The Issue With A Local Government Rate Cap

A local government rate cap is not the solution, argues Cr Chris Cornish:

It was suggested in a previous Menzies House article, ‘My issue with Local Government’  that  a legislative cap on local government rate increases to that of CPI is a good idea. But it isn’t.

Whilst it’s not a new idea, NSW have had a peg since 1977, it’s still a bad idea. And that’s despite Victoria recently announcing a CPI based rate cap will apply from 2016/17 and Western Australia also considering a rate cap.

The solution to controlling rate increases is to target the expenditure side of local government and not the income side. This is because the income side can easily be substituted with different funding methods, none of which will lead to a more financially responsible or sustainable local government sector. Quite the opposite in fact.

These include:

  1. Transfer funds from reserves. Reserves are funds set aside to fund future projects. It is responsible to have reserves, and in fact contribute to reserves on an annual basis, so that any planned future project will have the required funds available. Transferring dollars from reserves is a practice which is currently employed if a local government doesn’t want to increase rates to a politically unpalatable level. I don’t support this practice as it is raiding your long term savings to cover operational costs.
  2. 2. Use debt. Follow the lead of the State and Federal governments and rack up the credit card. Borrow funds so the current electors don’t have to bear the financial burden, and so that any rates cap can be met. Instead just leave the mess to a future generation.
  3. Sell assets. Again, follow the lead of State and Federal governments and sell long term assets to balance the annual budget. If it is a big asset sale then surplus proceeds can go into reserves for a repeat of point 1.
  4. Postpone necessary spending.  This is an insidious strategy because ongoing and regular asset management is of critical importance for responsible local governments. Whilst it would be very easy to delay, say, $1 million in asset maintenance, the impact can be costly and service levels will probably drop. For example, if you delay re-surfacing a road for an extra few years, you run the risk of the road failing and having to totally reconstruct it at a cost four times more.

The other problem with the rate cap proposal is that CPI is a poor peg to use when setting council rates. “CPI is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by households for a fixed basket of goods and services” (ABS). The fixed basket of goods bears little resemblance to the costs incurred by local governments; so why use it as a benchmark? Continue reading

Media misleading on corporate tax

Over the course of the last several weeks we have seen a fresh wave of outrage from those who would see businesses pay more tax, citing the ATO release of corporate tax figures as evidence. Unfortunately, the ABC and other media have been misleading with their reporting of these figures, and have not represented the corporate tax payments in a meaningful way.

QANTAS and Virgin have been singled out by the media as large corporations who have paid no tax. In the year 2013-2014, QANTAS’s annual report1 lists their revenue and other income as $15.35bn. Their total income is listed in the ABC transparency report2 as $14.9bn. These are large figures, but do not tell the whole story as to the taxation situation at QANTAS- in 2013-2014 they recorded expenses totalling $19.12bn, meaning a statutory loss before tax of $3.77bn. Similarly, Virgin Australia’s annual report3 for the same year listed a revenue of $4.3bn, yet paid no tax. The reason, not displayed in other media reporting, was that they had a statutory net loss of $355 million.

In Australia, corporate tax is paid out of net income- that is, revenue minus expenditures. Even the largest companies may have a small taxable income, if they are operating with narrow profit margins or are making a loss. The breakdown of different incomes and expenses, and how they relate to tax paid, is shown in the figure below:

This is the reason that the ABC has been so misleading- by providing a comparison between the taxes paid to a financial figure irrelevant to tax owed- the operating revenue. This is shown in the misleading figure4 below:

This graph is technically true, but it omits that the ‘income’ is not the value used to determine corporate tax owed. As with QANTAS and Virgin, no companies with zero taxable income will pay income tax, a key point not mentioned in the ABC graph. A more relevant way to look at the data is to find the tax paid by businesses as a percentage of taxable income. By doing this, we remove businesses which did not make a profit, and so were ineligible to pay corporate tax. This result is shown below, using data taken from the ABC source on tax transparency:

This paints a very different story, with 67% of businesses with a positive taxable income paying over 25% corporate tax (the statutory rate is 30%). Even considering businesses that made a loss, or otherwise had no taxable income, 46.5% of the total paid over 25%, despite over a third being ineligible to do so.

The frequent claims that the biggest companies and mining giants pay little tax couldn’t be furthest from the truth- the 20 companies with the greatest turnovers all paid tax, with an average 24.8% tax paid out of their taxable income. These 20 businesses and their respective tax rates are displayed below.

 

This is not to say that corporate tax avoidance does not exist, but it is not the magical pudding that the left propose we tap into to make up for the government spending problems. There are legitimate ways through which businesses may reduce their tax payable on their taxable income. The ABC and Triple J discussed some of these, including:

  • Prior year losses (a company can deduct losses from a previous financial year from its taxable income in the current financial year)5
  • Research and development (money spent on R&D earns tax credits)
  • Franking credits (a company can offset its tax liability against the dividends it pays to shareholders)
  • Companies claim depreciation on asset values and some claim research and development tax concessions4
  • Some multinationals have already paid tax on income made overseas and do not have to pay tax on that income again here

“”

The Triple J report identifies profit shifting overseas as a potential area of tax evasion, and cites Apple moving billions in profit to low taxing Ireland over previous years (Apple paid 29.96% tax on their taxable income, but only had a profit of $246m out of $6.1bn). The claim is often made that corporations such as Apple, Microsoft and Google all maintain headquarters in Singapore (statutory corporate tax rate of 17%) solely as a shell- allowing them to profit shift. The latter is true, and companies do gravitate towards low taxing nations- but the headquarters are not shells- they are real establishments that operate in low tax regions. Apple has recently made the move to Singapore, where their Asia-Pacific headquarters is now located6. There is no legal reason that this is not allowable- tax is paid where economic activity is conducted, and so the income may quite legitimately be transferred to the location of the headquarters.

With a statutory tax rate well above the OECD average of 25.3%7, there is a strong incentive for businesses to take their profits overseas to more hospitable taxation climates. If we want to deal with the issues of profit shifting and legitimate tax avoidance, as opposed to the misleading outrage fuelled by the misinterpretation of the ATO data, the first issue to address is this disparity between our corporate tax rate and the rest of the OECD. To remain competitive and to encourage investment in Australia, we should be seeking not to raise the corporate tax, an act which would only deter investment and negatively impact the worker- particularly low skilled labour8– but instead lower it. OECD research has shown that a 1% increase in corporate tax results in a 3.7% decrease in foreign investment, undermining the case for an increased corporate tax rate to generate more revenue9.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1]

http://qantas2015-annualreport.reportonline.com.au/financial-report/consolidated-income-statement

[2]

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-17/tax-transparency-report/7036708

 

[3]

http://www.virginaustralia.com/cs/groups/internetcontent/@wc/documents/webcontent/~edisp/annual-report-2014.pdf

 

[4]

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-17/leigh-says-liberals-never-wanted-public-to-see-tax-data/7037958

 

[5]

http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/a-third-of-top-australian-companies-pay-no-tax-ato-figures-show/7038232

 

[6]

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-17/almost-600-companies-did-not-pay-tax-in-2013-14/7036324

 

[7]

http://www.ipa.org.au/sectors/economics-deregulation/news/3346/why-multinationals-are-not-avoiding-australian-tax/pg/4

 

[8]

http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Business_Taxation/Docs/WP1216.pdf

 

[9]

http://www.budget.gov.ie/Budgets/2015/Documents/Literature_Review_Economic_Effects_Corporation.pdf

The Left’s Smear Campaign on Business Revenue is Nothing but a Dishonest Lie

Kerrod GreamKerrod Gream takes on the perception that companies should be taxed on revenue that the left have been pushing since the ATO’s Corporate Tax Transparency Report for the 2013-14 Financial Year.

Following the release of the ATO’s Corporate Tax Transparency Report for the 2013-14 Financial Year there has been a spewing of memes, and distaste from those of the left about how businesses aren’t paying their fair share. These go along the line of “This company made x amount of revenue in 2013/14 but paid almost 0% tax” ignoring that revenue does not equal profit. Their 0% tax figures comes from comparing total revenue to the tax paid, rather than comparing taxable income(aka profit) to tax paid.

The CFMEU's dishonest attack on Boral, who paid their fair share of tax on taxable income.

The CFMEU’s dishonest attack on Boral, who paid their fair share of tax on taxable income.

The unions, all of which they themselves pay no tax, have been some of the worst on the smear campaign on business. Australian Unions are calling for Spotless to pay tax on their $2.2billion of revenue despite the fact that they made an operating loss in the previous financial year and are perfectly entitled to deduct that from their total tax paid. The CFMEU has quite possibly been the worst of the spread of misinformation, providing the image above but also attacking News Corp  and Brickworks(the offending image as of writing this article has been removed) over revenue and not profit. The left wing lobby group GetUp also continued to spread the misconception. Ignoring that 0.2% of companies pay 58.2% of company tax, as reported by Commonwealth Treasury Papers.

The top 0.2% of companies pay 58.2% of company tax.

The top 0.2% of companies pay 58.2% of company tax.

This adds in to various media sources playing into this game of taxing revenue with the ABC attacking companies claiming they paid effectively zero tax on their income. The Guardian creating a calculator to determine which companies you paid more tax than despite having taxable income viewable hoping the reader will conflate revenue and profit. To add to this Buzzfeed jumped on the bandwagon of business ignorance with an outline of companies’ revenue and tax paid, with no reference to actual profit. This intellectual dishonesty either screams of an intentional smear campaign on the productive sector; that is businesses that provide jobs and investment in Australia, or just an abysmal understanding of how businesses operate.  To add into this the Twittersphere has been attacking these companies all over, and openly advocating that revenue is the important figure, and arguing that the only reason they minimise their taxes is because of offshore funnelling of profits.

Michael West

And then Ben Eltham; a reporter for the leftist rag, New Matilda; openly admits that he doesn’t understand how a business operates by not realising that income coming in doesn’t take into account the actual costs of running a business. This includes investment, staff costs, financial costs, and the day to day costs of running a business. Revenue is only useful for looking at turnover compares to previous years, and not in looking at how much money a company actually made, as different sectors have different methods of markups.

Ben Eltham

These people and organisations keep conflating revenue and profit, not seeming to understand that they are two separate things. With revenue being total amount of incomings prior to any expenses being paid. Profits however are what taxes are placed on, because had Boral in the example above paid the 20% that the CFMEU are calling for them to pay on revenue that $855million in tax would turn a $173.3million profit into a $681.7 million loss. These people have no idea how to run a business, and would send every single business bankrupt if they got their way. The best part of the irony in all this is tax exempt organisations calling for organisations that pay far more than they do in tax to be taxed more.

All these organisations and people are the same people that are opposed to a broad based consumption tax in the form of the GST. They don’t get the mental gymnastics to oppose a revenue tax(the GST) while calling for revenue to be taxed. It seems that they don’t understand that costs get passed onto the consumer, and taxing revenue after the fact is just going to destroy business. Any attempt to attack the big end of town will inevitably hit smaller businesses harder, as they don’t have the structural base to bring about easy compliance with new tax and regulation.

Those on the left calling for taxing of revenue obviously haven’t read what was contained in the ATO report. The ATO even admits that low tax in relation to taxable income and revenue doesn’t necessarily mean that the company is dodging tax in that year, and there may be deductions from previous year’s losses that haven’t been accounted for and a range of other factors not outlined in the report. Had they actually read it, they’d understand why they’re just making themselves look incredibly uneducated. The transparency list is quite possibly going to be a mistake that the left use to prey on the ignorance of the masses.

These people wanting to tax revenue instead of profit clearly have no experience running a business, and even if they do understand want to see nothing but destruction of our industries, and jobs in Australia. The only saving grace of this is all the top comments on the memes being put out are correcting the difference between profit and revenue.

 

Kerrod Gream is Chairperson of Australia and New Zealand Students for Liberty, Deputy Director for NSW of The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance, President of the University of Sydney Economics Society, and a branch Vice President in the Liberal Party.

Who do The NUS represent? It’s not me

belmonteThis past week I had the ‘honour’ of attending the National Conference of the National Union of Students (NUS)—the self-appointed ‘peak body’ of tertiary students.

Following this conference, one thing is very clear: the NUS does not represent the interests of students. It is insular, illiberal, and irrelevant to students. As a result, it is dying.

The NUS is nothing more than a training ground of hard-core Labor -Left student politicians. Some of whom have been attending the conference for almost a decade. These people purport to represent a majority of students from their campus. In reality, it is doubtful whether most students are even aware that an election had taken place.

Most delegates will one day ascend to the inner circle of trade unions and the Labor Party. Like the Labor Party, NUS is divided into heavily mechanised factions where individuals have little autonomy. It is disappointing that within this system delegates are deprived of the opportunity to fulfil their primary purpose for which they were elected: to represent the students of their university campus; and instead are expected to toe the factional line, often on motions that are of little relevance to the mainstream student population.

Factional bosses seize hundreds of votes as proxies. Those who vote against their faction on any motion are subject to a tirade of verbal abuse, physical threat, and even expulsion.

Come voting time for office bearers and executive positions, many delegates are again denied their own vote and these same factional bosses fill in thousands of ballot papers. The process is unrepresentative, and wholly undemocratic. Shady backroom deals between factions are the norm for national positions.

This behaviour may sound shocking, but unfortunately it is what we have come to expect of the Labor Union movement, even one run by and purporting to represent the interest of all students.

What was truly shocking was just how illiberal and bigoted these self-styled progressives could be to opposing ideas. The reality they live in is a different one to you and I. It is a reality where all whites are racist, all men are rapists, and all Jews are Nazi’s. These were just some of the disgusting and bigoted themes to be debated during the conference to almost unanimous agreement. Continue reading

The Taxi Industry Should Be Driven By The Market

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Celeste Arenas is the Community Relations Manager of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Sydney University Campus Coordinator of the Institute of Public Affairs.

Celeste Arenas explains why the taxi industry should not be controlled by the state, but left to the voluntary choices of individual consumers. 

 

Since taking to our streets, ride sharing apps has proven that competition in the market delivers better results. When customers are no longer chained to a monopoly, it is no surprise they choose the safer, cheaper and better quality alternative.

 

Despite their growing popularity however, state governments have failed to keep up. Victoria banned Uber altogether whilst NSW says Uber should only be legal after complying with the ridiculous regulations of the taxi industry. This is unacceptable in a day and age where customers should choose the services they prefer, not governments.

 

Councils claim these regulations benefit the safety of the customers, when this is simply not true. Creating a taxpayer-funded campaign called “Ridesharing – It’s Not Worth the Risk,” the NSW Taxi Council has tried to mislead the public with little success. Since banning Uber, Victorian customers have suffered. Female passengers have increasingly become the victims of sexual assault by using regular taxis. Despite the promises of Taxi Council Commission to clean up an industry filled with sexual predators, two complaints of sexual misconduct are lodged every month with no serious consequences for the perpetrator.

 

It is little surprise therefore, that consumers prefer a service that allows them to rate drivers anonymously, hold information about the driver before the trip and keep a GPS tracking so friends and family know exactly where they are.

 

Despite the benefits of ride sharing and the downfall of regular taxis, state governments have the audacity to claim they act in the public’s best interest by making it impossible for Uber to operate.

 

Instead of simply legalizing Uber in NSW, the government is seriously considering forking out millions of dollars to bailout Cabcharge. This comes amidst their supposed claims to provide “an even playing field for competition” in the industry. The last thing that an inefficient, expensive and corrupt state monopoly needs is taxpayer funding.

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Our campaigners dress up as milkmen and candle makers to show why we should “end all progress.”

 

The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance responded with a satirical video that shows why all obsolete industries should be rescued by the government, if the taxi industry is allowed to do so. It has had a huge success not only in Australia but across the world, testifying that people’s needs are currently curtailed by government restrictions.

 

The best evidence for the superiority of privatized ride-sharing is the new ACT policy that allows politicians to use Uber as part of transport entitlements. If bureaucrats are allowed to choose the safer, cheaper and better quality option, why not the rest of the Australian population?

 

Australians deserve better than this.

 

 

 

 

Celeste Arenas is a 3rd year Arts student at the University of Sydney. She is the Community Relations Manager for the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Sydney University Campus Coordinator of the Institute of Public Affairs. She also serves on the Executive Board of Australia & NZ Students for Liberty.

The Paris Climate Accord Won’t Fix Global Warming

John Slater

The climate change agreement just struck in Paris is being described as the most significant step ever taken to solving global warming and ending our reliance on fossil fuels. In truth, it will do no such thing.

Politicians from the 195 countries who took part in the conference are obviously keen to have something to show for the 13 days spent negotiating the supposedly ‘world-changing’ accord.

But if we care more about facts – and indeed, helping the climate – than glib political rhetoric, there’s a few hard truths we should take in before declaring ourselves saviours of Mother Earth.

First, the agreement will not limit the world’s warming to less than 2 degrees. As Bjorn Lomborg has pointed out in the Australian newspaper

It is widely accepted that to keep temperature rises below 2°C, we have to reduce CO2 emissions by 6,000Gt.

The UNFCCC estimates that if every country makes every single promised Paris Treaty carbon cut between 2016 and 2030 to the fullest extent possible and there is no carbon leakage, CO2 emissions will be cut by 56 Gt by 2030.”

Calling this a success is a bit like a marathon runner declaring victory and cracking open a soda a mile out from the starting line.

So what then will today’s ‘historic’ agreement actually do for the planet?

Peer reviewed research indicates that the Paris promises will reduce temperatures by a paltry 0.05 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. And that’s assuming every nation fulfils its commitments. If the success of all countries fulfilling the cuts signed up for in the Kyoto Protocol is anything to go by, it might be a touch optimistic.

Another point habitually ignored by politicians and the media is how much the Paris agreement will cost.

When higher energy costs and slowed economic growth are factored in, peer-reviewed research indicates the cost will exceed a trillion Euros per year up to 2030 (more than $1.5 trillion). To give this figure some context, the vast majority of the one million people killed by Malaria each year could be saved for about $5 billion.

One of the more honest responses has come from the Greens, who have applauded the agreement as a ‘moral victory.’ To the extent that it affords wishful environmentalists the indulgence of feeling like they’re repenting for the original sin of industrialization, that’s all the Paris climate accord really is.

It isn’t a victory for the environment. Put more accurately, it’s a home goal for pretty much anyone who doesn’t want to reap the political benefits of pretending they’re saving the planet.

The key to solving climate change is reducing the cost of renewable energy. So long as wind is less than half as efficient as fossil fuels and solar less than a quarter, the world simply does not possess the many trillions of dollars needed to make the switch.

Anyone who pretends otherwise is just spitting in the wind.

MUST WATCH: Obsolete Industries Campaign Video!

As you would be aware, the NSW Government is considering imposing a new tax on NSW consumers to fund a multi-million dollar bailout of the Taxi Industry.

The self-styled “Coalition Of Obsolete Industries” just put out this amazing campaign video arguing that if the taxi industry will receive a bailout because they can’t keep up with new technology – then so should they!

Have a watch:

 

Gillian Triggs Wins Woman of the Year. Satire Announces its Retirement.

Gillian Triggs, President of the Hurt Feelings Human Rights Commission has just been named Daily Life’s Woman of the Year. Triggs is no thrilled to have her activism hard work recognised by one of Australia’s most renowned first-world grievance pulplits  publications. But as the year draws to a close – and it’s been a busy one for the Human Rights Commission – it’s worth recounting some of Triggs’ finest moments in her role as the country’s most heavily subsidized public intellectuals.

– delayed an inquiry into the treatment of children in detention centres by 18 months under the pretense that she didn’t want to politicize the issue. In fact, so strong was Triggs’ regard for keeping her inquiry above the fray of the political cut and thrust, she resisted probing the former government despite the deaths of more then 1200 at sea, instead making the Coalition government her target who had presided over precisely 0 drownings. By the time Triggs’ commenced her all important inquiry, the number of children in detention had more than halved.

– lied about whether she had discussed said inquiry with former government ministers on the public record

– linked the tragic and barbaric executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran at the hands of Indonesia to Australia’s border protection policies

– recommended $350 000 compensation for a refugee held in detention (whose claim to asylum later turned out to be false) who had beaten his wife to death with a bicycle

– Verballed  [and arguably maligned] then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison by claiming he had conceded that “holding children in detention [did] not deter either asylum seekers or people smugglers” when there is absolutely no public record of Morrison ever making such a statement.

– Stated in an official speech that she saw nothing wrong with countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Libya (some of which continue to execute homosexuals and female rape victims) criticizing Australia’s human rights record.

This somewhat eccentric behaviour for a senior public servant has naturally seen Triggs face her fair share of criticism – much of it in the public square. Others (i.e the ABC and Fairfax) have leapt to her defence by portraying her as a victim, with the government and right-of-centre commentators trying to ‘bully’ her into submission. This fictitious narrative of Triggs as a lone voice of reason and humanity standing up against a mean-minded conservative government explains why Daily Life has nominated Triggs’ as woman of the year more than anything she’s actually done with her office.

There is of course nothing with someone criticizing policies like the Government’s terrorism laws or border protection policies. But the real question as far as Triggs’ is concerned is whether the public should be expected to subsidize one side of the argument. A commitment to ‘human rights’ is the kind of emotionally appealing ideal almost anyone would agree with in the abstract. But what human rights amount to in the context of the competing priorities and trade offs that define the public policy process is another thing entirely. How we reconcile human rights when it comes to things like refugee boat arrivals is the kind of difficult question for which there is no easy answer. To that end, we should ditch the pretence that whatever the Human Rights Commission comes out with should be granted impunity from the court of public opinion. It’s bad enough that taxpayers pay to hear contrarian opinions from public servants when they already pay several hundred politicians six figure salaries to do exactly that. Lets stop pretending that their opinions are so attuned to objective morality that they shouldn’t be open to the same free and frank criticism that everyone else is.

A fundamental right of any democracy worth that label is the ability of citizens to call into question how public money is spent. That goes for ‘Commissions’ whose statutory remit is to produce nothing other than thoughts and ideas on the state of Australian public affairs. It especially goes for six figure-salaried office holders like Triggs’ whose commentary at times has seemed more befitting of a petition-wielding, gum chewing student activist than one of Australia’s most eminent legal scholars.

Terrorists are Real Muslims, and Christians Too

By Kurt Tucker

At the moment I am witnessing a worrying trend in our critique of extremism. From hashtag to hashtag (#YouAintNoMuslimBruv, #IllRideWithYou) it seems to me that the general public, or at least the trendy twitterati, are trying as hard as they can to divorce the religion of Islam from incidents like the Paris Attacks, Sydney Siege, Tube Stabbings or San Bernardino Shooting. They say that these people are not “real Muslims”, that the Qu’ran could never advocate this kind of behaviour, or that the xenophobic far-right and climate change are to blame. They are wrong. Pure and simply.

I’ll give you a few names to work with; Man Monis, Syed Farook, Bilal Hadfi, Dzhokar Tsarnaev. Every single one of these people is a terrorist, a murderer and a Muslim. They committed atrocities in the name of Islam, and no matter what Waleed Aly or his swarms of Facebook followers say – they were one hundred percent zealous, committed and practicing “real Muslims”.

We cannot divorce religious ideology from contemporary terrorism simply because we find it politically or culturally expedient, because we would be lying to ourselves. Hasna Aitboulahcen, the so called “skanky suicide bomber” lauded as “no model Muslim” by the New York Post, is no less a Muslim because she chose to drink alcohol, forgo a hijab or smoke cannabis than any Jew who occasionally partakes in a BLT or any of the millions of Catholics on birth control. By virtue of the fact that Hasna helped commit an act of terrorism in the name of Islam, she is a Muslim and a terrorist – an Islamic terrorist even, and that shouldn’t be too hard to accept.

Let me give a few more examples; Robert Dear, Eric Rudolph, Anders Breivik. Every single one of these people is a terrorist, a murderer, and a Christian. Every single one of these people committed vile actions in the name of their God, and every single one of them are “real Christians”. All of these people have also been recognised at large as terrorists, murderers and most importantly – Christians, albeit a disgraceful ones.

Islamic State, The Army of God, Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army, al-Nusra or the Ku Klux Klan, all of these groups are made up of violent religious extremists and should be looked upon with as much scorn as the others. The fact is that just as a Syrian expatriate who opens fire into a crowded Parisian restaurant is a terrorist, an extremist and a Muslim – a gunman who attacks a Planned Parenthood centre in Colorado is a terrorist, an extremist, and a Christian.

In fact, I think the only real difference between Christian terrorists and Muslim extremists is that the Christian community seems far more likely to call a spade a spade and condemn the disgusting acts committed in the name of God. Conversely, it seems that Christians, atheists and Muslims alike all rush to distance the religion of Islam from attacks committed in its name – and that is a serious problem.

It is a serious problem because, like in alcoholics anonymous, the first step is admitting you have a problem. I don’t for one second think that Islam as a religion is that problem. All I want or expect is a little bit of honesty from the community at large, both Muslims and non-Muslims. A little recognition that violent extremism is a problem within contemporary Islam – and it is the responsibility of all of us to condemn these disgusting attacks and for Muslims especially to force ideas like those held by jihadists and terrorists out of their mosques and communities, just like we should openly denounce any evil acts committed in the name of a Christian God. All I want and expect is for the Muslim community to recognise that they are the only ones who can stop their children from becoming radicalised, and to not shift blame onto so called Western Islamaphobia for their own failures to enforce peaceful and moral values within their religious teachings.

Christianity and Islam are more similar than dissimilar, and it’s up to us to forge a strong relationship into the future – but first both sides must come to the table with a lot more truth and understanding. We must accept that violent terrorists and jihadists are in fact “real Muslims” and are inspired by the teachings of the Qu’ran or their religious leaders, and only then can we put in motion plans to find a real solution and live free from the threat of sectarian violence in the West.

Kurt Tucker is a student of Public Policy and History at the University of Queensland. He is also a student of middle-eastern languages, a Christian, and an active participant in youth and student politics in Queensland. Twitter: @tucksyy

A Conservative Vision for a Richer Liberalism

ChanegChaneg Torres outlines how conservatism can add to the Liberal Tradition.


‘But what is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.’ 
– Edmund Burke

 

What place does conservatism have in the classical liberal tradition? For many, conservatism is seen as merely reactionary; a liability to the electoral success of the liberal tradition, only capable of opposing progress and impotent to provide compelling vision for the challenges of today and the future. I argue that ‘conservatism’ is a disposition toward certain truth claims regarding the nature and end of the individual, the individual’s need for voluntary community and the individual’s relationship to political community. This disposition is necessary for a robust liberalism. It provides liberalism with presuppositions and a vocabulary that has a vision of inherent human dignity at its center and thus gives liberalism sufficient moral grounding and capability to present a compelling vision of the common good.

Classical liberalism has traditionally been understood as the belief in individual liberty. The individual for a liberal possesses natural, inviolable rights prior to any political association, articulated by Locke as ‘life, liberty and property’. Milton Friedman understood it to be ‘the intellectual movement that…emphasized freedom as the ultimate goal and the individual as the ultimate entity in the society. It supported laissez faire at home as a means of reducing the role of the state in economic affairs and thereby enlarging the role of the individual…(the) reduction in the arbitrary power of the state and protection of the civil freedoms of the individual.’ Thus the classical liberal claims that in order to flourish, individuals must be free to associate, voice their opinions and engage in enterprise. Inherent then is a preference for smaller government that gives room for the exercise of individual initiative and exists to protect, rather than to curtail, the liberties of individuals. Smaller government is less capable of coercing individuals into conformity, allowing individuals to pursue their own beliefs and happiness. Indeed, government must be small, because government is made up of flawed individuals who, despite the greatest of benevolence, have the propensity to miscalculate at best, or at worst use the coercive power of the state to impose what they deem to be their anointed vision on those who may find their vision unconscionable. Greater political and economic freedom, then, leads to greater material prosperity and individual wellbeing.

Continue reading