As Coalition politicians flood the airwaves holding up Scott’s new pamphlet like kindergarteners proudly displaying a participation certificate, all I can think of is how much did it, and the roadshow to sell it, cost.
Seriously guys, another glossy brochure?
Scott earnestly tells us how concerned he is about our kids.
“Half of all Australians of voting age will have never experienced a recession in their working lives” intones the economic manager in chief. “I don’t want them to learn how important a strong economy is to each and every single one of them by having them endure the cruel lessons of a weaker economy that would occur under the Labor party,” he said.
“The economy” may have been growing for 28 years but, as far too many people are painfully aware, that growth has not been shared. Is Scott unaware that one in eight adults and more than one in six children are living in poverty, and many of those are living in “deep poverty”? They endure daily the cruel lessons of an economy which favours the wealthy.
Every move made by the Coalition is designed to reward investors, clinging to the belief that that will somehow magically translate into bounty for all. But as we have seen, investors get very narky if asked to share any of their gains.
They also claim to be creating jobs by helping small business through tax cuts, instant asset write-offs, and a reduction in penalty rates. All well and good except 61.2% of all businesses don’t employ anyone. Over 70% of the businesses that do employ someone have between 1 and 4 employees. In order to be able to buy new equipment, you have to have the spare cash in the first place and, more importantly, the increased demand from customers to warrant the investment.
Back in 1985-86, the top income tax rate was 60c for every dollar over $35,000. The corporate tax rate from 1973 to 1988 was in the range 45-49%.
Successive governments since then have reduced taxation rates and increased tax concessions for investors and big businesses.
CEOs’ remuneration packages have increased exponentially. Company profits have reached record highs. Property investors and self-funded retirees have set up very comfortable nest eggs through largely untaxed income and discretionary trusts are flourishing as another way for the wealthy to disguise their income to avoid paying taxation.
At the other end of the scale, over 670,000 people who want to work remain unemployed and the labour underutilisation rate is 13.4% according to the ABS.
The government pursues welfare recipients mercilessly through their robodebt debacle, their draconian compliance regime for unemployment benefits, infantilising people through cash management programs, and increased red tape for disability pension recipients.
Now, more than ever, we should remember the words of Robert Kennedy fifty years ago…
Even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction – purpose and dignity – that afflicts us all.
Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.
It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.
It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.
If this is true here at home, so it is true elsewhere in world.
And nowhere is it more true than in a country that would sacrifice the Great Barrier Reef for profits for foreign coal companies. A country that would endanger its water resources for the profits of foreign agribusinesses and mining companies. A country that would hold traumatised children hostage to deter others from asking for our help. A country that ignores a Statement from the Heart of its Indigenous people inviting us to move forward together towards a life of dignity for all. A country whose elderly languish in inadequately staffed nursing homes.
We must do better.
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