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The fair go is going … going … gone

In 1967, Prime Minister Harold Holt said that he knew of no other free country where “what is produced by the community is more fairly and evenly distributed among the community” than it was in Australia.

The pillars of egalitarianism in Australia were high wages, high home ownership and low unemployment.

A decent minimum wage is a sign of a civilised society. Australia was a world pacesetter in establishing a living wage at the beginning of last century, and it has always been one of the hallmarks of the fair and egalitarian society we have had since that we support a relatively high minimum wage. It is what distinguishes Australia from much of the rest of the world.

A decent minimum wage is one of the bulwarks that prevents Australia developing a large underclass of working poor, which now so dominates the United States. And it is credited as helping to sustain our economy during the slowdown caused by the Global Financial Crisis, when other nations with a lower minimum wage sunk into recession.

Despite this, the Commission of Audit suggested that the way minimum wages are set through an annual review overseen by the Fair Work Commission should be scrapped.

Instead, it is proposing a “minimum wage benchmark”, which would fix minimum wages well below what they are now at 44% of average weekly earnings. If implemented tomorrow, it would mean slashing the minimum wage by almost $140 a week.

We also have Maurice Newman, head of Abbott’s Business Advisory Council, saying “While any discussion in Australia about industrial relations evokes screams of outrage and spectres of WorkChoices, we cannot hide the fact that Australian wage rates are very high by international standards and that our system is dogged by rigidities.”

The figures tell a different story. While big business continues to rake in record profits, wage rises have been so low over the past year that most workers have gone backwards.

The latest wage price index from the Bureau of Statistics shows an average increase of 2.6 per cent in the year to June, well below the inflation rate of 3 per cent – this at a time when productivity is at an all time high.

Not only is the minimum wage under attack, penalty rates are also in the firing line.

On Tuesday, Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs said it was unfair that small businesses had to pay double on Sundays and triple on New Year’s Eve, and it was on the government’s radar.

“We cannot go on in a society where we are charging people on a day which is a normal operating day, double what you would on any other,” Mr Briggs told a small business audience.

Mr Briggs said high labour costs had made businesses “uncompetitive” and hurt youth employment. “This is an area we must reform,” he said.

“But it will only be an area reformed if society is willing to have the debate. And [business] can help lead the debate.”

ACTU boss Ged Kearney said dropping penalty rates will not increase jobs or help small business but damage the economy by lowering the amount of money people spend in stores and restaurants.

“You cut $200 a week out of someone’s pay . . . and small business will be the first to suffer,” she said.

Education is a large factor in employment prospects yet we are reducing funding to secondary schools and increasing the cost of tertiary education. Vocational education courses are being cut as is funding to groups who facilitated the transition from education to employment for vulnerable young people.

Despite rising unemployment, the Coalition plans to expand the 457 visa program, remove existing controls on employers, abolish any training obligations and open the program up to more semi-skilled workers.

In his 2012 IPA Address, Abbott said that ‘under a Coalition government, 457 visas won’t be just a component but a mainstay of our immigration program.’

More than 60 per cent of the 3323 457 visas granted since November last year and subject to labour market testing went to foreign nationals already in Australia.

In skill level 3 occupations, which are mostly trades, 45 per cent of all 457 visa granted were in occupations not on the national shortage list.

In a move that is becoming increasingly common, ministerial advisers encouraged federal officials to “massage” their economic forecasts to match Tony Abbott’s vow to create one million jobs over the next five years amid concern the original estimates would fall short of his target.

Asking department experts to adjust their figures, the advisers to Employment Minister Eric Abetz sought to add 160,000 jobs to the projections brought out in March.

The Abbott government came up with its pledge to create 1 million jobs in five years solely on the employment growth rate achieved under the former Howard government. No modelling or detailed calculations were done to reach the figure of 1 million jobs.

Tony Abbott’s office took the employment growth rate of about 2.2 per cent year-on-year under the Howard government and used it to extrapolate its own job-creation target.

”Abbott’s office assumed they could achieve the same outcome,” a Coalition insider said. ”There was no detailed modelling or serious work done to justify the 1 million job target. They looked at the Howard record and said, ‘We can match it’.”

Treasury forecast in MYEFO that employment would grow three-quarters of 1 per cent this financial year and 1.5 per cent in each of the next three years. A Parliamentary Library analysis commissioned by Labor found that this was likely to leave the Coalition at least 200,000 jobs short of its five-year pledge.

That view was broadly backed by a range of economists who said it would be very difficult for the Coalition to create 1 million jobs in five years, with the mining boom ending and with deep cuts in the federal budget.

The uncertainty about the renewable energy target has also seen us miss out on billions in investment in this growing industry while the government’s decision to no longer support manufacturing has contributed to us losing our car industry along with many other closures.

Along with wages and employment, affordable housing is a crucial factor in an egalitarian society.

A national snapshot of rental affordability in Australia prepared by Anglicare Australia has found there are minuscule and in some cases, zero, levels of affordable housing for people on low incomes, with welfare advocates saying some people will be forced to go without food to afford their accommodation.

Despite this growing crisis, the Coalition discontinued the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) in the budget. The NRAS is a partnership between the federal government and the states and territories to invest in affordable rental housing which began in 2008. It seeks to address the shortage of affordable rental housing by offering financial incentives to persons or entities such as the business sector and community organisations to build and rent dwellings to low and moderate income households at a rate that is at least 20 per cent below the market value rent.

Domestic Violence NSW said “It’s particularly frustrating that a successful program that increased the availability of affordable rental housing has been targeted, while very expensive tax concessions like negative gearing and capital gains tax exemptions remain in place.”

So with an active push to reduce wages, no plan to create jobs amidst rising unemployment, movement away from federal action on affordable housing while encouraging investors to drive up housing prices, one wonders what Mr Holt would have to say about Abbott’s Australia.

 

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  1. Kaye Lee

    I cannot fathom this government…..

    PROPOSALS to build 144 low-income homes in the Eurobodalla have been canned in the federal Budget, prompting condemnation from welfare group Anglicare.

    Sydney-based Community and Aged Care Consulting Services had applied under round five of the scheme in August to build 132 modular one-bedroom units on a Batemans Bay site.

    “We are very disappointed in the Commonwealth decision,” spokesman David Smith said.

    Batemans Bay’s Southern Cross Community Housing had applied to build another 12.

    CEO Marg Kaszo said her team had allocated 20 homes last year under the scheme in the Eurobodalla, with support from both the NSW and federal governments.

    “The homes were either purchased new, or constructed by Southern Cross Community Housing Ltd, utilising local builders and tradespersons,” Ms Kaszo said.

    “We would have provided another 12 properties in the Eurobodalla, if the submission was successful.”

    Ms Kaszo said it seemed counterproductive to defund a program that was working well for community housing providers, bringing private finance into the social housing funding stream and delivering for local people.

    Meanwhile, with the shire last month declared for the fourth year running a “national black spot” in Anglicare’s annual survey of affordable rentals, the welfare group’s southern region CEO Jeremy Halcrow has accused the government of unfair policy.

    “It is a disappointing decision that reinforces the unfairness of a budget far too heavily weighted towards cutting off pathways out of poverty for the lowest-income Australians,” Mr Halcrow said.

    “A key reason this Budget is unfair is that the government decided to delay meaningful reform of the tax system.

    “This means that reductions in the generous tax deductions that tend to go to the wealthy and deepen the housing affordability crisis – such as negative gearing – were off-limits.”

    http://www.batemansbaypost.com.au/story/2294923/budget-cuts-can-housing-affordability-projects/

  2. interested

    The amount of tax I have paid during the course of my employment has been huge and have been more than happy to pay it. Egalitarian attitudes demand it and rightly so! My attitude is that all children should have equality in “life choices” Education is a cornerstone to this belief. Each child should have the right to break a cycle or achieve their potential regardless of the circumstances to which they were born. This opportunity is being eroded by this government and thus the future for the children of this country.

  3. dwejevans

    Meanwhile, its being reported in The Australian (yes The Australian) that hockey has claimed over $200000 in CAR related expenses over the last four years, roughly $135 PER DAY!……What was it he said about the “Age Of Entitlement”?

  4. Kaye Lee

    That $200,000 for car related expenses can be added to the $140,000 for business class airfares that we also pay for. It’s easy for them to say putting up petrol won’t hurt…it’s easy for them to jaunt around in private jets or business class whenever they want to speak to someone or have their photo taken….they aren’t paying for it.

    Mr Hockey and his millionaire banker wife Melissa Babbage, own four properties between them, including a five-bedroom harbourside family home in Hunters Hill, one of Sydney’s wealthiest harbourside suburbs, believed to be worth more than $5 million, which they bought for $3.5 million in 2004.

    Their $10 million property portfolio also includes a 200 hectare cattle farm in Queensland and a beautiful six-bedroom coastal retreat with 180-degree views of the beach in Stanwell Park, an hour south of Sydney. Mr Hockey’s statement of registrable interests, made in 2010, also lists him as joint owner of a property in the prestigious Canberra suburb of Forrest.

    In his statement of registrable interests of interests in 2010 Mr Hockey lists that he is a patron of two north shore golf clubs, a member of the North Shore Historical Society and a member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, among other charitable, sporting and cultural groups.

  5. John Fraser

    <

    The results of Queenslands newman LNP policies will be coming home to roost with the next unemployment figures.

    This months showed 6.8% unemployed …. the highest in Australia.

    Next month will show an impending disaster.

  6. Matters Not

    A decent minimum wage is one of the bulwarks that prevents Australia developing a large underclass of working poor, which now so dominates the United States

    .

    Indeed! As of August this year the federal minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 an hour. While many States have minimum rates above the federal benchmark, some States have even lower minimums (which means the federal rate then applies). These rates means that significant numbers of the population are below the ‘poverty line’.

    With such low minimum rates, ‘tipping’ becomes the order of the day. Americans abroad continue that tipping culture and find it strange that Australians are such reluctant ‘tippers’. When I explain our minimum hourly rate is now $16.87 ($640.90 a week) as well as entitlements to holiday pay, sick leave, superannuation and the like, they are amazed.

    I advanced the argument that proper pay should be an entitlement rather than be dependent on the ‘charity’ of the tipper. Needless to say they advance the argument that such rates of pay would cause many businesses to go broke. In Australia we hear the same chants when ever a pay increase is mooted.

    I’m off to Asia tomorrow for about 5 weeks, where I will encounter ‘workers’ whose rates of pay are very, very low. Increasingly they depend on tips for survival. Yes I do tip in those places but I do so through gritted teeth, not because of the money involved, but because I am reinforcing arrangements that from my point of view are demeaning. But it looks like a losing battle, with most of the world now going down the ‘tipping’ road.

  7. Dan Dark

    Great article Kaye
    I rang joes office tis morning and said, “how many stupid pills does the cigar chomping leghorn foghorn treasurer take a day, because he couldn’t be that stupid that he thinks poor people don’t drive cars, it’s probably better you keep him away from the microphones and cameras he is nailing himself and insulting everyday Aussies the silly man and lives in la la land… She hung up on me, who cares not me, they cannot handle the truth as we all know, think they can lie to us and get away with it pfffftttt

    So then I rang tones office after that and said, “when is tones going to get rid of the cigar chomping fog horn leghorn treasurer he has overdosed on his stupid pills and needs help, because he is insulting Aussies left right and centre, and then says he hasn’t the next day, she said she would pass it on 🙂

    The sun is shining down here in Vic today just for a change, but I don’t think it will be shining in the LNP’s offices today, it’s getting darker for them everyday 😉

  8. Terry2

    There’s a lot of worried people in the federal Liberal party, concerned about the way the NSW ICAC is gradually closing in on their corrupt organisation and the laundering of illegal developer donations through the federal office.
    Could be one reason why Abbott is spending so much time beating the drum overseas about terrorism and not focusing on his day job .

  9. Dan Dark

    Yep Tones was just on live abc talking up war and left questions about Joe to end, and the said blah blah blah, I am proud of our budget, and no joe does not have an image problem and no joe isn’t out of touch with ordinary people, he is back to mr No now he was looking pretty nervous though and as usual did a runner when the pressure was on about his budget, and the journos didn’t want to know about the war anymore only about joe and his statements on poor people again, they are sliding into oblivion that’s for sure 🙂

  10. Kaye Lee

    A key fund-raiser for federal Treasurer Joe Hockey’s electorate conference has been called to give evidence at the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into alleged illegal political donations

    John Hart is chairman of the North Sydney Forum, a controversial fund-raising body attached to the Liberal Party federal electoral conference in Mr Hockey’s seat of North Sydney.

    Mr Hart is also chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia, the national lobby group for the hospitality industry.

    The North Sydney Forum provides exclusive access to Mr Hockey in return for donations in the form of annual membership fees of up to $22,000.

    However, Mr Hockey, the forum and the NSW Liberals refuse to disclose the names of its members.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/treasurer-joe-hockeys-chief-electorate-fundraiser-john-hart-called-before-icac-donations-inquiry-20140815-104c7e.html#ixzz3AQ6CXwwH

  11. Kaye Lee

    A year after a landslide election win seems too soon to have a ministerial reshuffle, but with his government languishing in the polls, a number of ministers performing poorly and an unrepresentative cabinet, Prime Minister Tony Abbott must surely consider this in coming months.

    Stunts like flying across the world, supposedly to offer condolences to the government and people of the Netherlands on their losses suffered in the flight MH17 atrocity, will not be enough to win over the Australian electorate.

    While they may deflect attention from the awful budget and get the Prime Minister out of the difficult task of negotiating deals with the Senate crossbenchers, they are unlikely to give Abbott enough world-leader status to increase his long-term vote.

    Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/time-for-tony-abbott-to-reshuffle-the-ministerial-deck-20140814-103v2o.html#ixzz3AQ9y5rCA

  12. Dan Dark

    Kaye wasnt it “operation bring them home” that he went over there for
    I think I heard him say that 6 times in different media bites etc before he left, but that operation failed so whole trip did nothing for his upstanding statesmanship, it has compounded his problems at home, cos PETA wasn’t here to keep them in line and on script and They we’re let out on their own, that was not smart obviously 🙂

  13. Matters Not

    While a Ministerial reshuffle is extremely unlikely, it’s difficult to name a Minister who’s kicking some goals. Pyne, for example, is overseeing a parent and student revolt over university fees as well as an impending teacher uprising when the repeal of Gonski hits home. Hockey is unelectable in the leadership stakes, both within the party and in the electorate. Bishop the younger has achieved some positive media coverage but has over reached with respect to both Russia and China. Not a bad score for a Foreign Minister. Brandis specialises in kicking ‘own goals’ and does so on a regular basis.

    While a ministerial reshuffle has lots to recommend, it would be a complete disaster. Besides where would the talent come from?

  14. Hotspringer

    Minimum wage might not be quite the same as a living wage. Every person in a developed rich country (as I trust we still are) must receive a living wage – sufficient for a decent standard of living. This should include the minimum wage, unemployment benefit, age and disability pension. Any government that tolerates (let alone condones) homelessness and hunger in Australia must be kicked out.

  15. David Stephens

    Nice piece Kaye with interesting comments so far. These resources relevant to the discussion: http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/richardson-david-denniss-richard-income-and-wealth-inequality/ ; http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/douglas-bob-et-al-inequality-in-australia/ ; http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/whiteford-peter-income-wealth-inequality/ ; http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/leigh-andrew-battlers-and-billionaires/ ; http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/murray-georgina-jenny-chesters-wealth-power/ ; http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/stilwell-frank-kirrily-jordan-who-gets-what/

  16. Dan Dark

    This has to be the best day of my life watching Joe go up in smoke 😉

  17. Itsazoosue

    For all the assertions from the Libs about our minimum wage being too generous, I am yet to see them produce any household budgets to back up that claim. I would be interested to know what they would regard as necessities and what would be regarded as luxury items for those of us on low incomes. Obviously owning and using a car might be seen as a luxury even though we are expected to travel over an hour to a suitable job.

    If our politicians are supposed to represent their constituents, perhaps they should be paid a median wage and claim legitimate business expenses on their annual tax returns like the rest of rest of us. As it stands, salaries and entitlements insulate them from the financial realities faced by average Australians.

  18. Kaye Lee

    “If neoliberalism were anything other than a self-serving con, whose gurus and think tanks were financed from the beginning by some of the richest people on earth, its apostles would have demanded, as a precondition for a society based on merit, that no one should start life with the unfair advantage of inherited wealth or economically-determined education. But they never believed in their own doctrine. Enterprise, as a result, quickly gave way to rent.

    All this is ignored, and success or failure in the market economy are ascribed solely to the efforts of the individual. The rich are the new righteous, the poor are the new deviants, who have failed both economically and morally, and are now classified as social parasites.

    The market was meant to emancipate us, offering autonomy and freedom. Instead it has delivered atomisation and loneliness. The workplace has been overwhelmed by a mad, Kafka-esque infrastructure of assessments, monitoring, measuring, surveillance and audits, centrally directed and rigidly planned, whose purpose is to reward the winners and punish the losers. It destroys autonomy, enterprise, innovation and loyalty and breeds frustration, envy and fear. Through a magnificent paradox, it has led to the revival of a grand old Soviet tradition, known in Russian as tufta. It means the falsification of statistics to meet the diktats of unaccountable power.”

    http://www.monbiot.com/2014/08/05/deviant-and-proud/

  19. Matters Not

    Let’s not forget that it was Hawke/Keating who introduced neoliberalism to Australia.

    When Bob Hawke came to power in 1983 the government was responsible for directly setting the level of interest rates, the Australian dollar and tariffs. Wages were set centrally by the Industrial Relations Commission.

    By the time Labor left office in 1996 the government had virtually abolished tariffs and had ceded its control over interest rates to an “independent” Reserve Bank and the dollar and wages to markets. This was the biggest transformation of the Australian economy since the end of the Second World War, a neo-liberal market revolution

    Further:

    The Hawke-Keating government reduced corporate taxes by 16 per cent from 49 to 33 per cent. They cut the top personal tax rate from 60 cents to 47 cents in the dollar. Union membership fell from over 48 per cent to below 31 per cent. These changes saw the wages share of GDP fall from around 61.5 per cent of GDP to less than 55 per cent, amounting to a transfer of $50 billion from workers to the rich.

    Labor did more than the Liberal governments of either John Howard or Malcolm Fraser to increase inequality, decimate union strength and erode Labor’s own support-base in the working class.

    Labor’s Accord: How Hawke and Keating began a neo-liberal revolution

  20. Dan Dark

    Just heard on abc joes on radio apologising for his insensitive comments over cars poor people and cars and petrol
    But it’s a little bit too late for Smokin Joe he has learnt a hard lesson, humiliation 🙂

  21. Terry2

    Dan, I heard that too and when he said that everything he is doing in the budget was for our benefit I wondered why the interviewer didn’t follow through with some penetrating questions : then I realized that the interview was relayed from 2GB to ABC.

    Even so I cannot understand why the compliant mob at 2GB have to be so obsequious and pandering it surely must rob their ‘journalists’ of all credibility.

  22. DanDark

    I saw the clip Terry, and he was crapping on about how wonderful he is even used how he helped orphans when he was a young smoking joe, it was pathetic he was sweating, he looked like he was going to cry, good acting Joe not good enuff though, but even when apologizing its all about him, and his life when younger, who cares Joe not us, he still dont get it he is a donkey blah blah more shit from the most stupid man in Aussie..

  23. Florence nee Fedup

    There is another institution under threat from this a government, One they have fought from day one. Yes, the most efficient industry based super funds,.

    Another report has just been releasing praising the efforts of these super funds. Cormann has already said he cares not what this report says, they will be reforming super funds, Only the ones connect to unions though,

    Every session of the RC Union corruption, has began with allegations made against unions and the super funds, connected the unionist involve.

    Back from the time, super was bought in, the LNP has feared unions , or workers having control of their own funds. they feared that unions would have access to the money, they amass.

    Why one believes that the boss, shouldcont5rol, what belongs to workers, is beyond me.

    Yes, we need to keep a eye on what this mob have in store for super funds.

  24. trevor

    Kaye Lee- I can not fathom the goings on either. I see it, I hears it, I reads it but stuffed if I can fathom it. Thanks for another excellent article.

    DanDark -Saw that interview today with the everlying Abbott banging on about warlike stuff until a reporter asked about Joe Baloney, Abbott ignored with a curt I have more important things to say attitude.

    Then he was asked againg and I couldnt believe my ears as Abbott replied with the Labor debt and deficit disaster line growing more strident as it went on..

    I just wanted one courageous Journo to nail the prick and call him out for his debt and deficit crap line.

    Alas

    Abbott beat a very hasty retreat and left, ignoring the throng of questioners.

    If only someone could put a clever question to the bastard on his repeated lies, something like ” Mr Abbott, your Labour debt and defecit disaster has been shown to have no credibility, why do you keep repeating statements that are shown to be not credible?

    How can we get a single journo to challenge him during his press conference.

    Admittedly it would mean a career change for the journo but someones gotta do ti before i lose all faith that the Shitstem has some relevance to no one except selling stories and letting politicians dis abuse us.

    Export Abbott not Refugees

  25. John Fraser

    <

    See lend-Lease is getting cold feet over affordable housing at the Barangaroo site.

  26. Kaye Lee

    Oh what a surprise……

    The change in stance follows an admission by the state government that a taskforce set up to help solve Sydney’s housing affordability crisis has not met for more than a year, or delivered the housing policy it promised, despite previously saying “doing nothing” was not an option.

    Fairfax Media has learnt that Lend Lease has been eyeing off locations away from Barangaroo on which to build the affordable housing component it pledged in return for developing public harbourside land.

    Under current approvals for Barangaroo south, 2.3 per cent of 100,000 square metres of residential floor area must be “key worker housing” – homes rented to lower-income public sector workers such as police, nurses, teachers and paramedics.

    However it has emerged Lend Lease has been in talks with not-for-profit housing groups about building the homes off-site – potentially allowing it to reap a greater profit from the Barangaroo residential floorspace.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/lend-lease-baulking-at-providing-affordable-homes-in-barangaroo-20140815-1049rr.html#ixzz3ATCfwRn7

  27. Kaye Lee

    “Tony Abbott’s pathetic evocation of “Team Australia” in regard to data retention is a classic case, but others are easy to find: the whole disgusting cruelness of our asylum seeker policy; the near-abusive treatment of the unemployed mooted in the budget; the unseemly grasping of the destruction of flight MH17 as a national rallying point; the income management being imposed on Aborigines in the Northern Territory, a system that some want to extend to all welfare recipients – all of these are symptoms of a political class who mistake authoritarianism for authority.

    The difficulties the budget is having don’t arise, as leading voices in the media suggest, from an “unruly, populist Senate”; nor are they caused by the “decline of mass media” which “weakens the ability of leaders to carry opinion”.

    It certainly has nothing to do with the business community failing to cheer hard enough in support of it, as the Treasurer has complained. I mean, good heavens, Joe, how much more onside could business be?

    No, the real problem the budget faces is that it violates the unwritten rules of fairness that are as close to the essence of a national identity as we have. (As I’ve said before, it feels like WorkChoices for everything.)

    In so doing, it has reminded people that we live in a society, not an economy, and that it is simply not enough for a government to screech “balanced budget” ad infinitum as a cover for what amounts to an attempt to dismantle social programs people consider part and parcel of a civilised nation.

    The neoliberal consensus still rules, and certain elites still have way too much sway over government policy. But the budget backlash suggests that there are limits to what a reactionary government can do when the people push back.

    The lesson we should learn is simple: push harder.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-15/dunlop-a-plea-to-the-left-push-back-harder/5673008

  28. Dan Dark

    Yea we are pushing back and they seem surprised, we do not want 3 world country problems or problems like America, and this lot of brainless men in gov are finding out all about actions and consequences somrthing they should of learnt when they were 5 but because they were such a spoilt lot of silver spooners they don’t get it, and Joe the groveller now thinks it’s all going to be ok cos he said sorry because he was forced to or why didn’t he come out earlier the big sweaty galah…

  29. DanDark

    “Hockey’s handed his head to Palmer on a platter. He never was good at maths; he couldn’t even do his own numbers in the party-room battle to beat Malcolm Turnbull. He was an extraordinary choice for this current job, but it seems it’s not just his own numbers that confuse him. Apparently he was unaware the government didn’t have the Senate majority it needs to pass the budget. He also seems blithely unaware that his intransigence plays directly into his enemy’s hands”

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/a-message-to-joe-hockey-and-tony-abbott-i-want-my-money-back-20140811-102nhs.html#ixzz3AWoM75Yn

  30. Terry2

    Never underestimate the mission of the Murdoch press and their hatred for anything Labor.

    This headline in today’s Weekend Australian caught my attention:

    ” ALP’s Looming Disasters An Opportunity for Coalition”

    The article is written by Grace Collier who, if you don’t recognize the name, was the NEWS “journalist” who in 2013 criticised Julia Gillard for flaunting her cleavage in parliament in what was by any standards very modest attire.

    This time she has identified three looming disasters for Labor including the possibility of Gillard being convicted for the AWU scandal that has been so close to the heart of NEWS for so long, anticipating that if Gillard is convicted the ALP will be seen as “the goons who put a criminal in the Lodge”. That she says, gleefully would be a disaster for Labor.

    She then moves on to very nasty insinuations – that were new to me – about “a Senior Labor person under investigation for an alleged rape in 1980″. She doesn’t name the person but points us to Mr Google to find out who they are talking about and it turns out that this has been another NEWS hobbyhorse that they have been riding for a couple of years but they are being mildly cautious about naming the Labor luminary obviously aware of the risks of defamation.
    She notes that when the investigations are finalised ” one of two things will happen.Either charges will be laid which will be a disaster for Labor, or charges will not be laid, and the complainant (a teenager at the time of the alleged incident) may make her story public, which will be a disaster for Labor.”

    Finally Ms Collier sees great potential coming from the Royal Commission into Trade Unions ” as it no doubt will reveal embarrassing wrongdoings by ALP heavyweights.”
    And, as Ms Collier fancies it, when all this happens “the community will feel betrayed and let down and will turn to the government for leadership and support”.

    As I said, you underestimate the conservative forces in this country at your peril; they will stop at nothing to cling to power and to serve their American master.

    Poor fellow my country !

  31. DanDark

    Desperate measures call for desperate times MS Collier, so the Coal ition need a distraction/diversion look here at the ALP, how old is this woman, she needs to grow up, she writes fairtales , not working Miss Collie try as you might 🙂

    “And, as Ms Collier fancies it, when all this happens “the community will feel betrayed and let down and will turn to the government for leadership and support”.

  32. Kaye Lee

    That would be the same Grace Collier that Pickering thinks is HOT!

    “Only former union officials like Bob Kernohan and Grace Collier understand the dark secrets that bedevil our failing industries. They fearlessly peel back the layers of union corruption and destructive graft that media’s Left denies exists.

    They would make a great couple and if ever a threesome was on the cards, well, they both have my number. And as much as I like you Bob, would you mind waiting outside?

    But Grace is much more than hot, she is a breath of fresh air wielding a stinging quill, forensically impaling the union mob on its own cross.”

    That would be the same Grace Collier that wrote at length about the unions being to blame for the closure of Toyota – this despite the following statement issued by Toyota in direct rebuttal of claims made by Hockey and the Murdoch press.

    “Toyota Australia has never blamed the union for its decision to close its manufacturing operations by the end of 2017, neither publicly or in private discussions with any stakeholders,” the company said in a statement.

    “As stated at the time of the announcement, there is no single reason that led to this decision.

    “The market and economic factors contributing to the decision include the unfavourable Australian dollar … and low economies of scale for our vehicle production and local supplier base.

    “Together with one of the most open and fragmented automotive markets in the world and increased competitiveness due to current and future Free Trade Agreements, it is not viable to continue building cars in Australia.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/joe-hockey-toyota-at-odds-whether-union-to-blame-for-car-makers-closure-20140212-32h1u.html#ixzz3AX3nQgoc

    I would suggest that Grace is a paid stenographer.

  33. corvus boreus

    I would suggest that Grace Collier has a brown belt in bullshit and babble.
    Larry pickering is most definitely a dick/dildo obsessed, deceiving deviate.

  34. jimhaz

    [that no one should start life with the unfair advantage of inherited wealth or economically-determined education]

    Interesting PDF here about the history of Death taxes in Australia.

    http://www.tasa.org.au/uploads/2011/01/Gilding-Michael.pdf

    What we once had, a century ago.

    Clearly similarly traitorous neo-liberal causes were in operation at the end of Death Taxes than as today – although surely less rampant than now. Same arguments being used. Same, by design, government legislative negligence leading to fixable loopholes being promoted and employed for tax avoidance, and the resulting ultimate failure of the tax (like the Mining Tax). I wonder if we are still an experiment, this time in the opposite direction.

    With regard Keating’s neo-liberalism, the problem seems to be that it worked. Could be wrong, but I think it was necessary. It does seem that if you get too far behind your western cohorts in productivity, you can fall way back (Greece-like perhaps). I’m not that sure Keating could see that far in the future in relation to what the banks have since done or even the decline in unionism.

    For me it’s what Howard did and didn’t do in relation to housing price inflation resulting in a system of huge private debt, together with the constant taxation reduction (spreading neo-liberalist attitudes), and zero common good infrastructure investment, that bugs me the most.

    To me the affect of Keating (with only 4 odd years as PM) was at the high end of moderate neo-liberalism, a moderniser, but Howard pushed it into the extreme territory and fostered the likes of many of the current Ministers of Punishment and Slavery.

  35. Kaye Lee

    Private debt as a proportion of GDP is overwhelmingly larger than public debt. Personal debt is 9 per cent, mortgage debt at 84 per cent, and non-financial business debt is at 50 per cent, for a total of 143 per cent. A McKinsey and Co report estimates the non-banking financial sector debt at 91 per cent.

    There is no intrinsic problem with either public or private debt. Both need to be carefully considered to ensure efficient allocations into productive activity. Public debt is not a burden if it is used to produce an income stream to pay down the resulting interest or to enhance productivity – for instance, if invested in infrastructure, health, education, or research. It becomes a problem, however, if used to finance excessive defence spending, bank bailouts, pork-barrel projects and middle-class welfare.

    The same goes for private debt. As long as debt finances production, the resulting income streams will be more than enough to pay down the debt. On the other hand, if private debt is used to speculate on stocks and real estate – as has occurred many times in the past – it simply results in a zero-sum game where speculators transfer assets among themselves without enhancing productivity.

    Unfortunately, the discourse over debt is almost entirely focused upon public rather than private debt. There is no reason for concern over our relatively low federal or state debt. The real problem is in the major rise in the private debt, primarily within households. This is what commentators should be focusing upon.

    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2013/4/12/australian-news/putting-public-debt-monster-under-lights

  36. jimhaz

    [it simply results in a zero-sum game where speculators transfer assets among themselves without enhancing productivity]

    No, it is far worse than that – it unnecessarily distributes money into the hands of the wealthy. The zero sum is General Public -10 real standard of living + those that loan +10 wealth = 0.

  37. Keitha Granville

    my life regains hope reading this column and the replies – I know that I am among fellow Australians who care about each other and the country and what these morons are doing to it and to us. With all of us on the case and the many many more out there who read these columns and don’t post responses, to the millions who march, phone in,email their sitting members – surely we must be well on the way to having enough votes to eject them from the chamber in 2 years time ? It’s only another 2 years isn’t it ? We just have to hang on, and stick together.

  38. Rob031

    Bloody edit timed out on me. Watch for the goat and the “Wishing Well” sign at the end of the clip. The Murdoch press, in the shape of Ch 10 anyway, seems to be taking the piss out of Abbott.

    Judging from this and the ‘no dole for terrorists’ thing Abbott is setting himself up to be our fearless leader who’s stepping in (with the reins of state between his teeth and one hand over each eye) to save us and the budget.

    Buddha knows what Palmer is going to do when Abbott takes charge of budget negotiations. Let’s hope he simply tells Abbott that all negotiations are off and to get on his bike and bugger off. I wonder what jobs Hockey will be given to do next – or whether he will be demoted.

    In any case the general air is one of mounting desperation on the part of Abbott. Someone will be accused of stealing his strawberries next.

  39. Kaye Lee

    Tough man Tony tells the Scots what to do……

    “As a friend of Britain, as an observer from afar, it’s hard to see how the world would be helped by an independent Scotland.

    “I think that the people who would like to see the break-up of the United Kingdom are not the friends of justice, the friends of freedom, and the countries that would cheer at the prospect … are not the countries whose company one would like to keep.”

    A spokesman for Scottish first minister Alex Salmond, who is leading the pro-independence campaign, said Mr Abbott had “put his foot in it”.

    “Tony Abbott has a reputation for gaffes, but his bewildering comments have all the hallmarks of one of the Westminster government’s international briefings against Scotland,” he said.

    “Many Australians, including the great number with close Scottish connections, will look on in bafflement at these remarks – Australia is a country that has gained its independence from Westminster and has never looked back.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-16/prime-minister-tony-abbott-criticised-over-opposition-to-scotti/5676148

    Mr Salmond told BBC Scotland: “Mr Abbott’s comments are hypocritical because independence does not seem to have done Australia any harm.

    “They are foolish, actually, because of the way he said it. To say the people of Scotland who supported independence weren’t friends of freedom or justice, I mean, the independence process is about freedom and justice.”

    The first minister said Scotland’s referendum on independence was a “model of democratic conduct” and Mr Abbott’s comments were “offensive to the Scottish people”.

    Mr Salmond said the Australian prime minister was “notoriously gaffe-prone” and he had “put his foot right in it” with his comments.

    He added: “If it does anything it will persuade people to vote Yes because the natural reaction to this sort of nonsense is ‘Who is Mr Abbott to lecture Scots on freedom and justice?'” ”
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-28814936

    The whole world looks in bemusement (or amusement) at Abbott

  40. corvus boreus

    Rob031,
    The dumb-as-dogshit dip-shit should desist from decrying a “debt and deficit disaster” in his dribbling drongo drone and declare a double dissolution.
    Either that or prostrate himself and proffer his posterior in grovelling negotiations with the representatives of the large section of the population who disagree with his ideas and methods(opposition, minorities and independents).
    Either way, charging us a monetary reimbursement for him to publicly pedal and pimp in a purple gimp suit plastered with logos isn’t a viable solution to his budgetary dilemma. It’s just another way for him to get a sore arse.

  41. Möbius Ecko

    The Scottish gaffe came on the back of Barrie Cassidy saying what a wonderful job Abbott did overseas in Holland, the UK and his “surprise” visit to the ME. Except for the UK, for an unknown secret purpose, the others were nothing more than Abbott PR stunts, which is all he seems to be good for, that and three word slogans.

    The other news the MSM is not shouting from the rooftops, which they did when Labor was in power, is the serious decline of the live cattle trade, with quite a number of cattle stations up north being sold off because they’re no longer viable.

    Who remembers how much brouhaha the L-NP made over the loss of trade under the previous government for a justified reason. Now under this government the trade has declined to a much greater extent yet not a word from Joyce.

  42. Bob Fanside

    Has the meaning of “gaffe” changed? Abbort’s Scotland remarks were not a gaffe. They were an expression of a serious opinion, however stupid some of us may think it was. I suppose it’s hard to think clearly when your head is covered with your own poo.

    gaffe
    gaf/
    noun
    an unintentional act or remark causing embarrassment to its originator; a blunder.

  43. corvus boreus

    Disagree, Bob F.
    The line was crossed at “I think”.
    When people are undertaking an informed choice in their own determination through the process of a democratic referendum, it is a gaffe to refer to one viewpoint as anti freedom and justice, and to obliquely threaten diplomatic boycott of nations making positive comment on a pro-independance vote, especially in the capacity of the marginally elected leader of a distant nation.
    This is provocative and divisive language unbecoming of a head of state commenting upon the domestic political matters of another nation(Mr Abbott is, after all, an Australian citizen, our PM no less(why?)).
    I have the luxury of expressing a viewpoint encumbered with burden of my own excrement, but then I am a blathering blogger, not the representative elected leader/figurehead of a nation state.
    Or was your gripe with the ‘unintentional’ in the definition of the word ‘gaffe’?

  44. Bob Fanside

    His remarks, were, in my view stupid but typical or Abbott’s Anglophilic idiocy. His statements are all the things you mention, but they were not a gaffe unless we’re changing the meaning of that term.

  45. Bob Fanside

    Abbott probably thought if it’s good enough for Obama it’s good enough for him, even if he couldn’t match the level of diplomacy in his rhetoric.

  46. corvus boreus

    As our prime minister(winces) sometimes seems to take intentional glee in dribbling bile like a buffoon and does not seem to comprehend the conventions of political embarrassment, I will yield you the ground on the semantics of diction.
    Tony’s foot-shooting, hackle-raising verbal vomit of pointless anti-diplomacy was not a ‘gaffe’ in the strictest, most literal sense. It was, instead, a ‘cretin’s call’.
    I do not think Mr Obama vilified the pro-independence faction, nor did he make international rumblings. Obama is not a diplomatic dumb-ass.

  47. Bob Fanside

    It was pretty odd, I’ll give you that. I’d be interested in seeing a more fulsome explanation from him, if he’s even capable of that. Take away Abbott’s bizarre rhetoric, it’s still the case that he’s saying the same thing as Obama – no independence for Scotland.

  48. corvus boreus

    Bob F,
    Yes take away, Mr Abbott’s bizaare rhetoric and he is saying; ‘like Mr Obama, I would prefer a political victory for those voting against Scottish independence’.
    Add it and he is saying; ‘those who favour Scottish independence are against freedom and justice, and they and their friends are our enemies’.
    A none too subtle difference.

  49. Bob Fanside

    I guess there’s nothing about Abbott that is “none too subtle”. 2011 census figures say 130,204 Oz residents were born in Scotland and 1,792,600 claim Scottish ancestry. Might be a few lost votes in that lot.

  50. corvus boreus

    Might be the odd blue face and flipped kilt as well.

  51. Rob031

    Tony Abbott braves the weather but not questions on budget.

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott pedalled into rain and stormy conditions coming down the Blue Mountains on his bike on Sunday morning but he was not about to face another tempest on the Coalition budget.

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-braves-the-weather-but-not-questions-on-budget-20140817-105149.html

    ——-
    Also, noticed this morning that two NSW by-elections in March will not be contested by the NSW Libs.

    The Liberal Party will not contest by-elections in two New South Wales seats held by MPs who resigned in disgrace amid a donations scandal.

    The announcement – described as “an act of atonement” – followed revelations former Newcastle MP Tim Owen and Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell accepted undeclared cash donations from developers.

    Why? Am I overly cynical in suspecting that the Feds strongly ‘suggested’ this? It’s hard to imagine that these by-elections will not be a pretty strong litmus-test for what might happens to the Libs at a federal level election.

    But then again we have the Vic. state election in November to look forward to.

  52. Rob031

    Morrison has just come out with a corker. Because, he says, the ‘Stop the Boats’ policy has been so successful we now have room for some of those Kurdish Christians to be settled here.

    Glad I’m not cynical about Abbott and Co. If I were I’d conclude that this is a breathlessly transparent display of sheer political opportunistic-hypocrisy.

  53. Douglas Evans

    Perhaps the best measure of the decline of the fair go in Australia is growing inequality. This has attracted some interest in the MSM this year. Over the last thirty five years Federal government has been split about 50/50 between Labor and the Coalition. During this period in Australia the income of Australia’s richest one percent almost doubled from around 5% to around 10% between 1980 (around about the time that Hawke and Keating began their program of economic de-regulation) and 2012 as the Rudd-Gillard experiment tottered to its conclusion. In the last thirty five years the rate of growth of the wealth of Australia’s richest ten percent has been second only to the United States and we lie sixth on the list of nations for the largest share of national wealth controlled by our wealthiest. About half of the growth in wealth over the period 1980 – 2012 has gone to Australia’s richest 10% with the other half shared between the remaining 90%.

    How do these overall figures manifest themselves in the lives of the growing number of Australians who are missing out? What, for example, about food?
    A 2012 Anglicare study ‘When there’s not enough to eat’, compiled from surveys of people accessing emergency relief services across the Anglicare Australia network, reveals that increasing food prices are causing more and more Australians to go without food because they can’t afford it.
    Among the respondents to the report:

    3 out of 4 adults regularly ran out of food in the last three months and could not afford to buy more.

    73% of adults were cutting the size of meals and 62% were regularly skipping meals altogether.

    1 in 3 adults regularly did not eat for an entire day.

    65% of households with children said they regularly could not provide enough variety of food for their children.

    38% said their children were regularly not eating enough and 29% of cases they said children were regularly going hungry.

    Driven by the same environmental and economic forces that are causing the food crisis in the ‘developing’ world Australian food price increases are outstripping increases in real income for most Australians. Only the poorest and most vulnerable are experiencing food insecurity yet, but inexorably we are sliding down the same slope towards food insecurity as our poorer less developed neighbors.

    How does it come about that in Australia, one of the world’s richest countries, in which the real wealth of the richest one percent has virtually doubled in the last three decades our poorest and most vulnerable increasingly can’t afford to eat properly? The Oxfam report notes a 2005 US study presenting “…compelling statistical evidence that the preferences of wealthy Americans are overwhelmingly represented in their government, compared with those of the middle classes. By contrast, the preferences of the poorest people demonstrate no statistical impact on the voting patterns of their elected officials. If this trend continues, public policies will most likely reproduce the conditions that are worsening economic inequality and political marginalization.”

    In connection with the 2014 Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum, Oxfam produced a telling report entitled ‘Working for the Few: Political capture and economic inequality’. This report names financial deregulation as a contributing factor to wealth inequality.

    “From the 1980s onwards, the financial and banking sectors pumped millions of dollars into undoing regulations put in place after the stock market crash and Great Depression of the 1930s. Deregulation has had two major ramifications: corporate executives associated with the banking and financial sectors have become exceptionally wealthy, and global markets have become much more risky, culminating in the global economic crisis that began in 2008. There is a direct correlation between financial deregulation and economic inequality in the US.”

    As in so many other situations Australia is blindly following the US.

    As the Abbott government’s suite of policies reveals, there will be no compassion from this shameful government for the increasing pool of Australia’s poor. Well we knew that would be the case but the lesson here is that BOTH of our old parties (irrespective of their rhetoric) have pursued for over three decades economic policies funneling more and more of whatever wealth is on hand to the land’s richest at the expense of the growing number of the land’s poorest. As we struggle to understand what is happening to us it is useful to keep this in mind.

    Bearing in mind the Oxfam overall figures, the case study of rising food prices in Australia and the fact that Labor has been in power Federally for over half of the last three decades, what should we make of this extract from the ALP National Platform? How would you say they are travelling?

    “Labor is committed to a sustainable market economy. We work for long term prosperity, fairly shared by the whole community. We believe a properly functioning market economy creates wealth and provides opportunity and we look for market-based solutions, with robust and balanced regulation.

    Market design should promote sustainable growth that delivers for working people, combining free and open exchange with strong and durable institutions. Through a dynamic market-based economy we are committed to giving all Australians opportunities and making sure no-one is left behind.

    Unrestrained greed is damaging to the public interest.”

    Is this:

    a. Sanctimonious, self-serving bull-shit intended to deceive.
    b. An honest statement of a genuinely held aspiration that the Party has been unable to deliver on because of extraneous unnamed circumstances that it doesn’t control and/or doesn’t seem to understand.
    c. Both of the above.

    My money’s on option c.

    According to Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute Income tax cuts introduced since 2006 by the Howard and Rudd governments, have overwhelmingly favoured high earners. The Australia Institute estimates those cuts have cost the government about $170 billion, of which the top 10 per cent of earners have received significantly more than the bottom 80 per cent combined.

    Likewise, tax breaks on capital gains and superannuation overwhelmingly advantage the wealthy. Super concessions amount to $35 billion in forgone government revenue, most of which goes to the top 5 per cent and none to the bottom fifth.

    ”You could only say that increased inequality has been the objective of subsequent governments in Australia, because everything they’ve done has exacerbated it,” Denniss says.

    Anyone disagree?

  54. Douglas Evans

    I have little understanding of economics and no expertise. I rely completely on the wisdom of others. Nervertheless I’ll try a bit of a cut and paste from a piece I’ve had lying in my hard drive for a while. One of the best indications of the decline of the fair go in Australia is our growing wealth inequality. In Australia this has been steadily growing over the last thirty five years during which Federal government has been split more or less 50/50 between Labor and the Coalition. The point here is that despite the rhetoric BOTH of Australia’s old parties have consistently supported Australia’s drift to increased inequality for decades. It is not simply a matter of blue tie bad and red tie good.

    In Australia the income of Australia’s richest one percent almost doubled from around 5% to around 10% between 1980 (around about the time that Hawke and Keating began their program of economic de-regulation) and 2012 as the Rudd-Gillard experiment tottered to its conclusion. In the last thirty five years the rate of growth of the wealth of Australia’s richest ten percent has been second only to the United States and we lie sixth on the list of nations for the largest share of national wealth controlled by our wealthiest. About half of the growth in wealth over the period 1980 – 2012 has gone to Australia’s richest 10% with the other half shared between the remaining 90%.

    How do these overall figures manifest themselves in the lives of the growing number of Australians who are missing out? What, for example, about food? The following case study extracted from an earlier piece shows that while the average Australian household spends between fifteen and sixteen percent of income on food, Australia’s poorest are already using almost 20% of their weekly income to keep food on the table. A 2012 Anglicare study ‘When there’s not enough to eat’, compiled from surveys of people accessing emergency relief services across the Anglicare Australia network, reveals that increasing food prices are causing more and more Australians to go without food because they can’t afford it.

    Among the respondents to the report:

    3 out of 4 adults regularly ran out of food in the last three months and could not afford to buy more.

    73% of adults were cutting the size of meals and 62% were regularly skipping meals altogether.

    1 in 3 adults regularly did not eat for an entire day.

    65% of households with children said they regularly could not provide enough variety of food for their children.

    38% said their children were regularly not eating enough and 29% of cases they said children were regularly going hungry.

    How can this be?

    Bearing in mind the fact that Labor has been in power Federally for over half of the last three decades, what should we make of this extract from the ALP National Platform? (My emphasis) How would you say they are travelling?

    “Labor is committed to a sustainable market economy. We work for long term prosperity, fairly shared by the whole community. We believe a properly functioning market economy creates wealth and provides opportunity and we look for market-based solutions, with robust and balanced regulation.

    Market design should promote sustainable growth that delivers for working people, combining free and open exchange with strong and durable institutions. Through a dynamic market-based economy we are committed to giving all Australians opportunities and making sure no-one is left behind.

    Unrestrained greed is damaging to the public interest.”

    Is this:

    a. Sanctimonious, self-serving bull-shit intended to deceive.
    b. An honest statement of a genuinely held aspiration that the Party has been unable to deliver on because of extraneous unnamed circumstances that it doesn’t control or doesn’t seem to understand.
    c. Both of the above.

    My money’s on option c.

    In his book ‘Battlers and Billionaires’, ANU economics professor turned federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh attributes the rise in inequality to three forces, in equal measure: higher earnings at the very top, inflated by technology and globalisation; the decline of unions; and less progressive taxation. According to Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute: Income tax cuts introduced since 2006 by the Howard and Rudd governments, have overwhelmingly favoured high earners. The Australia Institute estimates those cuts have cost the government about $170 billion, of which the top 10 per cent of earners have received significantly more than the bottom 80 per cent combined. It hasn’t always been this way. At its peak between 1942-44, the top marginal tax rate in Australia was 93 per cent. Throughout the Menzies prime ministership, the top rate was never lower than 67 per cent. Now, even with the government’s proposed deficit levy, it will temporarily rise to just 49 per cent.
    Likewise, tax breaks on capital gains and superannuation overwhelmingly advantage the wealthy. Super concessions amount to $35 billion in forgone government revenue, most of which goes to the top 5 per cent and none to the bottom fifth.

    ”You could only say that increased inequality has been the objective of subsequent governments in Australia, because everything they’ve done has exacerbated it,” Denniss says.

    Anyone disagree?

    It doesn’t have to be so. Joseph Stiglitz and Thomas Piketty both point out that rising inequality is not inevitable. It’s a product of public policy – the combined outcome of our schools, healthcare, financial systems, tax laws and corporate regulations.

    ”Inequality is not a fact of nature,” Stiglitz says. ”It’s a consequence of the policies we put in place.”

    The simple fact is that BOTH of our old parties have failed us for decades in this matter as step by step their policies drive the increase in inequality. Policies advocating a return to more progressive taxation – substantially higher rates of taxation for the wealthy – would seem to be an indication that our politicians are seriously addressing the problem.

    Don’t see any likelihood of this.

  55. Carol Taylor

    Apologies Douglas, I just discovered one of your comments trapped by our spam filter.

    It is my opinion that although some might suggest that there is a ‘crisis’ (although many economists) dispute this, the Liberal government would suggest that there is only one way of tackling this. A basis in any impending crisis is housing unaffordability. The age pension was formulated during a time when home ownership for the age group about to retire was around 80%, the pension was therefore ‘a living wage’. For those unfortunates unable to have been able to pay off a house during their working lives, there was readily available public housing. As housing prices grew, the ability to pay off a mortgage was offset somewhat by the pressure on women to re-enter the workforce. Throughout history where housing is unaffordable, the birth rate goes down and the age at which couples choose to start a family rises. I believe that in the past 2 decade the average age has gone from around 23 years to 30 years.

    I think of the young people who will enter their working lives already with perhaps 2 sets of HECS debts, paying exorbitant rents, record child care unaffordability, record housing unaffordability to be instructed by governments that they should be doing more to save for their own retirements – because hell, this government has absolutely no intention of helping in any way, shape or form.

    I will believe that if a government is genuine in its desire to tackle any perceived ‘crisis’ then it will be prepared to tackle the issue of housing unaffordability, with the major culprit of course being the rort of negative gearing. But of course in Canberra there are far too many snouts already in the trough for that one to ever be seriously addressed.

  56. Kaye Lee

    “Because of the rules, many MPs purchase property in Canberra to provide a base during parliamentary sittings and use their travel allowance to pay off their mortgage.”

    And why wouldn’t you…..or you could be decent enough to realise that having the taxpayer pay off your mortgage for you is a RORT of the highest order. I am sick of politicians saying “hey they do it too” as an excuse for what is patently a rip off.

    And in Joe’s case, it appears he and his father bamboozled the previous owner to get the property for significantly lower than it’s value.

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/taxpayers-footing-bill-on-treasurer-joe-hockeys-15-million-canberra-house/story-fni0cx12-1227026624945?nk=a3dc25ad48ffd0d416770e7ea27ad500

    I long for someone with the integrity of Ted Mack. It is way past time that parliamentarians’ “entitlements” had an overhaul.

  57. Carol Taylor

    Indeed Kaye Lee, when Hockey spouted the phrase The Age of Entitlement must end, he clearly meant everyone else except himself and others of his ilk. The hypocrisy astounds me.

  58. Carol Taylor

    On the Hockey saga and from your link to the DT (aside: is Joe in trouble..even the DT is running negative stories),

    “The house was a piece of Hockey mercantile genius,’’ Mr Cameron said.

    Biographer Madonna King writes that the seller, who according to ACT lands title records was called Robert Hamilton wanted “no part in lawyers or agents.’

    “So Joe, the lawyer, called his father, the real estate agent, who took the owner out for a beer,’’ Ms King writes.

    “The Hockey’s scored the house for land value. Joe’s father didn’t mention he was a real estate agent, buying the property on behalf of his lawyer son.’’

    My oh my, whatever happened to the poor migrant family with dear old dad slicing salami in order that his family have more than stewed pig rind for their supper? Miraculously it seems that dear old dad was a property speculator and RE agent no less. Isn’t there a law against that? A RE agent purchasing property on behalf of another without declaring that he has a pecuniary interest?

  59. Terry2

    Kaye Lee

    I imagine, in Joe’s case, the trick is that you buy a property in Canberra in your spouses name, negatively gear it and pay off your mortgage as rent to your spouse using travel expenses which are tax free to the recipient.

    The age of entitlement is not over, it is flourishing and for observers to say “all politicians do it” doesn’t make it right.

    Why didn’t we build a dormitory in to the new parliament house and cut out this rorting ?

  60. Kaye Lee

    When it was purchased in 1997, Mr Hockey was listed on sales documents as owning 5 per cent, his wife Melissa Babbage 61 per cent and his father Richard Hockey 34 per cent.

    The home is worth an estimated $1.5 million according to local real estate agents. But the Hockey clan picked up the property for a song, purchasing it for just $320,000 in 1997.

    The Treasurer has legitimately claimed $108,000 in travel allowance for 368 nights over the past four years including many nights for parliamentary sitting weeks where he has stayed at the Canberra house.

    In 2007, it was revealed Malcolm Turnbull, then regarded as Australia’s richest MP, rented a house from his wife Lucy when in Canberra. It was reported Mr Turnbull paid $10,000 a year to his wife under the arrangement and claimed another $10 a night when she stayed in Canberra.

  61. Douglas Evans

    Sorry for two versions of the same lengthy comment. Thought the first one had vanished into cyber space so I repeated it more or less. My embarrassment is reduced by the thought that probably no-one bothered to read either version. The point I tried to make is that our growing inequality (the clearest reflection of the decline of the fair go) has been promoted equally by the policies of both our alternative governments for over three decades now. It is not, as we might like to believe simply the product of the machinations of the evil, cigar-chomping, big-end-of-town, Coalition types. It is equally the responsibility of the Light on the hill mob. This might seem unlikely but facts are facts. Accounts of this issue that fail to acknowledge the shared responsibility of both our old parties for what is happening to us in this matter distort reality.

  62. Kaye Lee

    Douglas,

    This article was about wages, employment and affordable housing and I completely disagree that the previous government was as bad as this lot. Labor did not seek to reduce or abolish the minimum wage, nor did they seek to eliminate penalty rates or cut off Newstart from the young unemployed. They signed the National Partnership on Homelessness and they introduced the national rental affordability scheme.

    Income inequality is a problem that both parties have not addressed adequately, but the Coalition most definitely tend more towards asking the lower income earners to tighten their belt whilst protecting the perks offered to high income earners. At least Labor tried to introduce a tax on superannuation payouts over $100,000pa and to stop fringe benefit rorting for car business use.

    Inequality started to rise in the 1980s and has only increased. Those who can invest have opportunities to increase their wealth and minimise their tax. What we need are jobs and once again, I feel the previous government had a better plan for creating them than this government does. Refusing to give any industry assistance (unless you are a Liberal Party donor), abandoning renewable energy, stopping research, these are all backward steps from this government.

    If you consider this a distortion of reality then we must be reading different budgets.

  63. Douglas Evans

    Kaye Lee we are not quite talking about the same thing.
    Your article was indeed about wages, employment and affordable housing and on these issues the previous Labor government was indeed better than this disgraceful rabble. However your article was also about the vanishing ‘fair go’. In your comment above you write: “Inequality started to rise in the 1980s and has only increased.” You seem not to have a particular problem with this. Perhaps you don’t see a relationship between this and the vanishing fair go? Perhaps you see rising inequality as inevitable, somehow beyond our control and therefore not something to be concerned about? Neither Thomas Piketty nor Joseph Stiglitz – two economists who understand what is going on and why – accept that rising inequality must be so. It’s a product of public policy – the combined outcome of our schools, healthcare, financial systems, tax laws and corporate regulations. ”Inequality is not a fact of nature,” Stiglitz says. ”It’s a consequence of the policies we put in place.” Difficult to disagree with this I would have thought.

    It is pretty obvious to me that our growing inequality is the most profound indicator of the vanishing fair go and that ensuring that all Australians get a ‘fair go’ is a prime responsibility of government. On this the facts show that for more than three decades inequality has continued to grow steadily under both Labor and Coalition federal governments. This is not a matter of opinion but of cold hard fact contained in the ABS data for the last three + decades. Inequality has not increased under Coalition governments and declined under Labor but aided and abetted by the policies of both sides of politics has steadily grown under both.

    The uncomfortable reality is that the economic policies of ALL federal governments since the increasingly mythologized Hawke-Keating Labor governments have promoted the widening of the gap between rich and poor. In his book ‘Battlers and Billionaires’, ANU economics professor turned federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh attributes the rise in inequality to three forces, in equal measure: higher earnings at the very top, inflated by technology and globalisation; the decline of unions; and less progressive taxation. All the experts identify progressive taxation as a key to controlling the growth of inequality. At its peak between 1942-44, the top marginal tax rate in Australia was 93 per cent. Throughout the Menzies prime ministership, the top rate was never lower than 67 per cent. Now, even with the government’s proposed deficit levy, it will temporarily rise to just 49 per cent. This flattening out of the tax rates has been a product of the policies of BOTH sides of politics. If we consider Andrew Leigh’s three forces contributing to rising inequality the only difference we might identify between Coalition and Labor would relate to Unions which Labor has attempted to support and the Coalition has relentlessly attacked. On the other two Coalition and Labor are in lock step.

    According to Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute: Income tax cuts introduced since 2006 by the Howard (Coalition) and Rudd (Labor) governments, have overwhelmingly favored high earners. The Australia Institute estimates those cuts have cost the government about $170 billion, of which the top 10 per cent of earners have received significantly more than the bottom 80 per cent combined. It hasn’t always been this way. Likewise, tax breaks on capital gains and superannuation overwhelmingly advantage the wealthy. Super concessions amount to $35 billion in forgone government revenue, most of which goes to the top 5 per cent and none to the bottom fifth.

    What does it mean to Australians that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer? Well, as I indicated above, a 2012 Anglicare study ‘When there’s not enough to eat’, compiled from surveys of people accessing emergency relief services across the Anglicare Australia network, reveals that increasing food prices are causing more and more Australians to go without food because they can’t afford it. Note that this report was compiled after four years of the previous Labor government which you relentlessly eulogize.

    Among the respondents to the report:

    3 out of 4 adults regularly ran out of food in the last three months and could not afford to buy more.

    73% of adults were cutting the size of meals and 62% were regularly skipping meals altogether.

    1 in 3 adults regularly did not eat for an entire day.

    65% of households with children said they regularly could not provide enough variety of food for their children.

    38% said their children were regularly not eating enough and 29% of cases they said children were regularly going hungry.

    Surely this is an ongoing national disgrace and as it happens it was noted after years of Labor government. How can this be?

    My ultimate point is that it is not good enough to gloss over the failings of one side of politics in the effort to present a reassuring (but inaccurate) ‘Labor good – Coalition very very bad’ picture of our situation.

  64. Kaye Lee

    Douglas,

    The thing that really infuriates me about you is that you continually try to tell me what I think and you are ALWAYS wrong.

    “Inequality started to rise in the 1980s and has only increased.” You seem not to have a particular problem with this. Perhaps you don’t see a relationship between this and the vanishing fair go? Perhaps you see rising inequality as inevitable, somehow beyond our control and therefore not something to be concerned about? ”

    I have a huge problem with this as I have repeatedly pointed out. I have made suggestions about how the government could raise revenue in several articles – superannuation, negative gearing, and capital gains tax concessions, value of family home (if bought in last few years), increasing the medicare levy, means testing etc

    “Note that this report was compiled after four years of the previous Labor government which you relentlessly eulogize.”

    I don’t “relentlessly eulogize” anything or anyone one. I look at facts. I also don’t need constant repetition as you are wont to do. I am not a member of the Labor Party and I make sure I inform myself about my local candidates and what they are offering before I decide how to vote in any election.

    By all means make your comments but I would ask you to stop trying to speak for me because you don’t have a clue about me and my beliefs as your comments continually show

  65. Dan Rowden

    Doug,

    Your comments to Kaye Lee are a touch bemusing. It seemed to me that she observed the origin and rise of inequality in Australia precisely because it’s an issue of great concern to her. Colour me discombobulated.

  66. Don Winther

    Free trade agreements with China, Korea, Japan and Thailand have given them a more than “fair go” at our mineral, farming and manufacturing. Zero import duty and no government assistance for local industries ( except for Cadbury ) while we are expected to compete with government owned Chinese manufactured imports. Bad luck Team Australia the era of a fair go has been sold off by our leaders. MADE IN AUSTRALIA ?

  67. Douglas Evans

    Kaye Lee and Dan Rowden

    I have a confession to make. I’ve just noticed that I missed these sentences in Kaye’s comment. “Income inequality is a problem that both parties have not addressed adequately, but the Coalition most definitely tend more towards asking the lower income earners to tighten their belt whilst protecting the perks offered to high income earners. At least Labor tried to introduce a tax on superannuation payouts over $100,000pa and to stop fringe benefit rorting for car business use.” It does show, as Dan says, Kaye’s awareness of the issue. Don’t know how I manage this but it does happen from time to time and It surely doesn’t help mutual understanding. So sorry Kaye.

    Kaye Lee
    I don’t tell people what they think. Most times I barely know what I think. I certainly wasn’t telling you what you think. Having stupidly missed a couple of key sentences I was speculating on what appeared to me a remarkably bald statement of an unfolding tragedy. I never presume to speak for others. The next time you think I am trying to speak for you if you respond please ask me what I mean because your assumptions about my motivations and your critiques of my communications skills are as tedious to me as my repetition is to you. I’m sure we can both get better use out of our keyboard time.

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