary salary and access to the Parliamentary Allowances Scheme as adjunct puppets of the undeserving wealthy.

    Where were Kevin Rudd and ken Henry when we needed them to again activate the 2008 GFC policy of “Go Early, go Hard, go Families”?

  3. Stephengb

    Coronavirus has destroyed the myth of the deficit
    Yeva Nersisyan and L Randall Wray
    No, federal government spending doesn’t have to be ‘paid for’. The crisis shows providing for our society is not a financial issue
    Fri 17 Apr 2020 22.31 AEST

    Only a month ago, a stimulus bill of $2tn would have been unthinkable. Indignant deficit scolds would have asked how one planned to pay for it, and complained about burdening our grandchildren with debt and bankrupting our country. Bernie Sanders bent over backwards to explain how he was going to pay for a Green New Deal or Medicare for All. These programs don’t seem as expensive any more. Suddenly the government is planning “helicopter drops” of cash. Larry Kudlow, who relentlessly attacked the Obama stimulus during the global financial crisis, is touting the current stimulus as “the single largest Main Street assistance program in the history of the United States”.

    Not even Wall Street titans know the true cost of the coronavirus crisis
    Nobody is seriously asking how we are going to pay for this stimulus – and they shouldn’t. It took a global pandemic to explode the myth that federal government spending has to be “paid for”.
    The Covid-19 crisis has clearly demonstrated what should have been obvious already: provisioning society – whether with food, disinfecting wipes, toilet paper or medical supplies – is not a financial issue. If we can’t produce enough masks, ventilators or food, finance will not help. Society’s capacity to produce real output is what limits its ability to provision itself. And this is precisely what the virus threatens, as workers stay home, supply chains break down and businesses shut their doors.

    On the financial side, a sovereign government can always afford to buy what is for sale in its currency, as Modern Money Theorists have long explained. It cannot run out of money because it simply credits bank accounts when it spends. This is not a prescription, but merely a description of what actually happens. In the United States, Congress passes the budget, while the Treasury, in cooperation with its fiscal agent, the Federal Reserve, makes the necessary payments. This happens through the thick and thin of the business cycle, crisis or not. If the US government wants to buy more ventilators or masks, finance cannot be an impediment.

    Once this crisis passes, the deficit scolds will be back at it, trying to put roadblocks in front of progressive policies.

    But what happens when ventilators and masks are not available for sale even as companies are operating 24/7? More money may not solve the problem, but the government still has a role to play. During the second world war, the US quickly became “the arsenal of democracy” by repurposing its productive capacity to meet the needs of the war. Through diligent planning “[l]ipstick cases became bomb cases, beer cans went to hand grenades, adding machines to automatic pistols, and vacuum cleaners to gas mask parts”. We were able to cut “production time for Liberty Ships down from 365 days to 92, 62, and, finally, to one day”. We can mobilize our resources once again to build temporary hospitals, and to ensure a sufficient supply of medical equipment and whatever else is necessary to overcome the crisis.
    Buying into the deficit myth, for generations we have been living below our means – paralyzed by the belief that finance is the constraint. Prolonged periods of slack and jobless recoveries have disincentivized investment and hurt our productive capacity and labor productivity. Even in good times our economy leaves millions unemployed or underemployed and a significant amount of our capacity idle (before the epidemic, our factories were only operating at three-quarters of capacity). We have underinvested in public healthcare, education and infrastructure and imposed extreme limitations on social assistance programs.

    As of this writing, the administration still plans to go through with its plan to kick 700,000 Americans off the food stamps program to save a measly $4.2bn over five years. We have been living in “poverty in the midst of plenty”, as John Maynard Keynes aptly noted in the Great Depression.
    How coronavirus almost brought down the global financial system | Adam Tooze
    Once this crisis passes, the deficit scolds will be back at it again, trying to put roadblocks in front of progressive policies. We will be told we can’t afford Medicare for All, Jobs for All, College for All or halting climate change. The centrists will try to get us back to “normal” – ie an economy that leaves so many behind.

    It is imperative that we resist. What progressives need to push for is creating a different kind of economy through a Green New Deal. To do so, we need to distinguish between the myths and real constraints, understanding “that what is technically feasible is financially possible” for a sovereign government. Affording the Green New Deal is about real resources and technology, not about finance.

    The original New Deal was also dogged by concerns about excessive government spending. The second world war eliminated that obstacle, unleashing extraordinary economic mobilization and decades of prosperity. Hopefully the coronavirus crisis will not be as destructive as the Great Depression, but if there is one thing it should destroy, it’s the myth of the deficit.

    • Yeva Nersisyan is associate professor of economics at Franklin and Marshall College

    • L Randall Wray, is senior scholar at the Levy Economics Institute and professor of economics at Bard College, author of Modern Money Theory: A Primer on Macroeconomics for Sovereign Monetary Systems; Why Minsky Matters: An Introduction to the Work of a Maverick Economist; and Understanding Modern Money: The Key to Full Employment and Price Stability,

  4. Andy56

    lets destroy one myth here and now. The LNP know what they are doing. The LNP are now suggesting IR reform and tax cuts will get us out of this mess. Its going to be a struggle to drag these knuckle draggers out of a failed protestant ideology. yes protestant. protestant ideology enabled the slave trade and has been hell bent on maintaining it in another form. how else do you explain ” the best form of welfare is a job”

  5. Told You So

    Australians could take a real lesson from the American working class. Maybe we’re just too passive?

    Please watch: https://www.theburningplatform.com/ GREATEST F@#KING RANT OF ALL-TIME

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry? Maybe both at the same time!

  6. Michael Taylor

    Speaking of rants, Trump’s Twitter meltdown this morning was one for the ages.

  7. Kronomex

    It’s a Clayton’s socialist state until they deem the outbreak and it’s consequences finished. Then it will be straight back to the same old ongoing LNP destruction of the country with much more added economic pain for the little people.

  8. RosemaryJ36

    I am tired of seeing and hearing people say “What will it cost?” or, alternatively, “Can we afford it?”
    when we have a government which stubbornly cuts taxes for people and corporations which could afford to pay more and people whose lives have been damaged by bush fires – plus hundreds of homeless – are still waiting for help. We cannot afford not to act humanely!

  9. Jack Cade

    I have commented before on Ash Wednesday; nobody harped on about how much it cost at the time. Nowadays everything is costed.

  10. leefe

    What should be done and what this misgovernment will do are diametrically opposed.

  11. End of tether

    New England Cocky generally nails the real facts, and thinks before writing, which would be ideal practice for a few who put their opinions forward on this site. The LNP are intelligence deficit neo-libs, so do not be misled by their current mini-tsunami of generosity and pseudo-decency. It’s another form of cunning populism only. As I have said elsewhere, the global minerals-and-energy complex, the most formidable force across the entire planet economically, has the Morrison monkeys in thrall. Otherwise, why is Australia still essentially the two-track agrarian and mining economy? Indeed it has remained one since Donald Horne wrote his excoriating book The Lucky Country in 1964, such is the utter incapabilty of us and our rulers to put fresh economic visions into action. How abysmal is it that not one government in all that time has devised policy directions to wean us off dependence on gouging out the forests and hills all over the place, or poisoning the soils and wasting precious water resources on unsustainable agriculture practices like raising cotton, sheep and cattle. (Latter quadrupeds have done untold damage to hundreds of millions of acres of poor nutrient top-soils in Australia for 200 years). No, our present nasty, soon to be (if Darth Dutton can manage it) semi-Nazi regime, is not the gentle leopard which changes its spots – it is the Tyrannosaurus which consumes civil society, traduces the spirit of our constitution, pillages the natural commons which in a sane nation we would cherish, and crushes humaneness wherever it sees fit. It will try to impose maximum austerity, holding over us the bogeyman of another COVID-style crisis. It will very likely fail to answer those pressing corruption questions hanging over Angoose Taylor, Barnaby Drudge and a trail stenching back to the “Abjectbott” period of Liberal clownishness. However, it will perhaps throw ongoing sops to the gullible public until our next one-party election. But after that likely win, given lacklustre Albanese’s A.. nother L..iberal P..arty, the LNP will do as in their ugly, corrupt past – continue to molest and mangle Australia’s democracy, social cohesion and climate.

  12. Jack Cade

    End of tether

    I think Whitlam tried. And we know what happened to his government…
    Aussies don’t like their boat being rocked. Now we probably own the smallest amount of our own resources of any other developed nation. Even BHP is now a British company.

  13. RosemaryJ36

    As soon as we can form a crowd, we need to be out there demanding proper reforms!

  14. TuffGuy

    “completely remove donations to political parties, replacing them with a tax payer funded election allowance.”
    This should also come with severe restrictions. These could include a total ban on corflutes which are just a complete waste of money and resources. Honesty in advertising, with restrictions on where and when and for how long they can advertise. A total ban on the likes of what Clive Palmer did with his scam political party providing $80 million worth of advertising for the Lieberals. A total ban on the use of sports rorts and other spurious (womens changing room) funding programs to influence elections. And whatever else that is required to stop this corrupt government from being re-elected.

  15. Graham

    There is an American expression called the Overton Window – named after the politician who formulated the principle that it is not politicians who set the agenda but the mainstream voters and that politicians have a limited range of options from which to choose if they want to get reelected .

    Radical ideas have to become one of the options considered by the voting public before they can get any serious consideration from the politicians – think same sex marriage for example. Now might be the time for some of the radical ideas to start being pushed into the option space. No point wasting a crisis.


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