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“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.” – Mark Twain

Among the disturbing things about conservatives is their constant push to cut taxes with the inevitable and wholly foreseeable result of reducing community services which the conservatives say can be passed over to the private sector should they see a profit in taking them over. These warriors for private enterprise frequently confuse the rest of us with their disdain for universal healthcare but their insistence that private health insurance companies receive massive public subsidies, their dislike for publicly funded education and their demand that private education facilities be substantially funded from the public purse, their dislike of public broadcasting while they quietly slip millions of public money into the pocket of a US based mogul. They are also obsessed about cheaper electricity but have no energy policy, don’t like renewable alternatives and they will not talk about climate change yet bemoan the impact of drought. And it seems they are still annoyed with Malcolm Turnbull for allowing a marriage equality plebiscite (despite it being the brainchild of Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton). So, why did they get rid of Malcolm ? Because he was Malcolm.

Part of their ideology is sometimes that small government is a panacea to all of our woes and they rush headlong into cutting taxes but fail to acknowledge that the taxes we pay at local, state and commonwealth levels are part of our social fabric : we understand and expect that we will receive in return for our taxes services in the form of national infrastructure, education and health services and that’s why we don’t object to reasonable levels of taxation.

Did you note that the only policies that Peter Dutton was able to offer us in his quest to become our leader was a cut to the GST on electricity. What he doesn’t seem to acknowledge is that GST is a tax collected by the commonwealth on behalf of the states. It is not meant to be a punitive measure, it is part of the necessary imposition that we accept as part of the social contract to ensure our community services are retained and enhanced. The states have very few means of collecting revenues as most have been subsumed by the commonwealth over time and whilst it may be popular to selectively cut GST to favour particular constituencies the inevitable result is less in the way of state services.

The other rather odd thing that Dutton promised was a cut in immigration, this coming from a man who has been our titular immigration minister for the past five years : it was his job to oversee the national immigration program and come up with policies that were appropriate to the nation’s growth and in line with our capacity to provide the necessary infrastructure to accommodate our growing population. Instead, he uses immigration as a dogwhistle !

Whilst on Dutton, you may recall that his part ownership of child minding centres through a trust was questioned relative to our constitution which, by section 44 (v) precludes a person from sitting in our parliament if they have an agreement whereby they receive any benefit directly or indirectly from the commonwealth : in other words a conflict of interests. In a hasty opinion put together by the Solicitor General Stephen Donaghue he states that Dutton is “not incapable” of sitting as a member of our parliament, but that there is still “some risk” the high court might find he has a conflict of interests : not a ringing endorsement !

The Solicitor General in noting that there is “some risk” that the high court might find Dutton has a conflict of interests is in part due to the “substantial size of the payments” from the commonwealth in the form of subsidies to the childcare centres. He said it “is impossible to state the position with certainty” on Dutton’s eligibility as he had “been briefed with very little factual information.” Have a look here.

From July of this year there were significant changes to the child care subsidy arrangements including the payment of these subsidies directly to child care providers rather than to parents – I can see no record in Hansard of Dutton abstaining from the parliamentary vote on this legislative change considering his obvious and apparent conflict of interests. I again refer you to the observation by the Solicitor General concerning the substantial size of the payments from the commonwealth to the Dutton child care centres.

It now seems that Dutton will get another cabinet position under the brand new Morrison government and whilst these positions have not at time of writing been revealed, it has been hinted that Dutton will return to Home Affairs and yet his eligibility to sit in our parliament remains untested by the high court : why is that ?

If Dutton does return to the cabinet what does that say about cabinet loyalty and the chaos he brought about in our parliament and the damage to our reputation internationally as a stable democratic nation. Is that all forgiven so easily ? Remember it was he and Abbott who sought to bring down the prime minister of Australia and they are not above doing it again when it suits them.

This conservative quest for cutting taxes and resultant lower revenues to government was brought home to me recently, when our local council advised that an important road bridge [built originally in 1932] would not be maintained and would be closed to public access and when funds permitted, demolished. When there was a public outcry they could only say that austerity at all levels of government meant that there was no longer money available from state or federal sources to look after this type of infrastructure, and of course private enterprise was not interested as it was not a profit generating asset : so the community loses an amenity at the altar of conservatism !

Ironically, this bridge was built in 1932 as a government funded project to provide economic stimulus and work for those unemployed as a result of the global depression prevailing at that time.

I only mention this because, as we see government revenues diminished well into the future as income and other taxes are reduced we will hear from the conservatives that they no longer have the funds for social infrastructure and, confusingly, they will tell us that Labor is all about increasing taxes.

Nothing it seems has changed !


19 comments

  1. Kaye Lee

    Scomo is trying to hit the reset button but there are many hangovers to still be seen to, the Dutton eligibility being one that I presume Labor will pursue given the government’s majority in the lower house is tenuous.

    And it may not be the parliament that has to refer Dutton. Any person whose life has been adversely affected by a Dutton decision could chose to test that in court by saying he was not eligible to make that decision. Even without that, move on to the next election. If Dutton is re-elected, any citizen in his electorate can challenge his eligibility if they do so within 40 days of the election.

    We know Turnbull is resigning and Bishop has not yet announced her intentions. I very much doubt Julie would quit before the election but if she did, then they have no majority and a vote to refer Dutton might succeed. Nationals Kevin Hogan has gone to the crossbench in protest at this whole debacle and, whilst he might not block supply or confidence, would he vote against referring Dutton?

    This has to be sorted and I would suggest it would be perilous to ignore it.

  2. MikeW

    Good to see the dud Dutton dudded himself. As for the rest of the coalition they are also a bunch of duds.
    Can we please have an election and get rid of the worse government in Australia’s history.
    Adults in charge? Give me the infants back they couldn’t be any worse than this rabble.

  3. Peter Coom

    The happenings of the last week reminded me of this quote from John Stuart Mills English philosopher of the 19th century.
    Peter Coom

    “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives…
    I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it. Suppose any party, in addition to whatever share it may possess of the ability of the community, has nearly the whole of its stupidity, that party must, by the law of its constitution, be the stupidest party; and I do not see why honorable gentlemen should see that position as at all offensive to them, for it ensures their being always an extremely powerful party . . . There is so much dense, solid force in sheer stupidity, that any body of able men with that force pressing behind them may ensure victory in many a struggle, and many a victory the Conservative party has gained through that power.”
    John Stuart Mill ( British philosopher, economist, and liberal member of Parliament for Westminster from 1865 to 68 )”

  4. Michael Taylor

    J Bishop is not running in the next election. Good.

  5. Kaye Lee

    “It was yesterday reported the deputy Liberal leader of 11 years could be in the running to become Australia’s next Governor-General.”

    Sigh….I guess we are in for a round of payoffs one way or another..

  6. diannaart

    This won’t be over until the far-right numb-nuts of the LNP leave and are replaced with thinking, reasonable human beings.

    This event will occur on 34*o&%t&oitflLT 000011100101010101004ILAC W>kugw>ea:OUG>eH.K,KJH,>000011111000101 010010100011001001010100101010101010010101010001010101010101001000000011111110010101011101000101010100101010010101010101001111 00111 1 1 111 0 0 0

  7. May Hem

    The Libs will have to have a woman on their front bench. Her job is to clean up the spills made by the men. If not Julie, it will be another female who will never become the P.Minister. Liberals are almost as frightened of women as they are of the Greens!

  8. John Hermann

    When will the tenure of office of the current GG come to an end?

  9. PK1965

    The BIGGEST issue is that people (including the author above) haven’t understood that the gold standard has long gone… it was officially removed in 1971, but has been obsolete since 1946… all countries that have there own currency now operate under a fiat monetary system… and they don’t grasp the power of having a soveriegn currency and WRONGLY think that taxation funds spending, when that is NOT its purpose at all. We need to move on from this fixation on taxation and grasp money is infinite for the creator of currency and in Australia that is our Federal Government via the RBA… IT IS resources that are finite, including labour.

    Taxes and government borrowing NEVER finance the spending of a monetary sovereign central government, such as Australia is.

    People saying they do, or conventions which are introduced to make it look as though they do, don’t change this simple fact.

    People who claim otherwise either don’t understand monetary systems or are being dishonest.

    Taxes are there to limit inflation – government debt issuance is there to provide safe financial assets to savers and/or for the purposes of interest rate management. – Professor Bill Mitchell

    bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=38885

    Taxation: Federal taxes function, first and foremost, to create aggregate demand for the intrinsically worthless currency. (Gold for instance was just a pretty rock until some King Fuedal times took fancy to it and demanded it for payment of taxes.)

    After that, federal spending, “adds” net financial assets to the private sector, and federal taxes “subtract” net financial assets from the private sector.

    Tax is a fiscial management tool used to control inflation and stablise the market by taking “money” out of the economy… that is to stop it from overheating.

    The other purpose of tax is to be a behaviour modifier… excise on alcohol and cigarettes. To a lesser extent it reduces inequality by reducing the financial assets of the wealthy.

    Federal spending and federal taxes are fiscal management tools. Nothing more.

    I suggest Professor Bill Mitchell recent book “Reclaiming the State”.

    Other references for you are:
    Professor Stephanie Kelton
    Professor Randal L Wray
    Dr Steven Hail
    Professor Phil Lawn
    Pavlina R. Tcherneva
    Warren Mosler
    Ellis Winningham

    An article by Beardsley Ruml,
    Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, published in the January, 1946, issue of a periodical named American Affairs. Called “TAXES FOR REVENUE ARE OBSOLETE”

    Stop playing neoliberal politics and start talking about how the economy and a fiat monetary system works… people and articles doing otherwise are simply a waste of time.

  10. phil

    Whenever Morrison of one of the ‘hyenas’ who eventually infest his front bench, speaks of cutting taxes, we can be sure this is talking in Pentecostal tongues – what is meant is ‘cutting public services’. Cowards that they are means they cannot level with the Australian people – instead they hide behind double-speak and deciet.

    Odd it is that the Netherlands and some Scandinavian countries have much higher taxes, far better public services than Australia yet somehow they have avoided the collapse and armageddon that frightens the bejeezuz out of Australian conservatives.

  11. John lord

    Michael I think she is undecided.

  12. Andreas

    RE Phil@3.25
    Odd is that the conditions you referred to in NL, DK, N, S, SF are nothing new, but these London-focussed idiots masquerading as Australian politicians have neither brain nor vision to look beyond their limited horizon. Sad, really…

  13. MöbiusEcko

    So the new generation Liberals are nothing more than the old Liberals shuffled around.

    The joke on the Australian people gets bigger. Morrison has always taken the people to be imbeciles and he’s still doing it. If he thinks this will win them over he’s more delusional and out of touch than I thought.

  14. corvus boreus

    Broken record pattern….
    Next election LAB win over COAL and Shorten relaces Morrison as PM
    Then, before the next election, another LAB replaces Shorten as PM.
    That election LAB just scrapes in.
    Then, before the next election another LAB replaces that LAB as PM..
    That election COAL win over LAB and some LIB becomes PM.
    Then, before the next election….

  15. JohnL

    Nothing will change, if anything theyll try and ramp up the theft of community!
    I hate these retards with an intensity I would never have believed possible even a few years ago. They are a blight on humanity!

  16. Andreas Bimba

    PK1965 all true and well said. I have spent a lot of time investigating Modern Monetary Theory economics and it all appears to be soundly based unlike the other branches of economics. MMT is really just an amalgamation of a range of important macroeconomic concepts that stand up to scrutiny.

    One important observation that arises from an understanding of MMT is that federal government surpluses shrink the private sector which contradicts mainstream economic thinking.

  17. Christopher J Ward

    I very rarely comment because I know that I will be at loggerheads with writers and readers alike. The fact remains that Australia has never had a true conservative party. I grew up in regional England and the people who lived in the big houses, owned the farm or ran factories had been dealt with rather harshly in two world wars in a shade over two decades. My grandparents’ home was confiscated postwar, presumably by the landholder or somebody wanting to live in a nice regional house. They cursed the war frequently although they were extremely patriotic and put their money into war bonds which were never able to be redeemed. It saw them slide down the social scale to the extent that they lived for some years in a Nissen Hut, part of a US Army base some 25 miles from their house. The first 21 years of my life was heavily coloured by the effects of war than the crises in Europe up to the Cuba crisis. The Conservatives in those days were rather like Konrad Adenauer in Germany and they believed the state should own certain types of properties and utilities, lest they be caught unawares by another continental war. So the government owned, and ran trains, airlines, other modes of transport and I can clearly remember before I left in 1963 that the population was in a state of semi-mobilisation and at the time of the missile crisis bombers and fighters were patrolling, landing and taking off again and a nearby missile base had a full complement of intermediate-range ballistic missiles standing on their tails in the launchpads with fuel being passed through on a continuous basis. The latter was done for technical reasons and I don’t think it adds to the argument. The standard of living in the UK was it seemed, lower than the countries of Europe who have received aid under the Marshall plan.

    I made up my own mind to migrate for family and health reasons that need not concern any reader. I can proudly say that the only time I was out of work in my adult life was the two days or so I spent travelling from London to Melbourne. I could scarcely believe the racism dished out to Pommie bastards at the time and it’s a pity there wasn’t a racial discrimination commission in those days. I found a double joke: Australians would tell me that all Poms were whingers and yet I have lived to see this country hold the world title. interestingly I found a job on my first day in Melbourne: they turned me away from the offices that I would have called labour exchanges in the UK and pointed me in the general direction of the public service board. An interview on a Monday afternoon and I started the following day only to find that being neither a Catholic or a Mason, I was dirt. I think I became disillusioned fairly quickly and with trouble brewing in Indonesia, I decided to join the armed forces. It was that I found out that I needed some dental treatment and despite my overall fitness being quite good, I had flat feet. No matter had been accepted in the RAF but migrated instead. I went on to serve this country for many years until forced into retirement.

    Australia gave me the opportunity to study at tertiary level, then post-graduate. University turned out to be more welcoming but being white, smart and pleased that I hadn’t thrown in the towel in my early years. During my politics classes, Dr H.V. Emy wrote that there had never been a conservative party in Australia because of settlement patterns. The conservatism in this country is basically extreme neo-con and strongly reactionary. The very word “Commonwealth” is a non-sequitur: nothing is seen or believed about common, be it truth or shared values. The wealth, of course, is for the rich as we see in the list of the top 2% of the population. If a person is not rich, let alone poor, he/she etc are to blame. Limitless opportunity, if it ever existed, is long gone.

    J.S.Mill was a so-called liberal but his actions should be judged in context, especially as Westminster was hardly democratic and Britain was a colonial power. Today, conservatives are neo-con reactionaries, grubbing for power and forgetting who put them into Parliament, while the banks and business, as we constantly see, are enriching themselves at the expense of the poorest. A change of government will not change the system.

  18. SteveFitz

    In a nut shell, there are “givers and helpers” and “users and takers” in the world and, that equates to Left v Right. The Liberal Party, or conservatives, have converted this into a political doctrine to justify their mindless inhuman behaviour driven by blind greed.
    Any clear thinking, fair minded person would not let them get away with it. It survives because it’s protected by main-stream media.

    Clearly, this “all for me and nothing for you” mentality is extremist and not what the word “conservative” implies. We are being mislead and lied to by the Liberal Party and MSM. The word “Liberal” is generally associated with left wing ideology so we are also being mislead there.

    https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/left-vs-right-world/

  19. blair

    Corvus Boreus
    Rudd change the Labor party rules so the caucus cannot replace the PM without a vote from all Labor party members.
    So that outcome is unlikely

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