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Tag Archives: Australian Industry Group

Chomsky, Alanis Morisette and Irony.

  • “The political policies that are called conservative these days would appall any genuine conservative, if there were one around to be appalled. For example, the central policy of the Reagan Administration – which was supposed to be conservative – was to build up a powerful state. The state grew in power more under Reagan than in any peacetime period, even if you just measure it by state expenditures. The state intervention in the economy vastly increased. That’s what the Pentagon system is, in fact; it’s the creation of a state-guaranteed market and subsidy system for high-technology production. There was a commitment under the Reagan Administration to protect this more powerful state from the public, which is regarded as the domestic enemy. Take the resort to clandestine operations in foreign policy: that means the creation of a powerful central state immune from public inspection. Or take the increased efforts at censorship and other forms of control. All of these are called “conservatism,” but they’re the very opposite of conservatism. Whatever the term means, it involves a concern for Enlightenment values of individual rights and freedoms against powerful external authorities such as the state, a dominant Church, and so on. That kind of conservatism no one even remembers anymore.” Noam Chomsky

“It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think
A little too ironic…and, yeah, I really do think…”

Ironic Alanis Morisette*

Noam Chomsky, the well-known social activist, made two very good points in his book, “Manufacturing Consent”.

The first was that newspaper proprietors didn’t need to tell their journalists what to write or the editors what stance to have. They’ve picked the editors, who set the tone. If Piers Akerman or Andrew Bolt was appointed as editor of “The Socialist News”, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t some change in tone. The need for day to day intervention is unnecessary.

Image from theaustralian.com.au

Image from theaustralian.com.au

The other point he makes is that, if one wishes to know what’s really going on, the business pages are a good place to start. He suggests that people will accept being lied to in the rest of the paper, but when misinformation might cost them money, they want to know the true state of play.

I have found it interesting over the years to flick between how a story is being reported in the front section of the paper and how it’s being presented in the business section. Try it sometime. True, most of the business pages is about takeovers, floats, changes in directorships and a lot of numbers that have less meaning to your average punter than the mathematics of Quantum Mechanics. (And, just in case anyone who actually understands Quantum Mechanics wants to use up the comments section explaining why I shouldn’t have said that, please just provide a link rather than explaining that once one grasps Planck’s Law, then it’s a simple step to letting Schrodinger’s Cat out of the bag.)

So what’s been the impact of the Carbon Tax? Well, according to the business pages, this “massive tax on everything” which was going to lead to the closing of Whyalla hasn’t quite led to the devastation predicted.

ABOUT half of Australian companies have either seen little impact from the introduction of the carbon tax on their energy costs or are yet to calculate the effects, according to surveys by the Australian Industry Group.

About 49 per cent of businesses in the manufacturing, construction and services sectors reported an immediate increase in prices of at least some of their inputs after the introduction of the carbon price on July 1, the AiGroup report found.

A follow-up survey of 485 businesses in November, however, found that a third of manufacturers and construction firms and as many as one half of service sector respondents ”did not yet have enough information” to gauge the impact of the new tax.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/business-counting-carbon-tax-20130128-2dgw6.html#ixzz2gnPn2CTr

“While the carbon tax came into force on July 1 its impact is still far from clear. Many companies are taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude, perhaps because it’s very future is still sometimes called into question. But even if the Liberal Party should win the next election, dismantling the tax might well prove too complex and costly. And, in the meantime, failure to accommodate the new environment could put businesses at risk. –

See more at: http://www.aon.com.au/australia/thought-leadership/currency/carbon-tax-impacts-and-outcomes.htm#sthash.fKEyHeF0.dpuf

And finally, a more recent article.

Some wrecking ball that was! Australia’s first year with a carbon tax has ended with inflation so low that it was only the carbon tax that kept inflation from falling out of the Reserve Bank’s target range.

The Bureau of Statistics reports that in the year to June, consumer prices rose 2.4 per cent on the raw data, 2.3 per cent after seasonal adjustment, and 2.2 per cent on the trimmed mean measure, which strips out the biggest price rises and falls to define underlying inflation.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/carbon-tax-inflation-fears-evaporate-20130724-2qj4q.html#ixzz2gtN1GT2F

Removing the Carbon Tax. It was going to be the “first thing” that Abbott did. Strangely, I’m now hearing on the news that he’ll be able to get rid of it after July next year. I seem to remember Kevin Rudd announcing that Labor would bring forward the end date to July 2014#. So the net result of electing Abbott is that the Carbon Tax could be in place for longer. Now, (and pay attention here, Alanis Morisette) that’s ironic!

*Alanis Morisette may be partly to blame, but there seem to be a number of people who just don’t understand what irony means. Nearly everything she describes in her song is just bad luck,

#Yes, I do know that Labor planned to have an Emission Trading Scheme, after that date, but Abbott plans to have a “direct action” scheme, so both have a plan to reduce emissions. It’s just that Labor’s is a sensible, market-based policy, whereas the Liberals are planning an inefficient, socialistic “tax us, then subsidise” program. And yes, Alanis, that’s irony, too.

P.S. The Image of Treasury milking the taxpayer 59, comes from the Liberal booklet on Labor waste, which listed 60 things where Labor was “throwing your money away”. I hope that the outrageous waste of supplying Treasury officials with milk has been stopped. That $110,000 a year will go a long way toward putting the budget back in the black.

Rupert Murdoch, where’s the outrage?

You may recall that one of the fabricated fears planted in people’s’ minds before the last election was that a Labor Government would raise the GST. Those of us who remember the perceived threat may also remember the public outcry expressed by readers who left comments on popular sites like Rupert Murdoch’s news.com.

Someone, somewhere, dreamt up that Gillard would raise the GST, the papers ran with it, and public outrage followed. Now who would have raised such an idea? Given the negative aspects and the timing of the alleged threat I’m sure the Liberal camp might have had a small bit to play in it. I’m sure they might have been a little bit bemused that there were genuine calls to have it raised, with many of the callers being the end of town that party with the Liberals party.

The calls became more vociferous leading up to the Tax Summit.

But you may ask: “Why should we raise such a repressive tax?” Well, there were a number of reasons mooted at the time. Independent MP Tony Windsor started off with the most simplest of these.

Tony Windsor has suggested the GST should rise by 1 percentage point to allow 115 “inefficient” taxes to be eradicated.

Mr Windsor and fellow crossbencher Tony Crook . . . called for the GST to be examined . . . following Treasury warnings that the tax has become increasingly inefficient.

Mr Windsor’s suggestion was in the wake Treasury’s executive director of revenue Rob Heferen’s statement that the GST was costing more to collect than other taxes and was “less than robust” because of increased spending on tax-free items.

The OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration highlighted the “practical reality” of an increase, being that it was essential to achieve many of the reforms recommended by the government’s tax review (The Henry Review) of 2009.

“There would seem to be a fairly compelling logic to GST base broadening and a slightly higher rate (eg 12.5 per cent) as a means of rationalising the major state taxes and compensating low-income citizens who would otherwise be unfairly impacted by GST expansion,” said the centre’s senior adviser Richard Highfield.

Viewing the current tax system as unfair and inefficient, accounting bodies also put their weight behind the call. Among them, CPA Australia suggest that:

. . . increasing the GST to 15 or 20 per cent, accompanied by cuts to business and personal tax rates, would improve the economy and raise the standard of living. “Our research helps demystify concerns that an increase in GST would hurt Australians,” CPA Australia chief executive Alex Malley said.

But the sharpest call and strongest argument comes from the big end of town; the business groups with the Australian Industry Group leading the call.

The Australian Industry Group is urging an increase in the rate of the GST – or a broadening of its application to more goods and services – as a way to pay for the removal of inefficient state taxes.

The Ai Group – whose chief executive Heather Ridout was involved in the Henry tax review – says the states and territories have among the most inefficient and poorly designed of all Australia’s taxes.

Ideally, the group says, insurance taxes and conveyancing duties would be removed and payroll tax remodelled or removed. Land tax could be improved substantially.

Compliance costs could be reduced by harmonising remaining state taxes, and economies of scale exploited by using the Australian Taxation Office to collect state revenue.

A more broadly based or higher GST should finance the removal of as many existing state taxes as possible, it says.

I found it rather interesting, that during the scare campaign the Murdoch media, in particular, were wheeling out all sorts of experts calling for the increase. In the minds of the readers raising the GST would be a good thing and Labor would fall prey to this meme.

In numerous media releases leading up to the tax summit the Government clearly ruled out the increase, or that it will be tabled for discussion. To do so would have been political suicide. It may have also been seen as an easy solution to return to surplus, even though it clearly would not have been for that purpose. It was a mute point that the Government had been widely criticized for not heeding many of the recommendations of the Henry Review, namely from those critics who sit on the opposition benches.

I was opposed to the introduction of the GST and the manner in which the Howard Government hoisted it upon us, as many people were. But it is with us, and despite its obvious flaws it nonetheless could unwittingly be the vehicle that will be used to overhaul the inequalities of the current tax system. However, this was unlikely to happen because of the negativity around the GST during the last election campaign and the Government’s reluctance to pursue the matter, particularly as it is in the minds of the electorate that the Labor Government has been painted as the party most likely to raise the GST if it ever were to be raised.

Fast forward to 2013 and Tony Abbott’s budget reply speech and this widely unpublicised comment:

We will finish the job that the Henry review started and this government squibbed.

Now, didn’t the Henry Review recommend an increase in the GST? Rupert, your papers were in a frenzy the last time an increase was put in the public sphere and the outrage against the Gillard Government was carefully nurtured.

Where is the outrage now?

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How come readers of the Fifth Estate can see what our journalists can’t?

Apart from momentarily shouting that it will make Australia a better place, ie, acting as Tony Abbott’s mouthpiece, the mainstream media hasn’t said boo about Abbott’s Industrial Relations policy, unveiled a few days ago. I’ve been waiting. No doubt they are aware that in truth it will hurt the pocket and the work/life balance of most working Australians and they think it’s best to keep that a secret to themselves. Either that, or they see nothing negative about the policy.

If you want to know if the policy is being dissected and discussed then you can’t rely on the old media (the mainstream media – MSM). You need to turn to the new media – the Fifth Estate. I did such a thing today and it was refreshing to see the opinions of people who really matter: workers, not journalists. Following is a sample of what I found:

From Tom R at Café Whispers:

I get the distinct impression that the voices such as our media and the Australian Industry Group etc claiming that the libs IR policy is ‘timid’ are not being completely frank with the electorate.

The Daily Derp has a column highlighting Productivity and the effect the previous workchoices incarnation had on on it:

http://thedailyderp.net/2013/05/10/abbott-and-abetz-announce-workers-paradise/

But the gist of what is going on is highlighted in this statement from that column:

This article was copied form The Daily Derp on 9 May, 2013 at 22:04. You can read the original article here: http://thedailyderp.net/2013/05/10/abbott-and-abetz-announce-workers-paradise/

These new IR laws the LNP plan to introduce are Workchoices by stealth, designed to do nothing except smash the unions, and put all the power in an employer/employee relationship fully in the hands of employers, just as Workchoices did.

It is only by ‘stealth’ if our media refuse to analyse and then report their findings in the media at large. I have not seen that happen to date. It is all ‘timid’, which it isn’t, it is just sneakier.

The unions and Labor need to be vocal about this, not rabidly so, but very loud. Point out that, even though he says ‘no disadvantage’, that means ‘no disadvantage’ under the liberals interpretation of the term, ie, ‘no disadvantage’ for the employer.

I am pretty sure the media will not highlight this. It is time for Labor to shout it out for all to hear. Workchoices is back, no matter how much our totally failed fourth estate try to tell us otherwise.

From Min at Café Whispers:

. . . clearly the words “timid” and “industrial lite” are being used to enhance the somewhat false impression that New WorkChoices is non-threatening . . . to help us remain “relaxed and comfortable”.

The one which makes me smile (somewhat wryly) is the claim that Tony Abbott was never all that keen on WorkChoices. This is due solely to his often reported comment that WorkChoices went too far. This was never about policy but Abbott speculating on why the Liberals lost the election. He wasn’t suggesting that WorkChoices was wrong, just that they shouldn’t have gone so far because it cost them the election. With a good majority a likely outcome, Abbott will not have any such qualms in the future.

From Tom R again.

While reading the coalitions document, this is the relevant section that worries me the most:

A Coalition Government will ensure that enterprise agreements cannot restrict the use of IFAs. Because a Coalition Government will retain Labor’s own ‘Better Off Overall Test’ it will mean that any IFA will always lead to a worker being better off. A Coalition Government will not reintroduce AWAs.

http://www.liberal.org.au/sites/default/files/13-05-09%20The%20Coalitions%20Policy%20to%20Improve%20the%20Fair%20Work%20Laws.pdf

Now, correct me if I am wrong here, but an enterprise agreement is designed specifically to restrict an IFA, in that trades can only be done where the IFA will not result in the agreement being worst off.
http://www.workplaceinfo.com.au/resources/employment-topics-a-z/better-off-overall-test-boot

For them to claim that enterprise agreements will not restrict an IFA, means that the worst off test cannot be applied. It is internally inconsistent. Both cannot happen. Reading it in the worst light, it can only mean that they will apply a ‘Better Off Overall Test’ without being restricted by an existing enterprise agreement. Basically, they have bypassed the enterprise agreement section of the ‘Better Off Overall Test’, while at the same time claiming they will retain Labor’s own ‘Better Off Overall Test’.

I also recall a previous rendition of the Libs IR policy that claimed an AWA will always lead to a worker being better off.

A Coalition Government will not reintroduce AWAs.

No, they are just calling them IFA’s, but they are designed to do the same thing.

From Min:

. . . the reason that Howard originally brought this in was to delay OH&S inspections by union representatives. Many is the case, mostly onsite at isolated locations where following an industrial accident that the bosses sought to exclude any data being gathered pertaining to the accident site. The delay in accessing the site written into legislation suited the bosses perfectly.

From Jane:

As for SerfChoices, it has always been unpopular with employees and i can’t see any advantage for employers, particularly small employers, in having to negotiate and set individual rates of pay & conditions for every employee.

Inefficient and frankly bloody stupid. Much easier and less time consuming for both boss and employee to work within the existing framework and for employees who have never been taught how to negotiate their rates of pay or conditions.

Tom R, of course it’s SerfChoices by stealth and there are no doubt still plenty of people in the workforce who suffered under the imposition of that attempt to reduce the workers to servitude.

And some evidence that Serfchoices is counter productive wrt productivity:

http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/09/07/searching-for-truth-on-productivity-among-the-ir-spin/

And some evidence that SerfChoices is just that – a plan to return to the good old days of personal fiefdoms and serfdom for the workers:

http://webdiary.com.au/cms/?q=node/1496

From Nasking on The Political Sword:

One only has to think back on Abbott’s gleeful address to the Tea-Part like anti-carbon rally . . .

His kowtowing to Murdoch, owner of Fox News, at the IPA dinner . . .

Hockey’s brandishing of American Republican Party propaganda lingo like ‘entitlements’ . . .

Their addiction to loud mouthed shock jocks who sound more Rush Limbaugh and less sane and rational by the day . . .

To know that their softly softly approach on industrial relations, health care, education and do on are a ruse . . . complete BS.

Yes, Abbott and team also get into UK Cameron’s ‘big society’ . . . but let’s face it . . . even American Republicans love the idea of replacing essential service jobs paid for by Govt with volunteers . . . working for tax exempt charities.

The corporatised MSM . . . the neo-Liberal spruikers and apologists will generally fail to tell you that Abbott and Hockey are born again foxes in sheep clothing . . .

I won’t.

Again from Nasking:

. . . And only want to get out the chainsaw to rip into the unions splattering blood all over the workplace.

Be a wee bit more convincing if they weren’t the old guard Liberals . . . the Blitzkrieg troops who got so excited and showed so much hubris about IR reform when they last had both the Senate and House of Reps.

I bet that Workchoices’ body is being reanimated now in Joe Hockey’s basement . . . Andrew Robb furiously working on the new costume and makeup after the facelift approved by Dr Rodent and Mr Smuggles themselves.

“Not long now my creation . . my love . . . not long now . . . you shall walk amongst them again soon” squeals Dr Rodent . . . fingers twitching, stroking the jutting eyebrows in rapturous glee.

The bride of Workchoices farts.

No longer eyes wide shut.

There we have a very small sample from a few contributors. But what astounds me, is that on just a couple of ‘new media’ sites and from just a handful of commenters chosen randomly, how come they have more to say than our political journalists, who appear to be in hiding? How come they can sniff the truth out of this policy but our political journalists can’t?

Further, one only has to go to Twitter to see the number of exchanges that citizen journalists are having with the media journalists, and raising the same points. More and more people are questioning their lack of honesty in the way this policy is being reported, which they unanimously laugh off as just another lefty conspiracy theory. It sums up why they don’t report the truth: they are simply oblivious to it.

How come readers of the Fifth Estate can see what they can’t?

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