May 19th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The real cost of institutionalised child care

EDITORIAL AGL dismisses $250m bid for Liddell Power Station

GENDER POLITICS As Queensland transgenders birth certificates, 300 women quit UK Labour Party

CANBERRA OBSERVED No pressure on Malcolm to call election this year

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Can Greens regenerate, or are they mulch?

POLITICS Conservative shift in the Victorian Liberal Party

OPINION No fairytale ending from the Land of a Fair Go

LAW REFORM The Nordic Model: proven to curtail sex trafficking

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Committal hearing dismisses main serious charges against Cardinal Pell

GENDER AND ETHICS Transgenderism and the dissolution of identity

PHILOSOPHY The supercharged cheetah

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS One Belt, One Road: China's new empire


MUSIC Business as usual: The sweet tinkle of falling coins

CINEMA Avengers: Last Flag Flying and Infinity War

BOOK REVIEW A hungry beast that ate up 4 million lives

BOOK REVIEW Skewed analysis of republic in crisis



CANBERRA OBSERVED Bill Shorten's Budget-Reply speech: for what ails you

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Behind the U.S.-North Korea rapprochement

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Bill Shorten's Budget-Reply speech: for what ails you

by NW Contributor

News Weekly, May 19, 2018

Bill Shorten’s Budget-in-Reply speech in Thursday night, May 10, encapsulated a simple game plan – the pitting of one Australian against another in order to get elected.

There is always someone worse off, someone being ripped off, someone who is disadvantaged, someone who isn’t getting what they should be getting, and someone who can’t make ends meet or is “doing it tough”.

And conversely there is someone else who is the exploiter, the winner, the morally bankrupt contributor to the same situation.

Inevitably, the perpetrators of undistributed wealth are the big banks, the multinationals and the “top end of town”, while the Coalition Government itself is the conscious and deliberate enabler of injustice against the “working class”, a phrase Mr Shorten used repeatedly in his speech.

If you are old, you aren’t being looked after properly by the younger employed generation; if you are young, the wealthy baby boomer generation is stopping you getting ahead.

In Mr Shorten’s world, disadvantage, injustice, and unfairness is everywhere and only a Labor government can restore the balance, fix the injustice and reinstitute fairness.

“Tonight is about a Fair Go for everyone who wants the best for their kids and their future,” Mr Shorten said in his speech.

“A Fair Go for every part of our nation – from bush to coast, from growing cities and suburbs right throughout the country.

“And a Fair Go for the real forgotten people: working families, pensioners and Australians doing it tough.”

In short, Mr Shorten wants to pick up every disgruntled group in the land, bundle them all up into one collective cry of unfairness, and have them install him in the Lodge.

“Tonight I’m pleased to advise, that in our first Budget, we will deliver a bigger, better and fairer tax cut for 10 million working Australians,” Mr Shorten said.

“This is our pledge to 10 million working Australians: Under Labor, you will pay less income tax – because I think you are more important than multinationals, big banks and big business.”

The Australian editorialised on the Shorten speech the following morning: “Bill Shorten’s speech, built around short-term populism, was yet another crass appeal to the politics of envy.”

The newspaper pointed out that Mr Shorten himself was once an advocate for company tax cuts to make Australia more competitive, as well a champion for a flatter three-tier tax system.

“Now he dismisses the idea as a ‘handout to big business, banks and multinationals’ – a stance that will cost jobs and investment if the Coalition’s corporate tax plan, which is fully funded, is blocked in the Senate,” The Australian editorial continued.

Mr Shorten criticised the Government’s own tax proposal as mean and inadequate and just “another mates rates plan” from the Liberal Party.

“This Prime Minister is so out of touch, he thinks, if you get $10 a week, you’ll be fine with the banks getting a $17 billion giveaway,” he said of the Government’s tax plan.

In some sections of the speech, Mr Shorten’s hyperbole on being able to fix things verged on the ridiculous: “We promise young Australians that we will not leave you a ruined reef and rivers and oceans choked with waste.”“[This is] at a time of flat wages, growing inequality and a greater sense of unfairness in this community. When too many jobseekers are stuck in poverty, when children go to school hungry, when women fleeing family violence can’t find safe accommodation.”

The Coalition’s Budget plan is to flatten the income tax scales, eliminating bracket creep over the coming seven years but with a tax cut now for low to middle-income earners.

But Mr Shorten is totally dismissive of the plan to permit aspirational Australians earning more overtime, getting pay rises or more income from their small business, still to get to keep their hard-earned higher wages.

“How on earth can it be fair for a nurse on $40,000 to pay the same tax rate as a doctor on $200,000?” Mr Shorten asked.

“For a cleaner to pay the same tax rate as a CEO?

“How can it be fair that, under this tax experiment, the doctor earns five times as much as the nurse but his tax cut is 16 times bigger?”

Already, the top 10 per cent taxpayers pay 45 per cent of all tax, but Mr Shorten wants them to pay more.

However, the real area in his speech where a Shorten Labor government would let loose is on the spending side.

Mr Shorten reaffirmed that Labor would pour another $17 billion into schools over the coming decade; hospitals would receive an extra $2.8 billion; universities would gain even more fully funded places, while TAFE colleges would get an extra 100,000 places, many of which would be provided “free” to train more apprentices.

Mr Shorten has promised an impossible “winning trifecta”: tax cuts for middle and working-class Australia; proper funding for hospitals, schools and the safety net; and pay back more of Australia’s national debt faster.

No doubt the rhetoric is appealing to the groups that the Labor Party is targeting. The policies are populist and the outcome a potential election winner.

The question is, what cost will this gigantic and unprecedented sugar hit be to the Australian economy?

Mr Shorten promises to unleash class warfare such as has not been seen in Australia in decades, paid for by a massive increase in taxes.

Will it work electorally? Who knows, but the Opposition Leader is pledging to take Australia down a road so profligate it would make Kevin Rudd blush.

And this is before getting his hands on the Treasury benches.

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