A story of two plans

John Quiggin observed:

    more than at any time in the past 20 years, the two parties have presented strongly opposed policy platforms reflecting underlying ideological differences on economic policy, symbolic (bankers vs unionists) and substantive (upper income tax cuts) class issues, climate policy, equal marriage and more.

But, he says, none of the big issues have been debated. Labor have beavered away with their 100 policies, but have struggled to be heard. The LNP have used slogans and smooth words, oft repeated, which according to electioneering theory is what you may well remember as you wander into the polling booth.

So it was with the diverging economic plans, or what Turnbull called his plan for the country.

If you go to the Liberal site you can easily find Our Plan where 14 plans are set out, or alternatively go to Our Policies, where you’ll find 36 listed. It’s accessible and user friendly.

The first plan is A Strong New Economy based around seven dot points:

  • An innovation and science programme bringing more great Australian ideas to market, providing tax incentives to invest in start-up businesses and helping prepare our children for the jobs of the future by boosting participation in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
  • A defence industry plan that will secure the nation and supports innovative Australian companies, local advanced manufacturing and hi-tech jobs, particularly in regional Australia.
  • Export trade deals to generate new business opportunities, give our farmers a competitive edge and open doors into expanding markets for our service industries.
  • Tax cuts and incentives for small businesses and hard working families.
  • A sustainable budget with crackdowns on tax avoidance and loopholes.
  • Guaranteed funding for health, education and roads.
  • The restoration of the rule of law in the construction industry by re-establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission. We are restoring honesty and fairness to the workplace relations system.

I think the last has been added recently. I don’t recall it on the blurb my local member sent me.

All very digestible. If you look under policies you find more detail and costings in a 16-page pdf.

It gets top marks for coherence, accessibility and presentation.

Turnbull has learnt the dot points by heart and repeats them all if given encouragement and latitude.

Labor’s site is a bit of a random mess, concerned with ‘meet and greet’ and garnering donations. If you click on Positive Policies it invites you at the top to click on their 10 Year Plan for the Australian Economy in which case you get a 32-page pdf with plenty of pics and no costings.

On the other hand if you scroll down on the main site the policies are grouped under headings. Eventually you’ll find Budget repair that’s fair: a 10 year plan to strengthen the Australian economy with 31 policies under it. The 30th is Labor’s Fiscal Plan, the 35-page pdf with full costings I linked to in Labor’s costings go phut!

On page 5 it lists Labor’s six key priorities to build a stronger, fairer economy:

    1. Investing in people – Labor will improve the quality of education and training, to drive productivity and ensure Australians are prepared for the jobs of the future.

    2. Building Australia – Labor will facilitate the economic transition by investing in roads, rail and the NBN, creating jobs and improving the liveability and productivity of our cities and regions.

    3. Driving investment in new industry and renewables – Labor will stand up for jobs in manufacturing and send the right signals to attract investment in renewables.

    4. Supporting innovation and startups – Labor will drive jobs and innovation through tax relief and support for startups.

    5. Helping small business – Labor will deliver tax cuts to small businesses while putting them on a more even playing field when it comes to competing in the marketplace.

    6. Budget repair that’s fair – Labor will better target tax concessions to middle and
    working class families and ensure greater female participation in the workforce.

This short summary is readily grasped once you find it, the equivalent of the Liberals’ dot points, but impossibly buried.

When Shorten was asked or had the opportunity he would ramble over the first two or three, but I never once heard him volunteer anything about innovation or startups.

It was potentially a good story, but went missing.

Yesterday the LNP released its final costings, as the election reaches a ratty end.

The main story was a vague $2.3 billion welfare crackdown to fund marginal-seat pork-barrelling and leave a $1.1 billion better bottom line. Realistically it was irrelevant – the savings are small and if real would also be available to Labor, but it hit the right note.

The LNP has high stakes in restricting discussion the the next four years. After that they have no room to move to pay for hospitals, education (they’ve pocketed a $2 billion saving from universities without saying how it will be achieved and Gonski is outside their plans for schools), no funds to pay for climate change after 2020, and no capacity to enhance revenue if there is a global downturn, let alone their company tax cut. They have forsworn increasing the deficit, so they would be faced with something like cranking up the GST or even more damaging cuts to programs.

Labor has its problems, because its central revenue raising source of negative gearing are characterised by low reliability and high volatility, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office.

Then there is Brexit, which plays for the Coalition and their appeals for stability. Shorten, in his Press Club speech, had a different analysis:

    “It comes from a sense of inequality; from people feeling marginalised, forgotten, alienated, left behind by global change. It’s a deep-seated sense that political promises are wasted words.

    “It comes from exactly the same sort of cynicism in policies that Mr Turnbull’s offering Australians at this election. Tax cuts for the rich, nothing for the working and middle-class Australians, telling a generation of young Australians shut out of the housing market to get rich parents, pricing kids out of university, cutting funding from Medicare”


    Shorten argued the economic transition under way “is not an excuse for cutting money from schools and infrastructure – it’s the reason why we need to invest in them”.

    “In a time of global uncertainty and domestic fragility – the last thing our economy and our society needs is a Liberal Party assault on the living standards of working and middle-class families.”

    This was why “Mr Turnbull’s ‘stability’ pitch is so fraudulent”, he said.

Analysis from the ANU in recent days has shown the families will be up the $6,000 worse off under the LNP, not taking into consideration paying for visits to the doctor and increases cost of pharmaceuticals, diagnostic imaging etc.

Is anyone listening?

18 thoughts on “A story of two plans”

  1. Yeah, the last few days has been terrible for Shorten.
    I heard on the radio that record numbers have voted already , he must be happy with that bit.
    Where they voted early most will be interesting.

  2. Jumpy: The last few days have been terrible for both sides. More pledges than you’ll find in a pawn-shop, more promises than you’ll hear in a naughty-house – and the public, with a few exceptions, don’t believe any of them.

    The LNP plan (above) is absolutely marvellous – and absolutely unbelievable. And is the ALP one any better?

  3. And is the ALP one any better?

    I think it is, Graham.

    Economics specialist for the ABC, Stephen Long, pointed out that $16.5 billion over four years was less than 0.01% of expenditure, which stood at about $1.8 trillion. He said you have to look to the long term to see a difference:

    So really what the focus should be is what are the long-term plans and policies and general principals and who’s got the best economic credentials in that long-term sense in terms of their broad brush policies to deliver economic and social good.

    And there’s a fairly clear difference in policy I think.

    He was about to give the gong to Labor, so they cut it off there. If he’d given the gong to the other mob they would have let it play.

  4. I should have said in the post that the Liberal slogan “job and growth” morphs easily into their ‘plan for the country’. Labor’s theme is “We’ll put people first” which is a motherhood statement and doesn’t work as a slogan.

    Steve Austin on local radio talked to his regular panel of advertisers about it. They couldn’t remember the Labor slogan but said “jobs and growth” oft repeated is likely to be remembered in the polling booth.

  5. Economics specialist for the ABC, Stephen Long, pointed out that $16.5 billion over four years was less than 0.01% of expenditure, which stood at about $1.8 trillion.

    So why is spending 99.99 of 1.8 trillion so cruel ?

  6. So why is spending 99.99 of 1.8 trillion so cruel?

    How many libertarians are there? Less than 10%. They are about the only ones who would ask that question.

  7. How many libertarians are there? Less than 10%. They are about the only ones who would ask that question.

    Thank you.
    Let us hope 39 or more Senators know the answer this time next week.

  8. Brian: I’ll grant you that the ALP plans seems the more feasible of the two – but, gee whiz, the LNP dream looks terrific …. on paper.

    The ghost of “our best mate ever”, Bob Hawke, is still hanging around and very few will believe anything the ALP puts out until the ALP divorces itself from predatory (often foreign) capitalism and from its own latter-day simony (well, what else would you call some of their weird pre-selections?)

    Still, the ALP is on the outskirts of Hell and not running Hell as the LNP consistently does. The LNP, in my opinion, have no real intentions of implementing their brilliant plan unless they are forced to do so at the points of halberds and lances (and there’s no chance that will ever happen).

    By the way, the election advertising blackout is a joke. Every radio station on the dial has Tweedle-Dum or Tweedle-Dee or their monisters chanting the party-line. So “news(??)” comes out in its true colours at last – and the synonym for “journalist” is now “cadre” or “truth operative”.

  9. Your are spot on about the ” ban on political advertising ” Graham. Like any prohibition, it fails.

  10. Looks like Mr Abbott will be returned to his rightful role as Prime Minister by the end of the year.


  11. While I’m here, and apropos of libertarianism I like this quote:
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged.
    One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world.
    The other, of course, involves orcs.” – John Rodgers

  12. Great argument as usual zoot, full of counter analysis, brimming with reason with lashings of objectivity.

  13. A quaint relic book turned up in our opp shop recently: Love and Marriage, by Bill Cosby.

  14. Good morning, fellow voters.

    If any of you still believe we live in the world’s best democracy or that we do not need United Nations observers here to ensure we have a free and fair election, just toddle over to the AEC and see what is missing from their website.

    I had made assumptions about what should be there – until a non-computer-literate person asked me to look up things like a sample of the actual Senate ballot paper and the like.

    Well, I did find most of the information – eventually – in bits and pieces elsewhere – but none of it on the oh-so-helpful AEC website or related government sites. Further innocent questions led to more confusion for the elderly enquirer – who may end up voting for candidates they would never trust in a blue fit.

    It seems that Informed Choice is not wanted at all in this election …. just do as you are told !!

  15. Hmm, the same John Rodgers that wrote fiction and was Bill Cosby friend ?

    There you go again, playing the man instead of the ball.
    Can’t help yourself, can you?

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