The Hypocrite-in-Chief

Kevin Rudd and the ALP have been exposed as a bunch of hypocrites-par-excellence on executive payouts, writes Milton von Smith

Let's take a little trip down memory lane. 

Do you remember when multi-million dollar executive payouts and golden handshakes were regarded as the root of all evil? 

When payouts of 600 per cent of executive base salaries were regarded by politicians as troublesome, even obscene?  

When greed and executive payments that "rewarded failure" and which were not closely linked to performance were described as the key causes of the global financial crisis and the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression? 

Do you remember how high executive payouts were regarded as such a serious issue by the Rudd Government that they set up a Productivity Commission inquiry into the issue?

Don't remember?  Well let me remind you about one of the terms of reference for that inquiry:

“The current global financial crisis has highlighted the importance of ensuring that remuneration packages are appropriately structured and do not reward excessive risk taking or promote corporate greed. The crisis has also highlighted the need to maintain a robust regulatory framework that promotes transparency and accountability on remuneration practices, and better aligns the interests of shareholders and the community with the performance and reward structures of Australia's corporate directors and executives.”

So there you have it.  The Rudd Government was determined to regulate and stamp out "reward for failure" and exorbitant golden handshakes because these had caused the GFC and led to human misery on a grand scale. 

The political message was clear, and was shrouded in the politics of blame, envy, and class warfare. Make no mistake, this entire episode was nothing more than a politically motivated attack on the private sector, an attempt to find a scapegoat for the government's policy failures and to take attention away from the billions of dollars that were being wasted and which continue to be wasted.   

And yet what do we find out today?  That ex-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who in political terms is one of the greatest failures in Australian history, will enjoy a golden handshake of $20 million, which amounts to roughly six thousand per cent of his base salary. 

I don't know about you, but for me, paying someone that fraction of their base salary for leaving a job in which they  worked for less than three years and from which they were ruthlessly fired by their peers for lack of performance is the very definition of rewarding failure. 

And what do we hear from Julia Gillard about it?  Will she come out and condemn the payment as obscene, given that Rudd had wandered so far "off track" that she and her union colleagues felt the need to cut his political throat? 

Will she pass a law recommending that the shareholders of Australia – voters – should get to vote on the appropriateness of Rudd's multi-million dollar, taxpayer funded, golden handshake? 

No, of course she won't.  And the reason is simple: this was never a matter of principle.  It was never about rewarding failure and aligning payment with performance.  It was a political witch hunt, pure and simple. 

When it comes to attitudes towards executive payouts and golden handshakes, the Labor Party is simply a bunch of old fashioned class warriors, spin merchants and political hypocrites.  

Milton Von Smith is a Canberra writer

Why I am opposed to the Resource Super Profit Tax

Dennis-JensenDr Dennis Jensen MP argues against Labor's proposed resources super profits tax.

The Gillard Labor government would have you believe that the resource super profit tax (RSPT) is necessary to ensure that Australia gets its fair share of the profits earned by miners in the current “mining boom”.

In order to deal with this fraught issue, first let’s consider the current picture. Labor would have you believe that the current system (and we will ignore things like various other taxes that companies already pay) that the royalties are only paid on the volume (or tonnage) sold, so increased prices only go to the miners’ profits. This is not true; the royalty is a combination of the volume as well as the value. If the price goes up, the royalties go up.

The RSPT is only a profit tax. As a result, if a company is inefficient, it pays less, whereas with the royalty, the company pays regardless. Hence, we get less money under the RSPT if the company is inefficient, so we get less for our resource. It is even worse than this, if the company loses money; the government contributes 40% to the company for those losses! So, very inefficient companies can lose money while mining and exporting a large amount of the resource, and the Australian taxpayer is paying for the lost resource to go overseas.

The other factor to consider is the issue of paying up to 58% (when the 40% supertax is added to all the other taxes) on income. This is grossly inequitable, and a significant disincentive to investment in Australia when you consider this is the highest rate of taxation on mining globally. We are not unique – these resources can be mined in many places in the world. A little more tax in Australia compared with some other nations is seen as acceptable due to our stability and infrastructure. Companies will not pay a lot more however, this all goes into the risk assessment that the companies make.

Additionally, much larger bulk carriers (up to 400 000 tonnes) are entering service, which erode the advantage we have of proximity to the markets: in other words, it is not much more expensive to transport from nations further away.

In terms of losses, consider an environmental disaster such as the BP oil rig disaster. Under the Gillard government’s RSPT, the Australian taxpayer would meet 40% of the costs of the disaster (as the company would undoubtedly be making a loss). This is not good policy in the least.

Another factor that is important from the Western Australian perspective is that constitutionally the resources belong to the states, and Section 114 of the constitution states that the Commonwealth cannot apply taxes to state resources (the relevant clause states “not shall the Commonwealth impose any tax on property of any kind belonging to a State”). So, the Gillard government is trying to steal Western Australia’s wealth in order to get money to attempt to balance the books in the future…to attempt to get a small surplus and start to pay off the massive debt that this government has accrued. The Budget’s bottom line on obtaining a surplus is completely predicated on the $12 billion that will be earned in 2012 and 2013, if this RSPT is passed.

It is for these reasons that I am implacably opposed to the RSPT, in addition to the fact that the Labor government wishes to centralise all power and decision making in Canberra.

Dr Dennis Jensen MP is the Liberal Member for the federal division of Tangney in Western Australia.

Getting Warmer??

Jai-MartinkovitsWe've got very little influence over the weather, writes Jai Martinkovits.

Today is the first time I have missed a bus in a long time! It has to be the coldest morning so far this Winter. If this piece reaches you half complete it is because my fingers froze through and snapped off! You will no doubt forgive me.

As a kid we had a birdbath in our backyard, it was fun to wake up on a cold Winter's morning and break through the 5mm thick crust of ice then watch the birds come down to drink.

A few years later I got my first job, a Saturday morning paper run. Leaving at five in the morning, a hot chocolate in an un-insulated cup was a necessity! As I took the shortcut through the soccer fields, a welcomed five minute saving, the grass could be heard crunching under my feet.

Why do I tell you this? To tell you how hard my childhood was? No quite the opposite, I loved it, calculated hourly it was the highest paying job I have held! More lollies than I knew what to do with.

No, I tell you this because we are told that our actions have directly contributed to the so called phenomenon of Global Warming. We are led to believe that the drop in intensity of such mornings is the just the beginning of much worse things to come.

What hogwash!

This morning, ready to catch the 8:01 bus, I leave my house at 7:50. Upon reaching my car I realise that I am not going anywhere. The windscreen is completely encrusted in a layer of ice no less than 2mm thick! After a good five minutes of battling to stretch the hose to the other side of the road, I am on my way.

Avoiding a couple of sticky situations driving with the sun hit the fogged window, I reach the car park at 7:55. Walking across the creek over bridge the wood feels slippery under my feet, I proceed carefully.

Reaching the concrete footbridge which crosses the M2 I notice the bus pulling up. There are a few people in the line, perhaps I can still make it … I didn't. Instead I catch the 8:04 bus, yes life is tough 😛

This feeling of deja vu got me thinking. Is the weather changing? Perhaps. Do we have any control over it? Very little if any. What is to stop the weather doing a complete 180? For now I will be holding on to my high emission V6 Turbo, perhaps I will be preventing the new age of Global Cooling!

Jai Martinkovits is an IT graduate, specialising in e-Business and Business Informations Systems. He is Managing Director of a J.K. Managed Solutions, a Sydney based IT consulting firm. His website is http://jaimartinkovits.com.au/

Thunderbirds are go

Cory-Bernardi

Australians deserve more than a factional puppet show in government, writes Senator Cory Bernardi.

It is like the longest and most painful episode of The Thunderbirds ever.

The crises are just as contrived, the characters are equally wooden and occasionally the strings are visible.

But last week we had a rare glimpse at the faceless factional fixers who are actually pulling the strings of the lead players.

After two years of government lurching from one faux war to another, the Labor warlords made Kevin Rudd their target. One can understand their anxiety and willingness to despatch a Prime Minister in a brutal display of their factional power.

After all, Mr Rudd refused to recognise their greatness through ministerial preferment. Some of these powerful figures were left languishing on the backbench or in junior portfolios – positions considered beneath their undoubted talents.

Kevin Rudd survived while he had the public confidence but, as the mal-administration of the Labor Government became increasingly evident, the ruthless Labor machine kicked into gear.

Now was the time for payback under the guise of giving the Party a shot at winning the next election. Drafting a willing accomplice in Julia Gillard, the unprecedented betrayal of a first-term Prime Minister began.

When the factional forces combined against him, Rudd had less than a dozen supporters and decided not to contest the leadership in order to avoid further humiliation.

Now the process of redefining history has commenced in an attempt to distance Julia Gillard from her predecessor. It should make for an interesting display

After two years of being the 2IC in the Rudd  ‘kitchen cabinet’, Gillard claims the Government had lost its way.

After two years of defending senseless programs and waste, she wants us to believe it had nothing to do with her. The spin doctors expect us to forget that Gillard was responsible for the greatest and most expensive mismanagement of a government program in history – the rorted Building the Education Revolution – where billions of taxpayer dollars were wasted.

After years of defending, deploying and denying the failures of this Government, we are now expected to believe that Julia Gillard was not a part of the problem.

I agree with Ms Gillard that the Government has lost its way. I agree that the policy failures and their negative impacts on our nation are too many to list. I agree that their few achievements are modest and mostly spin, but I cannot accept her playing Pontius Pilate and washing her hands of the decisions she made.

Ms Gillard's ascension to the leadership of the Labor Party is a desperate attempt to hide the failures of this Government under the political corpse of Kevin Rudd.

It is a muscle flexing exercise by the hidden men of Labor who have demonstrated once again who really pulls the strings.

The Australian people deserve more from their government than a puppet show and instinctively know that changing the lead puppet will never change the flawed factional culture of the Labor Party.

Senator Cory Bernardi is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition and a Senator for South Australia. This article is courtesy of his personal blog which can be found at http://www.corybernardi.com.

Executing necessary reforms

ZEG - Executing Necessary Reform
Well, what a difference a day makes in our nation’s capital. To say that this assassination of a Prime Minister (even a bad one like Rudd) was bloodless would be like saying that Joseph Stalin never really meant any harm to his Generals who disagreed with his tactics or that Adolf Hitler’s 1934 "Night of the Long Knives" was nothing more than a butchers’ convention.

Anyone who truly believes in the Australian Labor Party as being a party for the people and the workers, can now see just what a bunch of heartless, divided, ruthless, selfish and undeniably disloyal mob it has become.

Many political commentariat (red flag wavers most of them) are gloating that this change of leader will secure a victory for the ALP as Rudd was just unelectable and just a liability. I do agree with the latter comment; Kevin 07 had certainly lost his way and as he was no longer consulting with the factions, if he ever did. The public were finally seeing the man for what he really is and not what the leftist media had wanted you to believe. He simply should never have been the Australian Prime Minister, he is and will always be just a bureaucrat with an esteem issue.

However I do not agreed that Tony Abbott's conservative Coalition will have a much harder time to win government at the next election just because Rudd is gone and Gillard is now in the big chair. A lot does depend upon timing and no doubt Gillard will capitalise on the media "honeymoon period" as they wax lyrical about the obvious fact that she is the first female PM (unelected PM that is). She will harp on about her proud parents and the relatives in Wales, the hair dresser de facto boyfriend etc, pap, etc, pap but what they will not want you to think about is that this far left activist of days gone by was a major contributor to all the failed policies that Kevin Rudd is now being put to the sword for and that she will have one hell of a job to please the factions, especially the right of the ALP as well as getting her agenda as PM across the line.

Yes Julia Gillard probably doesn't want a lot of what Kevvy wanted but will she be able to get her way if she continues to be beholden to the faceless mongrels who power brokered her way to the top job.

Rudd was certainly a dictator in his party and that is why he is gone but the question is how long will Julia put up with being told that she will tow the factional lines and that she had better not get too pragmatic or even bossy as she will too be looking for a new job. 

Richo was correct when he penned his now infamous ALP creed "whatever it takes" because this incumbent government will do whatever it takes to remain in power and after all isn't power what this government is all about!?  As for Rudd, well "can I just say this": if you live by the sword then you will die by the sword". Cliche, yes, but in this case most apt.

It should be a very interesting few months for voters and for cartoonists. This is a dream come true.

Zeg is an editorial cartoonist and caricaturist. His blog is at http://zegsyd.blogspot.com/

The Dismissal: The 21st Century Version

Australia is now led by a union-controlled puppet with an even greater addiction to spin than Kevin Rudd, writes Milton von Smith

Thanks to a bunch of union hacks, Australia has gotten rid of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. 

It seems that the unions have become so frustrated at the lack of debate over constitutional change, the republic, and the role of the Governor General, that they decided this week that the latter's role has become redundant. 

So they produced their own remake of The Dismissal. 

If unions have the power to replace a sitting Prime Minister, it stands to reason that they can do anything to anyone with impunity.

The new PM – who in the best democratic traditions of the union movement and the Labor Party has not even cast a vote for herself – appears to have the female Welsh-born left-wing tax-and-spend unmarried childless constituency all sewn up. 

So I guess that means she will get at least three votes at the next election (which betting markets are now tipping will be on August 28). 

The union strategy following the 2007 election is now obvious to all.  After two and a half years of policy blunders and cynical media-driven spin, the plan was to cut the political throat of the leader and sitting PM and replace him with a union-endorsed figurehead, not change a single policy position or offer any genuine second term agenda (after reneging on all of the key items of the first term agenda), and then call an election after the new puppet has been in the job for less than a month. 

But the contradictions and spin have already started to accumulate thick and fast for Gillard.  

First, she ascended to the Prime Ministership this week after a ruthless political execution of a sitting Prime Minister that was initiated and implemented by a group of faceless, unelected men – and then promised to be a more caring and consultative leader.  

That must be the Tony Soprano definition of caring and consultative. 

Second, she denies that she will be influenced by the views of outsiders, particularly unions – but the ALP is of course the political wing of the union movement.  As far as Federal politics goes, the ALP is the union movement. 

The unions got rid of Rudd.  Who knows what threats were made against Gillard to persuade her to take the top job?  Who knows what was promised, and which favours are due to be called in? 

Make no mistake: Gillard owes her very political existence to the union movement.  Her promise not to be influenced by unions is a sick joke. 

Third, she is the co-author of every single disastrous policy position taken by her predecessor.  But in the same breath she claims that a "good government lost its way".

She says that policy mistakes were made, but has refused to name them and has not announced any policy changes. 

And this person expects to be taken seriously as a Prime Minister?  Give me a break. 

On a positive note, Lindsay Tanner announced his retirement this week. 

The consensus among the Canberra media elite was that this would damage Labor's economic credibility. 

Are. These. People. Nuts? 

The numbers show that Tanner was the worst Finance Minister in this nation's history.  He presided over a massive, rapid deterioration in the budget bottom line, program after disastrous program and billions of dollars of wasteful spending, and did not deliver a single budget surplus.  And all the while he rabbitted on about "savings". 

If getting rid of Tanner will damage Labor's economic credibility, then heaven help them.

Milton von Smith is a Canberra writer

 

A very cruddy fable – Of roosters and feather dusters (part 21)

David Russell David Russell present part 21 of A very cruddy fable.

Ah, the New South Wales Labor Right. Willing martyrs to the cause of absolute power, these guys are the suicide bombers of Fabian factional warfare. Boasting heads harder than anvils, their hearts are just as malleable. Their vision: supremacy. Their mission: patronage. Their policy: pragmatism. 

Direct descendants of the berserkers and vandals (and sparked into action on this occasion by the Victorian Visigoths), these latter-day pillagers ply their trade with ruthless abandon. Take no prisoners is their maxim and they despatch opponents with fierce frenzy. They are as misogynists to feminists, rapists to virgins, and defilers of deities. 

The bloodlust that courses their veins overpowers any notion of restraint. As furtive as ninjas, they eschew the daylight preferring darkened corridors wherein they can ambush their foes, both real and imagined, dispensing rough justice without recourse to tenets of due process. Drunk on the doctrine of divine right (and they do fancy themselves as divinities) their desperation for dominance drives their deceit and duplicity. 

But if there is one trait above all others that characterises their degeneracy it is their disavowal of responsibility. They demand the right to inflict their will on others but refuse to be held to account. 

Their story is a tragedy in many parts yet it can be summarised succinctly: they transformed The First State into The Failed State. Their record is a cavalcade of corruption, a litany of laxity, a shanty of shame. Yet, having ransacked their own citadel and laid waste the citizenry, their savagery remains unassuaged and they turned their attention to Kevvieberra and plotted the downfall of the Emperor.

So it was that Square Eyes, the arms merchant, took on a new role of honest broker as he ushered Hot and Steamy into the Crudd Cave at The Hotel California. Oh, to have been a fly on that wall. Expletives deleted as a new reality was conveyed to the once and former ruler of the Land Under the Southern Stars.

Before this Emperor could even utter an “Et tu, Brutus?” the right and the left and the centre and the north, south, east and west had joined a devil’s dervish to trample his memory into the dust. All were embarrassed by the adulation they had, with rapturous abandon, once bestowed on their former hero. Loyalty, as conceptualised by the Fabians, cannot carry a card to self-preservation. Which is why the Lollipops had persisted with Wee Willie Winston and all sat around drinking Jonestown lemonade in the belief that one should follow the leader not execute them. One can but hope that the warm inner glow of optimism that pervaded the serried ranks of those supine servants in 07 has been tempered by the past three years of penal servitude. “Carpe diem”, cry the downtrodden masses of Lollipop fans who want the sweets shop to reopen its doors. 

And now we watch in shock and awe as Hot and Steamy plies her trade. Feminine wiles are the way of the world now and the audience can but look-on in mystified bemusement as a true charmer in the tradition of Dita Von Teese titillates with her tassles. Among her very first victims was Bloodnut O’Brien who could hardly read his closing script for the blush that suffused his excited boyish features as he reeled from his first forthright glance at Medusa. It is to be hoped he gave himself adequate time to stand from the desk after his gripping encounter with Steamy. One could not help but notice his inability to even look her in the eye for most of their time together as he read question after question from his research notes rather than engage her in actual conversation.

So it is that as intimations of mortality afflict the cast of characters striding our national stage, real life is offering a shimmering reflection of their political posturing. Passing strange that in a period of such intense political conflict on the local stage, warring parties were able to coalesce over the deaths of service personnel in faraway lands. Even as they stood with razor-sharp daggers at each other’s throats, the main players resisted the temptation to slash and instead adhered to a gentleperson’s agreement to maintain a bipartisan approach. Sometimes it is the unanticipated facets of national life that give hope for the future. All too often in our pursuit of tribal loyalties we lose sight of the fact that it is the very fabric of our society that we play with. If we were to ask those who have laid down their lives for us – albeit indirectly – what might they offer as lessons? Difficult to imagine they would propose greater animosity and less respect. To their memory then.

Mysterious, too, the loss of an influential group of Big Bad Evil Miners in deepest Africa. By what magic were they plucked from the scene? Was it the hand of a divinity that removed them from the mortal coil? Again, passing strange the timing of this pungent reminder of our own mortality. Though one might have the world at one’s feet, always remember that it is easy to slip over the edge and tumble into whatever reality one imagines is appropriate for individual circumstances.

The fabler, too, must lament the passing of What Was His Name as his demise necessarily draws the curtain on the ribald and raucous rampage that has been A Very Cruddy Fable. ‘Twas fun.

[Editor's note: Thank you David for the brilliant series!]

Uphold the Rule of Law

Cory-BernardiMaking false claims against an officer of the law should not go unpunished, writes Senator Cory Bernardi.

Do you remember Marcus Einfeld? He was the former judge who was jailed for providing a false statutory declaration that he was not driving his car when it was photographed by a speed camera travelling at excess speed.

 
At the heart of this offence is the requirement by all citizens to tell the truth when making statements under oath. As a result of his falsehoods, Einfeld was publicly humiliated, professionally discredited and incarcerated. In my opinion the consequences were entirely appropriate to the circumstances.
 

Under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 (the Act) and the Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993 (the Regulations), a person who wilfully makes a false statement in a statutory declaration is guilty of an offence and may be fined or jailed, or both, as was the case with Marcus Einfeld.
 
Given that every Statutory Declaration includes a notice of the penalties for making a false declaration, the decision to deliberately lie is a serious one.
 
In my mind, if that lie comprises allegations against a police officer in the process of doing his duty, which are then exposed and yet go unpunished, something is clearly wrong.
 
But that is exactly what appears to have happened in Sydney recently.
 
The media reported that a police officer stopped a driver for not having her 'P' plate affixed to the vehicle appropriately. After requesting her license, he then asked her to remove her face-covering  veil so he could compare the photo with her facial features.
 
Shortly thereafter, the young woman went to the media making allegations of racism, that she was shouted at and detailed how she was scared her veil was going to be 'grabbed'. She also detailed these offences in an official complaint (statutory declaration) about the officer’s behaviour to police headquarters.
 
After capturing her side of the story on camera, the media outlet contacted the police department who allowed them to view the footage captured from the officer's car. It showed that the allegations were without substance and the officer had acted entirely appropriately.
 
The woman was not charged with making false statements that, if not for technology, could have ruined the career of a police officer.  There were no reports that the woman even apologised to the officer when her lies were exposed.
 
Now this is only one incident but the possible implications of it should not be underestimated. How can those who make false statements against the very people we entrust to uphold law and order go unpunished?
 
While the circumstances in assessing the penalty to be applied for swearing false statements will always need to be considered, applying no penalty for making demonstrably false claims of racism and physical intimidation against one of our officers would appear to be a failure to uphold a key plank in our legal system.

Senator Cory Bernardi is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition and a Senator for South Australia. This article is courtesy of his personal blog which can be found at http://www.corybernardi.com.