What are the greatest challenges facing Australia?
When allocating limited resources to best satisfy unlimited needs and wants, this is the question we must ask.
Is ISIS a greater threat than climate change?
Should we spend hundreds of billions on defence and new submarines, jet fighters, patrol boats, planes, helicopters, drones and bombs or should we increase our foreign aid and actively assist in disaster relief, building infrastructure, improving health and education, moving people out of poverty, and emancipating women?
Should we spend billions persecuting asylum seekers or should we join the global effort to offer displaced people fleeing war and oppression hope, safety, and a new life?
For a sovereign currency, is pursuing a surplus more important than investing in health and education?
Should we be investing in wringing the last cent out of our natural resources, giving subsidies worth billions to a dying industry, or should we be investing in research and renewable energy?
Should we be pursuing people on welfare or corporate tax evaders?
Should we be removing regulations on gambling, food labelling, alcohol and tobacco or should we be putting the health of our citizens in front of profits for international corporations and the taxation or donations they give to government and politicians?
Should we be building more roads or investing in public transport and high speed rail?
Should we be spending billions to build a national broadband network that relies on a limited, decaying copper network that is costing us millions to maintain unless you want to pay thousands to hook up to the fibre that WAS going to service over 90% of premises without cost (other than contract)?
Should the rules regarding political donations, political advertising, and electoral funding be changed?
Should politicians’ entitlements be tightened up and better scrutinised?
Should we have the 9th inquiry into pink batts and divert funds from the child sexual abuse Royal Commission to the RC into trade unions or should we have a Federal ICAC and a Royal Commission into children in detention and asylum seeker policy?
Should we be spending hundreds of millions on school chaplains or on trained school counsellors with support and referral networks?
Should we be privatising government owned assets and businesses when that invariably leads to staff being laid off, unprofitable services being cut, loss of ongoing revenue, offshoring, huge wages for CEOs, and ex-politicians as consultants/board members/lobbyists?
Should we be making university education more expensive while we hand over a fortune to “private colleges”?
Should we be cutting funding to public education while increasing it to private schools?
When one in three elderly Australians are living in poverty is it the time to cut the pension indexation rate? The income security of Australia’s older people is comparable to that of Thailand, Ecuador and Bolivia.
When more than 600,000 children, and one third of children in single parent families, live below the poverty line should we be cutting Family Tax Benefits and the single parent pension?
Should we be cutting wages to aged care and child care workers and defence personnel when the base pay of a federal parliamentarian has grown more than 250 per cent since 1991 with a 31 per cent pay increase awarded to parliamentarians in 2012?
With youth unemployment levels reaching crisis point should we be cutting young people off from any income support for 6 months of the year and asking older Australians to work till they are 70?
When rents and house prices are skyrocketing should we be giving generous tax concessions to wealthy investors through negative gearing and capital gains reductions?
Should we be insisting that Aborigines relocate from remote communities to become fringe dwellers in urban areas where unemployment and housing are already a problem or should we recognise the value of their history and cultural connection to the land and work with them to protect and improve their way of life?
Should we be spending tens of millions to “raise awareness” of domestic violence while closing refuges and defunding support groups and legal aid?
Should we accept a Prime Minister who refuses to speak to the electorate on the one place where we could speak directly to him – Q&A?
Life is about choices and budgets are about prioritising expenditure to give us the best society we can afford. When your sole aim is to make the rich richer in the hope that this will somehow trickle down to those most in need it is inevitable that inequality will grow.
A report from Oxfam International found the following:
- Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
- The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
- The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
- Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.
- The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.
- In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
Our government, rather than devoting itself to public service and protecting us from corporate exploitation, sees itself as a facilitator for big business where profit for the few outweighs well-being for the many. While this remains the case, and politicians are more worried about re-election than integrity, we have little chance of addressing the real challenges facing our nation.