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Tag Archives: Lucy Wicks

An open letter to Andrew Laming

Andrew Laming (Image from theguardian.com)

Andrew Laming (Image from theguardian.com)

Following Kaye Lee’s article, “To my local member” where she provided an exposé of the number of questionable statements by Lucy Wicks (Federal Member for Robertson), AIMN reader Bill Mavropoulos finds that much of Andrew Laming’s (Federal Member for Bowman) recent statements on a range of issues also need to be further examined. Bill writes as follows:

Dear Mr Andrew Laming,

I write to you regarding your recent video presentation on the guardian website published on 26 June 2014. The presentation attempts to explain the Coalition government’s most recent Federal Budget. To avoid doubt the URL for this presentation is as follows:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/jun/26/andrew-laming-budget-whiteboard-video?CMP=soc_567

This seems to be an attempt to counter Anthony Albanese’s video published 14 May 2014 as follows:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/may/14/albo-explains-the-budget-video

The number of misleading statements, omissions and inaccuracies littered throughout your presentation was startling. I felt that it was incumbent on someone from the Australian public to deal with the more glaringly omissions, misleading statements and falsehoods.

Saving $550 from the Carbon Tax and Mining Tax repeal

When the Carbon Tax was introduced, it had a number of tax concessions attached to it that negated its economic effect on the majority of the Australian population.

Furthermore, Labor’s official policy was to move from a fixed price on Carbon to a floating Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from 1 July 2014. The cost of this scheme on an average household if it is removed from that date is actually estimated at $134 annually compared to this policy (see the ABC Fact Check here). The current law is there because you refuse to have a sensible policy to combat climate change.

The statement in your presentation is a blatant misrepresentation of the difference between the Coalition’s policy and that of the previous government.

In your presentation you mention that the Mining Tax will contribute to this $550 saving per household. This is not just misleading and deceptive, it is a blatant lie. In fact consequential amendments that are buried at the back of the MRRT repeal law will remove the schoolkids bonus, small business tax concessions and concessions for superannuation for low income taxpayers.

This means that, taking these measures together, the net effect of removing these measures will leave an average household worse off rather than better off (as you assert). This takes into consideration the large majority of mining companies are foreign owned. Thus repealing the Mining Tax puts money back in Gina and Co’s pockets (because they get out of paying this tax) by taking it out of ordinary Australian’s pockets, by removing these tax concessions aimed at poor and middle Australia.

This part of your presentation was personally the most offensive.

$50 Billion infrastructure investment

This investment was outlined and explained by Anthony Albanese in his video (linked above). Albanese explained clearly in his well-made and factually correct presentation the make-up of all previously proposed infrastructure spending by Labor. He then went on to explain how the Coalition removed and reallocated large amounts of rail infrastructure to fund big ticket road projects that look good during an election campaign but don’t actually address systemic problems in transport infrastructure.

Transport infrastructure accessibility disproportionately impacts younger and lower income families who generally live further away from large metropolitan centers. The rail infrastructure is less adequately developed the further out from these centers you go. Households in this position are reliant on only one mode of transport. This does two things:

  1. Makes these people reliant on motor vehicles that are subject to increasing cost pressures from the increase in fuel excise you are imposing, increased registration costs that the States have been forced to impose because of cuts you have made to their funding and general increased costs of fuel and maintenance, and
  2. Devalues the property prices of homes in these areas in comparison to areas that are closer to an urban center and also have more than one mode of transport accessible.

What this does Andrew Laming, is create a significant social risk in these places. The measure entrenches inequality by effectively creating ghettos with little or no social mobility because these people will pay a disproportionate amount on transport cost while being subject to a reduced increase in the value of their main asset, their home.

Loan for Apprentices was originally just government grant

The loan to apprentices you mentioned actually replaces a cut of a tool grant of $5,500. The Budget itself anticipates savings of $914.6 million from cutting the tool grant measure. However, despite the measure being linked to the $20,000 loan scheme you did not mention it in your presentation.

This $20,000 loan scheme you spruiked is estimated by that same Budget to cost $439 million. This means the net economic loss to Apprentices from these measures is in the order of $457.6 million.

That you had the gall to smile and tell apprentices they will be better off in your presentation while ripping close to half a billion dollars away from them is frankly appalling.

Hospital Funding indexation

The claim that hospital funding is boosted by certain percentages over the next four years again is not the full story, Andrew Laming. It does not outline the fact that due to changes to funding arrangements the government in its Budget estimates it will save $1.8 Billion of funding from Public hospitals in terms of how the increases are calculated. (Let alone the other cuts to health that are not mentioned)

In short you do not outline that although hospital funding will still go up, it will not go up by as much as originally slated due to a cut to the rates of funding originally envisaged.

Education Funding

The Coalition is increasing education funding by partially adopting the Labor Party’s Gonski funding model. However you say nothing about the Coalition government’s refusal to fund this model fully beyond the forward estimate period.

Further to this, due to changes to indexation and deregulation the costs of obtaining a higher education degree will actually skyrocket. This is coupled with changes to the allocation of the funding that essentially stymie the benefits flowing from Gonski entirely.

$7 Co-Payment and Medical Research Future Fund

The statement that this measure supports the Healthcare system in your presentation is ludicrous. Firstly, introduction of the co-payment will clearly necessitate additional administrative costs borne by doctors that will ultimately need to be passed on to patients. In the shorter term this means increased health care costs for the same or worse level of service.

Further to this any savings generated by Health measures in the Budget are to be allocated to a dedicated medical research fund not into the Medicare system that pays for these health services. Therefore in the medium term the Healthcare system is being deprived of the benefits of this additional funding to alleviate the difference between revenue collected for health and the relevant expenditure.

In the long term, investment in the specialised Medical Research Fund has been criticised by experts. The nature of research and development is very complex. Often completely different areas of research result in the creation of medical applications. These other areas of research are being cut by your budget (think CSIRO). The money collected may therefore not be used as effectively as it otherwise would have been by say, allocating it to a broader range of research activities through established funding mechanisms.

This ‘oversight’ is perhaps as a direct result of the Coalition not having a Science Minister who understands that by creating silos of funding for research you may actually be undermining the long term sustainability of the system.

Full income replacement – Having a child

The statement that the full income of a parent will be replaced when they have a child is outrageously incorrect. I do however love the comment you made along the lines of ‘everyone is happy’ because their full wage gets replaced. Note that; the latest statement in relation to this policy is that the maximum payment to a parent over six months will be capped at $50,000.

Furthermore, this payment is not asset or income tested and so because it replaces income up to this cap it acts to effectively redistributes economic benefit from lower income earners to higher income earners.

I believe from watching this part of your video that you either have a dangerous lack of understanding in relation to how this measure works or are trying to deliberately mislead the public.

Pensions indexed, no changes till after next election

This statement was perhaps the most blatantly misleading one of your entire video. Firstly, from 1 July pension supplements are being removed, this is a well-documented fact. Also, due to the long term nature of receiving pension benefits it is cold comfort that the age and indexation decreases will start in a few years rather than now. This is clearly political as you are banking on people forgetting these changes are in the system by the time the next election rolls around.

The fact that you are legislating changes now to decrease the rate of indexation of pensions and raising the pension age to 70 is not mentioned in any detail at all.

This measure will reduce the absolute dollar value of a pension that citizens will receive when compared to the current arrangements. The fact that indexation effects will compound year on year is another nasty fact you have overlooked.

ABC – Savings can be found without effecting programing

This statement is unhinged and completely contrary to reality. Mark Scott the head of the ABC himself has stated that programs will be cut and staff will be laid off in direct contradiction of your assertion.

Please see his comments ‘here’. Saying something doesn’t make it true Andrew, especially when based on absolutely no evidence.

Conclusion

Please be mindful that the video contained a number of other unsubstantiated, misleading, false and generally ludicrous assertions. It was impossible to address them all in this letter without it running to several more pages.

I note that in response to my protests regarding this Budget Andrew you felt the need to message me on Facebook to say, and I quote:

“Sincerely glad you don’t live in my community”.

This gave me a bit more insight into your mind. It is clear you don’t see me or people like me as, an ordinary Australians, or as being part of the community you are elected to represent. I am unsure whether this is due to the level of our income, our ethnicity or simply the fact that you live in a particular part of Queensland and I live in Victoria.

What this suggests about you Andrew, as a parliamentarian, can best be summarised by my response to you via email as follows:

“I [sic] thought your suggestion that I am not part of “your community” was hurtful and suggests that you are not an elected representative of Australia (my community)”.

Andrew Laming show more respect for the Australian public. I warned you on Facebook that should you attempt to mislead the Australian public regarding the Budget again that I would hold you to account, admittedly in more colourful language than used in this letter. Consider this me fulfilling my promises; at least one of us does that.

Regards,

Vasilios (Bill) Mavropoulos

Tax Specialist

You might also like to read:

Under the shade of a Barcaldine gum tree

An Open Letter to Bill Shorten

Letter to all Coalition MPs

An Open Letter to Frances Abbott

To my local member

Karen McNamara and Lucy Wicks (Image from dailytelegraph.com.au)

Karen McNamara and Lucy Wicks (Image from dailytelegraph.com.au)

Dear Ms Lucy Wicks,

Thank you for your recent unsolicited advertising pamphlet.  Unfortunately it contains a great many errors which I am sure you would prefer to know about rather than spreading incorrect information to your constituents, particularly since we are paying for your advertising.

You state that “Labor’s last Budget” projected a deficit of $50 billion in the 2013-14 financial year with no surplus over the forward estimates.  This is entirely untrue unless Mr Hockey is a member of the Labor Party.

The last budget delivered by Labor in May 2013 projected a deficit of $18.0 billion.

In August Penny Wong and Chris Bowen released an updated Economic Outlook with a projected deficit of $30.1 billion moving to a surplus of $4 billion in 2016-17.

PEFO produced by Treasury and Finance in August agreed with the figures in the Economic Statement with a slightly larger projected surplus.

Three months into your term, Joe Hockey produced the MYEFO which estimated a deficit of $47 billion.  To quote:

“The deterioration in the underlying cash balance since the 2013 PEFO is $16.8 billion in the 2013‑14 financial year and $68.1 billion over the forward estimates.

The deterioration in the budget position since the 2013 PEFO reflects two key factors:

– the softer economic outlook; and

– essential steps to address unresolved issues inherited from the former government.”

Your projections about a “softer economic outlook” have proven unfounded, as many thought they would, with growth continuing at a better than expected rate.

The “essential steps” you talk about were spending decisions made by the Coalition:

  • an unsolicited $8.8 billion gift to the RBA (with the $300 million a year in interest that loan will cost)

  • another $1.2 billion for offshore processing to go into the hands of security firms that maim and kill refugees.

  • restoring the $1.2 billion offered by Labor to the States who wouldn’t sign up for Gonski but hung out to sign up with you so they didn’t have to commit to increased State funding or performance evaluation.

  • some money into the Contingency Reserve for future superannuation liability for universities (sitting money in a slush fund for a rainy day while we pay interest on it).

  • giving up $2.9 billion in revenue including $1.8 billion in tax revenue from people who fraudulently claim business usage on their cars and $900 million in taxation from people drawing over $100,000pa from superannuation

We then move on to Mr Hockey’s budget brought down in May where we see that, since coming to office, you have borrowed an extra $50 billion – the gross debt has grown from $270 billion in September to over $319 billion.  Your claim to be “reducing Australia’s debt” is rubbish as are the figures you use.

Now I have no problem with increasing the debt per se.  What I DO have a problem with is you continuing to rail about debt and deficit as you continue to borrow money for the things you choose to spend money on.

And that is by far the greatest problem – not the spending but the priorities.  You are inflicting dreadful harm on the most vulnerable in our society while choosing to spend a great deal of money on things we don’t need like school chaplaincy programs and marriage counselling vouchers and fighter jets and very expensive paid parental leave and Royal Commissions.  These might be desirable in your opinion but they are hardly more important than education and health and welfare and jobs and affordable housing and childcare.  You have cut funding to these most essential services and abolished advisory bodies.

You show your priorities by creating a highly paid job for Tim Wilson to be the Human Rights Commissioner in charge of repealing the racial discrimination laws while sacking the Human Rights Commissioner for the disabled.

You take money away from the Royal Commission into institutional child sex abuse to fund your pink batts political witch hunt.

You cut wage increases for aged care workers to provide bigger subsidies to the providers.

You cut wage increases for child care workers and cut the childcare rebate that parents will receive.

You make changes to the aged pension which, in the future, will increase inequity.

You give drought relief packages to farmers while disbanding water management groups and defunding research into irrigation and delaying the Murray-Darling buyback scheme, with no credible action to address the climate change that will send these very farmers to the wall.  The photos of your party laughing and high fiving at the repeal of carbon pricing are looked on in disgust around the world.

You want to pay employers $10,000 to take on workers who are over 50 while telling our young unemployed that they must find a job or face 6 months a year with no income at all and cutting all the programs designed to help them find a job or suitable course.

You defund research causing many amazing programs with huge potential to be cut and scientists to leave our country.

You conscript a Green Army but then defund Landcare, the perfect people to oversee this group, and choose instead to give “service providers” tens of thousands of dollars per team and a free workforce who has no workplace entitlements.

You have slashed funding to Indigenous programs.

You have slashed foreign aid.

Yet you seem to have unlimited resources when it comes to searching for a lost Malaysian plane or fishing boats carrying a few refugees.  And the defence budget just keeps on growing so fast they don’t know how to spend it all.

You promise me that my electricity bills will go down but I just got a letter saying prices will go up from July 1.

You say you are helping small business by reducing regulations.  Tell that to small businesses involved in the health industry who will now have to administer your co-payment as well as GST.  Will they have to fill in cards for concession customers and children to keep count of how many times they have paid a co-payment?  Will you be developing and  distributing the software to support this?

You claim to be saving $1 billion through cutting red tape for small business…could you tell me what you have done and how you came up with that figure?  You cost us all money with the phasing out of the $6,500 instant asset write-off but I am yet to see anything that will help.  Reducing company tax doesn’t help sole traders.

You say you are helping apprentices by allowing them to go into debt but you took away their tool allowance.

You say a new Commonwealth agency will open in Gosford bringing 600 new jobs to the coast.  For starters, these aren’t “new” jobs as many people from the ATO have been sacked or will be offered relocation.  Secondly, I notice you have steadfastly refused to answer any questions about this including why you are apparently building new premises when there are so many vacant already, and when this is likely to happen.

You will also need to adjust your boast about no successful people smuggling ventures.  For my views on that I will refer you to Father Rod who was none too happy with the email you sent him from Scott Morrison on the eve of World Refugee Day.

“Firstly, I would like to say to Lucy Wicks that passing on this kind of misleading propaganda does your credibility no good.

Secondly, Mr Morrison has asked that I share this email. I do so gladly so that people may see this dishonest propaganda for what it really is. The use of language is interesting. The basis of this falsehood of that our borders are threatened. How can a few thousand weakened, terrified, dehydrated people threaten our borders? These Asylum Seekers are precisely that Asylum Seekers. They are not invading, or sneaking in or coming through the back door. The very nature of their journey means that the wish to declare their presence.

The entire foundation of the government’s policy is based on the lie that our borders are not secure. And this kind of propaganda is needed to sell the deception.

Not in our name Mr Morrison. You do not lie in our name.”

I have seen you asking Dorothy Dixxers in Question Time.  Is that what we elected you to do?  To read out lines you have been fed by others?  You refuse to answer any questions and gag anyone who posts facts on your facebook page.  Is your engagement to be limited to social functions, photo opportunities, and forwarding of party propaganda emails full of lies and distortions?

Your constituents deserve better than unthinking regurgitation.  Our children deserve better from the future than what your party is offering.  Do you feel no shame about leaving your children a society far worse than the one in which you grew up?

And before you start on the “Labor’s debt” line, I suggest someone in your party starts learning about Modern Monetary Theory and listening about the value of Job Guarantees and raising people out of poverty.  Let demand drive supply and provide jobs.  Your theory of trickle down economics is a proven front for those who facilitate corporate greed.

You disappoint me.

Kaye

Lucy Who?

One could be forgiven for not knowing who Lucy Wicks is – even her electorate had never heard of her before she was parachuted into the seat of Robertson in a captain’s pick by Tony Abbott, bypassing the pre-selection process, much to the chagrin of the local Liberal Party membership:

“NSW State Executive of the Liberal Party have endorsed Lucy Wicks as the Candidate for Robertson. No preselection was held and the executive of the Robertson Federal Electorate Conference was not notified, only told that this was under consideration today. Nominations for Robertson have been open for 5 months, Lucy Wicks being a member of that State Executive that delayed nominations”.

The comments from local Liberals were scathing, as the above link testifies. A poster with the aptly-named persona of Back Room Deals summed up the sentiment thus:

“Lucy Wicks lives in Warringah, Tony Abbott’s electorate . . . hmm. Wicks nominated on Thursday and was rushed through NRC. Then the vote went to State Executive on Friday. The problem is that our leadership has shown no integrity in this issue. To fix the problem in Dobell, a problem of their own making, they take away the democratic rights of Robertson branch members. We will not stand for these tactics, there are 10 branches in Robertson . . . 10 branches with hundreds of unpaid foot soldiers who will walk away, let Head Office pay for the lot come the Election”.

Lucy then called in the big guns, hosting a morning tea at which Bronwyn Bishop spoke. This was the reaction from someone who attended that function:

“Lucy Wicks was totally uninspiring and seemed like an impressionable kid that didn’t have a brain between her ears. The helpers there all seemed like young Liberals that were nice, but really, did nothing to add any degree of credibility at all. Dressed like they came off a refugee boat. Doesn’t some-one give them a dress code at all? As for Bronwyn, she was the main star and Lucy apart from telling us she worked in a factory in the Central Coast really had nothing to say. And it showed. Bronwyn did all the talking and Lucy shut up which is just as well I think”.

Even though there was a 0.1 per cent swing against the Liberal Party, there was an even larger swing against the Labor sitting member, Deborah O’Neill, who in my mind was a hard-working MP who ably represented her constituents. 21.8 per cent of the vote went to the minor parties and Independents. Hardly a resounding victory for the Coalition.

So it was with interest that I watched Lucy ask her first question in Parliament:

“My question is to the Assistant Minister for Education. I remind the minister that childcare groups and parents in my electorate of Robertson have told me of the burden that the previous government childcare rules and regulations placed on costs for centres and parents. Will the minister tell the House how the Government plans to fix the red-tape mess and reduce costs?”

Up bounced Christopher Pyne’s sidekick, Sussan Ley, who seems to have learned her oratory skills from her Minister, to tell us that axing the carbon tax and cutting red tape would fix all the woes of the childcare system. Her proof of this was a couple of anecdotal stories about turning the lights off for an hour and eating individual cupcakes.

Perhaps Ms Ley is unaware of what her colleague in the NSW State Parliament is doing:

Community preschools across the state could be sent broke under changes to state-government funding for three-year-olds as daily fees nearly double for parents of the younger children.

The sector is warning many community centres will be forced to close under a new model that slashes funds for the age group in a bid to get more four- and five-year-olds into classes before they start kindergarten.

In what has been slammed as a further blow to the chronically underfunded sector in NSW, the Community Child Care Co-Operative claims one in three centres could be forced out of business if parents switch their children from preschool to cheaper long day care.

The report, by UNSW professor Deborah Brennan, said the state government would need to “substantially increase” investment in early education to meet its commitments as community preschools had been underfunded for “decades” compared to those in other states.

Ms Ley also failed to mention that the Coalition have cut $300 million from the Early Years Quality Fund:

A $300 million funding boost aimed at improving the wages of 30,000 childcare workers looks increasingly likely to be axed as the federal government continues to sit on the Labor-approved initiative.

The money was to be spent in 1100 childcare centres to bolster the meagre $19-an-hour wages of certificate III childcare workers by $3 an hour and early-childhood teachers by $6 an hour. The starting wage for a university-educated early childhood teacher is $42,000 a year.

The government wrote to childcare centres who had accepted the funding soon after winning office, revoking the conditional funding offers and advising it was reviewing the $300 million Early Years Quality Fund (EYQF).

Ms Ley did not specify what “red tape” would be removed, and when Graeme Perrett asked “What—you’re going to have free-range kids in the childcare centres!”, he was promptly ejected by our fearless arbiter, Bronwyn Bishop.

The National Quality Standard for Education and Care Services can be found in Schedule One which appears at the end of the Regulations.

Having glanced through them, I am not sure which of these guidelines could be dumped, and how that would improve the quality of the service. But then again, quality of education isn’t a goal of this government.

So it is with a great deal of trepidation that I reiterate the question asked by Lucy Who and could we please have some detail to your answer rather than “axe the tax and cut red tape” slogans.

“Will the minister tell the House how the government plans to fix the red-tape mess and reduce costs?”

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