June 2nd 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The Greens: the political equivalent of bilgewater

EDITORIAL Malaysian election sends shockwaves across South-East Asia

GENDER AND SPORT Transgender playing in women's football league gains attention

CANBERRA OBSERVED Beyond tomorrow a bridge too far for politicians to plan

ENERGY Why renewables destabilise the power grid

LAW AND FREEDOM Exemptions: at issue with Dr Zimmermann

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

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Two to tango: Where to now for U.S. and China?

LIFE ISSUES So, is this not pro-life?

POLITICS AND CULTURE The West won the world but may lose its soul

MILITARY BIOGRAPHY Commanders: the men who resolve questions of life and death

HUMOUR

MUSIC Eurovision: Wailing and gnashing of teeth

CINEMA Superhero movies: A Chestertonian consideration

BOOK REVIEW A man for all seasons and hemispheres

BOOK REVIEW Mid-century gem of Catholic fiction

POETRY

LETTERS

ECONOMICS Vatican document nails some of the causes of the GFC

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CANBERRA OBSERVED
Beyond tomorrow a bridge too far for politicians to plan


by NW Contributor

News Weekly, June 2, 2018

The brutal political reality of the 2018 Budget for the Coalition and indeed for the Labor Opposition is that neither side can think further out than a political term, let alone a decade into the future.

Doctor, I'm worried. I can't remember
when I am to see you next. As a matter of fact,
I can't remember the future at all.

Treasurer Scott Morrison’s 2018 Budget and Bill Shorten’s “Budget in Reply” were framed with the expectation that the Australian people will be passing their judgement on them within 12 months.

Consequently, both budgets involved a personal-tax cut bidding war, with the Coalition promising tax relief of around $10 a week for lower and middle-income earners, and the Labor Party pledging to double it by taking more money from retirees and people on higher incomes, who are already providing the lion’s share of revenue.

Admittedly, Morrison did unveil a seven-year tax plan that aims to flatten the tax scales, eliminate the problem of bracket creep, and provide some certainty for people who want to get promoted or do some overtime without being smacked with higher tax bills.

But on some of the crucial issues that are facing the nation, the Budget was largely silent.

For example, the Federal Government has a longstanding policy of high immigration that has helped underpin the economy since the end of the mining boom. The Opposition, the Business Council of Australia together with Sally McManus at the ACTU, all support this policy because it helps drive growth and jobs.

News Ltd commentator Terry McCrann has called the high immigration policy a gigantic economic Ponzi scheme that relies on ever-larger immigration numbers to sustain itself.

But in the real world, there is ongoing disquiet because in the metropolises of Sydney and Melbourne, traffic congestion, forests of high rises and radically changing suburbia are seriously impacting on peoples’ lives.

And apart from growing the economy, there is no clear end goal. How big does Sydney become? With five million people, it already eclipses New Zealand; but new accommodation will have to be found for another three million people over the coming couple of decades based on current population trajectories.

People justifiably ask what is the actual plan and, moreover, why there is no associated plan to decentralise? Why is there no effort to encourage people to populate the regions?

One solution would be to offer tax incentives for businesses that set up in regional Australia, such as zero payroll tax for businesses that set up in regional cities and towns.

As a consequence of an ever-expanding big Australia policy, infrastructure spending in the Budget is also massive – $25 billion in new funding for road and rail projects in the Budget. But most of these projects are city based and in response to the booming populations.

There are some important regional highway and rail initiatives, but evidently no national master plan.

A further consequence of the “big Australia” program, is the pricing of young Australians out of the housing market. The combination of a very loose monetary policy by the Reserve Bank and population pressures has resulted in the average home in suburban Sydney costing around $1 million with Melbourne not far behind at $900,000.

Inflated asset prices will lead to serious problems further down the track in a country that has, at least since World War II, delivered a high level of home ownership for its people.

Currently home ownership is still high (around 67 per cent); but it is trending downwards, and the trend is likely to accelerate.

Finally, there is energy.

Josh Frydenberg seems to have managed the impossible – finding a consensus on energy after a decade or more of political division over a “price on carbon” that is designed to wind down demand for fossil fuels.

The National Energy Guarantee has gained backing from the states and territories, businesses and community groups, and forces energy producers to reduce their emissions while adopting an agnostic approach to how the energy is produced, whether by coal, gas or renewables. The NEG aims to deliver reliable, affordable energy that still meets Aust­ralia’s energy targets.

It all sounds terrific but, again, in the land of ordinary voters, power bills are going up in a country that has bountiful supplies of coal. Yet there is no prospect of a new coal-fired power station, “clean” or “dirty”; or even the revamp an old one because investors and financiers are terrified of the consequences, and governments will not fund it.

Meanwhile, Australia is shipping coal overseas at a record pace – $63 billion worth in 2017.

In other words, coal in Australia is bad, but coal overseas is somehow OK.

Regrettably, Australia’s policymakers continue to push the can down the road, apparently unable to think about the critical decisions that are necessary for the nation’s long-term future.




























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the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99


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