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Meanwhile, back in Aus.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

A friend told me I was writing far too much about Donald Trump at the expense of Australian politics, to which I replied “when the US catches a cold we seem to get the flu”. However, he may have a point so today I will see if I can confine my remarks to down under.

1 The Prime Minister is due to address the National Press Club on 1 February. It is the perfect occasion for him to cast of the image of the hypocritical buffoon, reaffirm his authority over the party he leads and get on with the job of leading the nation. It will give him the opportunity to re commit to a Republic, give his party a free vote on gay marriage and to tell his party that it’s his way or the highway on the environment. A recent survey said that Australia needed strong leadership. Even if they break the rules. This is his chance to show the Australian public that he is the leader they thought he was when he took over the leadership from the incompetent Abbott.

Will he do any of these things? No, not a chance. He would lose his job in a flash. To even consider agreeing with the public on these matters would be anathema to the true blue conservatives.

All he can really do is manage things. Manage the internal rumblings and fix up the day to day policy ineptness.

It is hardly a time, while your party is stuffing things up expertly, to stand confidently in front of the Press Club and outline an agenda for the rest of the term. All he can do is stand before them like the pretender he is and talk the talk of a leader without a cause.

2 I note that the Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has said that the Government has no plans to change the Renewable Energy Target. On the other hand Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce refuses to rule it out. All over the place on policy as usual.

No doubt that now that the US intends withdrawing from the Paris Agreement the cimate denialists in the Coalition will be putting the pressure on the PM to do the same. What’s the odds he caves in as usual?

As I see it this is a unique opportunity for the rest of the world to shirtfront (sorry about the term) Trump (I know I said I wouldn’t mention him but what does one do.) and put him in his place and tell him that facts matter. It remains to be seen what the rest of the world will do. Will countries like Australia, who are doing little to confront the issue just give in to the demagogue and thank him for getting us out of a problem.

And what of those countries like Germany who have invested countless billions in an effort to clean up the environment? They should stand on their dig and insist that America uphold its Paris commitment.

Frydenberg said the RET was “balanced” but “not cost free” – warning it added $63 a year to household power bills. Then he attacked Labor for its 50% target on renewables.

An observation.

“We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet.”

3 The Pollsters seem to be back from Holliday. Essential yesterday had Labor 8 percentage points ahead of the Coalition 46/54. Given the performance of this deplorable Government I would suggest that’s more than a tad under what one might expect.

One Nation is almost level with the Greens.

The weekly survey throws up some interesting results:

Q. Thursday 26th January is Australia Day. Will you personally be doing anything to celebrate Australia Day or do you treat it as just a public holiday?

34% said they will be doing something to celebrate Australia Day, 46% treat Australia Day as just a public holiday and 5% are working because they don’t get the Australia Day holiday. This is the lowest proportion celebrating Australia Day over the last 7 years

Q. Would you support or oppose Australia becoming a republic with an Australian head of state?

44% support Australia becoming a republic with an Australian head of state and 30% oppose. 26% have no opinion. Those most likely to support were Labor voters (50%), Greens voters (52%), men (53%) and university educated (52%).

Those most likely to oppose were Liberal/National voters (41%) and aged 65+ (44%).

Q. How much trust do you have in the following institutions and organisations?

Overall, trust in institutions has increased a little since this question was asked last September.

Respondents had most trust in the Federal police (69%), State police (67%), the High Court (62%), the ABC (53%) and the Reserve Bank (51%). They had least trust in political parties (17%), business groups (27%), trade unions (27%) and religious organisations (28%).

The main changes since the last poll were for Federal Police (up 6%), the High Courts (up 5%) and State Parliament (up 5%).

Trust in political parties was 17%.

For the complete list go here.

4 Malcolm Turnbull will challenge a ruling from the Information Commissioner that his official diary be made public. I can understand an MPs desire for privacy but for transparency’s sake we are entitled to know who they are talking to. George Brandis is a case in point.

5 I found it difficult to swallow this headline in The Australian yesterday. In fact I nearly chocked on the burnt toast.

“Donald Trump has built around him a remarkable team and they are dedicated to his vision. Here is what could happen now.” (Robert Gottliebsen).

On this day in 2016 I wrote:

“Have you ever thought about how richly (pardon the pun) pampered the privileged are in Australia.

As a cohort they pay less GST tax than any other group. The government takes from the poor and middle class to help them pay for their kids private school education. They can negatively gear as many houses as they want. There are numerous tax concessions. And they, if they so choose, get a 15% tax discount if they put their money into super. Then there are Capital Gains offsets.

Negative gearing is costing the Federal Government about $3.7 billion a year in lost revenue, while the 50 per cent capital gains tax discount wipes off $4 billion.

In two years’ time the tax breaks on Superannuation will cost as much as the pension $50 billion a year.

And of course many of them with family businesses pay no tax at all. But did you know that the taxpayers of Australia actually underwrite Private Health Insurance companies to the tune of $11billion annually.

“I don’t think that I can recall a domestic policy that is so outrageous as the $11 b. annual cost to the taxpayer of the subsidy to private health insurance (PHI) companies.” (John Menadue).

Note: Changes have been made to Superannuation.


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  1. Terry2

    Scott Morrison is in the London at the moment and part of his mission is to find out how the UK handles housing affordability.

    No doubt his discussions will be confidential, particularly the bit where the poms say :

    ” do you really give tax concessions to investors to buy up housing stock but not to owner occupiers : there’s you problem right there, sunshine”

    Barnaby Joyce, on housing affordability in Sydney, says people should move to Tamworth, there’s plenty of jobs and cheap real estate there : thanks Barney, ever the helpful possum.

  2. Shogan

    Why would you go to one of the most expensive cities in the world to own a home to study housing affordability?

  3. Kaye Lee

    Well while Scott is in the UK I hope he takes note that, in 2015, they cut negative gearing.

    “Galloping property prices, particularly in London, will be tackled by a restriction on tax relief for landlords who buy properties to rent them out.

    As in Australia, wealthier landlords receive tax relief at as much as 45 per cent, which is the top marginal tax rate. But from 2017 this tax relief will be reduced slowly to 20 per cent.”

    What’s the bet he doesn’t mention that!

    So why can’t we do it?

    “As for Australia, there is simply too much debt held by both property investors and owner-occupiers to do much about making changes to negative gearing without burning the better part of 1.2 million property investors.”

  4. 1petermcc

    Perhaps they will change Negative Gearing if Sco Mo discovers the Poms are doing it? He seems to lack confidence and ends up hiding behind the angry man facade when he has to think for himself.

  5. wam

    If you write what you want then we will get a better read.

    The pollies pay less gst than their electors right down to their subsidised pie.
    The rich brag about not paying full price for anything.

    My real beef is the medicare levy which should be on gross income for all Australia.
    Little CEO’S and the unemployed would pay for health.

    But I have been arguing for years that if politicians published their diaries at the end of the week with the details of meetings:

    where, who, why, how long and outcome expected,

    That would establish how hard they work, why their families suffer and obviate the need for ICAC.

  6. Terry2

    Malcolm Turnbull is again lashing Bill Shorten for not supporting free trade following the USA’s withdrawal from the TPP. According to Turnbull we should plough ahead with a ‘twelve minus one TPP’.

    What he seems to be saying is that we can proceed with a TPP with the other ten countries who were and remain part of the TPP. To be clear, the countries who were part of the original TPP were :

    USA, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam ( hence the twelve minus one when the USA pulled out).

    Of those, Australia has free trade agreements with all except Mexico and Peru either as bilateral agreements or as part of the ASEAN Free Trade Area to which Australia and New Zealand are partners together with Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
    In addition we have the hastily cobbled FTA with China which Abbott insisted on signing for the G20 meeting in Sydney.

    So what is Turnbull on about ? Well, it seems that he is playing on community ignorance on the whole subject of free trade solely to serve as a wedge on Labor : in other words, he is just playing politics because he has no other agenda.

  7. Harquebus

    “But over the past 25 years of globalized neoliberalism, social democratic movements have abandoned labor to embrace the self-serving wealth and power offered by capital.”
    “The Left is not just in disarray–it is in complete collapse because the working class has awakened to the Left’s betrayal and abandonment of the working class in favor of building personal wealth and power. Anyone who denies this is still in the fatal grip of the Left’s Great Con.”


  8. Harquebus

    Something that some here might want to know.

    “But over the past 25 years of globalized neoliberalism, social democratic movements have abandoned labor to embrace the self-serving wealth and power offered by capital.”
    “The Left is not just in disarray–it is in complete collapse because the working class has awakened to the Left’s betrayal and abandonment of the working class in favor of building personal wealth and power. Anyone who denies this is still in the fatal grip of the Left’s Great Con.”


  9. roma guerin

    Thanks Terry2 for explaining about the other FTAs. I have been fearful of the TPP for about 7-8 years and perhaps spent too much time signing petitions and sharing articles about that. I did not know we had so many FTAs, and now I am even more suspicious about why the TPP was supposed to be The One that would make us all happy. The ISDS clause/s are enough to make some countries pull out, and I think Japan and Mexico have already said they won’t sign unless ISDS is removed, but don’t quote me.

  10. Kronomex

    So far this month has shown that Malcolm and his gang of utter incompetents are on track for self-destruction and the rest of this year is only going to get worse. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of clowns. We mustn’t forget that it will all be Labor’s of course.

  11. jimhaz

    Thanks for that link Harquebus. I’ve not spotted anything that reads false as yet (other than he makes it sound more vampiric by non-political party left folk, than it would have been) ….and I don’t feel this is confirmation bias.

  12. guest


    “the Left’s Great Con”

    Well, that is one explanation. Try looking at Dr Steven Hail’s “Trump’s success a result of trickle down economics screwing America’s workers.” Here are some excerpts.

    “Average weekly wages, after allowing for inflation, were almost exactly the same in the US in 2014 as they were in 1979 …despite an approximate doubling in US GDP per person over that same period.” (US Bureau of Economic Analysis)

    “From 2009 to at least 2012, even as unemployment was falling, the incomes of the bottom 90% of the US population actually fell.”

    “Most Income gains in Recent Expansions Went to the Top 1%.” (Levy Economics Institute}

    Then we have reference to Bernie Sanders and Joseph Stiglitz versus your reference, Charles Hugh Smith.

    So the population votes for Donald Trump! and The Australian is delighted.”Donald Trump has built around him a remarkable team and they are dedicated to his vision.” (Robert Gottliebsen)

    This man Trump, a member of the top 1% who has damaged people with his bankruptcies and lives in a gold-plated tower, who is clearly a liar, bully and abuser of women, who attacks anyone who dares to criticise, who imports Chinese goods and at the same time speaks of America first, who rails against immigrants in a country which largely comprises immigrants…this man pretends to be a demagogue supporting the very people who have been affected by the 1% of which he is a member.

    And this 1%, and the Trump’s team of billionairs, is desperately trying to hang onto what they possess, for the forces against them are growing rapidly, such as protests against the widening gap between rich and poor, climate change which the fossil fuel industry denies and obfuscates in order to avoid stranded assets, which makes use of mobile capital to employ cheap overseas labor, which pays very little tax, which dictates economics across the world with cartels of power…

    One only has to look at the Coalition and its obsession with money, with the cost of everything and the value of nothing, with people and the environment seen only in terms of profit, driven by a blind seeking after wealth accumulation…

    So, Harquebus, your Charles Hugh Smith speaks of “the Left’s Great Con”. I put it to you that the real con is the belief in unlimited growth and profit, the endless accumulation of wealth, the exploitation of people and the environment. Trump has already proven that he will not be able to carry out his promises.

    Here in Oz we see the stagnated Coalition desperately hanging onto desperate mantras: coal is good, jobs and growth, lower taxes for industry, trickle down economics…the same old same old..being pursued with egregious incompetence.

  13. king1394

    Australia Day has become a symbol of division in our society and a focus point for thugs and racists. I’m glad that the survey shows diminishing interest

  14. Harquebus

    “I put it to you that the real con is the belief in unlimited growth and profit, the endless accumulation of wealth, the exploitation of people and the environment.”

    I totally agree.

    “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?” — Rex Tillerson; Formerly CEO ExxonMobil now U.S. Secretary of State


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