By Barry Tucker
The Liberal Party of Australia believes in more freedom. Sounds good. Beats slavery — for the slaves. But what does it mean? What does it lead to?
These questions are not answered by the Liberals. I suspect there is no answer because they haven’t thought it through.
You will see some indications in the form of less red tape, less regulation, for business. This will lead to lower costs for business, which will lead to lower prices and/or higher wages. Yes? No. In the Liberal’s world it will lead to increased profit margins and higher returns for shareholders. It won’t lead to lower costs or higher wages — inflation will control those items regardless.
The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), the Liberals’ policy formation unit, has a 100-item list to reform Australia. One of those items calls for a “one in, one out” rule for government regulations. The former Liberal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, is busily abolishing old, worn out, irrelevant regulations while steadily imposing new ones.
Similarly, Abbott’s Liberals have introduced a one-stop shop for projects that require environmental approvals. This is intended to get projects moving faster. More freedom, in a sense, for the entrepreneurs. But less freedom, in a way, for the unresourced environmental “freedom” fighters who want large scale projects to be examined carefully and cautiously.
The latest brainwave is a Commissioner for Wind Turbines. This character will examine complaints about wind turbines and decide whether or not they are worthy of being passed on to State authorities for further action. Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and other Liberals are on record as saying that wind turbines are hideous monstrosities and a blight on the landscape — unlike, say, the gaping holes, piles of debris and other landform-changing aspects of mining. Coal miners keep the Liberals’ war chests full, so more freedom for them and good luck to the windmill operators.
Getting rid of turbines, fighting like hell for the lowest possible Renewable Energy Target (RET) — it’s actually going up by 2-3% — abolishing Labor’s climate change initiatives (carbon price/emissions trading scheme and various bodies) and Labor’s bid for a bigger slice of finite natural resources (the MRRT — or mining tax) all mean more freedom for miners and electricity companies because there’s less taxing and less competition. Don’t expect to see more freedom for you in terms of lower prices or less taxation — someone has to pay the bills.
The Liberals also want smaller government. They must mean smaller federal government because they keep pushing responsibility for more stuff onto State governments, which are getting bigger while trying to get smaller, like their big brothers. So the State governments fight back by sacking more public servants. The feds counter by saying they are creating more jobs than ever before in history, while the unemployment queues grow longer. Where are all these people coming from? Not from refugees landing in boats. They’ve been locked up — no freedom for them.
And those who have lost their jobs? Tony Abbott says they have been “liberated”. Woopee! How much freedom can you take?
So, what is smaller government all about? It’s obviously not about creating more jobs. It’s not about creating more unemployment because those people have in fact been “liberated”. It’s about reducing taxes.
Taxes equal government revenue — the stuff that pays the government’s bills, including welfare. Welfare is a dirty word to Liberals. Everyone should haul themselves up by the bootstraps and become filthy rich so they wouldn’t need welfare. You can see the sense in this, of course. Buckets of money, no need for welfare, taxes fall away to zero, a Liberal paradise. Of course, you can also see the fallacy, the absurdity — it can’t happen, it never will.
In the Liberal world it’s essential to reduce all government outlays to the bare minimum, so that government revenue can fall to the bare minimum and corporates, investors and small business operators have the freedom to increase their incomes to the absolute maximum. All the remainder have been “liberated” or are finding fulfillment in playing with the dog and the kids.
Another thing the Liberals want more freedom from is those pesky courts. Institutions like the High Court of Australia, a bunch of freaks in wigs who have always got their nose in law books or copies of the Constitution and have the annoying habit of knocking the Liberals’ Draconian legislation on the head. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton didn’t want the High Court messing with his decision to strip an Australian of their citizenship, or “second guessing Ministers”, as he put it. As the former Leader of the Opposition put it: “They might let them off.” It’s a pity he was “liberated” from his old job.
There you have it; my explication of what Liberals mean by “more freedom”. It was going to be an explanation of why perpetually lower taxes and revenues won’t work, but, hey, I have a certain amount of freedom too.
Now if only we could get our news media to do something like what I’ve just done every day and night. I think then we might begin to see how Liberal “freedom” is a direct route to anarchy. It won’t work. The bottom will fall out of everything.
Two recent TV documentaries have reminded us of how the ancient Greek and Roman empires worked. They were both based on slavery. We are heading into a new Republic. To me it looks like the ones we had some 2,300 years ago.
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