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.
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.
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!
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)
In a world saddled with sadness as innocents abroad have their lives or loved ones taken by acts of violence either malevolent or accidental, a light has shone in the world when researchers at RMIT revealed their success in creating a paint made of cheap and readily available materials that has the ability to use Solar Energy to convert airborne water into Hydrogen and Oxygen. The fact that they have achieved this is remarkable in itself but then they topped that by deciding to release the details without seeking a patent so that the technology can be taken up by others to make it commercially available as soon as possible.
The details of their work were revealed in The Age ( Solar Paint -16/07/2017 ) and I can only say that I find their reasoning reassuring – there are good people in the world. Lets just hope that the businesses that take advantage of their largesse don’t attempt to take advantage of consumers. This has the potential to change the world for the better – Donald can forget about ignoring Climate Change, this one discovery has the potential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions back to previously unobtainable levels.
Thank you RMIT lead researcher Dr Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh and your team.
I understand that people can fill disconnected from the societies they live – poverty, unemployment, bigotry or sexuality are often used as tools to beat up on people, young and old. I cannot understand how that disconnect entitles you to brutalise the innocent. If you are truly disaffected shouldn’t you be taking it out on those in positions of power? To say that attacking children at a social outing is justifiable jihad only illustrates how distorted their view of the world is. For someone to carry out a suicide bombing in these circumstances shows that they have been brainwashed and manipulated by gutless criminal cowards who are to afraid to take on tough targets themselves. Added to this mix is an increasing suspicion that these people have below average intelligence. This is the only way that I can understand that they are able to justify what they are doing. Even the innocent children that they slaughtered in Manchester would have a better capacity to see what they were doing was wrong and that it certainly didn’t further the criminals’ aims if they were looking for acceptance. These low life are obviously not students of history, or else they would be aware of the fairness and integrity of the Saracens during the so called crusades that led them to be victorious over the invading armies. Nor have they noted how brutal dictators like Hitler, Amin and the Khmer Rouge all get their comeuppance as good people around the world rise up and defeat them with unity and love.
To anybody out there that reads this and thinks that they have legitimate reasons to hate the western democracies, talk to me. Explain it so I might understand and help you find a better way. Infamy is not fame or fortune, cruel criminal acts are not carried out by true warriors, Islam doesn’t belong to bigoted murderers.
You want a better life – do it by loving life.
For those wishing to see the future of Australia as seen through the eyes of the Liberal dries and their cronies, have a look at the Four Corners (http://iview.abc.net.au/) episode broadcast on 13th March 2017. Prepared by a french documentary team, it shows the end results of a low wage policy and how extremely profitable companies are abusing their power and using dubious methods to cut the wages of their employees. One example, GE, distributed $26 billion to its shareholders last year while at the same time closing a locomotive factory in one state and opening a new one in Texas where they are able to pay their employees half what they are paid at the existing plant.
We continue to see this sort of behaviour in Australia. The Liberals privatised the power market in Victoria with the promise of cheaper power through competition between retailers and improved efficiencies in production of power. The end result has been ever increasing cost of electricity to consumers and ever increasing profits to both power retailers and wholesalers . Its worth noting how the retailers have no qualms in ripping off consumers that return solar energy back to the grid. Retailers pay wholesalers approximately $0.28 per kilowatt for power but only pay customers $0.06 for the power they produce to then sell it to the next door customer for full price. The market supposedly has its behaviour controlled by market pressure but, as we constantly see, this is simply untrue. Large companies collude to limit pay rises for their employees while scratching each others backs when it comes to executive pay. Consumers have little power in the market – they have to take the prices offered because companies operating in a global market can sell their goods to whomever pays the highest price (e.g. natural gas shortages in Australia because the asian consumers will pay more for it). Governments cannot force them to take lower prices as they would then be accused of attempting to nationalise an industry or of breaching free trade agreements. The reality is that the rich, that is the shareholders, don’t care what poor people have to pay as long as the rich continue reaping obscene profits and have the ability to live the lifestyle they desire.
Rich Australians, compared to their overseas counterparts, are more self serving and less altruistic. Occasionally one of them makes a grand gesture that makes it into the media because it is so rare. I commend those people but would encourage them to become the conscience of the rich and show them they need to share the wealth with all Australians, especially their employees.
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.
Well that didn’t take long – I made a New Year’s resolution to update the blog everyday and I managed to miss out the first one of the year. 2016 started well but spiralled down towards the end with two of my loved ones suffering serious illnesses. We can only hope that 2017 will bring us hope and relief from the illnesses at hand.
In the meantime we’ve got Trump’s presidency to look forward to – or not