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What have Newstart, the pension and aged care got to do with the environment?

When cutting up Australia’s economic cake all sorts of demands are placed on it.

So much so that this financial year our government couldn’t find enough money to increase the Newstart allowance despite every man, women and his dog saying it was desperately needed.

Nor could they find any money for aged care to fix problems identified by numerous enquiries, let alone by what the Aged Care Royal Commission came up with.

You can add to those a view that the Aged Pension needs to be increased.

Of course, there are competing demands because every department wants a larger slice of the cake than they got the previous year.

Those mentioned above would take a huge bite from a cake already draining economic cream at the edges.

And if you want to take a huge bite there are only three ministries large enough to open your mouth on. They are Health, Education and Social Services.

These are the three that Tony Abbott hit in his 2014 budget: The one that was universally acclaimed to be the unfairest ever.

So given that these three are crying out for more where do you raise the money? One suggestion is that you prioritise your spending better.

For example, is it necessary to spend $500 million on improvements to the War Memorial in Canberra, or $20 million to maintain Christmas Island to house 4 Asylum seekers?

There is a long list of questionable spending by this government such as the $500 million given to the obscure Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Perhaps you don’t give tax cuts while Newstart, aged care, the pension and NDIS are screaming out for more funding.

When fully implemented, the government’s tax cuts will cost a staggering $30 billion annually.

Or you could cut back on the concessions given to the rich and privileged.

In 2018 the Anglicare Australia Cost of Privilege report showed that:

“… revenue from the richest 20 per cent of Australians was more than $68 billion a year, costing taxpayers $37 a week.

This compares to just $6.1 billion in concessions for the bottom 20 per cent”.

A staggering $68 billion in taxpayer dollars is spent keeping the wealthiest households wealthy.”

That is greater than the cost of Newstart, disability support, or any other benefit.

The 2018 Cost of Privilege report also found that tax exemptions on private healthcare and education for the wealthiest 20 per cent cost over $3 billion a year, superannuation concessions to them cost over $20 billion a year, and their capital gains tax exemptions cost a staggering $40 billion a year.”

Not to mention franking credits which are “rorted on an industrial scale”, and negative gearing. From what I have revealed thus far it is easy to see that it is the Right who govern for those who have them and it is the Left who govern for those who don’t. In doing so the conservatives still cannot comprehend that economics serves and moulds society. Economics alone is but self-serving.

The notion that a few privileged individuals can own the vast majority of a countries wealth and the remainder own little is on any level unsustainable, politically, economically or morally.

There is, however, another source of possible revenue.

It is difficult to imagine that Taxpayers subsidise immorally rich energy companies, but they do. Try $12 billion a year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison chooses to hand out billions to a dirty and dying industry that pay little of the cost fossil fuels impose on our health and the environment. We now spend more on subsidies to mining companies than we do on our environment, and that is going down.

People need to wake up to the fact that government affects every part of their life and should be more interested. But there is a political malaise that is deep-seated.

An initial ACF analysis released last December found the federal environment department budget was slashed by 30% over the last three complete financial years, with further cuts planned out to 2020-21.

A new paper by the same group says that while the federal environment department’s budget had been cut to a projected $950m, the commonwealth is expected to award the mining sector $2.5bn in fuel tax credits this year. An estimated $980m of that would go to coal companies.

Matt Rose ACF economist said it was distressing that public investment in the environment was being slashed while government budgets were rapidly growing.

It shows that our elected representatives have made a clear decision to devalue our natural world and safe climate at a time when they are under enormous strain,” he said. “It robs people of the funding needed to make a practical difference for our environment through programs like land restoration, tree planting and removing invasive species.”

According to Market Forces each and every year the Australian Government hands out an estimated $12 billion in tax-based fossil fuel subsidies of public money to support the production and use of fossil fuels by hugely rich companies who don’t employ a lot of people. And might I add overcharge for their product.

Subsidies for the mining of coal have become a worldwide issue as renewable energy replaces coal.

The community should be asking why its government is providing billions of dollars to a dying industry.

The International Monetary Fund commissioned a report that said that global fossil fuel subsidies continue to grow, despite the growing urgency of the need to decarbonise the global economy.

Renew Economy said that the battle over energy subsidies has been a feature of Australian politics over recent years, with conservative politicians attacking renewable energy subsidies.

The growing evidence from groups like the IMF and the IEA shows that fossil fuel subsidies are a major drag on the global economy, with the true costs of their use being a burden on wider society.

Given all the evidence it would be better if these subsidies were spent on increasing the pension, increasing the Newstart allowance and better care for the elderly.

At least the money would give our economy a bit of a much-needed jolt.

My thought for the day

Substantial and worthwhile change often comes with short-term controversy, but the pain is worth it for long-term prosperity.

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11 comments

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  1. Wobbley

    What can you say. I believe religion of any denomination is evil. These neandathals in our “government” regisiously believe in fossil fuel production and use at the expense of anything….., anything else. They will destroy your dog, cat or any other living entity in their persute of wealth and power at any cost. Fuck you your poor is the latest national position adopted by any body who thinks they’re immune from poverty without realising that they could easily find themselves in that same position overnight. What a fucking rip-off this administration is in our “lucky” country.

  2. New England Cocky

    Oh dear, as these unthinking Liarbral Nat$ politicians dance to the tune of their corporate masters and pour Australian tax revenues into foreign bottom lines, we must realise that this has been a self-inflicted wound because Australian voters get the party into government that they vote for.

    Certainly Little Johnnie “Flakjacket” Howard and his Treasurer mate Pete Costello were given carte blanche to buy the electorate.

  3. Jano

    RE-Form the welfare system !, It has reached its user by date – Donkies years ago !

    ( Work for the Mole and Dead Start payments have to go ! ) ……………………………

    For starters ,,Work for the Mole . Is a waste of tax payers money !. BY virtue of the fact ,
    People on Work for the mole – pay no taxes ,, !!!!! . so there is no value for money ,for tax payers ! …….
    NO economic benefit !!! other than , toe the Government line with its Mass criminalising and Punitive and Draconian measures ,,That serve no purpose , other than treat – The un- employed like slaves and criminals !

    ( Masters and slaves !!!)..

    what is needed ?

    An investment plan , A business like acumen approach ,,An investment in to the side lined in this country ! ( An investment plan with a guaranteed return ! )

    An investment into Massive Job creation Programmes – Australia wide !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    To be funded ,by Federal – State – Local Governments and some private investment- a collaboration of all these is needed ..

    A couple of Billion dollars into Job creation programmes – A Red scheme – Made permanent !

    Pay the able bodied people on welfare the Minimum wage or better ..700,000 people suddenly in to a job .The taxes returning back from this on a weekly basis is around 1 billion dollars a week . or 150 dollars a week times that by 700.000 people ,,,thats around 1 billion dollars a week ..4 billion dollars a month and 48 billion dollars a year in taxes flowing back in to the country !

    This massive Job creation scheme – will pay for it self ,in the first couple of months . And Debt and defecits , will be a thing of the past – and people on welfare will have their dignity re-stored ! and no more Masters and slaves ,,But a fair go for all! ……

    Its time for positive solutions to end this mass ,punitive crack down on people on welfare and bring in massive job creation Schemes – that will benefit the side lined in this country !

    PIss off Work for the Mole and Dead start payments ,, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ( Bring back a permanent Red Scheme ! – It’s a No Brainer !!!!………)

  4. Keith

    Tax cuts have fallen flat. The retail industry is still flat, shareholders and corporations though like tax cuts.
    By reducing tax revenues less funds are available for a number of policy areas, a mechanism to reduce the size of government Agencies.

    The Americanisation of Australia is great isn’t it? Don’t consider the third world experience for many American citizens. America where the invisible hand of Adam Smith has been loped off. In Australia Adam Smith’s other invisibe hand needs urgent surgery.

  5. RomeoCharlie29

    How much do the oil and gas companies pay in royalties compared with the amount they receive in taxpayer subsidies? How much tax do they pay Australia compared with the profits repatriated overseas? Kaye Lee?

  6. Andrew Smith

    Seems clear that the govt. is adhering to the US radical right libertarian economic policy, but even those key economic theorists like Hayek and Friedman would question non market forces support and subsidies for fossil fuel companies or related.

    Further, recent focus negative focus upon pensions, aged care, NDIS etc. should be risky for the govt. back grounded by the above ‘public choice theory’ leaving it vulnerable to Labor attention, if the latter are given media access….

    However, with the double speak and dog whistling by LNP, IPA and media enablers, they will make voters think Labor are to blame and prefer god, dog whistling and cultural issues over personal well being supported by the govt.

    It seems clear that all roads, backgrounded by surpluses at all costs, will lead to further tax cuts and impairment of services that the upper median age voter relies on.

    Like US and UK clever PR tactics have voters voting (or reacting) against their and their children’s own best interests….. unless Labor can strategise and message better.

  7. Patagonian

    Perhaps if they took some of the $29 billion annual government subsidies to fossil fuels, they could find the money. Naughty me, I should wash my mouth out with soap!

    Still it’s heartening to see that the government is spending our money on serious initiatives that profoundly affect the day-to-day lives of all Australians:

    https://www.watoday.com.au/politics/federal/i-ve-cleared-my-diary-senior-bureaucrats-scrambled-to-act-on-pm-s-toilet-door-demands-20191122-p53d1y.html

  8. Kaye Lee

    Meanwhile, the government has given two grants/loans to Alinta Energy, totalling over $114 million, to cut the costs of power to Twiggy’s Fortescue metals and Gina’s Roy Hill mine in the Pilbara.

    This is what REALLY pisses me off. Gina has publicly railed against renewable energy and pricing carbon and used her considerable resources to sink any attempts at addressing emissions reduction. But if the government will pay for her to cut her bills, she’s all for it. Gina is the biggest leaner in the country. She disgusts me.

    “…a 60 MW solar PV facility will be constructed and approximately 60 kilometres of new transmission lines will link Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines with the new solar farm.

    The project will also see the transmission lines connect the Chichester Hub’s mines and Roy Hill to Alinta’s existing 145 MW gas-fired Newman Power Station and its 35 MW / 11 MWh battery storage system.

    Fortescue is to be the offtaker of the project which will help to reduce the use of diesel by around 100 million litres annually, as the mines currently rely on diesel generators. This will allow up to 100 per cent of daytime energy requirements for the Chichester iron ore mining operations to be powered by renewable energy, with the remaining power requirements to be balanced with gas generation.”

    https://arena.gov.au/news/pilbara-breaks-new-ground-with-renewable-energy/

  9. wam

    It that the sauce the lemon was sucking, lord?

    “the Right who govern for those who have them and it is the Left who govern for those who don’t”
    Sounds good but it just a slogan.
    Last election demonstrated how ineffective it is, as no government can be elected without ‘those who haven’i’ voting for them. Albo should not rely on his review as to why the ‘haven’ts deserted labor in qld and tassie. He needs to claim the AAA rating and give the lie to scummos economic superiority.
    It seems that many of those who suffer most under these people are prepared to accept their losses.
    I was in britain nov 89 till end of jan 91 and I enjoyed thatcher’s ruin but she threw a last punch at scotland and the scots just took it on the chin but when she tried it on her people the reaction was swift, brutal and she was gone..
    In Australia, Aborigines and the poor are like the scots the accept their lot. Enough also respect the integrity of the government and the philosophy behind the measure and vote against labor.
    Know any, lord? Talked with any, lord?
    Whatever scummo has billions to splash where4 ever it will do the most votes as long as it wedges albo.
    ps
    I feel sad when I see the private school adverts, so many catholics schools desperate for enrolment, showing children heading for indoctrination on government cash. No room for labor despite their involvement in funding the church.
    pp[s trust twiggy??? sure can

  10. Trish Corry

    Thank you for raising an important issue of Social Security. Fuel subsidies are paid because they do not drive on our roads. However, on the other hand mining companies also have invested in regional communities. It’s part of their social corporate responsibility and it works. The Basketball stadium in Rockhampton was named after a respected local family – Hegvold Stadium and it’s now called Adani stadium. The question is do regional communities reject funding to upgrade facilities etc because the Govt doesn’t cough up? On one hand we are ignored and these community Donations help. And on the other they cement a corporate entity as a positive in the community regardless of their product. Do we legislate against these types of CSR? If so, what are the parameters?

    In addition, if we got rid of outcome based funding, changed back to block funding, banned private firms from contracts and only accepted NGOs to assist jobless, completely removed compliance and financial breaches, and invested in job creation, there are considerable savings to be made in Social Security that would fund an increase, plus prevention and intervention programs for those with high support needs.

    I think there is so much greed and waste in the political system, fuel subsidies to mining companies are more about contemporary finger pointing than really digging at the underlying causes.

    PS mining companies are wealthy enough to pay for their own fuel.

    A commenter also raises an interesting question about subsidies vs Royalties and taxes. That would be an interesting topic for someone with the energy. If we are doing corporate welfare, there are plenty of struggling small businesses in the regions with high fixed costs.

  11. Lambchop Simnel

    Oligarchic taxation by stealth.

    As happened in Roman and feudal times, happens now.

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