Mike Baird: Another Labor-Lite Liberal

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

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

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.