Category Archives: Politics & Government

Saturday salon 22/4

1. Theresa May’s brave gambit

She didn’t need to, so why did she, especially after promising absolutely definitely that she wouldn’t?

Given a lead of about 20% in the polls, she possibly sees a chance of decimating Labour and governing virtually as a one-party state for the next five years.

However, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight warns that the British polls are basically not worth a cracker. Their abysmal performance translates into a margin of error of 13 to 15%. Continue reading Saturday salon 22/4

Should We Charge the GST on Exports?

Exporters often seem to be able to pay less tax than other businesses.  One of the key reasons for this is that exporters pay no GST on their exports despite benefiting from government expenditure on things things like education and various forms of assistance to industry including assistance that is specific to export industries.

This post asks whether it is about time to start charging the GST on at least some exports. Continue reading Should We Charge the GST on Exports?

Should We Get Rid of the Company Tax?

The Commonwealth government has just gained support for a tax cut for business’s earning less that $50m per yr. The benefits of this change are debatable. The only things we can be sure of is that badly needed government revenue has been sacrificed and if anything, the administration of this tax will become more complex.

It might be smarter to get rid of this complex and difficult to administer tax altogether and replace the lost revenue by either increasing the take from already existing taxes and/or some new and simpler tax.

This post looks at the implications of getting rid of company tax. Continue reading Should We Get Rid of the Company Tax?

Fake news about company tax cuts

Ross Gittins says we have fake government rather than fake news, but it does appear that the political debate about company tax cuts has been inadequate and misleading, to say the least. In this post I take a look at what decent thinkers like Gittins, Craig Emerson, Ross Garnaut and others have had to say about the corporate tax cuts. Continue reading Fake news about company tax cuts

Class warfare needed to shake lazy neoliberalism

Neoliberalism has run its course, Paul Keating has spoken.

Sally McManus, the new Secretary of the ACTU announced the demise of neoliberalism as a useful economic force in her speech to the National Press Club National Press Club, as well as defending her comments that anti-strike laws were unjust and could be disobeyed, and setting out the union peak body’s case for a $45-a-week increase in the minimum wage.

McManus said that neoliberalism and trickle-down economics had caused inequality to reach a 70-year high in Australia and that “working people and ordinary Australians have been the victims”.

    “The Keating years created vast wealth for Australia, but has not been shared, and too much has ended up in offshore bank accounts or in CEO’s back pockets.

    “Working people are now missing out and this is making them angry.”

Continue reading Class warfare needed to shake lazy neoliberalism

Malcolm’s malaise

Ray Hadley reckons that if Turnbull can’t lead Bill Shorten by 20 points he doesn’t deserve to be prime minister. According to the latest Newspoll in the ‘Better PM’ stakes Shorten has taken ground off Turnbull. Turnbull is now only 9 in front compared to 14 last time.

As to how well they are doing their job, 32% approve of Shorten compared to 30% for Turnbull. And it’s not new. Shorten was 2% ahead back in November, and has tended to shade him ever since (three times out of four). Of course both are in net negative territory.

In ‘Two Party’ terms it’s 53-47 to Labor, compared to 52-48 last time. Here are the individual party votes: Continue reading Malcolm’s malaise

Saturday salon 1/4

1. Blackmail, extortion and slavery at a restaurant near you

This is the story about an Indian couple in Melbourne, who desperately wanted to stay in Australia. They moved to Adelaide, where the wife was offered a three-year contract as a cook in an Indian restaurant for $52,500 pa under a 457 visa.

What happened is that she ended up working for years for nothing, and sums of $30,000 and then $20,000 were extorted on threat of ending 457 sponsorship. Then the authorities cancelled the company’s right to sponsor, so their visa was cancelled. Continue reading Saturday salon 1/4

Gas to burn

Jay Weatherill’s energy plan involves the construction of a government-owned 250MW gas-fired power plant to provide emergency back-up power and system stability services for South Australians, and power for his resources minister to instruct the owners of Pelican Point to turn it on. Yet his plans for cheaper gas, or any gas, will not work quickly and possibly will not work at all. Laura Tingle in an excellent article published under the title of Power sources: steaming Premiers and Pumped PMs tells us that on the futures market on Wednesday, the June contract for electricity in Victoria hit $147.50 per megawatt hour, compared to a price for the March contract of just $80 as energy traders put a price on the closure of Hazelwood in Victoria at the end of March.

Meanwhile a group of former BHP Billiton and BP executives is consulting with SA to build a private equity funded power station, using gas from a floating regasification plant sourcing gas from the North West Shelf and from Singapore, some of which may actually come from the Cooper Basin in the state’s north via Gladstone.

Is this for real, and how did we get into this ridiculous mess? Continue reading Gas to burn

Solutions to the energy crisis

Malcolm Turnbull has now, for reasons best known to himself, elevated “energy crisis” to a “national security” issue. Ben Potter puts the situation well:

    A decade of fighting over renewable energy, carbon prices and fossil fuels has left Australia with some of the world’s dirtiest and costliest energy – a bitter yield from historical abundance.

    Three years ago, manufacturers began complaining they couldn’t get gas, and 18 months ago the South Australian grid started to wobble.

    Now, electricity and gas prices across the eastern states are two to three times their levels only a couple of years ago.

    Gas exporters overcommitted to foreign buyers; the federal government mismanaged renewable energy and the regulatory apparatus – and politicians responsible for it – are frozen in the headlights.

Continue reading Solutions to the energy crisis

How Bill Clinton and Barack Obama prepared the ground for Donald Trump

Thomas Frank has recently been in Australia, spruiking his book Listen, Liberal or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People. He told Richard Fidler that

    the Democratic Party has drifted away from its working class roots and been captured by technocrats — lawyers, financiers and professionals.

    As a result, the Democrats have lost interest in the problem of inequality and the increasingly stressful lives of the everyday people who used to vote for them.

He told Fidler that Democrats believed that if people felt they had been left behind (“the deplorables”) it was because that is what they deserved. They had made the wrong choices, studied the wrong subjects, or hadn’t tried hard enough. Continue reading How Bill Clinton and Barack Obama prepared the ground for Donald Trump

What is Trump up to?

It has emerged that Donald Trump was from youth a regular church-goer and an enormous admirer of his pastor, one Norman Vincent Peale, whose 1952 book The Power of Positive Thinking was translated into 15 languages, remained on the New York Times best-seller list for 186 weeks and sold 5 million copies.

Peale’s son is not so keen on Trump, but Trump is very keen on himself. His biographer says Peale’s influence is the source of Trump’s boundless self-confidence, and is the key to his persona, along with his father’s modus operandi and interest in branding.

Trump’s “America first” meme presented as somewhat isolationist. What has emerged in his recent speech to the joint houses of Congress, is that Trump has in fact embraced American exceptionalism, the notion that America has a special role in the world to lead the all peoples and countries to the sunny uplands of peace, justice and freedom. Trump is going to save the world. Continue reading What is Trump up to?

Poll stuff: the redhead on the surge

The dominant media narrative has been that the voters continue to desert the main parties, especially the LNP, in droves, mainly to One Nation. Reality is a bit more complex, and recent polls have thrown up other interesting results, like 64% of people overall, and 56% of LNP voters, support a royal commission into banking.

Let’s look at Newspoll first, where Labor has opened up a yawning two-party preferred gap of 55-45, up from 54-46:

Continue reading Poll stuff: the redhead on the surge