Saturday salon 7/11

1. Michelle Payne strikes a blow for female jockeys

“A female jockey has won the Melbourne Cup,” said the ABC’s Gerard Whateley in calling the winning moment. Indeed she had, along with Prince of Penzance, a 100-1 outsider. Had Prince of Penzance been at shorter odds the ride would have been given to a bloke. Almost certainly.

Now that Michelle Payne has won, this caper becomes less likely.

After dismounting, as Tracy Holmes tells, her comments were as memorable as her ride.

    To think that (trainer) Darren Weir has given me a go and it’s such a chauvinistic sport, I know some of the owners were keen to kick me off, and John Richards and Darren stuck strongly with me…and I can’t say how grateful I am to them.

    I want to say to everyone else, get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world.

2. Revving up the GST debate

The GST is very much on the table, indeed it seems at the centre of the Turnbull Government’s thinking on tax. Barrie Cassidy says:

How the debate advances – and how it all ends – will define his [Turnbull’s] leadership right through to the election, and beyond.

Should we increase the GST? In Australia the GST covers 47% of economic activity at a 10% rate. In New Zealand the GST covers 97% of the economy at a rate of 15%.

Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh claims that the GST is as inefficient but less equitable than income tax.

The Conversation factchecked Leigh’s claim and found it essentially correct.

Phillip Coorey in the AFR:

    NATSEM modelled a scenario in which the GST rate would be raised to 15 per cent and every income tax threshold would be reduced by 5 percentage points. This, however, would be even more regressive for low and middle-income households.

    About 60 per cent of households, or those with an income under $100,000, would be worse off while the top 40 per cent would be better off.

    The lowest 20 per cent would, on average, be $33 a week worse off, and the top 20 per cent would be $69 a week better off.

See also from The Conversation:

Along the way we learn that Sweden has a 25% GST (12% on food) but has a Gini coefficient (measures inequality) better than ours.

3. No more knights and dames

In cleaning out the rubbish left by Tony Abbott, Turnbull has tipped out the knights and dames awards. It was probably Abbott’s choice of Prince Philip rather than the knights and dames awards as such that got a lot of people riled.

The lucky recipients of this aberration were Sir Peter Cosgrove, Dame Quentin Bryce, Dame Marie Bashir and Sir Angus Houston, plus, of course, Prince Philip.

4. Senate vote reform still on cards

The Government is still considering changing the senate voting system, according to George Brandis. Timing seems to be an issue. They don’t want to upset the cross-benchers.

Peter Breen claims that the Australian Green are considering legislation which will wipe out all the independents and ultimately has a better than even chance of delivering control of the senate to the LNP. Surely not!

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

    The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

22 thoughts on “Saturday salon 7/11”

  1. I am not sure what the Greens final policy on senate elections will be.
    What I believe is that what has been happening since above the line senate voting started is an absolute scandal with the negotiations between parties resulting in preferences going to parties the voters would not have not have wanted their preferences going to.
    The scandal got worse last time with smart operators gaming the system to get very small parties into the senate. (One strategy people talk about was setting up a whole string small parties with names that would be attractive to different groups of people. Small parties that allocate preferences to each other so that one of the parties has areal chance of electing a senator.
    What is needed is a system that:
    1. Insists that only voters (not parties) can allocate preferences.
    2. Voters can choose to allocate preferences above the line.
    I would prefer the allocation of preferences to be an optional something like the excellent Qld optional voting scheme. As we have seen one of the problems with optional is that many people, including booth workers, believed that all you had to do as vote 1 and the party would allocate preferences in the same way as they did in the Senate.
    The compromise may be for the voting instructions to ask people to fill in at least X boxes with the proviso that ballots will not be ignored just because there is a mistake somewhere. Votes should be counted to the extent that the intention is clear.
    Small parties that people will want to allocate preferences to will still have a good chance of getting a senator up.

  2. I think the key thing we need from tax reform is a big enough revenue increase for governments to be able do their job properly.
    What I am seeing now is a situation where Labor and the LNP are beginning to move towards an unproductive situation where the major parties just yell past each other. (No GST, tax the rich vs GST, income tax cuts for the rich.)
    We need an adult discussion about what tax/welfare reform is supposed to achieve instead of jumping the gun and ruling out specific taxes.

  3. The Upper House is meant to be the house of review by the people, representing the States interests, in our Federation of States.
    Not the ” unrepresentative swill ” and party hacks that dominate that place now.
    Opt-in Sortition for the Senate is the answer.
    But no ” established ” party machine will relinquish power back to the Citizens will they ?
    The LDP are the only ones bold enough to advocate lessening political power, the rest want more, much more.

  4. There is never enough money. And if there was it would still be over-spent. Then they go looking for more money.
    Don’t change the tax system (reform?) unless you are going to seriously change spending.
    Pontificate about winners, losers, fairness and policy as you will. But you have to argue spending and earning in the same paragraph. We don’t need computers to tell us that: rudimentary arithmetic from primary school would suffice.
    And we need adult politicians to do their job allowing legislation that addresses needs.

  5. Bravo Michelle Payne! There is progress.

    I had my house valued this week. A lady valuer showed up. Twenty two years in the job and was just so professional. There are about 15 lady valuers in Cairns now. Twenty two years ago, just the one.

  6. I wish we had numbered comments!

    Wilful, thanks for the Gittins link. I’ll probably end up doing a post, but if anyone wants to read the CSIRO report on the future of Australia, start here.

  7. On the GST, apart from being irretrievably regressive, there will be a lot of churning as compensation is attempted.

    I’m inclined to think, with ACOSS that a GST should be a last resort. I’m also inclined to think that in order to balance the budget, the last resort will be necessary.

    In any case the LNP and Labor will need to serve up credible plans to fix the budget. Hockey and Abbott had basically given up. Turnbull/Morrison now have a budget MYEFO statement and tax plan to produce before Christmas, so we’ll see how they go. They sound confident.

    Geoff, we are at the low end of government expenditure within the OECD as a percentage of GDP. I think we could add a couple of percentage points without the sky falling in.

  8. Brian:
    “Geoff, we are at the low end of government expenditure within the OECD as a percentage of GDP. I think we could add a couple of percentage points without the sky falling in.”

    Yes I agree with that (with a caveat on comparative economics) but my concern includes the inevitable over-spend and the quest for even more money that seems chronic in all government. The only recent break was the Costello period, and the world was a little different then.

  9. But you have to argue spending and earning in the same paragraph.

    Geoff, I suspect you have history the wrong way around.

    After cutting savagely in his first budget in an overreaction to the “Beazley black hole”, Costello had a revenue problem. He had too much of it, always more than Treasury and Finance predicted, and he solved it largely by tax cuts and middle class welfare. He neglected infrastructure and other wealth-building expenditure. He should have started a sovereign wealth fund sooner and larger than the Future Fund.

    Swan had the other kind of revenue problem. What showed up in the tin was always less than Treasury and Finance predicted.

    After the GFC he did indeed always talk about spending and earning in the same breath, and always had a plan to bring the budget back to surplus, based on the information provided to him. It’s just that he was euchred every time by a failing revenue stream. He found funds for new expenditure, but did so through expenditure cuts which totalled from memory $160 billion over the six years. Not all of them were popular or appropriate, but that is another story.

    Hockey first made the deficit larger, then in 2014 tried to bring back the budget into balance with unacceptably unfair cuts. In 2015 he basically gave up, but left some of the nasty cuts on the books. Morrison has to clean up the mess.

    It may be that the revenue stream has now stabilised, but one of the said virtues of the GST is that it is more reliable.

    Phillip Coorey has an excellent article on where we are at:

    Bowen repeated on Thursday what he has been saying for over a year. In order to highlight, even restore, the importance of the mandate, Labor will be up front before the next election about the ugly stuff it feels it needs to do which will involve increasing revenue as well as cutting spending.

    Morrison and Turnbull will need to do the same.

  10. There is at least one group that will miss out with an increased GST – self-funded retirees who don’t earn a salary or receive welfare.

  11. Since 2007 the combined Govt ( Fed, State and Local ) revenue has increased, as has Spend, as has Debt.

    Include ” off budget ” items and the situation is worse.

    See a pattern ?

  12. There is at least one group that will miss out with an increased GST – self-funded retirees who don’t earn a salary or receive welfare.

    Your not retired Brian if you still earn a non welfare income, you just changed jobs.

  13. Jumpy, I wasn’t talking about myself.

    Since 2007 the combined Govt ( Fed, State and Local ) revenue has increased, as has Spend, as has Debt.

    That’s too simplistic to make a meaningful comment.

  14. I was quoting from my memory of Swan’s book, which I can’t find, but the $160 billion was the revenue downgrades he copped a treasurer. From the ABC:

      “My predecessor got a $334 billion revenue windfall and didn’t invest a lot of that in nation’s future. In my time as Treasurer, I’ve copped $160 billion in revenue downgrades,” Mr Swan told the audience.

    I think the “saves” he made were actually $180 billion.

    After the GFC he kept spending to around 26% of GDP or a little under, and had a continued focus on returning the budget to surplus, which came back to bite him as revenue continued to fail. In the 2013 pre-election budget papers (PEFO) the budget was forecast to return to surplus in 2016-17:


    In this post I outlined what Hockey then did.

  15. Anyone calculated this years Indonesian peat fire co2 footprint ?
    And how many time it dwarfs Australia’s emissions ?
    Not seeing much on the ” news “.
    Should be a big talking point in Paris so I recon.

  16. Brian
    You seem to read a lot of politicans books, what did you think of Hockeys’ and Abbotts ?

  17. I realise this is callous and cynical but the French brought this on themselves. Thankfully Australia currently has a Left-Right consensus that is keeping the Barbarians on the other side of the gate.

  18. Karen, it is what I expected you to say, and it’s the second time today I’ve had that view put to me.

Comments are closed.