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Tag Archives: Coalition Government

Day to Day Politics: The campaign has started – “It’s Labor’s fault” … “The GFC didn’t happen”.

Wednesday 20 April. -74 Days

1 Predictably the Conservatives have already started blaming Labor for everything. They inherited an enormous debt. We left them with none they say. They are the problem, not us. No mention of the Global Financial Crisis or why they doubled the debt.

In the meantime, now that the ABCC has been voted on, for which Turnbull allowed a fortnight, nobody seems to know what to do with the remainder of the time. There is no substantive business to debate. What will the members do? Stay or go. Perhaps they could adjourn to the bar on the public purse for a fortnight. Wouldn’t even need to take a vote on that one.

By committing to a date for the election he has, as Julia Gillard did, taken away the element of surprise. Naming the date so far in advance didn’t work for Gillard, it is unlikely to work for him.

In question time the Prime Minister said “the election would be about trust”.

I wouldn’t like to be backing that statement up with facts.

“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards” (Tony Abbott).

2 Sky News presenter Paul Murray has claimed to have seen the script of a TV add he says will be run straight after the budget saying that there are savings measures of $16 billion over four years. If this is true, what does four billion a year tell us? Well it tells us that they are not fairdinkum and unwilling to hurt their constituency. So much for fairness and budget repair. And guess who is paying for the advertisements? Well it’s not the Liberal Party. It’s illegal of course, but they will still do it.

3 The Morgan and Essential Polls on Tuesday came in with the parties on 50/50. Combined with the Ipos 51/49 and Newspoll 50/50 Monday it confirms the trend toward Labor which is of course a strange time to be going to an election. Added to this for the Coalition is the complexity of delivering a popular budget in the midst of a campaign. And of course running on policies of your predecessor rather that your own.

Morgan says that “If a Federal Election were held now the result would be too close to call and would likely result in a hung Parliament”.

What shouldn’t be overlooked is the fact that Labor needs a uniform swing of 4.3% and 21 seats if it is to win. My view is that on the current figures the Coalition would still win with a reduced majority.

Having said that, the majority of both parties’ policies are yet to be released. There are still 73 days to go.

In the Essential weekly survey 59% were in favour of a Royal Commission into banking with 15% opposed.

4 The power of public opinion. Telstra has decided to re-engage its support for marriage equality or to use their terminology. “Renewing its active position” on the issue. This comes only a few days after it said it no longer “drive further debate” on the subject.

My thought for the day.

Never be burdened by the negativity of others. Wear positively as if your life depended on it”.

PS Wildcards in the election. Bronnie and her lovechild still have scores to settle.

 

Day to Day Politics: With 17 backflips Turnbull qualifies for the Olympic diving team

Friday 15 April 2016

We can thank Malcolm Turnbull, for ridding his party, and the nation, of the combatant pugilist Abbott. He was rewarded for his effort with election winning polls and a personal popularity rating the envy of any celebrity. Initially with charismatic personality, he seduced and beguiled his way into the hearts of those who wanted nothing more than to see the back of Abbott and some who didn’t.

The punters welcomed, for the time being at least, his sense of reason, fairness, discretion and natural charm, even if these characteristics seemed out-of-place in a party so demonstrably right-wing.

After 7 months of what can only be described as waffle, it has become apparent that he is not the leader people thought he was. I have written hundreds of words, no, literally thousands, about his individual policy backflips but I have never collated them together.

Ben Elthan in his piece for New Matilda does just that and when viewed in their totality it becomes obvious the backflips are worthy of a gold medal. How a new leader could possibly backflip on so many issues is beyond understanding. Well except to suggest that he is incompetent and controlled by the right-wing of his party. Anyway, here is the list, you be the judge. You can read Ben’s piece on New Matilda. But first, here are the backflips Ben writes about:

1) Marriage equality

2) Climate policy

3) Raising the GST

4) Income tax cuts

5) Company tax cuts

6) Capital Gains Tax

7) Simplified tax returns

8) Funding for the Gonski schools reforms

9) University fee deregulation

10) International carbon permits for Direct Action

11) Safe Schools

12) Section 35P of the ASIO Act

13) An Australian republic

14) Tax disclosure

15) The “effects test” for competition law

16) The early budget

17) Income tax for the state.

2 During this week I wrote at length about the need for a Royal Commission into the financial sector. I think those who have so stridently opposed one underestimate public opinion on this one and are already into scare campaign mood. In reality the banks are about as popular as politicians. Here are a couple of small examples of why one is needed.

If one is looking for reasons to justify a Royal Commission into banking here is a small but significant one. The cash rate is 2%. The bank card rate on credit is 21% or there about. A 19% differential.

Here is another: Why is it, if you try to get a $10k personal loan unsecured at around 8% you have a 50/50 chance of being knocked back,  but banks can’t give you a $10k credit card at 20% quick enough.

Here are some bigger ones:

The fact is that on the evidence thus far our major banks are probably (should I use the word allegedly) guilty of insurance fraud, rate fixing and dodgy financial planning practices. They have no conscience when it comes to profit.

The objection to a Royal Commission brings into focus just what sort of democracy we are, or want to be. Are we one where the people are represented by the government of the day or some sort of corporatocracy where the government is just a political appendage of large corporations?

3 A factor we don’t consider when trying to analyse polling is the undecided factor. Lee Mullin. A Facebook friend sent me this:

“As most of the polls have the parties coming together it makes Morgan the standout as they are bucking the trend of the others. With the election getting ever closer, the polls start to take on more significance. I would love to know how they are dealing with the undecideds are they extrapolating them into the numbers or are they excluding them from the numbers and of course what are the raw figures on the undecideds. As that is where the election will be won and lost”.

4 Not often I would agree with the PM but on this he has my wholehearted support:

“I think as we all know, and I say this as a former mediocre rugby player, AFL is the most exciting football code”.

5 Waleed Aly wrote an interesting article this week in which he used a metaphor “The planets are beginning to fall into place for Labor” to explain how the growing discomfort with societal inequality in its many forms was giving Labor a narrative to really differentiate itself with the Conservatives.

They ranged from the wilful horror of Trump, to the right’s defence of the banking sector, into the unfairness of the Coalition’s monetary policy, the fact that major companies and individuals don’t pay tax, and the Panama papers. Notwithstanding the fact that the rich are becoming disproportionately wealthier year by year.

I have written on this subject on this blog before about inequality previously.

Aly is correct though. Both in Australia and overseas there is an acceptance that big business and right-wing governments are cheating. That the ordinary citizen’s rights are not being represented by government. The opposite is true. Governments are representing the interests of the privileged, the rich and big business. Labor has a chance to get back to its grass-roots and represent the common good of the people. I hope they grasp it.

My thought for the day.

“We must have the courage to ask of our young that they should go beyond desire and aspiration and accomplish not the trivial but greatness. That they should not allow the morality they have inherited from good folk to be corrupted by the immorality of evil minds”.

PS: My worst fears have come to fruition. Yes I am regretfully sorry to inform you that Barnaby Joyce is Prime Minister.

Day to Day Politics: ‘Wishy–washy politics‘ … What did she mean?

Friday April 8 2016

1 When a Coalition MP described the Government as wishy-washy what exactly did she mean?

MPs have voiced concern over the direction of the government, with backbencher Michelle Landry warning it appears ‘wishy-washy’ and lacking direction.

‘It’s been portrayed in the media that we are not focused. It’s coming across that we are wishy-washy’.

‘We have had a great lot of successes and there’s some fabulous things the government wants to do. I think we have to really focus on getting the economy on track’.

I of course understood the term but I wondered if it really was an apt term to use to describe this government.

She said the Government had done some fabulous things. I struggle with that. She added that they wanted to get the economy on track and I immediately thought we might have a repeat of ‘good Government starts today.’ Where on earth did the first term go?

I’ll look it up I thought. Then I understood what she was getting at.

Wishy-washy. Meaning. Feeble, ineffectual, weak, vapid, effete, spineless, limp, namby-pamby, half-hearted, spiritless, irresolute, indecisive, pathetic, weak-kneed, half-arsed, pale, insipid, wan and sickly. Mission accomplished.

2 After telling all and sundry one day that there were no more children in detention we once again find out that Peter Dutton was lying. The next day he admits there are still two in detention and that 90 more are being returned to Nauru. They argue that they are not in detention because they are free to roam around. On an island the size of Nauru I call it incarceration.

‘We’re happy to make third-party arrangements, we offer settlement packages and talk individually with the families’.

Mr Dutton said resettlement in Cambodia would be offered, urging people to deal with facts, ‘not the emotion’.

‘Not the emotion’! Words fail me. We are actually telling them that they will remain on the island for the rest of their lives and he says don’t be emotional.

3 Did you know that later this month the Government will introduce legislation that will allow private employment agencies the power to fine people on the dole?

Under the proposal, Australians receiving the dole can be fined 10 per cent of their income support – increasing by 10 per cent each day until they ‘re-engage’ – if they:

Fail to sign a job plan at their first job agency appointment; or

Are found by their job agency to have behaved inappropriately at an appointment (‘inappropriate behaviour’ is defined as acting in a manner “such that the purpose of the appointment is not achieved”); or

Fail to attend a Work for the Dole or Training exercise without an excuse deemed reasonable by the job agency.

4 Bronwyn Bishop has managed to have four of her own staff members appointed to the preselection panel for her blue ribbon seat of Mackellar. Talk about cooking the books.

Will Dick Smith challenge?

5 Just a question but how come Waleed Aly gets so much flak from the right yet gets enough votes for a Gold Logie nomination?

Its petty I know but is it simply because he unapologetically espouses opinions they don’t like.

6 The Mouth that roared proved that the title is an apt one when he over shouted a group of angry protestors.

Mr Pyne was announcing the government would fast track legislation to delay the introduction of new minimum pay rates for truck drivers until January next year.

‘It’s a pity unions are trying to shut down democratic discussions in Australia today’  he said.

His other identity Mr Fixit had no comment.

7 Central to the Governments budget is likely to be tax cuts for business. The ‘Panama Papers’ and an avalanche of recent publicity about tax evasion suggests the government will have a hard time convincing those who pay tax that business deserves tax cuts when a third of them don’t pay any anyway. Tax avoidance looms as a large issue in this election.

To quote Peter Lewis:

‘Not only will the PM likely enter a campaign justifying a tax cut while attacking Labor for tightening negative gearing concessions and paring back superannuation benefits for high income earners. But he will also now be called to explain why the Government has failed to act on homegrown tax avoidance and minimisation that sees  a third of Australia’s top companies paying no tax’.

8 Australia has a need for many things but there is none greater than the need for equality of opportunity be it employment, equal pay or whatever. But there is none greater than the need for equality of opportunity in education. That is what Gonski was all about and for an Australian Prime Minister, as he did this time last week, to divest himself of any responsibility and advocate a segregated system is an unmitigated disgrace.

Labor’s Chris Bowen says it was a ‘moment of black comedy ’He is correct.

Referring to Turnbull’s offer to the states Greg Jericho said this:

‘Of course they did – and of course they should have. It was a proposal delivered with such little genuineness that Turnbull might as well have been offering to sell the premiers a bridge in Sydney’.

9 From an article by Jonathan Holmes refuting claims from Bolt and Henderson that the ABC is biased.

‘Mark Scott has clearly failed to enact his promised reform agenda’, fumed Gerard Henderson in his Media Watch Dog blog.

‘How can the man heading our biggest media organisation be so blind to the ABC’s unlawful and dangerous Leftist bias?’  frothed Andrew Bolt.

‘Andrew’s world is a simple one, ‘I said. ‘It has two boxes. There’s the one that right-minded people like himself inhabit, and there’s the box in which just about everybody else sits, which he calls ‘the Left’.

My thought for the day.

There is no shame in not knowing. The shame is in not wanting to know’.

PS When you only have Royal Commissions into matters relating to your political opponents and ignore those associated with you, you leave a stench of hypocrisy that has a whiff of gutter politics about it.

 

Day to Day Politics: Turnbull’s Election Campaign. Making something of nothing.

Saturday 2 April 2016

Given that the independent Cross Bench Senators fail to pass the ABCC legalisation its odds on that we will be going to the polls on July 2. An extremely important one for Australia’s future I might add.

So I’m thinking what will Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition campaign on. What will he fight the election on?

We need to keep in mind that this is going a very lengthy campaign so whatever the overall theme is, it needs to run the distance. We can rule out ‘Stopping the boats’ as this is to closely associated with Abbott. We can rule out Labor disunity as there doesn’t appear to be any. And given Abbott’s broken promises after the last election it can’t be a ‘who do you trust one.’

Media reform, Senate reform and fixing bankruptcy laws are nor heart and soul issues. Perhaps negative gearing and capital gains.

Union corruption and Shortens involvement might be a goer but Labour could counter that with accusations of corruption in big business and donations to the Liberal Party.

He certainly can’t campaign on the Governments record. Everyone knows it has been abysmal.

Scaremongering about a new carbon tax might get a run but it can easily be countered with a better story. The economy is usually the Coalitions strongest point but since coming to power promising to reform the taxation system and making utter fools of themselves, the public will be wary.

The Prime Minister is trying to pass off responsibility for Health to the states so he can hardly make health stand out like a beacon.

In the end it comes down to his favourite. That being ‘Innovation’

There is nothing wrong with the narrative of being an innovative country with an innovative economy. In fact it should be a worthwhile pursuit.

There are three problems though. Firstly, all innovation is generated by education and Turnbull’s proposal for the states to raise their own tax is regressive. The response thus far to this pie in the sky thought bubble has been dreadful. It was so lacking in any detail that the electorate thinks it sus. A two tier system. One run by the Commonwealth, the other by the States.

He will be accused of prioritising Christian schools and Private ones. Inevitably Labor will accuse him of religious preferentialism and class nepotism. Innovation born of educational privilege is a hard sell.

Turnbull said:

“I suspect no federal government would retreat from funding and continuing to support the non-government school sector because there would be a concern that they would not get a fair go from state governments who obviously would have a competing interest with their schools”.

Really? That statement smacks of privilege.

Strangely conservatives have never realised that kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds are our greatest untapped source of potential growth. They are our most undervalued resource..

Secondly, it’s also hard to sell a theme of innovation based of nice words alone. Their actions thus far with the dismissal of hundreds of scientists from the CSIRO doesn’t fit. And when he announced his $billion policy he failed to mention the $4billionAbbott had already taken out.

Thirdly, innovation requires the best technology to advance itself. Turnbull himself has made a complete mess of the construction of the NBN. Young people have not forgiven him for it.

An observation.

‘The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow’.

So there we have it. I may have missed something but there isn’t much left.

Maybe you have some thoughts.

My thought for the day.

‘The ideas of today need to be honed with critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of enquiry so that they clearly articulate the currency of tomorrow’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Pie in the sky politics.

Friday April 1 2016

1 The now Abbott/Turnbull Government spent three years in opposition before coming to power in 2013 on the back of Labor leadership dysfunction. During this time Abbott spent an inordinate amount of time being negative, opposing everything.

‘Oppose’, that’s what oppositions do, he said.

Policy groundwork was neglected on the grounds that simply being in office would correct things. When the Australian people gifted them with government it became immediately apparent that, despite the most educated bunch of ministers in Australia’s history, they were policy deficient.

It dogged Abbott for the better part of his tenure. So much so that his leadership was challenged. He survived and made the most astonishing statement that ‘Good Government starts tomorrow.’ In doing so he made a public confession that he had governed badly.

Deplorable government continued unabated to the point where it was no longer tenable. So he was replaced with the more affable personality of Malcolm Turnbull. People’s expectations (including mine) was that a new era of public discourse might come to fruition. It didn’t because Turnbull was unable to be his own man. To get the job he had sold his soul to the extremists of his party. Bequeathed on us was a centre left leader under the control of the right.

He promised a new economic debate centered on tax reform saying that everything was on the table. We quickly found that the menu was so good that everything was gobbled up by the extremes of economic obesity.

The latest addition to the menu is a proposal to allow the states to impose their own income tax to fund schools and health. You won’t mind if we continue to fund the private schools will you?

Yesterday I listened to his interview with Fran Kelly and I was left with the unmistakable impression that this was yet another policy cockup. They haven’t done their homework. It is but a blatant attempt to pass the buck.

For some time now the government has been saying that to repair the budget, cuts have to be made. That cutting expenditure was the answer. Revenue was not the problem. Yet during the interview with Kelly whilst trying to justify his proposal he said:

‘It’s not an attempt to raise taxes but there is a revenue problem’.

There may be some merit in his proposal but can anyone seriously persuade me that the states over time won’t raise taxes to accommodate their needs. Turnbull insists that the State Tax plan isn’t about raising taxes but it is, in fact, the very point of the exercise.

This is simply a handball job. The economic mess the Coalition has made for itself could be fixed if they would put their ideology aside for five minutes, govern for the common good, and take note of the recommendations of CEDA, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. (See their report ‘Deficit to balance: budget repair options’ laid the basis for economic recovery).

Has anyone considered the individual social inequality this will cause? Or state to state inequality for that matter. Or why would we even need a Federal Government.

What we are experiencing is simply ‘thought bubble on the run politics’. And from a man who should know better. And all because the Abbott/Turnbull Government has placed political egotism and ideology before sound policy development.

Further evidence of this government’s dysfunction was identified when the Treasurer soon after Turnbull’s announced his grand plan appeared to be at odds with his Prime Minister. The best one can say about their relationship is ‘it’s complicated’.

2 For me it’s odds on that the proposal will be rejected with some saving grace for the PM. However, we are no further advanced. A budget is looming in a matter of weeks. A budget that if the Treasurer is true to his word that spending is the only means of repairing the budget, should be a shocker. It has to be if he is fair dinkum. And what about the billions still there from the 2014 that is still stuck in the Senate? He can’t continue to leave it on the books, surely.

It’s hard to believe just how badly this Government is playing the political game.

3 Peta Credlin is to appear on Sky News as an election commentator. They apparently wanted her to join with Bolt to give the channel objectivity.

4 Billionaire retailer Jerry Harvey, the man who views the world through the prism of his own cash registers, reckons we need a two tier wage system where cheap labour is plentiful.

‘Australia doesn’t have cheap labour. Many overseas workers would be prepared to move here for a much better life and half the money Australians earn … I’ve got horse studs and it’s difficult to get staff‘ he said.

5 Conversely, I was reading the daily Morgan Report and would you believe the Fair Work Ombudsman did a nationwide investigation into the fast-food sector and found that nearly half (47 per cent) of 565 spot-checked employers have not been paying their staff correctly, with workers being paid as low as $6 per hour compared to the statutory minimum of $17.25 per hour.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigation found that in nearly one-third of cases, the flat hourly rate paid by the employer to its workers was not enough to cover hours attracting penalty rates and loadings, resulting in underpayments for which an employer could be ordered to compensate the underpaid worker, and fined for breach of the applicable Industrial Award.

Royal Commission anyone?

6 Just when we thought Donald Trump couldn’t go any lower, he does.

Trump was asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to define his ‘pro-life’ stance and assertions that abortion should be banned.

‘Do you believe in punishment for abortion – yes or no – as a principle?’ asked Matthews, during the taping of a town hall event.

‘The answer is there has to be some form of punishment,’ said Trump.

‘For the woman?’ Matthews said.

‘Yeah, there has to be some form’ Trump replied.

‘Ten cents, 10 years, what?’ Matthews asked again, pressing.

‘That I don’t know,’ said Trump.

My Thought for the day.

At some time in the human narrative ... in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But thats men for you’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Your corruption is worse than mine, and other taxing issues

Thursday March 31 2016

1 At the crux of the Senate stalemate over the ABCC legislation are two principles. Firstly the Government says the crossbench Senators, because some rorted the voting system, are unworthy participants. A DD will fix the problem it says. In itself that is debatable. Secondly the Government wants its ABCC anti-Union corruption bill passed.

The Senators suggest a compromise that would include all corruption. Not unreasonable you might say. After all corruption is knowingly rife in politics and business.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that corruption in the banking sector and its effect on ordinary people is far worse than that of unions in the building industry. And that corruption in politics is destroying our democracy.

Too unreasonably single out union corruption suggests you rate it worse than other corruption and leaves the Government open, particularly the Prime Minister, to further charges of hypocrisy. Union bashing in other words.

A recent survey by Essential Media found that most respondents opposed the reintroduction of the ABCC, and demonstrated that the Federal Government must be more active in countering misconceptions about the role and function of the construction watchdog.

It remains an open question as to whether the PM really wants a more democratic electoral system or if the ABCC is a more important matter than others that would seem more worthy of its attention.

If per chance the cross benches passed the bill, Turnbull would have some explaining to do as to what the real motive was.

The Essential survey on the following question:

What do you think is the main reason why the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would call an early double dissolution election?

Showed that 14% thought it was because Parliament won’t restore the ABCC. 15% said it was because he wants to get rid of the independents in the Senate and 30% said it was because his Government is losing support and he will have a better chance of winning if the election is held early.

2 The Crickey Poll Bludger in the absence of any Polling over Easter reveals Newspolls quarterly breakdown. It shows the Turnbull Government sinking in Vic, and SA with Victoria leading the way. Another poll reveals that the government will have a hard time selling its budget. An internal poll also shows that Bronwyn Bishop wouldn’t hold her seat of MacKellar and the Nationals will almost certainly contest the seat of Murray. Sharman Stone’s former seat.

This week’s Essential Poll still has the parties 50/50.

3 Those interested in American politics should read this.

‘Justice Scalia’s seat is vacant. Ginsberg is 82 years old, Kennedy is 79, Breyer is 77, and Thomas is 67. Nowadays, the data shows that the average age of a Supreme Court retirement or death occurs after 75.

These are 5 vacancies that will likely come up over the next 4-8 years. The next President will have the power to potentially create a 7-2 Supreme Court skewed in their ideology.

Think about that… 7-2. If the next President appoints 5 young justices, it will guarantee control of the Supreme Court for an entire generation. And 7-2 decisions will hold up much more over time than 5-4 decisions which are seemed to be lacking in mandate’ – Colin Powell.

4 It seems Tony Abbott will run his own campaign in the forthcoming election.

He has expressed his readiness to participate in the 2016 federal election campaign to support colleagues who hold marginal seats. Senator Nick Xenophon said he would be delighted to have Abbott campaigning in South Australia. I suppose Christopher Pyne will also welcome him.

Nifty Nick knows when he is on a winner.

5 I know I’m always on about the NBN but when Australia slips to 60th position in world speed ratings it’s about time we all took notice. What a cock up this supposedly ‘innovatively’ minded Government has made of this medium.

It is just ridiculous that we are building a copper-based service that will be redundant in ten to 15 years. We should all question why we are heading down such an inferior pathway at such a huge cost.

6 How refreshing it was on Tuesday to watch Paul McClintock, a businessman and former staffer to John Howard deliver a speech ‘Deficit to balance: budget repair options’ for CEDA, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia minus the politics at The National Press Club.

‘No economic problem in Australia is graver than the persistence of large budget deficits,’ he said.

The research was conducted by a 12 member commission that included current Reserve Bank board member Dr John Edwards and three former secretaries of the federal department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr Michael Keating, Dr Ian Watt and Terry Moran.

What struck me was the way in which McClintock demonstrated that when you dispassionately divorce yourself from the politics, and objectively address an economic problem, just how much clearer the answers are.

Contrary to the Abbott/Turnbull governments’ notion that budget repair can only be achieved with spending cuts, the report calls for revenue enhancement. It reckons that $15 billion in revenue ‘enhancement’ measures and $2 billion in spending cuts would bring the budget to surplus in 2018-19.

Now you wouldn’t call these committee members raging socialists but their preferences for revenue raising were suspiciously Laborish.

Singled out were superannuation tax and capital gains tax. Introducing a flat 15 per cent discount on super contributions ($6.9 billion), reducing the cap for concessionary contributions to super to $10,000 ($8.5 billion), halving the capital gains discount ($3.6 billion) and abolishing negative gearing on all assets purchased after December last year ($2.6 billion).

Other options proposed included increasing petrol taxes, cutting the fuel tax credit scheme, cutting industry tax concessions, clamping down on work related tax deductions and extending the ‘temporary’ the budget repair levy.

Without action, the commission found personal incomes would bear the rising burden of taxation.

It all sounds reasonable when you take the politics out of it.

Recommend you read this article by John Kelly on the subject.

An observation.

It seems to me that the wisest people I know are the ones that apply reason, and logic and leave room for doubt. The most unwise are the fools and fanatics who dont’.

7 My first reaction to the Prime Minister’s proposal to give the states the right to raise their own income tax is that the electorate will never buy it. Imagine the States with that sort of power. He is just handballing a problem he can’t handle.

Turnbull indicated that over time if a particular state had a problem it might say.

‘OK, we have got an issue with one part of our services. Can we fix it ourselves or do we need more money? If we need more money, then they go, the state would go to their parliament, raise the money, go to the people and persuade them of the merits of it.’

A hard sell this one. I wonder how long it will stay on the table. We might even see a perpetually shifting population seeking the least taxing state.

And didn’t Scott say:

‘This is not a government that has any interest in lifting the tax burden on Australians’.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just get companies to pay some tax and stop all the subsidies?

My thought for the day.

‘For the life of me I fail to understand how anyone could vote for a party who thinks the existing education and health systems are adequately funded and addresses the needs of the disadvantaged’

PS: I read last week that the actual plebiscite question that was supposed to be revealed prior to the election had been shelved. Yesterday I read that the plebiscite itself is to be shelved indefinitely. Can’t be true surely.

 

Day to Day Politics: Playing dirty with kids’ lives.

Sunday March 20 2016

The far right of conservative politics in Australia have had another victory over an ever compliant Prime Minister. Adding to their victories over the economy, a Republic and Carbon emissions it must now be clear to the public that Malcolm Turnbull is not his own man but a captive of the right-wing of his party.

His decision to fall in line on the Fair Schools program clearly demonstrates his inability to control the nutters in his party. Why it is that federal Christian conservative politicians think they have some sort of superior moral judgement when it comes to children’s education? They don’t give a stuff about equality of opportunity in education. They outrageously give more funding to private schools than public.

The program was launched by Tim Wilson, the openly gay candidate for the safe Liberal seat of Goldstein in his former capacity as Human Rights Commissioner. The campaign was designed by experts to raise support for and reduce prejudice against LGBT students.

Yet they want to override those who with know-how and experience devise programs that inform children about sexuality and protect them against bullying.

On top of that the chief protagonist, George Christensen admits he didn’t even read the program which makes one wonder if the program was the real target or if it was Turnbull. Anyway, Victoria decided to go its own way with little opposition. Abbott, who originally signed off on the program, signed a petition to unfund it.

Added to the Christian right’s replacement of 250 social workers (most receiving high praise from their principles) from schools and replacing them with Chaplains empathises the influence Christianity and the Australian Christian Lobby has in Australian politics.

It is also an indication of how dirty they are likely to play in the debate surrounding the plebiscite on marriage equality.

If Turnbull cannot stand up to the bullies in his party then he doesn’t deserve to lead it.

2 The suggestion that we should tax sugary soft drinks is nonsense and unnecessary. It’s as simple as this: science knows that the major cause of ill-health in society is the consumption of too much sugar, fat and salt – mainly in fast foods. An enlightened society would simply legislate to, over time, reduce the amount of these killers in the foods we consume. Problem solved. It won’t happen for two reasons. One, ideology and two, we are not an enlightened society.

3 The unedifying display of self-interest last week by our politicians highlighted, well to me at least, just how far removed from ordinary folk they are. I wonder if when they were deciding the best methodology of electing senators, just how many voters they consulted. It seems to me that when confronted with so many optional preferences on the form, and without having a clue who they are, we could still end up with some silly results.

But then, mission accomplished. Double Dissolution election 3 July.

4 This week’s Crikey Bludger Tracker (combined polls) has LNP on 52.2 and Labor on 48.8. Allowing for the margin of error, there’s nothing in it.

5 Still no sign of the report into Parliamentarians expenses. I wonder why?

My thought for the day.

There are males in my life whom I can say I really love because their goodness transcends self, and manifests itself in empathy towards others. To love someone of the same-sex is as normal as loving someone of the opposite sex because love has no gender. Indeed love is when there is an irresistible urge for the need of the affection of another and the irresistibility is of its nature mutual’ Gender has nothing to do with it.

 

Day to Day Politics: You probably won’t read this – it’s about Climate Change.

Thursday 17 March 2016

I have always believed Greg Hunt to be the second biggest liar, behind Abbott, in Australian Politics.

On Tuesday morning while driving my grandsons to school, Hunt was being interviewed on AM. The previous day it was announced that the average global surface temperature for February was 1.35°C warmer than the global average for the month between 1951-1980 — a margin that shattered the previous record of 1.14°C, which was set just one month earlier — and exceeded preliminary figures released earlier this month.

‘NASA dropped a bombshell of a climate report,’ wrote meteorologists Bob Henson and Dr. Jeff Masters, founder of the Weather Underground. February 2016 has soared past all rivals as the warmest seasonally adjusted month in more than a century of global record keeping.

On Q&A on Monday night Australia’s Chief Scientist empathized the seriousness of the latest data more or less suggesting that the battle is being lost.

Seemingly oblivious to the situation Hunt in his interview told repeated lies about our commitment to reducing emissions giving the impression that Australia is on top of everything when the fact we are not.

‘My best estimate is that we are unlikely as a nation ever to surpass [2005 levels] … In my best judgment, the advice, the information from the department, we reached peak emissions in 2005-06 … and the course of history to come for Australia is that we will continue to be below that figure.’

In saying this he is assuming that his monumentally condemned Direct Action will work.

There is not an economist, environmentalist, climate scientist or serious science writer who thinks that ‘Direct Action’ is the answer.

Lenore Taylor in the Guardian said:

‘Independent experts predict Australia’s emissions will almost certainly rise over that decade under current policies, which do not put limits on emission increases from industry, electricity generation or land-clearing. They were deeply sceptical of Hunt’s “peak emissions in 2005’ claim.

Hugh Grossman, the executive director of Reputex, said his company’s analysis of the government’s own data showed Australia’s emissions would continue to grow and that ‘there is no peak in sight’.

Malcolm Turnbull said this:

‘Now I think those are arguments that some of the supporters of the scheme take, but it obviously – if you want to have a long-term solution to abating carbon emissions and to achieve – if you want to have a long-term technique of cutting carbon emissions, you know, in a very substantial way to the levels that the scientists are telling us we need to do by mid-century to avoid dangerous climate change, then a direct action policy where the Government – where industry was able to freely pollute, if you like, and the Government was just spending more and more taxpayers’ money to offset it, that would become a very expensive charge on the budget in the years ahead.’

Donald Trump said this:

‘The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.’

Turnbull’s government is so serious about the issue that it has overseen the cutting of 350 positions in total from the CSIRO, mainly in the Oceans and Atmosphere division and the Land and Water division.

Despite the effect non action will have on our children and their children’s children we have a Prime Minister who despite knowing the truth of the matter places his own political future above the countries. What an absolute disgrace.

‘Are my fellow Australians intent on rewarding what has been by any measure a demonstrably bad government with another term of office? They should have a second thought.’

Scott Morrison said this:

‘The Government doesn’t run out with ill-conceived policies.’

Absolutely correct. It doesn’t run out with any.

2 The most recent documents released by the Australian Tax Office show that there were 55 people who had a reportable annual income of more than $1 million, but who managed to reduce their taxable income to zero. In total the untaxed 55 had incomes totaling more than $129 million, at an average of $2.35 million. But that was before they, or more correctly, their tax planners – went to work on reducing their liabilities. After various deductions, they reported a combined loss of $12.866 million.

Not bad, hey?

3 Regardless of what you may think individually about the merits of some of the Senate cross benches it cannot be denied that without them voting against it, Abbott’s universally condemned 2014 budget would now be doing its intended damage.

However, few would disagree that there is a need to change the voting system.

Yesterday a motion was introduced in the Australian Senate that would have seen an immediate vote on marriage equality in Parliament. Labor supported this motion.

There’s just one problem. The Greens voted against this motion – to bring on debate in the Senate on their own marriage equality bill.

Why did they do it? To rush through a deal with the Liberals on Senate voting reform which will see the Coalition have a better chance at controlling the Senate.

Penny Wong said it best today: ‘It’s an act of political cowardice unworthy of a party that used to be led by women and men of principle.’

It’s sad to see the Greens Party that marches under the banner of ‘Every vote, every time’ has decided to put its deal with the Liberals ahead of action on marriage equality.

Certainly, change the system to make it fairer but this attempt is just for self-advantage.

4 As I predicted the Essential Poll is unchanged from last week at 50/50. An interesting aside was their survey on Marriage Equality. The question was:

‘Do you think people of the same-sex should or should not be allowed to marry?’

64% agreed that people of the same-sex should be allowed to marry and 26% think they should not. This is the highest level of support for same-sex marriage recorded over the last 6 years.

Support for same-sex marriage is 62% among men and 67% among women. 76% of under 35’s support same-sex marriage – while those aged 65+ split 45% in favor and 41% against.

Just saved $160.000.000.

5 Andreas Schleicher, a world expert on education has criticised Australia’s education system for falling behind global standards.

Australia’s results have steadily declined over the past decade. Last year, Australia ranked 14th behind Poland, Germany and Vietnam, with up to 20% of students unable to demonstrate basic skills.

We know what to do about it but conservatives don’t believe in equality of opportunity.

6 A large portion of the Liberal Party are still dissatisfied with the Safe Schools program despite the findings by University of Western Australia Emeritus Professor Bill Louden saying that it was a ‘joke’, a ‘stitch up’ and a ‘fraud’.

The objectors were led by the usual conservative Christian protagonists including Bernardi, Christiansen and Abetz who are now threatening to instigate a committee enquiry. Will the PM step in and put a stop to it? Probably not, while he is captive to the right of his party.

This is the point.

The Safe Schools Coalition is aligned closely with the core purpose of schooling and that is to educate young people to understand this fundamental human right of feeling safe to be who you are… What the hell is wrong with that?

Students have a right to go to school without being afraid to be themselves. Teaching children to accept people for all their differences be they gay, trans, straight, white black, Christian Jew or Muslim is absolutely vital to their understanding of our multi-cultural society. School is one of the main building blocks of our society, it plays a huge role in shaping our future citizens.

The fact that in 2016 we are still having this conversation shows how much we have regressed.

My thought for the day.

‘The young are so busy discovering themselves, the world they live in and their place in it that they are apt to neglect the fact that it is they who are the custodians of tomorrow’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Your Taxes. Their Super.

Richard Denniss is Chief economist at The Australia Institute, a Canberra based policy think tank. He is an economist with a particular interest in the regulation of the environment and the labour market.) He often appears on the ABC s The Drum.

I asked Richard this question:

Is it correct that 40% of tax super offsets go to the top 10% of income earners?

Hi John, 35% of the benefit goes to the highest 5% of income earners.

Each year taxpayers contribute $27 billion to the so called ‘self funded retirement’ system. More than one third of that $27 billion goes to the highest 5% of income earners. According to the super industry it takes more than $50,000 per year, tax free, for retirees who own their own homes to retire ‘with dignity’, which is nice. But why are we spending tens of billions per year to help a minority retire in dignity when we are happy with the disabled, carers and those who are already retired without super to live on less than $20,000 per year.

My thought for the day.

‘Why is it we find such compelling reasons to treat each other badly?’

 

Day to Day Politics: Is the IPA getting its way?

Sunday March 13 2016

The Insidious Invasion of the IPA into Australian Politics, or Public Apathy and 75 Ideas to Make You Shudder.

The Institute of Public Affairs is a free market right-wing think tank that is funded by some of Australia’s major companies and is closely aligned to the Liberal Party.

In April 2013 it held its 70th Birthday Bash with Rupert Murdoch as its keynote speaker. Andrew Bolt was the Master of Ceremonies. Special guests included Gina Rinehart, Cardinal George Pell and many other conservative luminaries. A special address by then opposition leader Tony Abbott was a highlight.

The IPA put forward 75 proposals for a future Abbott government to consider. They were accompanied by an article titled: ‘Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia’ and attributed to John Roskam, Chris Berg and James Paterson.

Here is a short extract.

“If he wins government, Abbott faces a clear choice. He could simply overturn one or two symbolic Gillard-era policies like the carbon tax, and govern moderately. He would not offend any interest groups. In doing so, he’d probably secure a couple of terms in office for himself and the Liberal Party. But would this be a successful government? We don’t believe so. The remorseless drift to bigger government and less freedom would not halt, and it would resume with vigor when the Coalition eventually loses office. We hope he grasps the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the political culture and stem the assault on individual liberty.”

In his speech Abbott acknowledged the Institute’s input into LNP policy and took the opportunity to commit to a whole raft of big promises to radically change the culture and political landscape of Australia.

“I want to assure you,” he said, “that the Coalition will indeed repeal the carbon tax, abolish the department of climate change, and abolish the Clean Energy Fund. We will repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, at least in its current form. We will abolish new health and environmental bureaucracies. We will deliver $1 billion in red-tape savings every year. We will develop northern Australia. We will repeal the mining tax. We will create a one-stop shop for environmental approvals. We will privatise Medibank Private. We will trim the public service and we will stop throwing good money after bad on the NBN.”

True to his word he made a decent hole in the list. He stopped subsidies to the car industry, eliminated (partly) Family Tax Benefits, destroyed the ABC’s Australia network, abandoned poker machine reform, and negotiated free trade deals with Japan, South Korea, China and India. Albeit without much detail. The NBN is now nothing like what was originally intended or needed.

An observation.

‘The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow’.

It doesn’t end there. He might not have abolished the Human Rights Commission, but has cut $1.65 million from its budget. It refused to renew the position of its disability commissioner and without due process appointed one of the IPAs own in Tim Wilson as a commissioner. (Since departed) Attorney-General George Brandis has flagged an intention to “further reform” the HRC.

The Australian National Preventive Health Agency also went and the food, alcohol and tobacco companies fell over with gratitude.

The IPA, not content with its list of 75 has added a further 25 items for the government’s consideration. They may not get them all, but the big fish is the institute’s desire to have all media ownership laws eliminated, for example, along with the relevant regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and requirements put in place that radio and TV broadcasts be “balanced”.

The then communications minister Malcolm Turnbull sought to change the media rules with the likely outcome: more concentration in Australia’s media, already the most concentrated and least diverse in the developed world. More influence for the IPA and Rupert Murdoch.

It makes you wonder just who is governing. The government or the IPA. Or, it at the very least, brings into question the influence lobby groups have over governments. Particularly extreme right think tanks like the IPA who seem only to exist for the benefit of big business, the rich and the privileged.

In a lifetime of following politics in this country I have never known the electorate to be in such a political malaise. A non-caring, non-knowing apathy seems to have gripped the nation. The polls tell us that a large portion of the population supports a government that is performing incompetently with a leader equally doing so.

John Howard said that people these days care little for ideology. He is correct. The undecided 10% that once decided elections has expanded to 20%. People just want good policy that represents the common good.

People need to remember that the isms, be it Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism, Conservatism, Liberalism or Communism are only economic THEORIES! They are nothing more than words written on paper. They are not active and they do nothing. Each theory is neither good nor bad. Each theory is ultimately what the people make of them. Democracy is nothing more than a theory. Our constitution is nothing more or nothing less than what we make of it.

The US Constitution and Bill of Rights have no authority. They are nothing more than what the American people make of them. When, because of our apathy we choose to ignore and neglect our government it is easily influenced by self-interest groups like the IPA- to serve their own purposes and there is nothing that says that those who come to manage the government must be ethical, moral, or responsible to the people. When good people neglect their government they are then governed by lesser people. We then end up with the government we deserve.

In an article I wrote just prior to Abbott’s election I said this:

’I am in fact absolutely frightened, no petrified by the prospect that he might win and the devastation he might create with his inane personality, his reliance on lobbyists and right-wing think tanks to form policy. Also on his Catholicism and the mediocre minds of his shadow cabinet cohort’.

The rest of course is history and now we are confronted with a government led by a leader who is not his own man with all Abbott’s IPA inspired policies. A government that has lurched so far to the right that it is in dander of falling from a flat earth mindset.

The 75 IPA Ideas to send a shiver down your spine.

I had intended to comment on some of the individual proposals but on reflection thought it best to allow the reader to draw his or her own conclusions and comment if they so desire. The best advice I can give is to be seated while reading. A shot of whiskey might also help.

This of course is not to say that some don’t have merit.

1 Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.

2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change

3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund

4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act

5 Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council

6 Repeal the renewable energy target

7 Return income taxing powers to the states

8 Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission

9 Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

10 Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol

11 Introduce fee competition to Australian universities

12 Repeal the National Curriculum

13 Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums

14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’

16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law

17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations

18 Eliminate family tax benefits

19 Abandon the paid parental leave scheme

20 Means-test Medicare

21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

22 Introduce voluntary voting

23 End mandatory disclosures on political donations

24 End media blackout in final days of election campaigns

25 End public funding to political parties

26 Remove anti-dumping laws

27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions

28 Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board

29 Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency

30 Cease subsidising the car industry

31 Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction

32 Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games

33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books

34 End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws

35 Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP

36 Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit

37 Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database

38 Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food

39 Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities

40 Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools

41 Repeal the alcopops tax

42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:

  1. a) Lower personal income tax for residents
  2. b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
  3. c) Encourage the construction of dams

43 Repeal the mining tax

44 Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states

45 Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold

46 Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent

47 Cease funding the Australia Network

48 Privatise Australia Post

49 Privatise Medibank

50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function

51 Privatise SBS

52 Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784

53 Repeal the Fair Work Act

54 Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them

55 Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors

56 Abolish the Baby Bonus

57 Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant

58 Allow the Northern Territory to become a state

59 Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16

60 Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade

61 Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States

62 End all public subsidies to sport and the arts

63 Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport

64 End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering

65 Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification

66 Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship

67 Means test tertiary student loans

68 Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement

69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built

70 End all government funded Nanny State advertising

71 Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling

72 Privatise the CSIRO

73 Defund Harmony Day

74 Close the Office for Youth

75 Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

‘The left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is concerned with those who can.’

 

Day to Day Politics: the Gospel according to Craig

A departure from my usual post today. Craig Emerson is a Facebook friend and posted this last week. A witty piece of satire indeed. Hope you enjoy.

Friday March 11 2016

A Biblical, satirical piece of mine about the capturing of the tax reform debate by vested interests – the money changers. For those brethren who prefer to cut to the proverbial chase, go straight to the final two verses of the reading.

The second coming…

As commentators attack Prime Minister Turnbull for squibbing bold tax reform and he attacks Bill Shorten for proposing a sensible reform of his own, the public discourse on tax policy has fallen apart. The centre cannot hold against the anarchy being loosed upon the world by the worst – the money changers – full, as they are, of passionate intensity. Everywhere the endeavour of the innocents who offer dispassionate analysis is drowned in a blood-dimmed tide.

While comparing the corruption of the tax reform debate by vested interests with the end of civilisation prophesised by Yeats after the Great War might be slightly melodramatic, it is true that a barrage has been loosed against innocents who simply ask what is best for our country. Defenders of privilege load up their economic models as they would huge howitzers – Big Berthas – bombarding defenseless reformers with explosive findings: it is the working poor who will suffer from closing down tax shelters, not the privileged.

During the apocalyptic second coming of tax reform after the Abbott government’s failure, our freshly anointed leader was confronted by a vast image appearing in the sky out of Spiritus Mundi – a spirit world of images and symbols available only to the most perceptive, such as poets and highly intelligent prime ministers. It was the GST. And it was endowed with mystical qualities: it could pay for cuts in income taxes that would transform the nation into a land of milk and honey, free of famine, pestilence, earthquakes and even locusts.

But the image in the sky troubled the prime minister – and more so his predecessor’s loyal foot soldiers – so he instructed the high priests of the Treasury to inquire further into these mystical powers. With the patience of Job, the prime minister awaited the high priests’ findings. He need not have done so. Half a year ago the high priests of the Treasury had released a scripture titled Understanding the economy-wide efficiency and incidence of major Australian taxes (Isaiah 61:1 “The Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor”). The high priests estimated that the fabled tax-mix switch would produce one litre of milk, no honey and a plague of locusts.

Be-plagued by locusts, the prime minister was handed the scripture 31 days after the most recent celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. He promptly declared the mystical being the shadow of death into whose valley he had no intention of walking. Every money changer in the land and the media scribes and Pharisees attacked the prime minister for this wise decision to dismiss the mystical being in the sky. In his anger, the prime minister expelled the money changers from the temple and enunciated the seven woes of the scribes and Pharisees.

Having been led once into the valley of the shadow of death by the scribes, Pharisees and money changers, the prime minister appears to have become spooked by them. He has turned to attacking his rival, Brother Shorten, who wants to use the proceeds of lower subsidies on the rental incomes the money changers receive on their holdings of houses, apartments and temples to improve the life chances of the meek. Behold, it is the meek who will suffer at the hands of Brother Bill, warns the prime minister.

Yet frightening those who hunger and thirst for righteousness is not in the prime minister’s nature. When the anointed one succeeded his predecessor, his flock looked to him as their shepherd, willing him to lead them and trusting in him to know the way and, ideally, the truth and the light. But now, as the anointed one seeks to fend off his predecessor’s efforts at a second coming, the prime minister risks remaking himself in his predecessor’s own image and likeness.

If ours is to be the land of opportunity where the poor in spirit are given a chance, we must fund their education. If we are to comfort those who mourn, we must support them through hard times. If we are to end domestic violence and persecution, if we are to make peace on earth, then we must pay taxes to finance these noble endeavours. Caring for the sick, the frail and the elderly obliges us to be merciful, to be pure of heart. The people of our great nation are merciful, they are good-hearted and they are willing to pay their fair share in taxes to support those who need a helping hand. So let’s appeal to the better angels of the Australian people instead of promising them tax cuts to be handed down by the spirit in the sky.

Craig Emerson.

My thought for the day.

‘Religion in many ways is akin to Politics in so much as it believes that telling the truth isn’t necessarily in its best interests’.

Day to Day Politics: Gutless leadership.

  • Thursday 10 March 2016

1 I have been writing daily about Malcolm Turnbull’s takeover of the Liberal Party leadership. Anyone who follows my writing will attest to me at first embracing him as a new light on the hill. I said that Australians would be eternally grateful to him for removing the greatest liar of a politician the country had endured. He would bring a new era of reasoned political discourse.

For the ensuring five months it became apparent that despite his eloquent, articulate and grandiose statements, he had no plan, no economic reform agenda and his only motive has been one of self-interest. There was nothing to reasonably debate.

Some said I was overreacting and he just needed more time. Well I’m pleased that yesterday one of their own in former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett said it like it is.

Jeff, whether you liked him or not could never be accused of holding back. I got to ask him a question at a function many years ago. I asked him why he was going to an election when there was no reason to do so. His answer was a lie but forcefully put.

Anyhow, this is what he had to say about Malcolm Turnbull during a 2UE radio interview on Wednesday:

‘When they changed leaders, I thought we were in for a period of government, a period of stability, a period in which policy was going to be enunciated.’

‘This talk about an early election is an indication, sadly, that the government does not have a plan for the future of the country and they are trying, I think, to use this talk of a double dissolution, an early election, simply to cover up their own failings.’

Mr Kennett said the Prime Minister ‘did not have any plan at all’ when he took the leadership ‘for his own self-interest’.

He added that Turnbull had received much public goodwill in taking over the leadership but had squandered it with his failure to create a narrative when the public was ‘craving good leadership’.

‘What they can’t stand is vacillation where politicians don’t have the courage, in this case in my opinion, to put the interests of the country well before their own and their own party’.

He went on to say that he had failed to stand by his beliefs on negative gearing and same-sex marriage:

‘We don’t need a plebiscite on this. We don’t need to waste another $139 million on a vote. If Malcolm had any courage, he would have simply stood up and said ‘I’m going to put this through the Parliament.’ What he’s saying now: ‘This decision, this policy position was decided by Tony Abbott and we’re going to stay with it,’ he said.

‘There’s a good example of where Malcolm set himself apart from Tony Abbott and yet, when he took on the leadership, he hid behind Tony’s clothes and did not have the courage of his conviction and that applies right across the board.’

Nothing different in all that than what I have been saying for some time. At the risk of repeating myself the fact is that he never had any policy to bring to the table, nor the conviction of his own beliefs. We have a ‘yes’ man, a hypocrite doing what he is told to by the extremists in his party.

2 The total absurdity of the Government’s Asylum seeker deal with Cambodia is revealed with a married Iranian couple who were once refugees on Nauru deciding to return to Iran. The deal has cost $55 million so far. Put that together with the $160 million for a nonsensical plebiscite and you have $215 million of taxpayer’s money being wasted on bad decisions. Now it doesn’t take much imagination to know what could be done with those sorts of dollars.

Their inability to secure alternative resettlement arrangements means that those in detention may remain so for the rest of their lives. No, I’m not joking.

3 A reader yesterday asked if I could give an overview of The Australian newspapers contents because it’s behind a paywall. Well I don’t read it for the same reason. I’ll have a stab at it though.

One headline refers to the election date but it’s not news because it seems that the PM is confused himself. Another asks the question ‘Will Windsor Challenge?’ The answer to that is that we will know today. Recent polls in New England suggest Windsor would give it a great shake. Wouldn’t it be great if his brain replaced that of Barnaby Joyce? The Parliament would be a better place.

Yet another headline – ‘Pull Libs out of Ice Age’ – refers to the right of the party insisting on a series of debates on Climate Change insisting that the science isn’t settled.

Conversely, The Guardian reported it like this:

‘Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has reportedly been heckled by parts of his party at a meeting where NSW Liberals voted for his government to conduct public debates about climate change and whether the science is settled.’

‘An overwhelming majority voted in favour of the motion at the party’s state council meeting on the NSW central coast following a speech by Mr Turnbull at the weekend, revealing the persisting level of climate change scepticism among the party, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.’

I know it’s hard to believe, but there it is.

An observation. A repeated one.

In terms of the environment. I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today’.

There is another headline about the ‘Risks mounting in poll timing’ another ‘PM might be in for a tough ride’ yet another talking about Turnbull’s confusion about the date of the poll and its effect on the budget.

All in all The Australian wasn’t its usual biased self.

4 I have also been warning about the public unrest a plebiscite on Marriage Equality might bring. Now I wouldn’t normally find myself on the same page as Alan Jones but he said this.

‘That means there must be a case presented for and against,” he said. “It could be angry and spiteful and divisive, the last thing we need. Many Australians have suffered enough as a result of their sexuality.’

5 Greens members who often comment on this blog must feel utterly betrayed with their party jumping into bed with the Conservatives. They joined the Greens because Labor wasn’t left enough and now the party is doing deals with the right.

DiNatale said this:

‘We are the natural home of progressive mainstream Australian voters…’

Is he saying that conservatives are progressive? Never heard such a thing. Is it all a hoax?

My thought for the day

‘On the NBN. The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow’.

PS I have it on good authority that the fixer has privately lobbied a broadcaster to help stop independent senator Nick Xenophon from running a candidate in his seat.

 

Day to Day Politics: ‘Shambolic’ – I cannot think of a better word.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

1 One would have thought that after Tony Abbott was disposed of, the good government that we were promised so often might have actually occurred. It hasn’t. Malcolm Turnbull, with fine words, promised a new beginning and the public believed him. Words like reason, transparency, rational debate and policy explanation.

Two events over the past days in part explain that we have had a dysfunctional government for two and a half years. Not just dysfunctional, but incompetent. A first blush overview of Niki Savva’s book reveals a Prime Minister totally under the influence of a control freak with an intimidating disposition. Someone with an obsessive personality that borders on the pathological.

However, nothing demonstrates the absurdity of this government more than George Brandis’s announcement of a plebiscite on Marriage Equality before Christmas. When I first heard it I immediately assumed, I think as Brandis did, a July election, because the AEO had said that they needed 6 months to organise it. It would be impossible to have one if the election were to be in August/September and the voters would be upset, let alone the cost, if they had to go back to the polls a second time.

Why not have the Plebiscite at the same time as the election and save $160 million. Then, as the afternoon wore on and Turnbull’s office began retracting, it became manifestly clear that chaos was the order of the day.

Has Brandis put his foot in it? I think he has. I don’t think they have a policy on Marriage Equality other than to delay and delay.

Everything about this government points to a shambolic cabinet who haven’t the faintest idea what they are doing. Credlin controlled Abbott, the far right controls Turnbull. Turnbull has no authority and no guts for decision-making.

All he can offer is that the government was committed to holding the plebiscite ‘as soon after the election as can be done’.

Only a government in disarray could make an announcement before lunch and take it off the table prior to dinner. What a shambles.

An observation.

‘The secret of change is to focus all your energy on not fighting the old but on building the new’.

2 The revelations in Savva’s book ‘Road to Ruin’ are truly astonishing and deserve the country’s attention. Abbott often said that if our democracy was under threat it was because of the people who occupy government from time to time. He meant Labor of course, but he might have been looking in a mirror when he said it.

In the recipe of good leadership one of the vital ingredients is delegation. Having the confidence in one’s underlings to make decisions. The control Credlin imposed on the PMs Office leaves one’s head spinning. From foreign affairs to office decorations. Stuff that you wouldn’t experience in the biggest companies’ boardrooms. Even a quick scan of the accusations in her book make for astonishing reading.

It may not have been an affair in the conventional sense we understand, but it was a most unusual political one to say the least. One that could always be viewed with scandalous observation.

Tony Abbott’s response was to say: ‘The best response to this book is in the objective record of the Abbott government’.

An empty, highly debatable response at that. The problems of the Abbott Government didn’t start in Government but in Opposition where blind negativity was the order of the day replacing policy development. That’s where the dysfunctionality begun. He thought that just gaining office would put everything right.

The disclosure that it was Joe Hockey, now our Ambassador to the US, who broke a valuable marble table fills me with disgust. As does the instruction to Bishop not to apologise over the cost of a chopper.

Everyone with meagre political observational skills noted that Margie was only ever trotted out in crisis situations.

An observation.

In the recipe of good leadership there are many ingredients. Popularity is but one. It, however, ranks far below getting things done for the common good’.

3 Eight Coalition and 8 retiring Labor MPs are set to qualify for Parliamentary Pensions and most will be paid a minimum of $118,125.00 – or 75 per cent of a current MP’s base salary for superannuation purposes of $157,500.00.

Why don’t the sheeple protest?

4 Meanwhile in the US. ‘Only in the US,’ Donald Trump, in scenes reminiscent of a Hitler rally, asked, no demanded, that thousands of people at a rally swear an oath of allegiance. And they did. It was a scene that people of my vintage thought we might never experience again.

‘I do solemnly swear that I, no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there are hurricanes or whatever, will vote on or before the 12th for Donald J Trump for president.’

5 After last week’s embarrassing debacle over Negative Gearing you might have thought that The Australian might leave the chill of those waters behind for a while. But no, yesterday’s headline read: ‘Labor’s crackdown on negative gearing ‘a threat to small business’.

6 Peter Costello has warned against changes to Negative Gearing, Superannuation, and Capital Gains Tax. In fact he has urged Scott Morrison to maintain the generously immoral superannuation and tax arrangements of his tenure for the rich and privileged.

On the evidence thus far the Government never had a reform policy in the first place. They just needed something to talk about. Something they are good at.

7 I think I will stop here. I’m becoming very depressed of late about the way in which we are governed. The disrespect that we are treated with. The incompetence. Government for self; abounds. There is a stench about it that is contributing to the way I feel.

I wrote last week that this mob has degrees from the world’s finest learning institutions dripping from the walls of their parliamentary offices but all the learning seems unsuitable for good governance. The problem is that that conservative ideology and practical common sense just don’t mix.

I’m not sure that I want to read ‘Road to Ruin’ but I probably will. What seems to give the book integrity and is compelling about Niki Savva’s writing, is the number of sources who have gone on the record.

My thought for the day.

‘A commitment to social justice demands the transformation of social structures as well as our hearts and minds’.

 

A dirty deal to drown out our inner voice

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”  Steve Jobs, 2005

Voices, opinions and narrative shape a society in a free democracy.  This is a crucial underlying construct of our ‘Australian Culture.’  It is one of the essential freedoms we enjoy as a country. Our voices, my voice, your voice shapes us.

The right to use our voice to protest. The right to use our voice to use social media  and other platforms to speak up loudly for or against issues. The right for journalists to report on sensitive issues and to criticise the Government. The right to nominate as a voice in our parliament and the right to vote for that voice.

Sometimes debate in our country is a lovely, manicured clear pathway and sometimes our debate is a thick forest with bruising scrub, dry arid land, harsh conditions, thorns that cut and grab and where we have to step around snakes with fear and angst.

However, it is our inner voice which allows us to block out the loud opinions of others and look up above that noise to the wisest of owls who will guide us out, beyond the snakes and to the other side to a place of peace and tranquility.

Every single person’s landscape of peace and tranquility is not the same. Some will find that peace in a conservative landscape, an authoritarian landscape, a socialist landscape, a (small l) liberal landscape or a libertarian landscape. For some people, depending on the issue at hand, they might find they have unfolded their deckchair and soaked up the sun in different landscapes over time.  For example, some may sit in the socialist landscape for worker’s rights, but will also sit in the punitive and conservative landscape to advocate for the death penalty.

There are also some people who don’t fight through harsh scrub and snakes, they have no wise owl to guide them to their landscape, they are trapped forever in a 70’s disco doing ‘The Shrug’ to the tune of ‘meh, meh, meh, meh, meh.’ Sometimes they might reach out and take a few steps down the easy manicured path of debate, but you will never get them near the forest.

Sadly, today, there are still many loud voices which drown out the opinions of those in minority groups who are suffering from harm. More and more people look to the wise-owl of their inner voice, to guide them and set themselves down in the landscape of the minorities in solidarity and that is a good thing, because it is so important that these voices are the loud and heard.

I do not support the argument that the only voices we should have in our parliament are the Independent voices and that the parliament would be better without the major parties.

I do not believe a parliament of independents is the panacea to some of the issues we have in parliament today. There are only so many frames of political ideology and to have the necessary legitimate and at times coercive power, blocs would be formed, representing that ideology.

The theories which explain power in relationships and politics are complex. Power can see people struggle over finite resources, some have the ability to use referent power, some can use power to make other’s dependent upon them and some can use coercive power. A party of Independent MPs or Senators is not the nice walk down the manicured path, some believe it to be.

What I strongly advocate for, is that all citizens should have the freedom to vote for a party who has either a solid platform they agree with, or a vote for an independent voice, which may take a myriad of conflicting positions.

My strongest argument is for informed voting. Although I am not a supporter of the Liberal party, I would prefer to see a voter vote conservative/LNP who has a truly informed conservative position they align with. They are informed and fully understand the damage that this party’s ideology and policies will do to certain groups of people, how their authoritarian nature will aim to suppress our voices and that they favour punitive measures above all else. I support that this voter is comfortable with being a bastard and owns it and wears it on their sleeve with pride.

I would rather this than just voting because of the aesthetical appeal of an individual politician, or they find a slogan catchy, without knowing what that party or person is really about. I want to turn the music off at the “Meh, meh, meh” disco and fill the disco full of owls to be followed right out of there.

I argue strongly for this, because this is critical in shaping who we really are. The voices who end up on the other side of power (whomever that may be), end up battling through the forest and/or sitting in solidarity with groups of minorities.  They know their collective needs to grow stronger and their voices need to be more persuasive and louder. This enables robust debate and shapes our country. This is important as we do not want to just stretch out on a deckchair and catch a few rays in our ideal landscapes, but to build a house on it for life.

In the debate of democratic voting, the majority of people have built their house on the landscape of democracy. The Greens, the Xenophon party and The Liberals want to knock down our democratic houses. They have done a dirty deal to silence the voices of the independents in the Senate.  They are essentially forming a bloc on this issue to use legitimate power to drown out the inner voices who sit in their landscape and in solidarity with the Independents.

The Greens, the Xenophon party and the Liberals want to knock down your house of democracy by relying on the voters who are bopping away to “The Shrug” to the tune of “meh, meh, meh, meh.” This is the key to their success and the key to suppressing the independent voice.

Bill Shorten’s Labor is sitting in solidarity in the Independent’s landscape of democracy.

As a member of the Labor party, I am glad that this is where my party sits, as it is where I would be sitting regardless.

I will end this article, not with my own conclusion of why this is so wrong, but I will leave you with a must watch video of Anthony Albanese speaking out against the changes to the Senate Voting system. I hope that the voice in this video, encourages you speak up against these voting reforms with your pen on election day.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRnHSZsiKfc&w=560&h=315]

Originally posted on Polyfeministix

Day to Day Politics: Tax reform cannot be done because the rich might suffer

Saturday 27 February 2016

Never in the history of this nation have corporations, rich individuals, and the Government that supports them, been so openly brazen. The Australian Tax system is absolutely riddled with rorts for corporations and the privileged.

The Abbott/Turnbull Government has shown an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. Ideology and governance for their supporters has determined every decision they have made since coming to power.

But ordinary Australians, those who believe in a fair go, recently have, by virtue of a factual avalanche of evidence, come to realise the extent of the unfair pampering that this government is giving the top end of town and wealthy individuals.

Yet it’s the pensioners, the unemployed and welfare recipients who are being asked to tighten their belts in the public interest.

The recent Senate enquiry into the amount of tax that giant corporations like Apple, Google Transfield, Ikea and others pay in this country has opened the eyes of the average Australian who during an extended period of affluence have had them closed. Now with clear vision they can see the unfairness of it all. In fact there is more than just a perception of anger. There is palpable wrath.

Unfair was the word that so characterized Hockey’s first budget. A budget framed on the pretext that Labor had stuffed the economy and that a crisis of monumental proportion was about to hit. Repair had to take place, he would do it, and the poor pensioners and others would bare the brunt.

It’s a pity the Abbott/Turnbull compassion starved Government didn’t have the same fervor for cutting tax avoidance by the rich and privileged as it does for cutting welfare for the poor.

Remember Joe was a treasurer who took advantage of Negative Gearing for the privileged by paying off homes with his living away from home parliamentary expenses.

And while he and Abbott blamed Labor for the country’s woes Joe was busy adding $45 billion to the country’s debt. And it will probably be much more by the time of the next budget.

Morrison is now faced with presenting a third budget while at the same time major cost savings from his first still have not passed the Senate. It would not surprise if he has the gall to carry over the savings. Surely that must be fiddling the books.

The problem for Morrison is that ideology forbids the raising of new taxes. It is anathema to them. And of course further cuts to health, education and welfare would be unpalatable by the electorate.

Turnbull’s grandiose talk, when attaining power about tax reform has petered out to nothing. It was all just talk and will result in some tinkering at the edges. The Superannuation rorts will continue unabated and funded by the taxpayer.

This quote by Scott Morrison is indicative of the Governments disdain for the concept of fairness and governance for the common good:

‘I know the business community wants to see the budget come back into balance ; well if that’s the case I would like to see them out there supporting the changes to family tax benefits, the changes to retirement savings that we put in place in the last budget’.

The word ‘unfairness’ has struck a lingering chord with the electorate. They are now asking questions. Why does the Treasurer and the Prime Minister lie so much about the economy?

Why are they so unable to tackle tax reform in a way that is fair and equal for all Australians? It’s simple really. All of the taxes where a substantial difference could be made happen to be in areas where the rich and privileged are advantaged with taxpayers funds.

Why are fabulously wealthy international corporations able to manipulate the tax system to the extent where they virtually pay no tax at all? And when they are asked to explain why, mock, laugh and act deplorably toward their Senate inquisitors.

Their collective belligerence is sickening to the average PAYE Taxpayer and the many Australian based companies who do the right thing.

Why is it, according to the Australian Tax Office, that 75 Australians who made more than $1 million in 2011-12 paid zero tax?

Why is it that 900 companies so effectively claim deductions that they only pay a tax rate of 19.3%?

Why is it that high income earners are given a tax discount on their superannuation which means they effectively pay 15% less tax? The unfairness of it is staggering, but understandable if you look at the Abbott/Turnbull government’s ideological approach to its decision-making processes since being elected.

It is now faced with explaining to taxpayers, in its budget, just why tax reform is unattainable and why the less well-off should subsidise these unjustifiable and immoral tax breaks. In the next few years they will be costing as much as the pension.

There is a consensus that the current concessions to wealthier retirees are unsustainable and unfair. Unfair because the poor are being asked to pay for them.

Official government data shows that 24,000 of the richest superannuation holders each with more than $2 million in their accounts receive about $5.2 billion in tax-free income annually. And that’s not all, a further 51,700 retirees with $1 million to $2 million in their accounts receive $4.9 billion tax-free. It’s a legacy of the decision of the Howard–Costello government in 2006 to scrap taxes on retirement income from superannuation.

Why is it that the taxpayer is subsidising enormously profitable mining companies who send their profits overseas and pay little tax themselves?

Richard Dennis director of leftish think tank The Australia Institute states that over the past 6 years, state mining subsidies could have delivered:

 Queensland: $9.5 billion, or 9 major hospitals

  • Western Australia: $6.2 billion or 52 new airport terminals
  • New South Wales: $872 million or 116 new schools
  • Northern Territory: $407 million or 799 doctors
  • South Australia: $316 million or 620 nurses
  • Victoria: $206 million or 377 police
  • Tasmania: $54 million or 116 teachers

The Federal Government throws in an additional $4 billion which includes:

$1,900 million in fuel subsidies

$550 million in reduced tax payments for the gas industry’s production of condensate

$368 million on tax write-offs for capital works

$330 million on deductions for exploration and prospecting

$312 million in accelerated depreciation write-offs.

Significantly, this is likely to be an underestimate as it does not include State subsidies (the Queensland Government alone is spending $1.4 billion each year in subsidies to the mining industry) or sweeteners like fringe benefits tax exemptions, benefits from publically-funded infrastructure projects.

Why is it that our taxation laws are so open to exploitation that you could drive the proverbial truck through them? Here is a list of schemes the rich and the privileged are always exploiting.

Why is it that Negative Gearing and Capital Gains Tax which so disenfranchises first home buyers isn’t subject to some review by the Coalition? For political expediency they seem to have wiped their hands of it. Labor has done it. Perhaps it’s because many politicians, use it as an investment contrivance to minimise tax.

A recent ACOSS report said that over half of the benefit of “negative gearing” deductions goes to the top 10 per cent of personal taxpayers, earning more than $100,000 a year. Eliminating negative gearing would save 1billion and make it easier for new home buyers to enter the market.

There are any number of methods available to the privileged of society to avoid paying tax. John Howard was cynically nicknames ‘’honest John’’ during his tenure as treasurer for not dealing with the Bottom of the Harbour schemes of the 1980s.

Of course they are not confined to just a couple of schemes. They have a five-star menu. There’s sure to be something on the capitalistic menu from which to choose. Tax havens, Family Trusts. Profit shifting, Asset shifting.

Alas we live in a failed system. Capitalism does not allow for an equitable flow of economic resources. With this system a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.

So why does all this tax dodging arise? Well on the one hand you might say that people or corporations are simply taking advantage of laws that enable them to do so. On the other hand you might also say that it is pure greed. Greed of the most lamentable kind

My thought for the day.

‘Never have the rich been so openly brazen’.

 

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