Actually, the title of this piece is unfair. The Liberals not only have a good story, they have oodles of them. And this is what’s making their narrative so confusing.
Back when Labor were in power, the narrative was easy. “We should be in power because we’re awesome, and what this country needs is strong leadership which Labor lacks (but don’t call us sexist because we didn’t say that they weren’t strong because they had a woman in charge – I mean, if Julia can’t stand the heat she should go back to the kitchen!)” But now that they’re in a position where, not only do they have to actually do something, they have to explain those decisions, it’s no longer quite as simple. And, while many of their decisions seem contrary to what they were saying in Opposition, it’s the explanations that are making these decisions look even more ridiculous.
Now I may not agree with a hard-hearted policy of let’s kick the poor, but at least if the narrative stays on the “it’s an emergency” and “we all need to make sacrifices” and “the poor are a mob of lazy leaners who need to get off their fat spotty backsides and inherit more”, then at least I can appreciate that, while the other person and I have a different value system, I can at least understand where they’re coming from. I can appreciate that they have a different moral code, where they support Ayn Rand, (who argued that it was the individual who was important and that all individuals were brilliant, unique people with a right to impose their ideas on society, so long as their ideas agreed with hers.) I, on the other hand, understand the role that luck plays in people’s lives and how I’d have my mortgage paid off were it not for the fact that Red Cadeux ran second in 2012.
While Joe’s comment about a child living till 150 has attracted plenty of ridicule, his basic point was right. If people are living longer, how do we ensure that they have an acceptable lifestyle? However, this now makes the decision to freeze the superannuation guarantee payments at 9..5% seem rather short-sighted. Interestingly, Howard also froze the superannuation payments. (Are we seeing a pattern here?) We don’t want people dependent on the pension, but we also don’t want to do anything to help them be more financially secure.
However, It’s his son’s trip to the doctor that I find most problematic. He seemed to arguing that it was outrageous that he only had to pay $40. And it’s just wrong that someone like him should only have to pay that. So therefore, his logic seemed to run, with a few exceptions for the very poor, we should all have a “price signal” to stop us going to the doctors. Now let’s not bring up the fact that there’s a big difference between “someone like him” and even someone on a decent wage, let alone someone working part-time in a long paid job. The exemptions for the co-payments were pensioners, health care card recepients and children; it didn’t include “Howard’s battlers”. And it certainly didn’t include all those people who were “battling” on $150,000 when Labor wanted to means test the private health insurance rebate.
Now, I tend to think of the Medicare Levy as like insurance. Many of us won’t use up as much as we pay in any given year, but it’s nice to know that if you suddenly need a costly procedure that you don’t need to re-fincance your house, sell a kidney or run for office as a politician in NSW. Using Joe’s logic, and applying it to car insurance, it’s outrageous that someone driving an expensive Lexus should only have to pay the same excess as some driving something cheap like a Nissan, even though they’ve paid more in insurance.
And, of course, Mr Hockey tells us that high income workers work for the first six months to pay their taxes. Apart from the fact that this has been demonstrated as incorrect. (For a start, to be mildly pedantic people earn the first $18,000 tax free, so surely it’d be the last six months, rather than the first!)
So let’s get this straight. High income earners are hard done by because they pay so much tax, but they should then have to fork out more than $40 if their son breaks their arm because they can afford it. And we need to do this, along with such things as forcing our children to pay more for their university degrees, because some lucky bastard will live to be 150!
Like I said, the narrative doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure whether to feel sorry for those poor rich people paying so much tax, or be annoyed because somehow Joe Hockey managed to get by only paying $40 for his kid’s broken arm, when it cost me considerably more than that for a visit to my local doctor (when she doesn’t bulk bill me, because it’s a quick visit to renew my prescription and check my blood pressure – bloody six minute medicine.)
It’s like the way the Liberals argue for lower taxes because money’s better in people’s hands than the government’s, but when Labor gave the $900 stimulus in the middle of the GFC, we were told that this was a total waste of money because people would just waste it on pokies and alcohol. Which, strangely, was a good thing when Labor were proposing the limits on the poker machines. Then, a self-imposed limit was going to wreck the clubs, causing massive unemployment.
Labor’s narrative isn’t perfect either, of course. There are inconsistencies there too. But I’m yet to hear them argue two opposing narratives in the same week such as the rich pay too much in tax and don’t pay enough for government services. And certainly not by the same Treasurer.
Yep, one can certainly understand why Peta Credlin would want to have them all on such a tight rein. The real question is why she lets them out more than once a fortnight!
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