An investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes can reveal that a criminal syndicate known as “The Company” used Crown-linked bank accounts and high-roller rooms to launder its funds, with Crown licensing and paying syndicate members to generate turnover in its Melbourne and Perth casinos.
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 coalition is bringing us these new opportunities too
The poor today can shop online, paying in installments, or walk into traditional retailers such as Kmart that now offer in-store leasing. The most striking change in the world of low-income commerce has been the proliferation of rent-to-own stores such as Buddy’s Home Furnishings, which has been opening a new store every week, largely in the South.
At rental centers the poor find themselves paying effective annual interest rates of more than 100 percent. With business models such as “rent-to-own,” in which transactions are categorized as leases, stores like Buddy’s can avoid state usury laws and other regulations.
And yet low-income Americans increasingly have few other places to turn. “Congratulations, You are Pre-Approved,” Buddy’s says on its Web site, and the message plays to America’s bottom 40 percent. This is a group that makes less money than it did 20 years ago, a group increasingly likely to string together paychecks by holding multiple part-time jobs with variable hours.
At the Buddy’s in Cullman, some 75 percent of items are returned or repossessed within weeks of the transaction, store manager Angela Shutt says. And nationally, the percentage of returns has been gradually ticking upward — a sign of growing struggles for lower-income workers, said Joe Gazzo, the president of Buddy’s.
In 2008, Buddy’s had 80 stores. Now it has 204. By 2017 it wants to have 500. Gazzo said that company revenue is rising at double-digit levels annually, even as it contends with a new wave of rent-to-own Web sites.
Australia’s richest seven people have more wealth than the bottom 1.73 million households combined. Most people think that’s a problem. Amanda Vanstone, on the other hand, seems to think the bottom 1.73 million should be thankful.
“The politics of envy”. This is Amanda Vanstone’s condescending dismissal of concerns over Australia’s rapidly growing gap between its richest and poorest citizens.
How often, she asks, have we heard that wealth inequality is growing and that something is wrong with this? How often? One fewer times than necessary, it seems.
Vanstone says that 2 per cent of taxpayers pay more than 25 per cent of all income tax, and suggests this is something we should be grateful to the wealthiest for.
But the reason so few pay so much tax is that income inequality is so great. That is, 2 per cent pay 25 per cent of tax because 2 per cent earn so much more than the rest of us. The statistics she quotes is a symptom of income inequality, and the starkness of the figure reveals the starkness of the problem.
With a progressive income tax system such as ours, where those at the top end claim a larger and larger share of total income, it is inevitable that they will pay a larger share of tax. Is she suggesting that the wealthy should pay less tax as their share of total income rises?
“Make no mistake”, she continues, “we need Australians to get rich”.
Nobody became a teacher, police officer or nurse to get their name on the BRW Rich List. They’re not in it to “get rich”. Is Australia really best served by having our daycare centre workers striving to be the next Gina Rinehart? Do we want teachers and ambulance drivers ruthlessly chasing wealth?
Vanstone relies on the stale class rhetoric of the 1980s when she claims that “since only about 45 per cent of the population pay income tax, it followers that, on average, taxpayers have to pay twice that amount in tax in order to fund welfare.”
Cue the pitchforks. Welfare queenism is alive and well, it seems. Or, at least it seems that way, until you consider this significant addendum, curiously unmentioned by the columnist: almost half of the 7.4 million adult Australians who don’t pay tax are either retirees – who have worked and paid tax their whole lives – or students, who are soon to start working and paying tax their whole lives.
When Vanstone grumbles that taxpayers are being asked to “fund welfare” to the tune of “more than a month’s work for many”, is she suggesting that pensioners shouldn’t be supported in their old age?
Is she suggesting that students shouldn’t be supported in getting an education? It is strange that she forgets to tell us that university graduates go on to make substantially more income than those without a degree. And via income tax, they more than pay back into the system what they’ve received, as Education Minister Christopher Pyne is so fond of reminding us.
If we want a prosperous Australia, we want an equal Australia. Vanstone’s defence of the 1 per cent (or is it 2 per cent?) calls on all of us to focus less on the gap between rich and poor, and more on social mobility. We don’t want to attack the rich, we want to create more rich!
This ignores the fact that the two are inseparable. Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, Standard & Poor’s, and the IMF have all released research backed by rigorous analysis that demonstrates inequality hinders economic growth. It is now economic orthodoxy that too much inequality makes growth volatile and unstable.
But Vanstone is not really concerned about the economics. For her, this is an ideological issue, shabbily dressed up as an economic one.
Vanstone asks us to make a choice that doesn’t exist. We do not need to choose between taxing the rich more and having less rich. We don’t have to choose between having less inequality and having less total income. If anything, the opposite is true.
Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh reminded us in March that “Australia is a stronger nation when we act together than when we pull apart”. If this is true, Vanstone’s derisive and inflammatory rhetoric is out of step with Australia’s sense of the fair go.
The economic debate is over. If we want Australia to be a richer nation, we must also want it to be a fairer nation.
So Joe Hockey is telling us that we can’t afford to go to war and Tony Abbott is telling us that we can. Joe Hockey is the more persistent of the two, today telling us that Labor needed to pass stalled budget measures to pay for Iraq war.
To Bill Shorten’s credit he asked Tony Abbott whether he backed Joe Hockey’s comments. There was, of course, no response. Tony Abbott would have looked a fool if he had answered the question, and still manages to look like a fool for remaining silent. Perhaps, in future, before he talks about our fiscal position he might want to confer with the Treasurer. Whilst I have no confidence in the Treasurer (or the PM) it would be a big plus if they trumpeted a consistent message. Seriously, do these fools know what they’re doing?
As you can see it’s easy to assume that the Bible might have been talking about these too men with the quote, which I will repeat:
The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips.
I am also unable to comprehend why the media in this country hasn’t asked the same simple questions as Bill Shorten. One says we can afford to go to war, while the other says we can’t. And the media swallow each comment without even thinking of saying; “Hang on, the other day the Prime Minister/Treasurer said . . . “.
But can these fools ever be trapped with their lips while the media allows them to flap them about so thoughtlessly?
The ATO is DEREGULATED REVENUE is now INVISIBLE
Bill Shorten accuses the government during Tuesday’s question time of going soft on corporate tax avoidance; All Tony Abbott could say is Labor did nothing in government. Is that his justifcation. Staff will be need to be increased to supervise his welfare cuts.
The Abbott government was warned that the Australian Tax Office was ill-equipped to tackle a potential multibillion-dollar international tax dodge as it prepared to cut 3000 ATO staff.At a time when Treasurer Joe Hockey is touting Australia’s efforts in conjunction with the G20 to close international tax loopholes, the Tax Office no longer has a dedicated team to fight the problem.
The irony of it all the ATO’s most experienced staff in tracking international profits have moved to the big four accounting firms, where they now advise the nation’s biggest companies on how to minimise their tax. Furthermore they have left without passing on their knowledge, Good one Mr Abbott
Mr Hockey has been accused of
“hectoring the ATO” to clamp down on multinational profit shifting and tax avoidance.
“But at the same time he has gutted the workforce that would actually deliver on that. By cutting over 3,000 tax officers, the Abbott government has allowed decades’ worth of experience in this highly specialised area of tax law to just walk out the door,” he said.
Global crackdown on tax havens fails to sway Australian companies
There would be no deficit Mr Hockey. If you collected what Mr Murdoch and others have been allowed to forego: Murdoch alone $1.5billion.
How is it that I paid 35% income tax and 30% company tax throughout my working life and the largest companies pay less than 10% and you call them lifters.?????
If you only read The Australian, or any Murdoch media listen to the views of some politicians, or 2GB you would think that the ABC is struggling to provide fair coverage of events, is biased in its politics and its science, and that it is wasting tax-payers’ dollars. Have you noticed that journalists critical of the ABC Andrew Bolt for one have started to call it “the taxpayer-funded ABC with it’s leftist bias.
Well Andrew Bolt, what do taxpayers actually think about “their ABC”? Over 84% of Australians believe that the national broadcaster provides a valuable service to the community. Moreover, 84% believe that its reporting is accurate and fair; 80% think that it does a good job on country and regional issues and 78% that ABC TV is of high quality. Does Newscorp rate nearly as well?
How much does it cost and what do we get for that? It is interesting to compare the ABC budgets from almost 30 years ago to now in terms of real funding.
In 1986, with $906.3M the ABC employed 6092 fulltime equivalent staff, had one analog television channel, 38 radio sites, Radio National and ABC Classic FM with 90% coverage, and 2JJ, as it was known then, servicing only Sydney.
Last financial year, with $825.7 million, the ABC had 4,679 staff with four major digital TV channels (ABC1, ABC2/ABC4Kids, ABC3 and ABC News 24) and an incredibly successful online catch-up service. The average audience reach varies from nearly 10 million for ABC1 to just over 3 million for ABC3, with an astonishing 20 million plays a month for iView. There are 60 local radio sites, nationwide RN, Triple J and Classic FM, plus ABC podcasts downloaded 71 million times. ABC online has 19.5 million visits per month and there are now over 25 smart phone and tablet apps.
News corp couldn’t begin to dream of that value for money. Any wonder you would love to see it privatised. Murdoch would snap it up in a second and proceed to tarnish it beyond recognition.
What about quality? The Board receives regular data on how citizens value ABC content and we continue to be impressed by these reviews. As a scientist, I believe there is ample evidence to support the conclusion that the ABC is fulfilling its charter to help Australians to participate more fully as informed citizens in a democracy. The ABC is crucial because we are poorly served by other parts of the media. Too often, problems become politicised, the science is discarded and rational debate and decision-making go out the window.
For instance the ABC’s reporting accurately reflects the science on coal and CSG and the lower environmental impact of renewable, (particularly with regard to the emission of greenhouse gas. The requirement for ‘balance’ does not mean that bad science should be reported with the same emphasis as good science.
We are now in a situation where a major commercial news organisation Newscorp is denigrating the ABC with a vicious, sustained campaign which is extremely damaging to our public broadcaster and to the nation. The ABC has already had to make compromises: the Government has cut the Australia Network so the Charter obligation to broadcast news and entertainment to countries outside Australia has to be fulfilled by making cuts elsewhere. We have lost some of our top journalists in this process. Further cuts have been announced and these are just the beginning. Tony Abbott talks National Security but has handed Pacific Nation Broadcasting to China on a platter. Newscorp attacks the ABC for being left bias what then is China Mr Bolt.
Australians must realise what implications there are for the nation’s capacity to be a well-informed and therefore a competent country and it’s not by reading,listening or watching The Bolt Report or Bolt Blog that’s for certain.
China’s dirty coal ban will lose us billions of dollars in sales. Why air pollution in China. Abbott has said there’s no point in pursuing RET’s as they will have no effect on the global environment China and other major polluters don’t do anything. Well China now has. Guess Abbott’s argument will need to change. We don’t need to do anything because the worlds biggest polluters are now doing it for us. Would you employ him as a sales person for your company? The country has.
What are we going to do with our dirty coal if it takes 2 years to ship to China instead of one we can’t put up it’s already dropped to cost out of the ground. We can sack the workers whose jobs Abbott was saving. We could close 50% of those mines we have subsidised at least Clive Palmer has a job and assetts like cars to sell unless the bank owns them.
What do financial advisers really mean when they say “We are all trying to sort out what is going on. the information is fairly fluid right now” Your money is going down the drain. We will have to find ways of using more coal here at home gut the RETs
Our coal producers say China is propping up their own mines due to their economic slow down it really has nothing to do with pollution. They can’t dare admit it’s long-term can they. Caught between a rock and a hard place , ‘lie’. Another sound bite coming from the Minerals Council is “there is no evidence that it will affect Australia”. How much spin and bullshit can you put on this. Palmer has “the Chinese are fucking liars they really want our coal. They want our coal. Please want my coal” this is like the captain of the Titanic telling his passengers and crew not to panic the hole in the hull is a good thing it’s letting the water out.
We have reserves of good coal which will continue to be in demand is another line. Does this mean mines we have already subsidised will close and we will be then asked to subsidise new ones. If I was a mining company I wouldn’t worry too much nothing needs to come out of the ground and the government cheques will keep coming it’s Corporate Welfare.
Kevin Andrews Oh f**k they say he’s even further right than Abbott. He has $20 mill and can’t give it away. 100,000 marriage counseling vouchers for de facto couples in the hope they might get married. $200 a pop and he has off loaded only 4000. How Catholic of him he and his wife get done as R&R every now and then. My partner and I have been in a de facto relationship for 43 years. I wonder what the counselor would have to say to us. The majority of our friends have been serially married maybe he should find takers amongst them. But know it’s only for de factos. He apparently has been trying the wedding fairs and nobody stops. Because their in love Kevin. Sounds as if he will get rid of them in 2016 in the LNP election showbag
In December 2013, as Social Services Minister, Andrews introduced to the House of Representatives a bill repealing almost all of the gambling harm-minimisation measures passed by the Gillard Labor government in November 2012. a straight capitulation to the power of the pokies lobby,”.
Australian Hotels Association are on of the top donars to the liberal party.
We currently hear from our Social Services minister:Mr Andrews has already revealed the government is looking at changes that would see more people under the age of 40 on the DSP checked to see whether they could work and temporary payments for potentially impermanent conditions to prevent the number of those in the system from ballooning to one million.Under Mr Andrews’ mooted change, disability pensioners who were assessed by their family doctors – before Labor tightened the system in 2011 – would be re-examined by medical experts at the Department of Human Services.
” nation’s welfare system is “unsustainable” and large, urgent changes must be made to the disability pension and the general unemployment benefit.”
Andrews is pushing the idea that pensioners suffering “episodic” illnesses such as depression should be given monthly or quarterly medical certificates rather than getting two-year “set and forget” pensions. This idea, he said, was particularly important given there were now more disability pensioners suffering from psychological conditions. However Mr Andrews was able to find $20 million for marriage guidance counseling vouchers. This of course has nothing to do with the fact that he and his wife are/were involved in the marriage counseling business.
On August 4th, Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews launched 2014 Homeless Persons Week
“We have made a good start with all states and territories signing the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, which will allow us to start working collaboratively to achieve a lasting legacy of helping all Australians find appropriate housing.”
What Mr Andrews fails to point out is that the states and territories already had a signed deal with the previous government and he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to renew that commitment, but in so doing, he cut $44 million that was to be spent on capital works or 10,000 houses.
Kevin Andrew’s media release:
“In the year ahead we will review housing and homelessness policies and programmes to examine ways to improve housing supply and affordability. This review will feed into the Government’s White Papers on Reform of the Federation and on taxation.”
Urgent has been yet again replaced by investigative committees and exhaustive consultaion to look into the matter.
When talking about the importance of education in breaking the cycle of homelessness, Tony Abbott made much of his decision to spend $30 million on truancy officers to keep aboriginal kids in school. He did not mention that his government cut $1.6 million in funding in November for a school bus service that transported students from town camps to five schools in Alice Springs. The plan is to punish the parents for their children’s inability to get to school.
Add to this the cuts to legal aid and family violence programs, the closure of many refuges, and the withdrawal of any support for young people for half the year, and it is clear that this government has no concern about a growing problem and are instead exacerbating the situation of our most vulnerable citizens.It appears Andrews is reflecting on how to abrogate any federal responsibility by passing the buck to the states.
With the crisis in youth unemployment, and the government’s focus on “earn or learn”, they also made the inexplicable decision to cut funding to the Youth Connections program which provides funding to local youth services to support young people at risk of disengaging from education and work. This has been regarded as an extremely successful program. Youth Connections fills a critical gap in services and with youth unemployment at crisis levels in some areas, it’s just not the time to be cutting a program like this.”The average cost of putting a young person through a Youth Connections program is just over $2000. Youth Connections works, it’s cost effective and it makes absolutely no sense when the Government’s talking about reducing unemployment to cut the very programs that help unemployed young people into the training they need or into the jobs that they can stick to.
I believe he thinks he is doing extremely well as the Minister for Homelessness as those figures are showing a marked rise. I can picture Kevin and Eric doing high fives in the corridors of parliament celebrating the rises in their respective graphs
This governments cry for deregulation of the financial industry is going to achieve exactly what multi nationals want and what 1%ers would like a gold rush of opportunity but only for those at the top.
Abbott’s coalition are either fully aware of what they are doing or under the misguided belief in a trickle down effect that will benefit all. Bullshit there’s more generosity at the the middle and lower end of the social hierachy than there is at the top.
Immigration regulations have been increased to such that assylum seekers have been disappeared they no longer exist. Scott Morrison has no information on anything, his dept employs 90 spin doctors, media managers who don’t only watch his words but scrutinizes ours throughout the social media. Comic to the extreme we have a bigger Immigration Dept doing more things about nothing. Transparacy is not required because there’s nothing to be transparant about, just ask a spin doc…..er….spokesperson.
Deregulation however is only one side of the coin. More regulation is the other. Kevin Andrews wants more Welfare. He wants want’s to micro-manage what individual recipients recieve and what they can and can’t spend with their payments . The very nature of this magnified state control starts to smack of the most extreme facism.
Corporate trustees are given virtual carte blanche to administer, invest and disburse the money in charitable trusts, and critics say they charge whatever fees they deem appropriate. Yet as calls mount for greater regulation of the sector, the government is moving to axe the watchdog. Sarah Dingle
Yep the Charity Watchdog is to be axed and the industry to self regulate. Money left in wills for charities is a ‘rivers of gold’ situation for corporate trustees, who are entitled to administer the money in perpetuity. Corporate trustees administering a fund for the Childrens Hospital have diminished it’s capital over the past 5 years by about $20mill in those 5 years the Corporate trustee took $2mill in fees. By comparison, the Children Hospital’s own self managed foundation managed to grow it’s capital by 10 per cent and distribute $80 million to the hospital in the same timeframe. 90% of these corporate trustees have $3.5bill are under the sole management. Currently they can be the trustee, the investor, the administrator and the disburser of the funds, and they don’t have to show that all those charges are fair and reasonable,’’Rivers of Gold”. Andrews wants to axe the ACNC and handball the fee gouging issues to the States. Charities Commissioner Susan Pascoe says State regulation is non existing. In WA there is no cap on fees that can be charged. These Corporate trustees apply the same fee structures to the trusts of disabled, mentally impaired across the board. Andrews isn’t saving money he’s handing the problem over to the states were no protective structures exist.
The Dept of Trade and Froreign Affaire is in secret TPP trade negotiation revealed by WIKI leaks which demand deregulation to open up the freer market for Multinational corporations . Yes but not for the interests of all of us. Australian bank regulations which saved us from the GFC pain that Europe & the US experienced are going to be loosened up. It was deregulation of the financial markets that caused the GFC in the first place. This government wants to remove our safety net & say we are “open for business”. The flip side is that we the consumers are to be effected by the new TPP agreements . We will pay more for drugs and medicines, movies, computer games and software, IT and be placed under surveillance as part of a US-led crackdown on internet piracy. ”One could see the TPP as a Christmas wish list for major corporations, enriching them and their investors but of no help those in the middle, let alone those at the bottom. Goods will become more expensive, pharmaceuticals, IT, software, entertainment, food packaging, among other things will go up. The belief that economic growth is the key to benefit for all is a myth. This governments ear is only open to those guaranteed to win putting the bulk of the population at greater risk. Those 10% at the top will make more money and be overcompensated for the price rises and the other 90% gouged.