Business and Banking call for CALMNESS. Workers beg for FAIRNESS (ODT)
Union members will stand together, whether it’s against a bullying local manager, or an entire wages system that profits only the very few, but there’s one issue that always receives unanimous and overwhelming support from the people I meet – that everyone needs to pay their fair share of tax.
Australia’s unionists may not all know the complexities of how tax avoidance operates, and they may not be across the ins and outs of each tax-minimising loophole and rort, but the reluctance of Australia’s rich to make taxation contributions that are in any way proportional to their wealth is as well known as it is enraging. When I explain to meetings of our members that there are 62 Australians who each earned $1 million last year and paid not one cent in tax – not even the Medicare levy – it is pitchfork time.
Outgoing chief minister Adam Giles delivers a succinct obituary for his one-term government, which had its 2012 16-seat win cut to two seats
But there was one missing, of course.
By Callen Sorensen-Karklis The 21st century Labor Party has a lot to offer Australians, despite being written off in recent times as a party of disunity during its 2007 – 2013 period of government. Labor still has a profound legacy that has helped positively steer Australia’s place in the world in the Asian century. Although…
Most of us have highly stereotypical, caricatured views of the parties’ respective strengths and weaknesses.
ALP fear their National Broadband Network policy has been leaked to the Liberal Party.
Before the last election Tony Abbott, like John Howard before him, promised there would be no change to the GST. Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb reiterated that promise in their final update on election commitments published on September 5, 2013. It confirms once and for all that: There are no cuts to education, health, defence…
The common media narrative on the ‘left’ of the Labor Party is that it’s leaders, like Anthony Albanese, are unelectable. John Passant disagrees.
The ALP, the Liberals, and the Greens – all trying to rewrite history in their own ink, for their own gain. Nick’s three-part series will set the record straight.
Myth # 1 – “The Whitlam Government was a shining example of progressive politics. Just like The Greens”.
This is a disgusting cheap shot and the biggest insult of all. Gough Whitlam’s entire political life was dedicated to the ALP. Never once did the man work for another party, never once did he renounce his faith, and never once did he align himself with the ridiculous noise that passes for “policy” on the far-left.
Within days of Gough’s passing, The Greens had the shameless audacity to post an image of the man with the caption “Vale Gough Whitlam” adjacent to their logo. They have since justified this mockery by blurring the memory of Gough’s ideas, picking and choosing a handful of their own, then dressing up them both up to make them seem like two peas in a pod. Nothing could be further from the truth.
For a start, Gough had no time for the pitiful ordeal of “protest politics”. Yelling slogans on a sunny afternoon, throwing a spanner into the works of anything and everything for the sake of it, then patting yourself on the back was never his style. Gough understood power was only useful by those who held it – which is how and why brought Labor back into power. The Greens have always been no more than a noisy fringe group, and so shall they remain forevermore.
Secondly, the Whitlam government had detailed, costed policies. Some worked, some didn’t. Regardless, these policies were based on extensive, evidence-based research, consultation with business, unions, academics, policy experts, community leaders, and the heads of government departments. While you can’t please everyone, Gough wanted to involve as much of the country as possible. Labor and Liberal have both used this approach – so much of their success or failure hinges on how well they pull this off. The Greens have never done this, nor will they ever. While the country gathers inside the political tent to sort out its problems, they stand outside pissing in.
Greenies have since offered the timid excuse that “the modern ALP bears no resemblance to the ALP Gough ran”, as though this somehow makes Gough a Greenie by default. This is a desperate attempt to climb back out of the gutter. The entire nation bears little resemblance the Australia of the 1970s. The entire world, in fact. The political landscape has been completely transformed, as both major parties have lurched to the right and the old socialist-capitalist warfare has faded. A new era of free market economics reigns supreme.
To claim Whitlam as a Green simply because the times suit them would be as pathetic and low as the ALP claiming Menzies as one of their own. Our longest serving PM and a blue-blooded Liberal, he ran targeted deficits when needed, expanded access to tertiary education, boosted immigration, funded the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme to deliver clean energy to the country, launched ABC television, pushed for aboriginal voting rights, boosted foreign aid, and built close ties with Singapore and Malaysia. The ALP could argue that this makes the bloke Labor through and through.
But they’ve got their own heroes – Keating, Curtin, Chifley, Hawke, and of course, Whitlam. The Liberals have the likes of Menzies and Howard. Even the bogans in Queensland who vote One Nation or The Nationals had Pauline Hanson and Joh Bjelke-Petersen. The Greens? Not one noteworthy, charismatic, or influential character. The closest they’ve come is Bob Brown – who was accurately described by one of Keating’s speechwriters as a bloke who looks, acts, and preaches like a Mormon on a bicycle missing his other half. Neither he nor his party have ever come close to legend status.
The Greens are spineless and desperate – Gough lived and died as a man of the Australian Labor Party.
Within hours of the news that Gough Whitlam had died, age 98, the mantra of ‘hopeless economic management’ started to flow.
According to those who clearly loathe Whitlam and anything vaguely socially progressive, Fairfax and The Australian had stories where the Tea Party faithful in Australia wrote or were quoted saying, Whitlam was the worst Prime Minister Australia had seen, he was economically damaging, that he set up the culture of entitlement especially for health and university education, that he created the mentality of the dole bludger and so on.
I am sure you get the drift.
The criticisms were, as far as I can tell, nothing to do with managing the macroeconomy or the budget. They were focussed on the perception that he allocated too much government money to healthcare, education and the aged. That may or may not be the case, but no one has said why it matters or indeed, by how much the spending was excessive and exactly why it remains a problem.
No one has articulated and demonstrated why the clear and dramatic lift in government spending some four decades ago is so damaging today. Nor have they shown how those criticisms have manifest themselves into things Australia has not experienced such as prolonged sluggish economic growth, falling living standards, problems on the budget, chronic unemployment or whatever.
No substance, only high brow fact-free opinion and zealotry.
The scathing criticisms of Whitlam and his legacy need to be put in some context.
Since his sacking, some 39 years ago, the Coalition parties have been in power for about 20 years, so one would have thought that if the Whitlam legacy was so bad, so damaging, so horribly yukky, that Fraser’s seven years, Howard’s 11 and a half years and Abbott’s 13 months in office would have, in at least one of their budgets, scaled back, reversed and once and for all ended, the Whitlam economic legacy.
On that score, it is interesting to note that in 1975-76, government spending to GDP was 24.3 per cent. The Fraser government saw this rise to 25.8 per cent of GDP by 1982-83. (Not those bloody facts again!)
With Mr Hockey’s budget less than six months ago, government spending to GDP, even allowing for the cuts that were announced, was estimated to be 25.3 per cent of GDP in 2014-15 and at or above 24.7 per cent of GDP in every year of the forward estimates. So Abbott and Hockey’s small government budget had spending a bit lower that Fraser, but still above the ‘big spending’ Whitlam budgets.
That’s the first point to note.
Could it be the electorate like the government to have some role in health, education, aged and disability care?
My guess is ‘yes’. Look at the public’s reaction to the Abbott government’s proposed Medicare co-payment, university fee hikes and cuts to unemployment benefit eligibility.
It is also interesting to note that in the early 1970s, government spending in the US rose sharply, by around 3 per cent of GDP in about half a decade. Surely Gough did not influence Nixon and Ford to spend, spend, spend? Maybe the social changes of the 1960s and 1970s in the western world saw the electorate demand, and get, a greater role from government.
And a few final fiscal facts:
Whitlam government left zero net government debt to Fraser – in June 1976, net debt was minus 0.4 per cent of GDP (that is, the government had financial assets). When The Fraser government lost in 1983, it had boosted net government debt to 7.5 per cent of GDP.
When Whitlam left office, the tax to GDP ratio was around 20 per cent. The Howard government got this up to an all time record tax take exceeding 24 per cent of GDP (in today’s dollars, 4 per cent of GDP is a stonking $65 billion per year).
Even Mr Hockey’s ‘low tax’ budget has the tax take at 23.2 per cent of GDP by 2017-18, some 3 per cent of GDP above anything Whitlam achieved.
Small government, big government?
It is funny how facts can smash perceptions.
Footnote: All the data on spending and tax are from Mr Hockey’s budget papers.
The questionable loyalty of Anthony Albanese
Anthony Albanese broke ranks on Labor’s support for the Abbott government’s enhanced national security measures – but whose interests did he really serve by doing so?
Many Labor supporters therefore breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday when the opposition spokesman on infrastructure and transport Anthony Albanese broke ranks on the party’s support for the Abbott government’s enhanced national security measures.
Albanese became the first senior Labor MP to voice concern about the lack of parliamentary debate on the nevertheless bipartisan decision to participate in the joint military action in Iraq. More importantly, he cautioned that the new counter-terrorism laws had not received enough scrutiny by the parliament and, by implication, from the Labor party.
Albanese’s intervention has been welcomed, at least in some parts of the Labor camp, and certainly by supporters on social media. This small act of rebellion no doubt reinforced Albo’s standing as the darling of Labor’s left (who incidentally still feel they were robbed when their man won the popular vote for the Labor leadership but ultimately lost out to the powerbrokers of the right who used their numbers in the ALP caucus to install their man Shorten instead).
Whatever strategy Albanese has in play, either in trying to keep the disenchanted left in the Labor tent, or making Labor more competitive by wresting the leadership from Shorten, it’s hard to fault his overall motivation. Whatever his personal ambition, Labor’s fiercely tribal warrior exists mainly to “fight Tories” and see his beloved party returned to government.
But if Albo does hold greater ambitions for his party than he does for himself, he’d do well to remember one thing: there’s only one thing voters will reject quicker than an uncompetitive Labor party, and that’s one riddled with the internecine wars that brought down the Rudd and Gillard governments.