Mike Baird: Another Labor-Lite Liberal

by on 21 July, 2015

Dean Hamstead calls for Mike Baird to appoint a Minister for Deregulation & Elimination of Waste!1924165_50280265534_4415_n

Today Mike Baird confirmed, by suggesting a GST increases, that Conservatives in NSW and Australia more generally are being forced in to voting for Labor or Labor-Lite.

“Yes, there’s more we can do, but efficiencies alone cannot be the answer,” Mr Baird says.

Thankfully Baird has an easy go-to to make up the difference. His answer? Make his state budget problems your house hold budget problems.

It’s hard to believe that just a week ago, Baird and co. were trumpeting their $2.1 billion surplus and $1billion in reduced spending. Further claiming that claiming that “revenue” (i.e. your tax dollars) is forecast to grow at 4.7% p.a.

Imagine a publicly listed company being so schizophrenic? Reporting record profits, then a week later issuing a profit warning. Such a board and CEO would surely not last long, with shareholders rightly looking to install someone more steady at the helm.

Naturally, Andrew Bolt calls him out: “I’d be more inclined to listen to Mike Baird if I heard him say the overall tax burden would fall, but this sounds too much like just another grab for even more taxes to underwrite massive social welfare spending”.

My answer? Stop wasting money on crap that the government has no need to be involved with, that includes crushing business with ever more regulations.

Business’s and households know that from time to time you have to go through the budget and work out what you can live without. Fighting the tendency of “nice to haves” becoming “can’t live withouts” is part of being a fiscally responsible and self sufficient adult.

Let’s contrast Mike Baird’s whining with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who cut taxes six times including the largest income tax cut in the history of Louisiana. In the USA it’s a race between Conservative run states to get out of the way of people living their lives and running their businesses.

Why pick out Louisiana? Consider this quote from Incitec Pivot CEO, James Fazzino “The state of Louisiana is open for business. They continue to ring us every month and ask, ‘What else can we do’ because they are about employing ­people in Louisiana,”. Sad times when an Australian company looks elsewhere to invest $850million.

I imagine an Australia where our states compete with each other to bring business, jobs and people to their state. An Australia where new businesses thrive and people can hope for more than a retirement spent in line at Centrelink. Where Government facilitates rather than tolerate world class technology, mining and business services.

Dean Hamstead is a technology consultant for medium and large enterprise at ByteFoundry. He is also working to improve the use of campaign technology here in Australia.

If Bronwyn Bishop should resign, then so should Mark Dreyfus

by on 18 July, 2015

The revelation that Speaker of the House Bronwyn Bishop used her MP travel entitlements to charter a $5 000 helicopter trip from Melbourne to Geelong has been rightly labelled excessive and unjustifiable.

However, Labor’s response to Bishops misstep smacks of hypocrisy. According to Bill Shorten, Bishop’s actions were “shameful” and “colossally arrogant.”

Perhaps. But if so, then what of Senator Helen Polley’s $26 000 bill chartering flights between Launceston and Hobart?

Polley claims her duties as a backbench Senator kept her so busy that economies of time required her to catch a plane instead of a car. But as Government whip Andrew Nikolic deftly pointed out, once time spent boarding and disembarking at either end and transport to and from the airport is factored in, the $26 000 exercise could only have saved Polley less than an hour.

Shorten accused Bishop of ‘wafting around above our heads in taxpayer-funded helicopters’ while at the same time ‘cutting the incomes of vulnerable Australians.’

But when we filter past Shorten’s class warfare invective, are the cases of time-poor Polley and toffee-nosed Bishop really that different?

Labor’s finance spokesman Tony Burke has emphatically demanded that if Bishop signed off on the trip knowing she was attending a party fundraiser, she should resign.

If we apply Burke’s exhortations to his own side however, where does that leave shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, who just a few years ago billed two nights at a luxury ski resort to the Commonwealth credit card?

As a respected Queens Counsel and former first law officer of the Commonwealth, what justification did Dreyfus have for leaving longsuffering taxpayers to foot the bill for his winter getaway?

Even the Greens; the self-styled torchbearers of virtue and integrity in Australian politics cannot claim to be sin free when it comes to using entitlements to indulge on the public purse. Senator Larissa Waters spent more than any other Queensland state or federal MP refurbishing her plush electorate office in the inner city suburb of Paddington, including outdoor patio and artificial turf. At a cost of $414 000, Waters the only MP to outspend Waters across the whole country was South Australian Senator Anne Ruston.

When discussing the rorting of politician’s entitlements, there is good reason for both sides of politics to tone down the grandstanding and asinine pot shots. That is because with busy schedules and vaguely drafted rules, MP’s from all parties have found themselves guilty of being a little heavy handed with the public purse.

Disaffection and distrust harboured by the public towards Australian politicians is already at an all-time high. This is not helped when every instance of overreach is shamelessly paraded by the opposition as proof of the Government’s purported moral bankruptcy.

A better solution would be a clearer set of rules concerning entitlements to complement rigorous standards of transparency and disclosure. The mooted idea of an independent office tasked with approving all expenditures sounds promising, if somewhat impractical. But scapegoating Bishop is hypocrisy writ large.

Government inquiry into the ABC demonstrates the case for privatisation

by on 1 July, 2015

Zaky Mallah on the ABC's QnA

Zaky Mallah on the ABC’s QnA

As we know, the government has announced an inquiry into the decision to have Zaky Mallah on QnA.

A government review into the politics of a media organisation is never acceptable—and that is why we should not tolerate a taxpayer-funded broadcaster.

The controversy itself boils down to this: Mallah, reportedly an Islamist, appeared on the ABC’s “QnA” program to argue that he and others like him should not lose their citizenship merely by reason of a decision of a Minister. Liberal MP Steve Ciobo’s response was that Mallah should be stripped of his citizenship and the only reason he was not convicted of terrorism was that the anti-terrorism legislation was not retrospective. As it happens, Ciobo was wrong. Mallah was convicted of threatening ASIO officials but acquitted by a jury of certain terrorism offences. But in response, Mallah went further and claimed that the Minister’s ignorant comment “justified” support for ISIS amongst Muslims. Mallah is, by his own account, not a supporter of ISIS; he claims he only meant to say that the Minister’s comments were provocative. Perhaps the inaccuracy of Ciobo’s comments annoyed Mallah, but that is no excuse. And to make things worse, Mallah has been very rude about two journalists on his Twitter account. In fairness to the ABC, they weren’t aware of his rude remarks before the controversy over his appearance emerged.

As to the consequences of that mistake and the process of calling the ABC into account, I must say that what I fear far more than Mallah is the announcement of a government inquiry into QnA. Now, I freely concede that, in one sense, the ABC’s error has brought on this review. It is the government’s responsibility, after all, to ensure that the ABC operates in a balanced manner, in accordance with its statutory charter. But calling an inquiry, and effectively campaigning against QnA’s coverage of the debate, could well have a chilling effect on the reportage of the ABC. And if the government does attempt to “rebalance” the ABC by changing the ideological makeup of its board—as it likely will, given their current attitude—that will bring problems of its own.

Fundamentally, the problem with keeping the ABC accountable is that it is ultimately accountable to the government of the day. Within the context of the national security debate in particular, I fear what more “balanced” debate could bring with it. Should we hear more voices in favour of culling our liberties to implement a security state? How do we seriously propose to audit the ABC with a view to bringing about “balance”? How many pro-government voices should we have on the ABC? How many opposition voices? Half and half? Who gets to judge that figure and why? More to the point, how on earth can any person, let alone a journalist involved in current affairs reportage, be devoid of bias and opinion? Rebalancing the ABC to suit the needs of taxpayers is an impossibility.

Instead, the ABC should aim to please only one interest group: its viewers.  If the ABC were accountable to consumers, not politicians, a government inquiry into its conduct would be irrelevant—unless, of course, it would attempt to regulate what the media could say or do by force, as the former Labor government attempted to. Mallah’s appearance would then lead to a drop in ratings and profits for the ABC–or it might lead to more viewers, depending on the quality of the show and the tastes and opinions of the viewing public. That is as it should be. “Hands off our ABC” is right—the ABC should be accountable to the public, not politicians. That’s why it needs to be privatised.

Vladimir Vinokurov is a solicitor and a deputy Victorian State director of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. The views expressed here are his own.

Vladimir Vinokurov is a solicitor and a deputy Victorian State director of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. The views expressed here are his own.

PENSION – PILLAGING TAXPAYERS MONEY

by on 22 June, 2015

Would you ever give your money to another person to live on when they have their own money already?  In fact they could have more money than you.  Taxpayers’ money is being paid in the billions every year across Australia to pay for people who can afford to fund themselves.

A couple has $1 million in assets and has 10 to 15 years to live.

Do you:

  1. require the couple to draw down $50 to $70 thousand per year from their own assets to fund themselves; or
  2. require that the couple borrow $50 to $70 thousand per year from a Bank or loan provider and repay those funds at the end of their lives from the sale of the couples assets; or
  3. pay the couple from your own assets $35,000 per year effectively providing the couple an interest free, non refundable annual gift so the couple has income; or
  4. pay $20,000 per year from your own assets and require the couple to pay $20,000 per year towards their living expenses from their own funds.

Without seeking to insult your intelligence, the answer is clearly a) and the next best answer is b).  Would you ever give money to someone who already has adequate money to fund themselves or has assets which provide the potential to repay you funds that may have been loaned to them.

Unfortunately, incredibly, ridiculously and insultingly, the reality is that that pension system is operating exactly as shown at answers c) and d).

Under options C & D, you – the taxpayer are providing a couple who clearly has assets to cover their living expenses with an interest free, non refundable gift over 10 to 15 years of $200,000 to $525,000.  This amount will NEVER be repaid.]

The aged pension system is the most significant of the payments made within the Social Security and Welfare payments representing $50 billion of taxpayers’ funds and is projected to grow to $67 billion by 2018.

The pension was introduced in 1909 to support the elderly who were destitute who were over 65 when the life expectancy was 55.

Now over 100 years later the pension [or part pension] is paid to over 2.4 million people [85% of people over 65] and is described by the government as “basic income support for those Australians who are above retirement age but are not able to support themselves with their own means.”

It is no longer paid solely to the destitute but to the vast majority of elderly Australians.  It is no longer basic income support as pension payments are paid far in excess of the level best described as basic income.

The vast majority of pensioners own their own homes.   The median house price in Sydney is $900,000 and in Melbourne is $650,000.  This would suggest on the face of it that a significant percentage of people in those cities receiving the pension have assets exceeding the lifetime pension and yet they seek to rely on the pension as their primary source of income.  Despite their asset wealth they will never repay one cent of the pension received.  Whilst pensioners own house does not produce income, it is a store of value from which funds can and should be repaid on sale.

2 simple examples demonstrate this atrocious use of taxpayers’ funds

EXAMPLE 1

A couple own their own home worth $1 million.  They have no other assets.  They receive $33,500 per year for 17 years totalling $569,500 [A pension starts at age 67.  Life expectancy is 84 and increasing.  A pension can be expected to be paid of 17 years and will continue to lengthen as medicine and technology increase life expectancy]

On passing and sale of their assets, no funds are ever repaid to the taxpayers.

EXAMPLE 2

A couple own their own home worth $600,000 and have $300,000 in savings/superannuation.  They earn 6% per annum on their savings or $18,000 per year.

The government doesn’t worry about the actual income received by the couple in determining pension levels – they “deem” that the $300,000 generates $9,306 and ignore the actual income.

The government then decides that the $9,306 that this couple receives tax free from superannuation will only reduce the pension by $961 from $33,500 a year to $32,539 [The first $7,384 a pensioner couple earns does not reduce the pension level at all – and then it reduces by 50 cents for every dollar earnt].

Over 17 years this couple will take from taxpayers $553,163.  This couple has an after tax income of $50,000 per year which is higher than the median family income in Australia.

No funds are ever repaid.

You must find this incredible.  We collectively as taxpayers must be idiots for accepting this.

I am happy to open this paper to discussion, comment or criticism and would welcome you writing to me at pensiondisgrace@gmail.com.  There must be something that can be done to correct this. Please do not say that you paid your taxes all your life so you are entitled to a pension.  Taxes are not paid for that purpose.

By Robert Hill

Xenophobia and fear of foreign property investment sparks anti-Chinese racism

by on 30 May, 2015

6506388-3x2-940x627

Racist fliers being handed out by the so-called “Australian Freedom Party.”

Everyone nowadays seems convinced of the fallacy that foreign investment—particularly Chinese foreign investment—is driving housing prices up and squeezing Australians out of housing market.

The Liberals and the ALP have picked up on this sentiment and introduced new restrictions on foreign development, including fines for “illegally” purchased property and extra tax payable by foreigners on new developments.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost. In Sydney, the so-called “Australian Freedom Party” are distributing pamphlets that term foreign Chinese investment “ethnic cleansing” and “invasion.” It it is clear this dangerous racist nonsense has been caused by successive governmental intervention into the housing sector for political gain, both by increasing restrictions on development generally and blaming the resulting price increases on foreigners.

Why we should blame foreigners for having the audacity to choose to live here is simply beyond me. That is especially so when they choose to purchase property and clearly have the means to work and contribute to our society .Rather than decrying foreign investment, we should welcome the opportunity for more people of all backgrounds to spend their money on our shores. The more money foreigners spend here, the wealthier we become.

In reality, the cause of the housing affordability crisis is simple: restrictions on property development are preventing people from constructing the homes they want to develop, live in and sell.

Apartments in particular are a popular bugbear apt to prompt local residents into action and protest. In parts of residential, inner-city Melbourne, for example, it is almost impossible to build buildings over two storeys in size as a result of the introduction of so-called neighbourhood zoning laws. Yet the inner city suburbs are precisely where such apartments are most in demand. Accessible, close to the city and public transport, they are ideal for singles and couples. Similar restrictions on commercial and industrial developments also apply. And what holds true in Melbourne also broadly holds true throughout the rest of Australia. As Alan Moran points out, “Australia’s regulatory induced scarcity of land increases the cost of a fully serviced housing block complete with telecom, water, energy and road infrastructure from less than $100,000 to $300,000 or $400,000.”

The impact of more development on local housing prices is often complained of, but this overlooks the extraordinary benefits that come with more development: lower commercial and retail rent, lower retail and construction costs, and other savings that are passed on to consumers and intending homeowners. Simply put, life gets much cheaper if people live more closely together. That is, after all, why people congregate in cities and towns: for ready access to jobs and affordable accommodation.

With reportedly over 100,000 homeless people in Australia as result of dangerously overinflated land prices, relaxed zoning restrictions could not come any sooner. Nor should we be forgiving towards the politicians who have misled so many Australians into believing that our zoning restrictions are necessary, or that foreign property development is an evil to be decried.

Vladimir Vinokurov is a solicitor and a deputy Victorian State director of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. The views expressed here are his own.

Vladimir Vinokurov is a solicitor and a deputy Victorian State director of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. The views expressed here are his own.

 

Is Alabama about to resolve the marriage dispute?

by on 26 May, 2015

By Damion Otto 

Alabama’s state Senate has passed a bill that will end the need for government sanctioned marriage licenses, leaving it to individuals and civil society to decide what marriage is. After July 1st—if the bill becomes law—couples will only be required to lodge a contract with the authorities to keep a legal record of the marriage.

Critics have accused Senator Greg Albritton, the bill’s sponsor, of trying to stifle the move towards marriage equality, an accusation he denies:

“When you invite the state into those matters of personal or religious import, it creates difficulties… Early [in the] twentieth century, if you go back and look and try to find marriage licenses for your grandparents or great grandparents, you won’t find it. What you will find instead is where people have come in and recorded when a marriage has occurred.”

Regardless of his motivations, Albritton makes a valid point.

When the state monopolises the right to define marriage and excludes certain citizens, political conflict is inevitable.

Proponents of same-sex marriage feel that same-sex couples are victims of state-mandated discrimination. Conversely, opponents believe that marriage is a sacred institution, primarily for the purpose of procreation, that cannot—or should not—be tinkered with to cater to people with a non-traditional lifestyle.

Government intervention in the institution of marriage is a relatively recent phenomenon. It has created friction in society and inevitably results in a zero-sum game: whoever wins the debate will force the other side to abide by their values. By invading the private lives of its citizens in this manner, the government facilitates a cultural clash that undermines social cohesion and creates political turmoil.

By abolishing the requirement for government approved marriage licenses, the Alabama Senate is moving to placate anxieties on both sides of the debate.

Ousting the government from the personal lives of its citizens means that same-sex couples will no longer feel marginalised by government, whilst opponents can maintain their traditional conception of marriage without fear of top-down changes to the definition.

The issue of same-sex marriage needn’t be a zero-sum game, nor does it need to be a political one. The Alabama Senate has recognised that if it uses its power to define marriage, the policy tug-of-war will be unending. Its solution to the acrimonious dispute is to deregulate the institution of marriage. This allows people the freedom to choose the type of marriage they want, leaving the decision to recognise it up to civil society.

Whether there is a right or wrong answer to the same-sex marriage debate is beside the point. The issue is about the legitimacy and social harm of allowing the government to enforce a particular view on society and invade our personal lives.

Damion Otto is a student at the University of Western Australia and a Liberal Party member.

 

Take A Stand For Academic Freedom

by on 25 May, 2015

 

Academic Freedom in Australia is in grave danger – and we need to act now before it is too late.
Last week, cowed by a shrill vocal minority of far-left activists, the University of Western Australia cancelled its contract with internationationally renown academic Bjørn Lomborg to establish a leading research centre to apply cost-benefit analysis to development projects .

For daring to apply evidence to public policy, Bjørn Lomborg was hounded out of our universities.

What have we become?

Academic freedom is at the heart of any university. To expose students to new ideas, to teach them to think critically, to challenge accepted wisdom – this is what a university should be about. And it is this fundamental principle that is now in grave danger.

By giving in to a few shrill online protests, the University of Western Australia has admitted that it is a closed shop. That it is shut to ideas. That challenging the accepted left-orthodoxy is not permitted.

Is this what we want our education system to be?  Run not by evidence or ideas, but by what the mob wants?

I think we are better than this. I want our universities to be world-class. But that means we need to take a stand now.

This is why I am calling on you to join our campaign in support of academic freedom:  We need to send a loud message that can not be ignored- academic Censorship will NOT be tolerated!

The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance will be running an open letter in full-page newspaper advertisements proudly supporting academic freedom.

By joining our campaign, you will be publicly stating your opposition to this disgraceful attempt at academic censorship, and putting your commitment to intellectual freedom on the record. 

Rise and Rise of the Leftie-Conservative

by on 22 May, 2015

Christopher Dowson

Christopher Dowson

Yesterday Mark Latham published an opinion piece for the AFR entitled ‘Rise and Rise of the Right-Leftie’. It was a critique of left wing economic policies infecting the right wing of the ALP: “While one expects the party’s Socialist Left to be soft on spending, this problem has also infected Labor’s Right faction” wrote a disappointed Latham, who reminisced about the late ALP ‘free-marketeer’ Mr Peter Walsh. It got me thinking about the Liberal Party recently and the Abbott Government’s seemingly unrelenting pursuit of becoming, as the IPA’s Chris Berg observed, a Fraser Government ‘Mark II’.

Abbott and Hockey came in with a wrecking ball in the 2014 budget but failed to sell any of their budget measures to reduce Australia’s ‘debt and deficit disaster’ bequeathed to it by the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. Instead of reducing the debt, Hockey and Abbott increased spending and added new taxes, culminating in this year’s budget which even the ABC described as ‘almost Keynesian’. What happened to the so-called right ‘conservative’ faction of the Liberal Party? Have they been squeezed out by (heaven forbid) Liberal ‘Moderates’ and ‘pragmatists’ (I call them Leftie-Conservatives).

It’s no stretch of political jargon to label Abbott a Moderate: he’s happy to tax and spend but at the same time he wants to reduce the deficit. He’s eagerly pushing to recognise Aborigines in the Constitution by 2017 but is ‘not enthusiastic’ about recognising gay marriage in the Marriage Act. He says he is becoming a supporter of Federalism, but keeps shtum when WA demands he re-examine the unfair GST distribution which subsidises mediocre economies like Tasmania and Victoria. He said he was a ‘fervent supporter of free speech’ but decided to abandon repealing s. 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act because the ‘time wasn’t right’ – whatever that means.

The media-savvy and domineering personalities of arch-Moderates like Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop have formed the centre-piece of the modern Liberal Party front bench. Bishop has wisely kept out of domestic disputes and has focused all her energy overseas in her role as Foreign Minister, scoring goals left, right, and (mainly) centre in dealing with the MH17 and MH370 tragedies, the ANZAC memorials, and the Bali executions, leaving Abbott and Hockey to cop most of the unrelenting flak from the media.

Turnbull is the consummate politician, who could have his own daily variety show on ABC if he so chose (although he kind of already does with ‘QnA’). But he’s also a Moderate with some very fundamental Catholic beliefs, which makes him all the more mysterious. He recently distanced himself from Hockey’s language about ‘double dipping’ mothers, saying that it was important for government to look after working and stay-at-home mothers – this is directly in accordance with his Catholic beliefs which put priority on protecting and nurturing the family far higher than crony capitalism. He also came out last week again to push for 18C reform, something most moderates have been reticent to do since Moderate-in-Chief of the Senate, George Brandis, totally botched the selling of the reforms to the public. But here again we have not just the consummate politician, but the consummate Moderate: Turnbull supports same-sex marriage but wants more government assistance to mum-and-dad families, one view is patently anti-Catholic and progressive, while the other is entirely Catholic traditionalist. Turnbull is a staunch Republican and small ‘l’ liberal who wants to run a tight economic ship and reduce the deficit, but simultaneously wants to penalise businesses with an ETS or some other carbon taxation scheme. A conundrum inside a conundrum, just like Abbott.

What happened to people on the Right who spoke their minds and were consistent with most of their conservative ideologies? Well:

  • Eric Abetz has been lumped with the employment portfolio and seems to have been told to ‘fly under the radar’;
  • Cory Bernardi has been abused as a bigot and racist, and rendered irrelevant by the powers that be within the PM’s office (Bernardi has even been accused of being a closeted homosexual by Liberal MP and Moderate Warren Entsch);
  • Kevin Andrews has been dumped into the Defence portfolio (where Minister careers go to die, as was the case with Stephen Smith under Rudd);
  • The talented Brett Mason was made a parliamentary secretary in 2013 and then sidelined completely in 2014 (eventually leading to his retirement this year); and
  • Former Howard stalwarts like Ian McDonald have been booted off the front bench permanently and into obscurity (or some occasional Senate committee).

Some hope remains however, with talented MPs such as Dean Smith, Scott Morrison, Mitch Fifield, Christian Porter and James McGrath still waiting in the wings for potential front-bench positions in the future. Yet at the current trajectory, the ‘right’ of the Liberal party is being dragged more and more into a Moderate hybrid, i.e. what I call Leftie-conservatism, and the issue is not so much one of personnel but rather of consistent convictions and ideology within Cabinet.

Some Moderate Liberal pundits will argue that ‘pragmatism’ is the only way to win elections in politics and might even defend Tony Abbott’s record so far as being ‘pragmatic’ with a hostile Senate. I say that is utter hogwash. The electorate respects politicians with convictions, and societies in general are, inherently, conservative not radical or progressive and don’t need to be duped into voting for you. Yes, compromise is a great tool, especially when negotiating with the crossbenchers, but negotiation requires movement around the edges, not compromise of core values. If the Senate consistently blocks policies which form the basis of your core values, the only solution is a double dissolution. Abbott demanded Gillard take the carbon tax issue to a double dissolution, but was too scared to take his important budget measures in 2014 – including university fee deregulation – to one himself. Why? Because he probably thought he would lose, which just proves a deep lack of conviction.

Moderates might point to the unheralded success of the Moderate David Cameron in the UK recently and say: ‘Aha! It works’. The reality is different however, with multiple factors leading to Cameron’s re-election (chief of which being the incompetence of Ed Milliband as well as the dire SNP threat). His Leftie-Conservatism with his pro-EU pandering, his climate change propaganda, his absurd obsession with legalising gay marriage, and his weak stance on immigration, in coalition with the Lib-Dems, alienated his Conservative base and many questioned whether the Tories were Conservative at all anymore and not simply a gaggle of opportunists.

Now go back to Churchill for example, who – although an opportunist and a poor strategist – was never shy about taking his often unpopular views to the electorate – and winning. Look at Margaret Thatcher, who knew her ‘dry’ Tory government would be subjected to scorn and disdain from unions, working Britons, and left-wing university students, but allowed none of those groups to deter her from liberalising and improving the UK economy. Look at John Howard, whose own personal polling was always a bit ropey as preferred PM, but always took his Conservative views to the electorate, and was always validated, lasting four consecutive terms without any backflipping or sidestepping of his core values. The idea that being a ‘fusionist’ or ‘pragmatic moderate’ who makes his decisions on the basis of poll numbers each month is somehow an effective way to serenade the public into voting for you is utter rubbish and such a mentality needs to end, before it festers in (and destroys) the Conservative elements of the Liberal Party. To paraphrase Latham’s words: ‘the implications of Leftie-Conservatism for a future Abbott government are horrendous’.

Christopher Dowson works in government policy and legal areas and also holds an LLB/BA(Hons) and MA. He was co-founder of the WA current-affairs show The Oak Point on WestTV and is a member of the WA Liberal Party Policy Committee.

Reform or Risk Missing the Gas Boom

by on 21 May, 2015

By Damion Otto

Leaders in the resource-industry have warned that unless Australia immediately reforms its economy, it is in serious danger of missing out on the benefits of the looming natural gas boom.

Politicians know- all-too-well that Australia’s resource boom is drawing to a close – it is the leading excuse they use to defend their budget deficits and fiscal mismanagement. However, it is not true that our resource-rich country has ran out of things to offer.

The second-wave of the liquid natural gas (LNG) boom is beginning to take hold globally. With its large stocks of natural gas Australia should be well-placed to benefit, as long as governments can properly respond to the challenges the industry faces.

Instead of complaining about how the declining price of iron ore impacts their budget deficits, governments need to dismantle the barriers to investment that they have created in the Australian marketplace.

At the Australian Petroleum and Exploration Association conference recently staged in Melbourne, Roy Krzywosinski, Chevron’s Australian managing director highlighted the impediments to the industry:

“Among the problems were too much regulation to get approvals, an inflexible industrial relations systems, high labour costs and taxes and government policies that don’t support investment”

These comments illustrate the clear need for reforms to make Australia more conducive to business investment if it is to avoid the “serious risk” of missing out on the benefits of the upcoming LNG boom.

Industrial relations regulation needs to be relaxed to allow a more dynamic workforce and tax incentives need to be extended to all job-creators in the economy, not just to small business.

There is more to lose than just the Abbott Government’s legacy if it stays on its current path as Fraser Government Mark II. With budgets going into the red all over the country, and political pressure to keep it that way, economic reform is urgently needed to ensure that Australia’s standard of living continues to be the world’s envy.

Abbott has claimed: “[T]he age of reform has not ended, it was merely interrupted.” But he is yet to put these words into action. If our governments fail to act, then Australia could miss out on the fruits of another resource boom. And we will all be poorer for it.

Damion Otto is a 3rd year university student at UWA Perth and a member of the Liberal Party.

FTB or no FTB – That is the question

by on 11 May, 2015

Christopher Dowson

Christopher Dowson

…Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous budget cuts, or to take arms against a sea of libertarianism.

In addition to a slew of cuts to the Howard era legacy of the Family Tax Benefit (FTB), according to Treasurer Joe Hockey’s Mother’s Day announcement, almost 80,000 new mums will lose some or all of their government parental leave payments under the Federal Government’s upcoming budgetary measures. According to news reports, it will see almost half of new mothers lose access to the full $11,500 available under the Government’s existing scheme from July 2016. The situation at the moment is that mothers can access parental leave payments both from the Government scheme and from their employer, if their workplace has one. The Government scheme provides 18 weeks of leave at the minimum wage to primary care givers earning $150,000 a year or less.

Tony Abbott told reporters that he was a big supporter of paid parental leave (PPL), but for a “whole host of reasons” the government had decided “the time was not right for the fullness of the policy that we took to the last election”. I find this utterly cowardly and it smacks of the same backflipping and ignorance of core Liberal values as did the 18C debacle. Mr Abbott once touted himself as a member of the Conservative faction of the Liberal Party, as opposed to the Turnbull-ite libertarians and their ilk (with their repulsive “every individual for themselves”- Ayn Rand mentality). Of course, all Liberal Party members agree that subsidies are generally a bad thing and distort the free market. Government meddling is always to be resisted when it comes to the dollar sign. But when it comes to issues of social conscience, culture, and morality – it is a whole other issue and should not be sacrificed for the sake of budgetary outcomes. It takes temerity, guts, and adherence to your core values to produce lasting and effective social policies. Ask John Howard.

Subsidising Australian mothers is not something to be labelled as ‘double-dipping’. Just because an employer might choose to provide parental leave schemes does not automatically disqualify the government from complementing such schemes with its own family policies. Large cuts to Howard’s flagship Family Tax Benefits scheme are also in the works, with an emphasis on childcare subsidies instead of family subsidies.

Abbott waxed lyrical about the economics of the matter: “We are changing the economics of going back to work so that we will get more work, so that families will have more opportunities to increase their income.” Oh excuse me. I’m expecting the Prime Minister to release a new autobiography soon called: “How I Helped the Budget by Hurting Families: My Ayn Rand Enlightenment and Other Libertarian Pipe Dreams”. What utter tosh. Supporting families does not mean encouraging them to outsource their responsibilities as parents to childcare centres. Supporting families means facilitating parents, especially mothers, to provide quality one-on-one time with their children so that the crucial developmental stages of the child’s life are enhanced. This mentality of becoming a careerists, relentlessly pursue promotions, quickly popping out a kid, and then getting back to the daily grind ASAP in order to boost the economy, get more cash, and “launch” generally, is repulsive and completely anti-Conservative in every way.

We all know economics-obsessed libertarians rely on statistics to justify concepts like unrestrained free trade, deregulation and so on, so let’s indulge them. In 2010 – 2015 the Australian fertility rate was stable at around 1.9. Now let’s look at some of the countries from which Australia receives a large proportion of its permanent migrants: In India (from which we received 29,018 permanent residents last year) the fertility rate is around 2.5. Now, other countries from which we receive a large amount of refugees include: Afghanistan with 5.1, Bangladesh 2.2, Somalia with a staggering 6.6, South Africa 2.6, Iraq 4.0, South Sudan 4.9, Syria 3.0, and so on. You don’t really need to be an ABS statistician to argue that Australian families are on the lower end of fertility rate rankings.

Encouraging Australian families to have larger families, or at least more families, is a long overdue policy imperative which John Howard successfully attempted in his time in government (after his FTB policies and baby bonus initiatives, the fertility rate climbed from 1.5 to 1.9). The benefits of a society based on strong family structures are manifold and include: safer and more cohesive communities, better educational outcomes, stronger interpersonal relationships within communities, and obviously the strengthening of the population and its traditional welfare institutions such as volunteer groups, churches, charities and so on, mitigating the need for massive state welfare spending.  Even Malcolm Turnbull, the Libertarian par excellence, revealed his semi-traditional Catholic mindset with his speech to the 2003 Population Summit, where he said the key goals in Australia’s family policy for the future ought to include:

…the promotion of pro-natalist policies designed to ensure that, ideally, our birth rate increases closer to the replacement level of 2.1…the recognition that children are a social good and not merely a private, optional pleasure…[and] the recognition that there is nothing any of us are likely to do which is more important to the future of this nation than to bear and raise children.

I could not agree more with the Communication Minister, and I believe these goals are being utterly jettisoned by the Abbott government’s new budget agenda which would probably make even David Leyonhjelm ask: “I thought I was the Libertarian here?” Putting the almighty dollar above the nurturing, strengthening, and development of children and families is national self-sabotage of the highest order, geared towards corporations and crony capitalists instead of the most fundamental units of society: communities and families. Yes, in an Ayn Rand world (perish the thought!) we would put the individual at the centre, whose choice to have children is a luxury, a mere private ‘pleasure’ as criticised by Mr Turnbull above. Yet such a narcissistic mentality will have devastating consequences for Australian culture and its traditional values of faith, family, and freedom as opposed to progressive capitalist ones such as wealth, consumerism, unrestrained liberty, and individualism. Just look at what’s happening to Europe. As John Paul II wrote in his 1981 encyclical Familiaris Consortio:

…signs are not lacking of a disturbing degradation of some fundamental values [of the family]…At the root of these negative phenomena there frequently lies a corruption of the idea and the experience of freedom, conceived not as a capacity for realising the truth of God’s plan for marriage and the family, but as an autonomous power of self-affirmation, often against others, for one’s own selfish well-being.

In his autobiography entitled Battlelines, Tony Abbott stated in a section entitled ‘Child Drought’ that:

Supporting women who have children should one of the important duties of government…Through the provisions of significant childcare benefits, government policy supports mothers in the paid workforce, especially full-time ones. What government does not currently do is provide help for women in middle-income families or for women taking time off work to have a baby. The result is that many women have fewer children that they would like.

That was then. Nowadays, Tony has adopted a disposition of ‘pragmatism’ where core values are mere impediments to achieving legislative outcomes. Like Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard before him, Abbott is living up to the title of consummate ‘politician’, with Machiavellian guile, backflipping where politically expedient, and tossing out principles and convictions for the sake of opinion polls. Credlin has taught him well.

My final message to the Conservatives who still hold out against the Liberal Party apparatchiks in Canberra is this: Stay true to your values, fight the good fight, stand up for culture and tradition over cash and fiscal ends, protect and encourage Australian families, and please do not support Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s anti-family agenda in the upcoming budget. And as the old Battlelines Ghost of Tony Past begins to fade away as Budget Morning dawns I feel like a miserable young Hamlet:

But, soft: behold! lo where it comes again!

I’ll cross it, though it blast me. – Stay, illusion!

If thou hast any sound, or use a voice.

Speak to me.

Christopher Dowson works in government policy and legal areas and also holds an LLB/BA(Hons) and MA. He was co-founder of the WA current-affairs show The Oak Point on WestTV and is a member of the WA Liberal Party Policy Committee.