Indigenous Australians: The right to succeed and to fail

by on 14 October, 2014

Jack Wilkie-Jans (4)Jack Wilkie-Jans argues that local communities and councils, not Canberra, should direct and implement policies in their own areas to provide the best outcomes for indigenous Australians:

It’s an unpopular belief among the staunch left but Aboriginal people have the right to both fail as well as to succeed, the same as any other person living in Australia. The welfare/payment/spending monitoring cards as encouraged by Andrew Forrest’s recent report into Indigenous Australians are, in my view, a step towards paternalism, a step away from individual liberty and hence it ignores Aboriginal peoples’, such as myself, the right to fail, which ignores our right to grow and therefor inhibits our right to succeed.
Paternalism has crippled rural and remote places (places with a higher Indigenous population) such as Cape York Peninsula. It is the easy way out in the guise of doing something while being “caring”. It’s easy to say we’ll wean people off of welfare but a lot harder to ensure there’s something sustainable and rewarding for them to move on to i.e. real jobs and training opportunities in their home regions. The latter of which requires some serious investment and expenditure of energy in rural Australia- something I hope the Federal Government’s Green and White papers on Northern Australia and development can result in.
Outback Australia still has a lot to give, the economy in the city centres like Cairns in Far North Queensland revolves a lot around retail whereas the bush has the opportunity to provide for food & farming and tourism (eco, cultural etc.) not just resources. These are industries, old (like cattle) and some which would be new (such as expansive agriculture), which could benefit all Australians. By looking at the unemployment rates in such places there is clearly an ample work force at the ready in spite of a lack of rural based training providers, there just aren’t the jobs. Wouldn’t this be a more ideal direction to move towards than a here-and-now approach of welfare payment micro-managing?
 

Menzies, Capitalism and Instant Gratification

by on 9 October, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASean Jacobs reviews the relevance of Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister’s thoughts on capitalism in today’s climate.  

Ask a 20-year old how to get rich, says Keith Campbell, and they will likely give you three answers: “I can either be famous on reality TV, or I can go start a dot-com company and sell it to Google in about a week, or I can go work for Goldman Sachs and just steal money from old people.”

Today the idea of instant gratification rightly faces a tough audience. Reward without effort closely resembles the entitlement culture of expectation minus responsibility found not just with young people.

In criticising instant gratification, however, it becomes easy to blame two key pillars of Western success – technology and capitalism. Paul Roberts, for example, in his recent book Instant Gratification records the downsides of coping “with a consumer culture almost too good at giving us what we want” – self-centeredness, short-termism, hyper-customisation and violating social norms like “taking calls in theaters or posting videos of others’ misfortunes.”

Roberts traces these setbacks to the rise in modern corporate capitalism. This, he says, emerged as companies recovered from the stagnancy of the 1970s through “cutting taxes and regulations, and thereby allowing the efficiencies of the marketplace to find the most direct route back to wealth.”

Rejuvenated commitments to efficiency and profit entered the 1980s and joined ranks with the microprocessor, speeding up the march to consumer satisfaction. Bringing a vehicle from conception to the showroom floor, for example, now took 18 months instead of four years. Doubling computer speeds and halving costs – otherwise known as Moore’s Law – have clearly made instant upgrades, iPhones and widgets much easier but so many other things cheaper.

Instant gratification, Roberts concludes, is thus a “consequence not of our failures but of our extraordinary successes.” So how does one make sense of this all? In one direction it appears the charges of mass consumption and short-termism are true but, at the same time, our progress seems tied to it.

Interestingly Robert Menzies – Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister – made similar observations to Roberts prior to the fusion of microprocessors and corporate capitalism. Reflecting in his 1967 memoir Afternoon Light Menzies wrote that, “The scramble for individual wealth and prosperity will go on with all its accompaniments of selfishness. The short view, the demand for immediate and increasing personal benefits, will place great obstacles in the way of statesmanship and the steady march of civilization.”

Menzies seemingly understood that instant gratification is peripheral to the host of other values that liberty and private enterprise inspires. “We have learned that true rising standards of living,” he wrote in the same memoir, “are the product of progressive enterprise, the acceptance of risks, the encouragement of adventure, the prospect of rewards.” Not only does our “social progress” depend on these social traits, Menzies observed, but on economic values like “thrift and saving, investment and reward.”

Menzies, like many others before him, understood that a great deal of capitalism is ‘give’ rather than ‘take’. In 1704 Samuel Ricard, for example, observed that honesty, manners, prudence, reservation and exhibiting decency and seriousness were key elements to be considered a serious player in the world of commerce. In more recent times John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, speaks of integrity, virtue, trust, reciprocity, prudence, responsibility as the true values of capitalism over the short run considerations of wealth, fame and power. It is hard to see Menzies disagreeing.

Even in technology – an area that many see as a runaway train – we also see room for personal responsibility. Not all instant upgrades, for example, need to be accepted. Nor is one constantly obliged to email in meetings. As the late Neil Postman, one who had to constantly fend off the term ‘luddite’, observed “We need technology to live, as we need food to live. But, of course, if we eat too much food, or eat food that has no nutritional value, or eat food that is infected with disease, we turn a means of survival into its opposite.”

My thoughts are we should not be entirely alarmed about instant gratification. For each act of selfishness or short-termism there are a whole series of capitalist or economic values that do not catapult into public perception but are there working beneath the surface. This is not to excuse such acts but recognise that capitalism and technology will not always produce the idealistic picture many are after.

Sean Jacobs is the co-founder of New Guinea Commerce – a website committed to governance, growth and next generation leadership in the Indo-Pacific.

Let the Free Market fight Extremism

by on 1 October, 2014

Corporate PhotoJared Bainbridge explores the causal link between the welfare state and extremism. And how the free market is the greatest weapon we have to prevent ‘home grown’ terrorists.

What drives someone to extremism? And more importantly, how can we prevent it from happening? The Western world is in shock. Australia has approximately 60 of its own citizens which have joined ISIS in the Middle East. The UK has 400 Britons, and the French have a staggering 700. Surprisingly though, only 100 from the United States have joined ISIS. Considering that America is the number one target for ISIS and other terror organisations, and has a significantly higher total population than Australia, the UK and France combined, and is also engaged almost continuously on a global scale against these terror organisations, it is interesting that so few American citizens have joined ISIS. So let examine ‘why’ the US has been so successful at deterring people from straying down the path of extremism.

Let’s begin by apportioning out the relevant data to find a common denominator. ‘ISIS fighters per million’:

Country:

Population (approx.):

ISIS Fighters:

ISIS Fighters per million:

United States

318,800,000

100

0.3

Australia

23,650,000

60

2.5

United Kingdom

58,800,000

400

6.8

France

65,990,000

700

10.6

The results are rather staggering. The US only just turns up on the radar at 0.3 ISIS fighters per million. The US who conducted the ‘War of Terror’, who invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, who waged a drone campaign across the globe targeting extremists in the Middle East and Somalia, who is the ultimate symbol of Western democracy and thought, barely gets a mention. Yet France, with its leftwing tolerance and low participation in foreign campaigns against extremism sits at a hefty 10.6 ISIS fighters per million.

One could reasonably argue that extremist ideology is pervasive in the Western world and due the experiences of the US they have been far more proactive and pre-emptive at fighting the ‘home grown’ terrorist threat. And whilst the vigilant actions of US security agencies would no doubt act to thwart would be terrorists. The actions of these agencies also act as a recruiting tool for terrorist organisations to further push their ‘victimisation-turned-insurgent’ propaganda. Hence, there is an action undertaken by the US, which is not being followed to the same degree by Australia, the UK, and France, that is offsetting the appeal of Jihad to would-be extremist’s.

I believe that this is a welfare state issue. Below is a table showing comparative size of each countries ‘Social Expenditure as a Percentage of GDP’ against ‘ISIS fighters per million’:

Country:

Social Expenditure (% of GDP):

ISIS Fighters per million:

United States

16.0%

0.3

Australia

19.5%

2.5

United Kingdom

23.8%

6.8

France

33.0%

10.6

The causal link is the welfare state. In France, new migrants basically have their lives provided for them by the government. Healthcare, transport, rent control, a half-decent wages, all provided at taxpayers’ expense. As these people are not required to work for a living, there is actually a disincentive to work at all due to the high rates of taxation in France, and are usually housed in high-density government accommodation, the results are small enclosed communities of immigrants. These enclosed communities do not readily blend into the traditional French way of life as they are not exposed to it and end up feeling disassociated from the mainstream population. This is at every level, in language, politics, and culture. This disassociation is exacerbated through a sense of ‘purposelessness’ as each individual is not gainfully active in the betterment of their life. It is within these enclosed, dislocated communities filled with people suffering purposelessness where extremism breeds. Consequently the irony of the social expenditure designed to benefit the citizens of France actually facilitates the environment necessary to produce extremists who wish to do France’s citizens harm.

Whereas in the US, a new migrant cannot be a ward of the state for the first 5 years. Meaning they receive little to no benefits and have no safety net from the government during this time. So in order to fend for themselves they must work.  Effectively forcing new migrants to work has several positive effects. Fiscally it removes the burden of the migrant’s existence from taxpayers. It also encourages cultural understanding and tolerance. For example, let’s say someone from Syria who has distaste for other cultures moves to the US as they are fleeing persecution. Since they have to work, they will probably do so with a fairly ethnically and religiously diverse group of people. Hence their continued employment is dependent on how quickly they learn to tolerate and adapt to their surroundings. Furthermore, working will help develop language skills much quicker than had they only continued to interact with others from Syria, and will immerse them in American culture thereby making them feel ‘at home’ and not dislocated. Working also provides these individuals with a sense of purpose and achievement that is absent from France’s approach. Therefore, through the US exercising its relatively lower amount on social expenditure, it is inadvertently fighting home grown terrorism by denying the conditions necessary for its inception.

Based on the above, there is a causal link between the size of the welfare state and the number of home grown terrorists and extremists. Therefore, in order to truly fight this movement on all fronts we must move beyond thinking in terms of increased security and waging foreign wars. That’s not to say both aren’t necessary given the current global situation. But countries with traditionally higher social expenditure spend as a percentage of GDP must adopt a more American style model when dealing with new migrants to foster integration into the community. All the political-psycho-babble can prove and disprove any position taken on this topic in theory. But the time for talking is over and based on the evidence the American ‘free market’ model is the one actually doing its job. Long story short, governments need to get out of the way of people wanting to make a better life for themselves.

Jared works in Assurance and Advisory with a BIG4 professional services firm servicing large ASX listed companies, in particular those within infrastructure, construction and mining. He’s currently completing his Graduate Diploma in Chartered Accounting with the ICAA, and graduated from Newcastle University with a Bachelor of Commerce and a double major in accounting and finance. This background provides him with a unique view on the way government policy affects the engines of Australia’s economy.

Green Activists Put Lives In Danger

by on 18 September, 2014

The Minerals Council of NSW report that police are investigating a dangerous act of sabatage by the far-left green radicals at Whitehaven mine at Maules Creek,where activists entered the site in the middle of the night cutting  187 down-lines attached to extremely powerful explosives, prepared as part of the mine operations putting at risk the lives of Whitehaven personnel:

This reckless and dangerous act of industrial sabotage is a wake up call for the NSW government.  Those responsible have directly threatened lives, including their own, by tampering with powerful industrial explosive charges used in mine operations,” NSW Minerals Council CEO, Stephen Galilee said today.

“Violent and dangerous activities have escalated in recent months. As well as deliberate trespassing and interference with heavy equipment by protesters, a security vehicle has been rammed, gates have been blockaded or destroyed, and now we have had industrial explosives being sabotaged,” he said.

“We have raised safety concerns about the trespassing of protesters with the NSW Government on a number of occasions. I hope we will now see action,” Mr Galilee said.

“Without action from the Government to deter this type of illegal access activity it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt, despite the best efforts of police and emergency services personnel and site workers to ensure safety.”

“People have a right to protest, but it must be within the law. No-one has the right to put others at risk. And when people choose to ignore the law they should be held accountable for their actions.”

Home educators are true heroes

by on 16 September, 2014

In the context of a NSW Government Inquiry into homeschooling, Mike Sackville argues we should all give our gratitude to ‘hero’ home-educators:

Home educators are true heros who deserve our gratitude and respect.

Our gratitude because they save taxpayers around $12,000 per student per year, by taking their parental responsibilities fully on their own shoulders, without sending the bill to the government.

Our respect because they refuse to accept second best for their children. They see the educational, emotional, social, spiritual and physiological needs of their children as integrated and unique to each child, and they seek to provide an individually tailored response. Learning time is not compartmentalised and treated as something separate from real life. Social interaction is not limited to peers from a narrow age range.

As John Holt said,

I want to make it clear that I don’t see homeschooling as some kind of answer to badness of schools. I think that the home is the proper base for the exploration of the world which we call learning or education. Home would be the best base no matter how good the schools were [and] It’s a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens, cut off from the rest of life

Traditional Morality in the Modern West: A Relic of a Bygone Era

by on 10 September, 2014

Christopher Dowson

Christopher Dowson provides a provocative assessment of the social realities of modern Western culture and discusses the benefits of a renaissance of traditional morality.

A March 2012 article in The Economist magazine published in the context of the US Republican Primaries alleged that whenever Conservative politicians talked about ‘declining morals’ the result was inevitably relative. The article asserted that everything to do with ‘morality’ is relative to which side of the political compass you happen to fall on.

The author uses an example: So in the case of out-of-wedlock births, Republicans would probably see the increase as a moral problem regardless of the outcome. Whereas Democrats might feel more comfortable with, say, promoting a corresponding increase in stable familial relationships outside of marriage.

The author further asserted that abortions, infidelity, divorce, and teenage pregnancies were on the ‘decrease’ based on a few selective sources and therefore all this talk of ‘declining morals’ was a bit of a storm in a teacup. Now, The Economist is well-known for its libertarian, free-market utopianism (despite supporting Barack Obama in 2012) yet when it comes to social issues the magazine might as well be printed on toilet paper.

The Australian Asylum Seeker debate: a conflict of visions

by on 10 September, 2014

John SlaterJohn Slater argues that ad hominem attacks and accusations of moral bankruptcy have come to dominate Australia’s asylum seeker debate now for over a decade and that new boat arrivals or changes to immigration policy seem to spark a cacophony of righteous indignation rarely seen in mainstream public debate.

Rhetoric aside, it is strange that the bleeding hearts and the border hardliners are able to reach such starkly different opinions about ‘boat people’ despite having access to essentially the same information about who these people are and where they come from. For example, while Tony Abbott attributes the thousands of boat arrivals that occurred under the last Labor Government to its abandonment of offshore processing, activist Julian Burnside QC maintains that boat numbers are driven mainly by the ebb and flow of world refugee numbers.

Clearly, this is not simply a case of one side receiving an outdated brief. Neither is the controversy about whether Australia should take asylum seekers at all, with an annual humanitarian intake enjoying virtually universal support across the political spectrum. At its heart, the true difference between those who support policies like offshore processing, temporary protection visas and those who abhor them are a number of core assumptions about ‘boat people’ as they have come to be known.

In order to better understand how these assumptions characterise the debate surrounding asylum seekers, it is useful to consider social theorist Thomas Sowell’s concept of visions. According to Sowell, differences in political ideology can be traced to two fundamental conceptions of humanity – the constrained vision and unconstrained vision.

Guided by idealism, the unconstrained vision believes humans are essentially good, well intentioned and morally perfectible. This makes the unconstrained vision optimistic about finding solutions to social problems, undeterred by the possibility of its grand utopian ideals causing unintended consequences. The constrained vision considers man to be inherently self-interested, motivated primarily by incentives as opposed to any unifying principle of morality. It also believes that well intentioned ideas often have unforeseen results. This leads proponents of the constrained vision to be sceptical of silver bullet solutions, preferring instead to talk in terms of alternatives and trade-offs.

Turning to the issue of asylum seekers travelling unauthorised to Australia by boat, the unconstrained or ‘utopian’ vision assumes that only the most perilous of circumstances could ever possibly compel a boatload of foreigners to leave their homes and risk their lives at sea.  The apparent gravity of this decision is enough to create a prima facie assumption that these people are bona fide refugees fleeing either war, persecution or a natural disaster. For this reason, the fact that over a thousand lives have been in recent years by people making this journey is not much of a drawback. Grounded resolutely in their belief that ‘boat people’ are escaping imminent peril, the utopian vision views the matter of deaths at sea as a distraction from Australia’s responsibility to ease worldwide human suffering. After all, surely allowing these people the chance to seek refuge in Australia is preferable to them facing death or destitution? This untempered idealism tends to lead followers of the unconstrained vision to equate the scepticism of the constrained vision with lacking empathy.

The constrained or ‘tragic’ vision approaches the matter rather differently. Remembering that those attempting to reach Australia by boat have often travelled through multiple countries, they are quick to point out that most ‘boat people’ have long escaped any immediate danger by the time they make the final leg of their trip to Australia. They are also realistic about the incentives of being settled in Australia compared to the majority of the world’s nations, including welfare and government support, economic opportunity and one of the world’s most stable political systems. As a rule of thumb, these factors mean holders of the tragic vision prefer to verify the claims of those seeking asylum instead of accepting them at face value.

This is not to say the constrained vision feels in any way vindictive towards asylum seekers. Rather, it is an acknowledgement of the desirability of life in Australia and man’s tendency to do what is in his or her best interest. Another element of the tragic vision is the careful consideration of unintended consequences. On this score, the tragic vision is keenly aware that accepting asylum seekers arriving by boat without qualification creates a black market for providing unsanctioned naval transport Australia. During the previous Labor government, this created the conditions for a booming people smuggling trade and over a thousand preventable drownings at sea.

The influential role of played by visions was illustrated recently in the reactions to the Government’s turning back of a boatload of Sri Lankan asylum seekers in July. In a classic illustration of the unconstrained vision, former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser drew an analogy between the Government’s actions and sending Jews back into Nazi Germany.  For Fraser, the gravity of the situation faced by those on board was self-evident. To question this could only be explained by a lack of compassion for the benighted Sri Lankans who had found themselves on the receiving end of the Abbott government’s immigration policies.

In relation to the same incident, News ltd columnist and exponent of the tragic vision Andrew Bolt reached the complete opposite view.  While reporting the story, Bolt argued that because the boat in question had travelled from India its passengers could not possibly have been facing immediate danger or persecution. Bolt also stressed a number of personal admissions by those on board that they had sought to come to Australia because of its ‘economic opportunity.’ On this basis, Bolt concluded the Sri Lankan refugees were rent seekers, not bona fide refugees and accused the “refugee lobby” of perpetrating a fraud. Emphasising the incentives of coming to Australia and the decisiveness of self-interest, Bolt’s reluctance to accept the Sri Lankan’s claims at face value is typical of the tragic vision.
Once the influence of visions in the asylum seeker debate is understood, it becomes clear that the indictments so frequently made by politicians and activists in public debate are usually gross misrepresentations of their opponent’s true position.  There is no doubt that if Andrew Bolt believed the plight of the Sri Lankan asylum seekers in question was truly comparable to that of holocaust his response would have been very different to making a blog post celebrating their return. Likewise, if Malcolm Fraser was persuaded that the same boat contained solely economic migrants, the spectre of genocide would have been the last thing to enter his mind. Rather, Fraser and Bolt were able to reach such starkly different views based on the questions they asked and the assumptions they relied upon. For Fraser, this process was guided by idealism. For Bolt, it was tempered by scepticism.

Perhaps the biggest barrier to a more honest discussion of how visions impact the immigration debate is the dubious use of morality to lend authority to political attacks. Several months ago, prominent refugee rights activist Julian Burnside QC took to twitter to make the following pronouncement, “You don’t need a bleeding heart to know that asylum seekers should be treated humanely: just a beating one.” Without questioning the sincerity of Burnside’s plea, this assertion totally misapprehends that for the tragic vision, the answer as to whether the passengers on a newly arrived boat are genuine asylum seekers is still pending.  There is no evidence that those in favour of using hard-line offshore processing policies for boat arrivals believe that such treatment should continue as a punitive measure once asylum is granted.

Given a fair assessment, tough border protection measures are about trying to deter economic migration by sea so that Australia’s refugee quota is filled based on the merits of each individual’s claim, not their means to reach Australia’s shores. However, blinded by utopianism Burnside will never really sympathise with the logic of deciding claims for asylum based on merit, since all cases must necessarily be worthy of our compassion. The concerns addressed by offshore processing; deterring economic migration and ensuring Australia’s humanitarian intake is sustainably managed hold no favour under Burnside’s unconstrained vision of humanity.

The purpose of this article has not been to attempt to demonstrate the superior virtue of one vision over the other. It has been to expose how beneath the political rancour lies a clash of worldviews that goes to the root of how society and those within it are perceived and understood. The way forward, if there is any, is for proponents of both visions to cast aside the moral indictments and be honest about the premises and assumptions upon which they stake their case.

John Slater is the current President of the University of Queensland Liberal National Club and is in the third year of his Law/Arts degree. John’s main ambition is to lift the profile of classical liberal ideas in Australian political debate. In particular, he is interested in exposing the failings of left wing economic policy, fighting state paternalism and changing the perception of right-of-centre political thought. John has also been involved in grass roots campaigns against curfew laws limiting night time trading hours for pubs and clubs and the former Labor Government’s SSAF tax on students.

Unexplained wealth laws endanger our community

by on 9 September, 2014

VVVladimir Vinokurov argues that the Victorian government’s unexplained wealth law abolishes the presumption that you are innocent before proven guilty of a crime and suggests the law be opposed by every Victorian.

Under the new law, if police suspect you of acquiring property unlawfully, you will lose it if they apply to a Court. The law does not require police to prove their suspicions. Quite the opposite: the onus is on you to prove that you lawfully acquired your property. If you don’t keep receipts, if you paid cash, or if you don’t remember how you bought your property, or if you don’t want to undergo the public embarrassment, stress and expense of proving your innocence in court, then you are in strife.

For example, suppose that an elderly woman is stopped for speeding by police. The woman has a large sum of cash in her purse. She may distrust banks, or get paid in cash. Marijuana is found on her person. She is a recreational user. The woman is arrested. There is a reasonable suspicion that she is a marijuana dealer: she has marijuana and large amount of cash in her possession. The cash is confiscated. No charges are laid. This elderly woman now has two options. She can contest the order on the basis that she is guilty until proven innocent, or lose the money. She cannot even use the money to fund her legal defence.

This woman may not have time to prepare herself for court. She will get no notice of the application nor be entitled to contest it unless the court is satisfied that she should have that basic legal right. She will have about two weeks to give a written, sworn statement explaining whether she owns the property in question. It doesn’t matter if this information is self-incriminating. The right to silence is gone. If she doesn’t contest the order in six months, she will lose her property. She cannot elect to have a jury hear her case as with other allegations of criminal offending.

Those who deal in legal, if poorly recorded transactions will be more vulnerable under these laws. This includes small business people or casual workers who earn money ‘cash-in-hand.’ So these laws will affect everyone but they will hit the most vulnerable hardest.

Worse, if the police reasonably suspect that you have engaged in “serious criminal activity”, it is not even necessary for them to suspect that the property was unlawfully acquired. All your wealth and assets are up for grabs if you are in this special category of presumed offenders. It doesn’t matter if your offending has nothing to do with your property. This is simply draconian.

The government should only be entitled to take your property if it has proven at a trial that you have acquired it unlawfully beyond reasonable doubt. Anything less is state-sponsored persecution.

Vladimir Vinokurov is a solicitor and a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, a party devoted to promoting civil liberties.

As good as the masters they serve

by on 30 August, 2014

Sean Jacobs reviews ‘The Professionals: Strategy, Money and the Rise of the Political Campaigner in Australia’ by Stephen Mills.

In any arena a mix between competition and technology is likely to result in growth. The demand for political professionals in Australia has been amplified by an obvious contest between the two major parties, while technology has helped researching voter preferences, promoting political messaging and easing campaign coordination to service the political professional’s ultimate goal – electoral success.

A clear distinction between a professional and amateur is, of course, pay. But the type of service is key. In 1915 Archibald Stewart became Labor’s first federal secretary and, despite receiving a payment of ‘fifteen guineas’, his role contrasted sharply with today’s paid political professional.

Stewart, according to Mills, ‘literally provided secretarial services to the executive, handling correspondence and minutes, organising transport and logistics for executive meetings… and banking the meagre annual fees paid by the states to sustain the modest national operations.’ A modern political operator – cleverly interpreting data and coordinating messaging – was little use at a time when politics was an amateur sport ruled overwhelmingly by ‘recalcitrant states.’

The need for political professionals in Australia didn’t take off until after World War Two and, even then, only accelerated in the late 1960s and 70s. Labor’s Ben Chifley, after losing the 1949 federal election, complained that his team had not only been outspent but ‘suffered a terrific barrage over the radio and through the press for twelve months.’ Driving the offensive was Donald Cleland – the Liberal Pary’s first federal director – whose military background served as ‘the prototype Australian election campaign professional.’

Future Labor counter attacks not only required additional resources and wider publicity but a greater degree of ‘head office’ direction. ‘The left hand never knew what the right hand was doing,’ one Labor official observed of the post-war years. ‘Western Australia could say one thing and New South Wales the other. There was no coordination.’

In the following decades economic growth and the ascendance of television demanded that federal-state party divisions be managed to present a cohesive picture. ‘By the late 1960s,’ writes Mills, ‘the long cycle of post-war economic prosperity had ameliorated social conditions; nineteenth-century patterns of social and industrial organisation that had shaped party loyalties were eroding.’

Labor adapted swiftly to the changing political terrain. In 1968 Labor’s Mick Young, in helping to re-elect South Australian Premier Don Dunstan, broke new ground by replicating the techniques of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. This, Mills writes, was ‘the first time US-style advertising had been seen in an Australian campaign.’

A few years later Gough Whitlam’s ‘It’s Time’ slogan opened up new campaigning frontiers and, for the first time in Australian history, parties campaigned on a national scale. ‘It’s Time,’ in the words of Phillip Lynch, was ‘the brightest and most bouncing baby ever to be conceived and brought forth within the marriage of advertising and politics.’

But the successes of political professionals also expose their limitations. Whitlam – despite the clever and innovative political campaigning – proved disastrous when in office. The modern incarnation of ‘It’s Time’ – Kevin 07 – trod similar patterns of decline once the campaign gloss had worn off.

Campaigning is of course different to governing. ‘A campaign is not a time for much original thought,’ notes former Liberal federal director Andrew Robb. ‘It is a time for tactical manoeuvring and carrying out plans and procedures developed in an earlier, more normal climate.’

Ultimately, however, political professionals are only as good as the parties and the candidates they serve. Mills alludes to this when referring to the advantage of ‘campaign discipline’ that thrives on not only skilled candidates but cohesive parties. As Australian elections have consistently shown –ballot boxes inevitably punish poor governance and bad policy decisions that grow from undisciplined parties and individuals.

Is one party a clear front runner in the modern game of professional politics? According to Mills the international demand for the services of Linton Crosby and Mark Textor ‘confirms the supremacy of the Liberal Party’s campaign professionalism.’ But as his book demonstrates the pendulum has always swayed between the major parties – a dynamic that will only increase as competition and technology are at play.

Sean Jacobs is the co-founder of New Guinea Commerce - a website committed to economic growth, good governance and next generation leadership in the Indo-Pacific.

Labor Lies: How to Overpromise and Underdeliver

by on 29 August, 2014

Scott LynScott Lynn argues that Labor cannot be trusted due to its lies and economic mismanagement and that the Abbott led team has it right at present. 

Federal Labor under Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek wants you the Australian people not to know that health funding for public hospitals will increase by 9%, 9% and 9% over the next three years and 6% in the fourth year. Labor blindly and irresponsibly claim, with their horrid core and outlook on display trying to convince us, that $50 billion has been ripped from hospital funding – funding that was never put in – talk about slackness and incompetence. It would be like saying you are going to do the grocery shopping for your roommate, and as they are thinking what a wonderful person you are, you blow it and do nothing, eventually they will mistrust you and you will need to find someplace else to live.

Again, having no real idea of how to deliver things in theory or do so in reality, Labor falsely argues that $30 billion of money that Labor never set aside has been cut. How can something get cut, if it was never set aside in the first place. Labor politicians, supporters and minders must be delusional. How else could they continue on with their fixed false beliefs? In reality schools will surpass previous funding records for education from the Federal Government. $64.5 billion over the next four years, $1.2 billion more than Labor. Labor must be on something strong and no I wouldn’t want any with the side effects that it appears to be having on them. They are out of their minds. Remember Labor ripped $1.2 billion out, but the Liberals have put it back in because Labor couldn’t or wouldn’t.

What about annual funding for schools you might ask? Well, Federal funding to schools will increase by 34% between the periods of 2013-14 to 2017-18. Labor want you to believe their falsehood that these increases are not happening, but you know what, we the people need to tell them to take a long walk off a short pier. And if they say things are being cut from beyond 2018, you tell them they are trying to lead Australians astray, because funding will be channelled through increases through the Consumer Price Index and enrolments at schools.

Labor want to blind side you, so you don’t know that pensions have actually gone up, in March 2014 the base rate of the pension went up by over $14 a fortnight for singles, along with an almost $11 increase for each individual in a couple. Labor will tell you that the Liberals have cut these things, but they have not.

Labor does not want you to know that the world’s biggest carbon tax has been removed and yes Australia had it. The Labor-Green toxic carbon tax had not even a negligible effect on carbon emissions, as it had adverse effects on almost anything that needs gas, water and electricity, costing the average household approximately $550 a year. The Victorian Liberal government has also recently found delivered savings of on average of $100 over the next four years on water bills for households, looking after you and your hip pocket.

Labor’s changes to border protection cost over 1,100 deaths at sea, every single one of these deaths did not need to occur. But what about the financial cost of such an ineffective and horrid bit of legislation that was passed through the parliament under Labor? Labor’s border protection budget went off course by over $11 billion dollars – yes, not $11 million but $11 billion.

Labor’s NBN plan was also ill-conceived especially seeing that it was meant to be completed last year, but no only 3% of Australians had access to it under Labor. They promised an internet revolution and failed to deliver, and instead left us in the dust waiting with nothing happening on a large scale. At least under a Liberal led government most people will have the opportunity to access high speed broadband between 25 to 100 megabits per second by 2016 and 50 to 100 megabytes per second by 2019. This is much better than being left in the dust twiddling our thumbs. Labor was more interested in fibre to the press release.

The number of premises that had been passed in November 2013 was just over 381,000, but by the end of June 2014 over 490,000 premises had been reached. The Liberal led government target to reach by the end of June 2014 was 467,000, so thumbs up to them. Labor promised that over 1.1 million premises would be reached by springtime last year. But there is even more bad news, as only 7% of eligible customers signed up under Labor.

Labor’s ill-conceived home insulation program, otherwise known as the ‘Pink Batts’ disaster is also something they would prefer that we as Australians should forget. But I don’t think it is wise to brush aside that of the financial cost of their ill-conceived and poorly implemented plan that exceeded over $2 billion, caused over 200 house fires, approximately 70,000 repairs and 4 very unfortunate and unnecessary deaths.

Over the period of just six budgets Labor irresponsibly increased spending by over 50% or $137 billion dollars. Even worse, if nothing is done to pull back and re-adjust to fix the budget and move forward, Australia as a country will be headed towards a debt so great it will reach $667 billion in just 10 years. Plus, the interest on the debt that we have to pay this year is $12 billion. $12 billion dollars that could be better spent on health, education, defence, roads and rail.

Now, the Liberal led Abbott government is supporting apprentices, in a way that Labor never did in its wasted six years. Since July 2014, the Government has supported apprentices with a $20,000 loan over four years of training. Labor never did that, as they were more concerned with sending dead people $900 cheques (my beloved but deceased grandad got one), made Australia drop from 10th to 56th in minimising the wastefulness of government spending, while also implementing a Fringe Benefits Tax on cars when Australian car manufacturing and car sales didn’t need any more obstacles put in their way.

Under Labor employer and employee co-operation standards plummeted from 47th to 103rd in the world, pay and productivity dropped from 40th to 113th, while hiring and firing the appropriate people went from 63rd to 133rd in the world. Unions were given an extraordinary and overzealous level of access to worksites. A fine example of this was when unions visited the Pluto LNG project over 200 times in just 3 months, just a tad excessive – NOT! Well Labor did abolish the building and construction watchdog after all, just think about it. What could they be up to, what connections do they have with criminal elements within society do they have connections with? Merely thinking about it is a frightening proposition.

Labor even weakened Custom’s capacity to inspect air and sea cargo, with just 5% being inspected which enables dodgy people to deliver illegal guns, drugs and other items to and from our shores. In 2007 when Labor came to power, approximately 60% of air cargo and sea cargo was inspected. You have to take your hat off to the Howard government for keeping us very safe. But Labor would rather leave you in the dust and blame the problems they caused on the Liberals, talk about irrational behaviour.

Some major projects that the Liberal led government wants to implement in Victoria for starters include the East West Link to cut our travel times driving around the Melbourne Metro Area, the Regional Rail Link and duplicating the Princess Highway. In terms of taking the freeze of petrol excise we need this to happen to help fund major projects like the ones listed above, but some amendments need to be made. Yes, we need infrastructure like the proposed Perth Freight Link to get our goods quicker to us; and yes we need major upgrades to the Bruce Highway in Queensland; but Doncaster in Victoria needs a tram up to Westfield Doncaster or even a train stop nearby, in an effort to provide more travelling options for commuters. It is time to put the Paid Parental Leave proposal on hold until the budget is back in the black – that is a commitment that should be implemented, and a very worthy one that shows a Liberal led government can deliver, especially when Labor cannot.

In 1991, Bob Hawke introduced to parliament a medicare co-payment of $3.50, so just imagine all the things the different cures or relief treatments we could have discovered in mental health, dementia, motor neuron disease and cancer. Therefore, I propose that the Abbott led Federal Liberal Government make amendments to their $7 proposal and instead implement a $3.50 co-payment ($10 billion would be raised for the medical research fund) that would be able to bolster and advance any future treatments that you have. I would exempt those on the pension and a disabled pension from paying $3.50 and would make sure that all school children did not have to pay the fee, those completing year 11 and 12 would be covered too, regardless of their age and place of study. Forget Labor, forget the Greens and certainly forget about Clive Palmer and his cohorts because I don’t think they have really thought about the even greater things that we can achieve in the field of medicine.

In the end we need to consider that Labor can’t deliver the goods most of the time, but the Liberals can, do and will. Though sometimes it takes a while to get rid of Labor’s mess and move forward.

Scott Lynn is a Deakin University student employed in the Aged Care industry. He is expected to graduate later this year.