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Riding on the backs of the poor

Joe Hockey infamously labelled us all as “lifters or leaners”, he just mixed the labels up.

The conservative government has decided it is the poor who will do all the heavy lifting when it comes to budget repair and paying for their obscene defence spending and tax cuts to the wealthy.

First up they got rid of the FBT requirement to justify claims of business usage for cars.

Then they got rid of the carbon and mining taxes.

The temporary debt levy on those earning over $180,000 was removed after two years and they increased the second-highest tax threshold to $87,000 delivering a tax cut to anyone earning over $80,000.

The freeze on politcians’ pay rises was also very short-lived. From the beginning of 2016, all federal MPs, heads of agencies, departmental secretaries and federal judges such as those who work for the Fair Work Commission and Family Court received a pay rise giving Malcolm Turnbull an extra $10,000 and the heads of both the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Treasury about $50,000.

Small businesses had their company tax rate cut to 28.5% and the instant asset write-off threshold was increased to $20,000.

All people who were employed and earning over $18,200 kept the carbon tax compensation of the increased tax free threshold.

Tax concessions for negative gearing, capital gains tax and superannuation contributions remain inviolate as does corporate welfare in the form of gargantuan subsidies to the mining and pastoral sectors.

And it appears inevitable that all businesses will have their tax rate slashed by 5% in the near future.

At the other end of the scale….

The Schoolkids Bonus has been axed costing all families who earn less than $100,000 pa and have kids at school.

The Single Income Family Supplement and the Energy supplement have been axed.

The temporary freeze on the Superannuation Guarantee seems to have become permanent with the date for lifting it sliding further away every budget.

The fuel excise indexation freeze was lifted which increases the price of fuel for all with businesses having the option of passing on their increased cost to the consumer.

Family Tax Benefit payments have seen some cuts with more being proposed.

More than 330,000 Age Pensioners have had their Age Pension entitlements cut, with at least 100,000 of those affected Australians losing all Age Pension entitlements.

Wage growth has stagnated and penalty rates have been cut.

Co-payments for visiting doctors have been introduced by stealth via the GP rebate freeze causing many to abandon bulk-billing and various imaging services have also had bulk-billing incentives removed.

Young unemployed people will face a month with no income under proposed changes cut down from the original suggestion of six months.

Far from delivering Abbott’s promised paid parental leave package, we have seen entitlements cut so women can no longer combine the government payment with their workplace entitlement.

Cuts to Aboriginal funding, legal aid, community groups, refuges, charities and NGOs have decimated the support available to the most vulnerable.

Savage cuts to promised education and hospital funding are threatening the public system, with private operators reaping the benefits.

The privatisation of public assets has denied us the returns from profitable businesses and led to price increases. a decline in services, and job losses.

Despite Turnbull’s urging world leaders at a conference about refugees to do more to address the underlying causes of displacement, including providing more assistance in home countries, we have slashed foreign aid to historically low levels.

For the wealthy, these are heady days as they successfully lobby to increase their share of the pie at every turn whilst cutting costs, oversight and accountability.

Getting rid of the carbon and mining taxes did not lead to an influx of job-creating investment as we were promised any more than increasing the dividends to foreign shareholders by slashing the company tax rate will.

Cutting the disposable income of consumers can only lead to a contraction in our domestic economy which will inevitably accelerate the closure of local businesses.

Enjoy it while you can because standing on the backs of people drowning in a sea of poverty will see you come crashing down sooner or later.


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  1. stephentardrew

    Killer post as usual Kaye.

  2. Wayne Turner

    CLASS WARFARE LNP STYLE – Aided and promoted by the LNP’s MSM.

  3. Susan

    Another excellent article Kaye Lee.

    Yet those most adversely affected keep voting them in?

  4. silkworm

    “For the wealthy, these are heady days as they successfully lobby to increase their share of the pie…”

    What pie? This concept of pie suggests that the government has a limited supply of money for its projects. In fact, there are no limits to the amount of money a sovereign currency-issuer can issue.

  5. Keitha Granville

    We are gradually returning to the Edwardian era – the aristocracy ( ir the wealthy, politicians etc) enjoy a larger slice of the pie at every turn whilst the rest scramble for the crumbs. Eventually the only jobs will be in service, and the wages will be at the behest of the employers – work 6 and a half days 12 hrs a day, half day off on Sunday, live in impoverished quarters or ghettos established by the upper class.
    This has all been done, and the working class fought to gain the rights we enjoy today – or were enjoying until the assault on ordinary people started with the rise of the far-right. I wonder if any of them understand what happened in Russia ? or China ? or Cuba ? They need to be very careful forcing more and more people into poverty, we won’t take it lying down and there will be a revolution.

  6. townsvilleblog


    Letter to the Editor

    It has been a sad and frustrating week, if you happen to be a struggling lowly paid working person who has to work weekends to put food on your families table. The Abbott/Turnbull governments have attacked us from both sides, not only cutting tens of billions of funding for public utilities like hospitals and schools making our families lives more expensive, now they have attacked the poorest of the working poor’s pay packets.

    Apparently PM Turnbull has just given himself and his ilk a tax cut in the order of $6,000, a similar amount to what these desperate working poor families will lose, by having their pay packets reduced over a 12 month period. One southern newspaper’s headline read 650,000 workers lose $77 per week or words to that effect. This will push some families to the breaking point; we can expect a rise in the suicide rate, while other families will hold on by the skin of their teeth. It was great to see companies like Lush Australia support its employees and ignore the (un) Fairwork Australia decision and assure their employees that their pay rates and penalty rates would continue unchanged. The tens of billions of dollars saved by this government in ripping services off the needy should have produced a budget surplus, yet through their incompetence the budget deficit is continually growing? Small businesses will be the big loser from this decision.

    This LNP government has been cruel from the time it was elected in 2013, they have now added evil to their description, please spare a thought for people you know who work as shop assistants (no matter their title) service station workers, gardeners, trades assistants, storemen, clerks, waitresses, waiters etc required to work on weekends in order to feed their families, the poorest of the poor in the Australian workforce, they are now even poorer. This federal government is an absolute disgrace.


    Shaun Newman

  7. etnorb

    Well said, as usual Kaye! The list of “things” this inept, lying, obscenely over-paid so-called Liberal politicians has “done” to the working & poor class & the Welfare recipients is just mind-boggling! And it hasn’t stopped, with more to come, God help us all! BASTARD Liberals should all be blown up!

  8. keerti

    Our great economic managers fail to understand a basic of economics…the more people have to spend, the more they do spend. Up until about $70,000. After that they begin to save and invest effectively taking money out of the system. I for one will no longer be shopping on Sundays.

  9. jim

    “For the wealthy, they “successfully lobby” with the aid of the right wing media and the IPA (many now working at our ABC ) and all television stations,……… In the year to June 2013, according to the IPA’s annual report, it clocked up 878 mentions in print and online. Its staff had 164 articles published in national media. They managed 540 radio appearances and mentions, and 210 appearances and mentions on TV. No prizes for guessing in which publications most of the print media references were to be found. Did we mention Rupert Murdoch was a long-time IPA director?

    where is the Australia institute.? not once not ever …….

    And of course the RC church has always backed the RWNJ’s,

    And Facebook “Likes” I want to know how much public’s money was paid to Asian firms to give out the Liberal Party’s “likes” on farcebook.

    my thought to-day,…. should we live longer, things today could be different.

    To increase their share of the pie at every turn whilst cutting costs, with no oversight and accountability no fairness,no economic sense no morality no long term benefits for the human race this is the LNP to a T.

    The surprise is that the national public broadcaster, the ABC, which the IPA/LNP is trying to break up and sell “our ABC” off Desperately and still trying to, One count, by the left-leaning Independent Australia, clocked 39 appearances by IPA staff in the year 2011-12 on just one ABC TV program, The Drum. That’s almost as many Drum appearances as the combined total of all other think tanks, left, right and centre.
    the Australia Institute none.

    Don’t fix inequality and we are doomed to fail as human beings.and the human race goes down.

  10. Egalitarian

    Though I have observed with incredulity that some working class people suddenly moved over to the Conservatives; in recent times when they got a little lucky buying Residential Property. They suddenly became extreme capitalist’s.They forget what egalitarian ideology fed them.

  11. win jeavons

    There must be a stronger word than evil!

  12. richard grant

    Yes a great post.

  13. Jaquix

    And for sheer effrontery, saw Turnbull today claiming “I had the courage to act”. (a la latest Abbott spray) Courage I have seen none. Cunning, some. Didnt have the courage to tell voters he was handing over a cool 1.75 million dollars during the election campaign to shore up his ailing and incompetent Liberal Party, in case it changed their voting intention. Cunningly, (not courageously) handed the money over on a day which ensured 18 months worth of secrecy about it.

  14. helvityni

    ” My government has a record of achievement. In the last six months since the election we have achieved more … with fewer seats in the House and fewer seats in the Senate than we did in the previous three years…..”

    That’s what Mal is saying, and I’m feverishly trying to think what those fantastic achievements might be, that he’s referring to….

  15. Peter F

    ‘CLASS WARFARE LNP STYLE ‘ No, Wayne, it is only ‘class warfare’ when the ALP object.

  16. Michael Taylor

    It looks like a lot was happening during the two weeks Carol and I were out of the country. And there I was thinking it couldn’t get any worse! Well, I certainly underestimated the incompetence of the government and the shallowness of our PM. We’ve returned just in time for the fireworks.

    Meanwhile, in America it’s rather interesting too. Most noticeable was how the media is giving Trump a hammering. They’re going for him. Big time.

  17. Kaye Lee

    And the lawyers are going after Kellyanne Conway

    “A group of 15 legal ethics professors have made a complaint to the Bar against Kellyanne Conway, President Donald Trump’s counsellor, accusing her of misconduct.”

    Not to mention the scientists

    They plan to march en masse in Washington, D.C., and other cities on April 22, to take a stand for the importance of public policies based on science.

    And the children suing the US government for exacerbating climate change

    Governments have given up any pretence of evidence based policy in favour of populism designed to keep them in power.

    Welcome back Michael and Carol. The insanity continues apace.

  18. Miriam English

    Excellent post, Kaye, as always. Constantly amazes me all the data you get your hands on.

    We have to remember that there is another aspect to this anger at the obscene concentration of wealth by small numbers of Australians. We Australians are seen as obscenely wealthy by most of the people in the wider world. We really are one of the most wealthy nations. Just by living here we are the 1% most wealthy people on the planet — even those of us surviving on social security payments. The rest of the poor people in the world look at us and our efforts to fence ourselves off from them and cut international aid and they feel anger at us. If we keep this up much longer they will be the ones with pitchforks and firebrands coming for us.

    Our goose is being cooked from both sides and the fuel is fear. Xenophobes like Hanson and Abbott ladle it on.

  19. Miriam English

    I was fossicking through my hard drive looking for something else and found this, which seems very appropriate to this discussion:

    In 1922, Republican Warren Harding dropped the top tax rate from 73 percent down to 25 percent. It kicked off a gambling real estate and stock market bubblethat burst in 1929.

    Roosevelt fixed that by raising the top tax rate on the uber-rich back up to over 90 percent, The economy boomed, and the middle class prospered.

    Reagan dropped the top tax rate down to 28 percent, leading within a year to the worst recession since the Great Depression, followed by the Savings and Loans crisis.

    Clinton took the top income tax rate back up to 39 percent and the economy boomed.

    Bush junior came into office, cut it back down, and we got another crash and high unemployment.

    — Thom Hartmann

    One thing we learn from history is that Conservatives never learn from history.

  20. Miriam English

    silkworm, cool article… it’s going to take me a while to consume it and all the videos. Thanks.

  21. Kaye Lee


    Great comment that is backed up by the facts.

    During the 1950s and early 1960s, the top bracket income tax rate in the US was over 90%–and the economy, middle-class, and stock market boomed. Super-low tax rates on rich people also appear to be correlated with unsustainable sugar highs in the economy–brief, enjoyable booms followed by protracted busts. They also appear to be correlated with very high inequality. (For example, see the 1920s and now).

    What we do know is that recent history reveals that raising taxes did not produce the economic disaster that conservative philosophy predicted— just as cutting taxes did not produce the economic boom that Reagan economic theory promised.

    The numbers would appear to make it clear that the upside of a tax cut for the wealthy will produce little to nothing in economic growth that the rest of us can hope to benefit from—while producing greater deficits that every American will, ultimately, pay a high price to maintain.

    This just does not seem a worthwhile bargain for anyone who cannot count themselves among the nation’s wealthiest.

  22. Norman Taylor

    In Britain in the early 1960s, the top tax rate was 19/6 in the pound, or 97.5%.

  23. silkworm

    Wow. Miriam and Kaye, that is superinteresting. I’ll have to dig deep into that at a later time.


    Back to MMT:

    Here’s Hail again, in a stationary car, telling us how to deal with lizard people (such as Harquebus) who refuse to go along with MMT. Hail makes several interesting points about MMT, telling us that it can be used for good or evil, and that progressives really must get a handle on it if it is to be used for good.

    Also be aware that conservatives do understand the principles of MMT because when they get into power they spend like crazy, except they spend on shitty conservative things like bombs and submarines.

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