The Crossroads Are Looming

The upcoming federal election is going to be a pivotal time in Australian politics. The result is likely to affect the direction of Australian Government policy for the next decade. If the Liberal/National Coalition regain power, they will see it as an endorsement of their trickle down philosophy in spite of the blatant example of it not working as demonstrated by the stagnant wage growth in Australia and around the world. If Labor wins then its likely to result in a change of emphasis towards “working” Australians.

The fine tuning of government policy has to start contemplating the type of country that we want to have. For years we have moved toward a society based on fairness and tolerance, a multicultural society that aims to eliminate poverty by the redistribution of wealth. When the Howard Costello duo were running the country, instead of banking the income generated by the mining boom, they decided reduce the tax “burden” on the higher end of town. Subsequent Coalition governments continued this policy. The result (as outlined in the last Coalition Budget) is to provide further tax cuts that will provide tax “relief” for those currently on the third tier of the income tax rates. The cost to the budget bottom line is substantial with independent analysis showing the cost could be as high as $30 billion per year in foregone revenue. (See https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/tax-cuts-will-cost-30-billion-a-year-and-may-drive-budget-back-to-deficit-research-finds-20190408-p51c0l.html ) This ignores the tax subsidies provided to Landlords and high end Self Managed Superannuation Funds and the likelyhood of reduced economic growth in the forward period of the budget figures. This will undoubtedly result in continued budget deficits.

The Coalition is claiming success in getting the budget back to surplus despite not actually posting a surplus – they have PROJECTED a surplus next financial year and continued surpluses after that. However, the two areas that are in doubt are the projected growth in GDP and the dubious claim that the rate of government expenditure will only increase by 2.9% as opposed to the 4.3% that it is currently running at.

This means that either the Coalition is deliberately obscuring expenditure cuts or they just have no idea (or credibility). Labor does not get off scot free in this respect either. Ross Gittin’s article outlining the failures of both sides to actually consider the bottom end of town is worthy of a read. The fact that neither side find it politically attractive to increase the Newstart Allowance is to their great shame. Even ignoring the fairness argument, an increase to the Newstart Allowance would provide greater stimulus to the economy than a tax cut to the wealthy. Newstart Allowance recipients are more likely to spend the entirety of their payment than the wealthy are to spend their tax cuts. Politicians, it seems, have lost their sense of conviction repeatedly failing to explain in detail what their policies mean. They treat the voting public like idiots, relying on glib slogans and rehearsed, focus-group driven, one liners.

A great example of this is the proposed reduction to the Corporate Tax Rate for businesses with turnover greater than $50 million per year. The Coalition says that this is required to increase investment and lead to greater employment. This ignores the fact that both employment and investment have increased over the last few years without this tax cut. It also ignores the fact that many of the so called beneficiaries are multinational corporations that pay little or no tax in Australia anyway but they haven’t necessarily increased their workforce or their investments in Australia but neither have they fled our shores with their tails between their legs. The reality is that businesses make investments on the basis of the profits they will earn not on the tax they pay. If they are making decisions on the basis of the tax that they will pay then its a distortion of the market. We all know that according to the theories of Capitalism that governments should refrain from actions that distort the market.

The time has come for Australians to state clearly that they want a multicultural society that protects the old and infirm, encourages innovation, education and hard work, while protecting and helping those needing support to move into employment.

You Cheeky Buggars!

Deloitte Access Economics prepared a report for the Minerals Council Australia stating that although the major mining companies hadn’t paid a lot of tax, they had paid a total of $185 billion in company tax and royalties. To claim that royalties somehow represent a payment of tax is extraordinary – royalties are payments for goods that belong to the people that a private company removes from the peoples’ possession and on-sells. In other words, its the wholesale price of the iron ore that it mines that the company then retails to their customers. Its not tax, its a legitimate (and largely cheap) price that the company pays for raw product.

When BHP, a company established in Australia, exporting iron ore that once belonged to Australia, sells its ore overseas it claims that its owned by the Singapore marketing hub of BHP so no tax is payable in Australia. The ATO believes (I assume by the court cases that are pending)  that this is an accounting fiction and is suing for outstanding tax and penalties of $1 billion.

Its time the mining industry and its minders faced up to their responsibilities as far as tax payments and their responsibility of compensating the Australian people for the product they take and the impact they have on the Austrlaian land mass.

How Stupid Is Our Treasurer?

Morrison is up on his soapbox spruiking the improved financial position of the Australian Government. He pats himself on the back over increased company profitability while ignoring the stagnant wage growth – gosh does that mean that companies are increasing their profits at the expense of employees. And you expect Australian workers to pat you on the back. Then he goes onto say that the prospects of an increase in surpluses is a result of cracking down on welfare payments. Nobody expects that welfare cheats should get away with it but how come corporate tax minimisation and the tax breaks available to the wealthy aren’t targeted by this government. He is also claiming credit for the increase in employment of a thousand jobs a day and that this is led by business. But the reality is, according to Ross Gittin’s article in The Age today, that government infrastructure projects in Victoria and New South Wales have led to creation of 300,000 of those jobs. Additionally, the increase in health related jobs is caused by the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. While the jobs maybe in the private sector, they are funded by the government.

Stop this crap about small government. We want a just and fair society and we only ask that ALL of society contribute financially to this through taxes. NO MORE TAX CUTS!!

We Should Have Known

The Child Abuse Royal Commission lodged its 100 page report with the Governor General today. Thanks be to them for undertaking the harrowing task of hearing from all those victims of child abuse. Thanks to the victims for sharing your pain in order to allow us, Australian society, to protect our children into the future. To all those silent witnesses who suspected but did nothing, to those criminals who were told but refused to listen and protect children may you all suffer at the hands of your chosen god. Your victims may forgive but we as a society must never forgive or forget – our children are far to precious to allow anyone to get away with it.

To Malcolm Turnbull, you destroyed any lingering hopes I had today by holding a press conference to beg the people on Benalong to re-elect John Alexander so that Turnbull wouldn’t lose government. I had hoped that it was to recognise the work that the Royal Commission had done and to make a commitment to implement and fund all the recommendations made by the commissioners. Sadly, that was just an aside.

I suppose I was hoping that the politicians would stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about Australia as an inclusive society.

If This Was A Business

I’ve just been watching the news reports on the High Court case bought against the government for its use of the Contingency Fund to pay for the Marriage Equality postal survey. It occurred to me that if parliament were a business then the board would be calling for heads to roll. If you look at the enormous salaries paid to members of parliament (and for anybody who thinks that MPs don’t get paid a fortune I suggest you look at the Newstart allowance or wages for cleaners and the like to see the disparity) you have to ask where is their output? Why are they abrogating their duties to the shareholders (the electorate)? I suggest that as they are not carrying out the requirements of their job i.e. governing the country, making decisions that require the enactment or repeal of laws, they should be deemed as being on strike and their wages should be withheld.

Labor, The Greens and the cross benches are all implicated in this. You are all meant to be in parliament to further the good of the nation. Opposition for opposition sake should have died out with Tony Abbott’s demise as Opposition Leader. The public of Australia expect more from our parliament. They expect that the good of the nation is put first. Parliament is elected to act not equivocate. We should not be having a postal survey full stop. Parliament should not be the playground of internal party factions. The people of Australia have elected the parliament to act – get on with it.

A Marriage Equality Bill should be put before the Parliament and voted on. If the outcome does not suit the majority of voters they will have their chance to have their say at the next election. If the government won’t put a bill forward or blocks a Private Members then the opposing parties should pass a vote of no confidence in the government and those Coalition members that have pursued Marriage Equality should, at the very least, abstain from voting.

COME ON PARLIAMENT, ACT!

Change Has to be in the Air (Part 1)

The financial crisis of 2008 bought the failings of the Capitalist System (as it currently operates) in to stark relief. The bastions of capitalism, the banks, had abused their market position to initially write loans to clients with doubtful ability to repay them, using valuations that were dubious at best and fraudulent at worst. The Banks then on-sold those mortgages to unsuspecting/careless brokers and second tier banks. When the inevitable happened and the borrowers were unable to repay their loans, the Banks coerced governments into supporting the Banks with the mantra “To big to fail”.

The end result was that the working poor and the middle class ended up paying for the Banks’ systemic failures through cuts in social services, losing their jobs and losing their homes. The worst  of it was that everybody other than the rich were the ones that felt the pain. Superannuants were hit by the falling stock market and the cuts in interest rates. Governments around the world instituted austerity programs, cutting pensions and raising taxes on ordinary people. Social services were curtailed and yet not one banker in the United States was prosecuted. When questioned about such outrageous schemes such as short selling (where you sell shares that you do not own at a discount in order to drive the price down so you can make a profit by forward selling the same shares at a later date for a higher price) the response was that its legal because we’re the players in the market and we make the rules. I’d like to see anyone else who sells property that they don’t own,  successfully argue to a judge that what they did wasn’t fraud.

But this was all just a sideshow in the market place. The recent research released in the United States showing that the wealthiest in society have increased their wealth in the last twenty years by 80% and that productivity per capita has shown a marked increase (although its slowing now) while at the same time real wages have dropped by almost 8%. As Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots start eating into employment rates in the developed world the days of full time employment are disappearing.

In Australia, the problem has already reached previously untouched rates of under-employment and part time employment. With housing costs in the major capital cities rising to heights that make home ownership much harder for ordinary workers attain and even rental rates beginning to verge on the unsustainable something has to give. Its this sort of exclusion from society that leads to anti-social behaviour and increased crime rates. Even as the unemployment rate falls, wages are not increasing. This stagnation in wages growth hurts the economy in several ways – reduced ability to spend means that GDP drops on a per capita basis (and the capitalist system relies on increased consumption to keep the wheels turning) and the tax take by governments is reduced. But there is a solution.

(In the next instalment we talk about one possible solution)

The Robots Are Coming

Zan and Dr Karl’s guest today  is Quantum Physics Professor Stephen Bartlett. While they discuss heady quantum mechanics  topics, it confirms that with the increase in computing power, especially when quantum mechanics can be fully utilised in computing, the robots are coming. ABC news have been running articles all week on the future workplace that includes robots. As noted in the article on the 7.00 PM News, 5/7/2017, it will not just be labouring jobs that will be lost or those doing repetitive tasks. There are already computer programs that can find case studies in law that means lees junior lawyers or law clerks doing research for court cases.

Time for a new societal structure – stay tuned.

Stop Politicising Terror

To all those politicians that think that its quite alright to use the pain and suffering of the victims of terror to make political points STOP IT, ITS NOT ABOUT YOU.

That Malcom Turnbull could contemplate blaming the Victorian Government for the behaviour a terrorist thug in order to score political points for his state counterpart is beneath contempt. For Mathew Guy to blame Daniel Andrews and accuse him of being weak merely illustrates why Guy is on the opposition benches. The plain simple fact is that a criminal with intent to inflict terror on the good people of Melbourne formed a murderous plot in short order that could not have been seen by authorities. His own family apparently didn’t see it coming.

The head of the Adult Parole Board (Judge Peter Couzens) detailed at length the circumstances of Moron Number 100’s parole. I would recommend that all interested parties read it and absorb the facts before letting their mouths run off again. The depth and breadth of their considerations showed that the reforms carried out to the Victorian parole system after the Jill Meagher tragedy have led to a much improved system. The fact that Moron Number 100 played the system, the extent of which may become apparent following the thorough police investigation, does not mean that the system itself is broken.

Many people fail to understand the purpose of parole, viewing it as a means by which the convicted get to escape the confines of prison. In reality it is a mechanism by which society is able to place controls or requirements on a parolee in order to reduce recidivism. The conditions that were applied to Moron Number 100 were appropriate, his supervision was thorough (his first application for parole was rejected, the second only granted after he had undertaken courses relevant to his personal circumstances) and he was near to the completion of his sentence, at which time all supervision would cease. The events of Brighton have more to do with Moron Number 100’s inability to maintain a civilised life. No excuses, not even the fact that he had arrived as a refugee from Somalia. People make choices in life, not all of them wise or considered, and some people are pathetic in that they need to use violence as a method to prove their masculinity or their position in the world.

In any case, no politician directed this idiot’s behaviour, the Adult Parole Board did its job well, the Receptionist at Brighton was a good man who didn’t deserve this fate and politicians would do well to respect his memory.

God dammit, He’s back again

The belligerent buffoon has returned. Fresh from showing his two-faced climate belief credentials in the lower house as he joked about coal fired power stations, the country was melting under severe weather with even more records being broken today. Still its good for a laugh to pass the lump of coal around while South Australian’s lost power again, not because of renewable generation but because power companies were playing the system to increase the wholesale price of electricity and refusing to take up the Regulator’s request to increase output. But, hey, we’re not in parliament to look after the people, we are in parliament to look after ourselves (just ask Senator Ian McDonald as he bleats about having his entitlements cut even after he has lived off the public purse for 30 years and currently earns, nay receives, around $200,000 per year)

Its one thing to play political point scoring, its quite another to dismiss offhand the problems that are facing Australians and the rest of the world. This is the same clown who thinks there is nothing wrong cutting the Newstart allowance to 22 and 23 year olds and paying them under the Youth Allowance instead. Apparently landlords don’t charge full rent for these people and supermarkets offer them a discount on their food – buggar me I hadn’t realised. But wait there’s more – not steak knives but how about giving companies a tax cut while cutting welfare payments, lining up the old and the disabled for the firing squad while allowing multimillionaires tax breaks using negative gearing which keeps pushing up house prices especially for first home owners. But Scott the Twot says it will improve the economy and increase wages. Its a miracle! Mind you his own modelling says that the increase in GDP will be in the vicinity of 3.5% AFTER 20 YEARS! I thought he was bad as Immigration Minister but as Treasurer he seems to have become totally blind to the needs of the poor, working families, and ordinary hard working Australians in small business, while being only to happy to accomodate the rich, multinational companies, many of whom are dodging paying their fair share of tax.

This has to stop, you cannot persist in this thoroughly disreputable theory of Trickle-down Economics. It hasn’t worked, the disparity between rich and poor continues to grow and the vast majority of us are feeling powerless hence the desperate moves to whacko right wing political parties. If you want to save Australia, if you want to save the western democratic system, this basic current tenet of capitalism has to change. We can no longer (as if we ever could) trust the market to self regulate. They won’t act fairly because they know they will not be punished by governments, quite the opposite. If they stuff up governments use the taxes of the poor to bail out the rich, greedy capitalists. The poor have no power in this unequal relationship. This why governments have to intervene. If there is no shift in the current positions of the major parties, they will fail within four terms of the parliament and we will end up with unstable coalitions of either right or left leaning parties and policy failures as illustrated in the United States of America in both the Presidency and Congress.

You have been warned.

Time For Change

I wonder if you agree with me – its time to change Australia Day. Let’s face it, 26th January is really Sydney Day or, at best, NSW day. It really does not reflect anything about Australia as a whole. A true Australia Day would probably be the 1st January as a nod to our independence from Britain in 1901. But I think a more meaningful day would be 3rd June, the day on which the Mabo decision was handed down in 1992. This decision finally acknowledged the existence of the Aboriginal nations prior to white settlement and for the first time, acknowledged links with country.

I would say that this is the day that Australia finally matured into a fully fledged nation albeit with plenty of work still to be done. Nevertheless, it makes Australia one country belonging to us all.

3rd June has my vote.