When Julia Gillard left office we had a carbon price in place, a burgeoning renewable energy industry, and the respect of the world as leaders in taking action on climate change. The system had not been perfected but it was underway and open to refinement with expert bodies set up to advise us on the best way forward.
Now we are advised on climate change by Maurice Newman and Dick Warburton. Billions of investment dollars have been lost due to the abandonment of the Renewable Energy Target. Instead, we are pinning our economic future on coal whilst killing our natural wonders and tourism industry. Instead of collecting $10 billion from polluters, encouraging them to move to clean practices, we will give them $3 billion to do their upgrades while we pay for the research – a $13 billion turnaround in revenue.
When Julia Gillard left office, we had a mIning tax that paid us a small but growing dividend for the huge profits being made by selling our resources. Once again, it was not ideal but at least it was in place and the original concessions like accelerated depreciation were running out.
Now we have no mining tax which, even according to Hockey’s pessimistic outlook, will cost the budget about $5.5 billion in foregone revenue.
When Julia Gillard left office, we had signed agreements with most states and territories for hospital and school funding. To get the federal funding, the states had agreed to matching proportional funding, locking both parties in, and to accountability reviews where standards had to be achieved to maintain funding support.
Now we have reneged on those agreements, cut $80 billion in funding from health and education, released states from their obligation to direct set amounts into these areas and from accountability goals, and seem on the road to privatising both sectors and increasing the GST.
When Julia Gillard left office, the rollout of a world class National Broadband network was underway where over 90% of us would have fibre to the premises. There were teething problems as there would be with any such undertaking, but the contracts were signed, the plan was made, and premises were being connected at an increasing rate.
Now the rollout has slowed down while Malcolm Turnbull conducts three reviews into why Labor was bad. In the meantime we have no contract with Telstra, who are in a monopoly situation, who can hold out for the best deal for their shareholders (note the dividends this year were higher?). We will now get some mix of technology sometime, maybe, but certainly not soon and definitely more expensive in the long run.
When Julia Gillard left office, the orders had been given to bring home our troops from Afghanistan.
Now we are sending them back to Iraq and farewelling them with a wage cut.
[And before anyone mentions the one year freezing of politicians’ wages, could I point out that in the 16 months leading to July last year, they received three payrises, delivering a salary boost of $54,220 or more than $1000 a week since March the previous year.]
When Julia Gillard was in office, she was unable to get her media reform laws passed that would have protected against ownership monopoly, and against factually incorrect reporting. Who could forget the screams of censorship and the Murdoch photoshopping.
Now we have the possibility that the Attorney-General can decide to prosecute and incarcerate a journalist for ten years for telling the truth about what our government bodies are doing.
When Julia Gillard left office, pensions were indexed to rise with Average Male Weekly Earnings which kept their standard of living relative to the community.
Now pensions will be indexed to the Consumer Price Index. The proposal to change the indexation, due to commence in 2017, would cut the value of the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Veterans’ pension and Carer Payment by an estimated $80 a week within ten years. Despite the anger the changes sparked, they raised a modest $449 million over five years.
When Julia Gillard left office, we had a universal health care system that was the envy of the world.
Now we will have to pay every time we see the doctor or have a test and our Pharmaceutical Benefits System will be at the mercy of free trade agreements.
When Julia Gillard left office, we finally had universal agreement for a National Disability Insurance Scheme funded by an increase to the Medicare levy, a move widely accepted by the population, even if the Opposition didn’t bother to turn up for the introduction of the legislation of this groundbreaking reform in Parliament.
Now we find Mitch Fifield tasked with the job of holding it up for as long as he can while he conducts….you guessed it… more reviews.
The third quarterly report on the NDIS, released in May, makes clear that there is no case for any cut, cap or delay to the NDIS but Tony wants a surplus so I guess he will collect our increased levy and sit on it while he pays consultant mates to recommend winding it back or leaving it to Labor to pay for.
“In response to the capability review, the Agency has developed an action plan and will provide further advice as to whether the current implementation timetable is consistent with a successful full scheme rollout.” – Mitch Fifield, March 2014
Senator Fifield’s comment echoes previous statements from senior Coalition figures that indicate the national start date of 2018-19 could be pushed back.
CEO of Carers Australia, Ara Creswell, said:
“The NDIS has an inbuilt review, a cost review at this point in time is both curious and concerning. Costs are right on track, package numbers are consistent and hopes are high. We need to move forward, not tread water while we undertake yet another review.”
[ARA CRESWELL, CARERS AUSTRALIA, 1 MAY 2014]
Kevin Stone, President of the National Council on Intellectual Disability said:
“…we expect the State and Territory Premiers and Treasurers to stand by people with disability and their families and stand firm against any attempts to change the agreements made”.
[KEVIN STONE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL COUNCIL ON INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY, 1 MAY 2014]
What will be next?
“Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.”
Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’