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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