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Promises, promises

By 2353NM

The problem with the proposed tax cuts, the Jobs Summit, the emissions reduction target or any other policy that Prime Minister Albanese took to the election is that it was a promise that was made in the run up to the election. Certainly, the world has changed since 2019 and if really expensive tax cuts that benefit the better off were ever a good idea, there is even less evidence to suggest they are now. Greg Jericho, writing in The Guardian suggests the stage three tax cuts are a pile of garbage and everybody knows it, as does the Green’s Adam Bandt, a number of independent Senators and moderate Liberal MP Russell Broadbent.

Faced with a similar problem in 1983, then newly elected Prime Minister Bob Hawke fronted the media and started a discussion to demonstrate that the tax cuts promised by the previous Government were unaffordable. If Albanese did the same thing he would be pilloried, after all the ALP did support the omnibus legislation in Parliament in 2019. We’re all partly to blame if that happens.

Since the 1980’s, Australian society has changed. Rather than having a belief that politicians will attempt to do the right thing for most Australians (allowing for their political biases) we generally now have a belief that politicians are only there to look after themselves. There is little evidence to suggest most first-time political candidates are there to feather their own nests – even those that allegedly have the backing of industrial associations or religious groups to run.

Ironically, the introduction of a Federal anti-corruption commission with the actual ability to investigate and prosecute politicians as well as government employees – another promise by Albanese – may help. For someone like Albanese or Treasurer Chalmers to have a genuine conversation with Australians about the advisability of cutting billions out of the federal government’s budget each and every year into the future, there needs to be trust. While it rightly has been thin on the ground over the last 10 to 15 years, addressing perceived issues, de-escalating the rhetoric from both sides of politics as well as re-assessing our expectations will help develop that trust. It’s not all about you or me, it’s about us.

The media also needs to allow the conversation to occur. At present our media won’t. It’s far easier to use an inaccurate and misleading claim as ‘click bait’ to get eyes on their website from social media. Those that choose to scroll on by tend to remember the headline as being relevant to the story which they don’t read. While the media is generally running the ‘cut the tax cuts’ line at the moment, there is no guarantee that that would continue if the government decided to ‘break an election promise’.

It is guaranteed that the opposition would use the ‘broken promise’ as a political scoring point in the period between the timetabled implementation of the tax cuts in 2024 and the next election, scheduled for early 2025. After all, Opposition Leader Dutton claimed his job when he regained power in 2025 would be to reverse the decisions of a bad government. He made the statement a couple of days after the election – before any decisions, good or bad, had been released. Stopping the tax cuts would be the proverbial gift horse for Dutton’s ‘you can’t believe their promises’ campaign. Conversely, the Albanese Government would be hard pressed to make the connection between Morrison’s 2019 poorly judged legislation and the cancelled implementation in 2024.

We employ governments to assess reactions to unexpected events that are yet to occur, then assess and make suitable decisions based on the evidence provided at the time. We should expect our government to support and fund ideas and programs that benefit all areas of our country without the pretence of large cheques or visits from political leaders with their accompanying media packs. Elections should be a contest of ideas, not two rival groups of people on an extended jaunt around the country doling out dollars at every opportunity to attempt to prop up votes in areas they think they can win. The discussion around the proposed ‘Stage 3 tax cuts’ are a perfect example of why the current system is broken. To fix the system we should demand better of our politicians, media and ourselves.

What do you think?


This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Hotspringer

    Well, it seems the promise of a Federal ICAC before the end of this year was one promise that might be broken. Non core, I suspect.

  2. Andrew J. Smith

    Same issue is being kicked round in the UK i.e. why does the new PM Truss want to increase taxes or keep net income low for most workers versus rewarding a high income minority with tax cuts and increased net income; reflects the eugenics of class?

    They will claim the ‘Laffer curve’ or ‘trickle down effect’, often transmitted further by the media even though there is no credible academic research to support the same; Emma Alberici paid the price for calling out the lie?

    Then again, no surprise when it’s a key plank of the US radical right libertarian ‘Kochtopus’ including UK, Oz and US think tanks where the likes of Truss, Abbott et al. orbit, present and are influenced; for what outcome?

    Making budgets unsustainable and with increasing numbers of pensioner or older dependents tugging on the same, could lead to breakdown in the tax base and budgets leading to cuts in public services, benefits and dysfunctional government; the ‘libertarian trap’ and a very obvious one in this context.

  3. Greg

    That was a quality analysis of the role the media plays in scuttling intelligent debate in this country, day in, day out.
    A sign of intelligence is the ability to change course when it becomes obvious that an earlier intention no longer applies.
    The media has a lot to answer for and if we ever get enough honest politicians it will happen.
    ICAC + Royal Commission into the pandemic response.

  4. Keitha Granville

    Of course the cuts are ridiculous, but you have so rightly said what will happen to Albanese if he dumps them. Rock and hard place.

    Unless they come up with a better policy which delivers some benefit to the vast majority instead of the tiny few at the top. Like raising the tax free threshold for everyone on less than $100k.

    The top end of town doesn’t need any wage relief, tax cut or other largesse from the govt. They get it all the time. Wages are not going to rise significantly for the next little while, so a doubling of the TFT at the bottom end would provide real increases in pay packets immediately. I have no idea what the cost to the budget would be, but it can’t be much more than the existing proposal. The govt then needs to commit that to spending on public transport, public hospitals, and everything else that the LNP has allowed to atrophy over the past 10 years.
    We need help , NOW.

    By doing this we will enjoy years of Labor govts and it won’t matter a jot what the LNP says they’ll do next time in.

  5. Terence Mills

    Good article !

    As we have discussed here before, the stage three tax cuts which were part of a coalition wedge on Labor, are not scheduled to come in until 2024.

    By the time we get around to the 2023 budget the nation’s affairs will be much better understood and the coalition’s ‘economic booby traps’ will mostly be known. At that time, it is likely that the Albanese government will defer these ridiculous tax cut until such time as as the economy can afford them (if ever).

    As regards the Integrity Commission we have to get this right and I note that Helen Haines has sensibly suggested putting out the draft legislation for community comment even if the final legislation has to wait until 2023 : we have to allow for dodgy lawyers and people like Christian Porter who used a Blind Trust to ‘launder’ money that he had been gifted to him to sue the national broadcaster – we still don’t know who gifted that money said to be in the order of a million dollars – we have to nip this type of thing in the bud.

    Never forget that the coalition also promised an integrity commission but never got around to actually introducing the legislation over a three year term.

    Incidentally, I think it absolutely ridiculous that so called small business employers are bemoaning the public holiday for the Queen’s memorial because they will have to pay their staff penalty rates – how pathetic !

  6. Barry Sullivan

    Albanese could argue that support for Labor decreased dramatically at the last election, as well as for the coalition, as indicated by the extremely low primary votes that they each received as a consequence of their misguided support for these unjustifiable tax cuts to people who don’t need them. He could apologise for having supported them in the first place and make amends by scrapping them without further ado.

    Admit it was a mistake and rectify it.

  7. Indigo

    Hi Denis, thanks for a nice article. Ministerial staffers would now be proofreading the first budget drafts. The new government must be quite severe on those old tax avoidance strategies from the LNP days. Better tax returns mean more commitment to health, affordable housing and job seeker-payments.

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