Thursday, July 24, 2014

Greens cold on Parental Leave scheme

News today that the Greens have gone cold on their expected support for the Abbott Government's Paid Parental Leave scheme - but their lack of support is for the wrong reasons.

For many years, the Greens have been seen to be defendants of the underprivileged, to the extent many people paint them as the political far left. Middle-class welfare is not something we'd usually expect the Greens to support, especially when the sick, the poor and the unemployed are being told to tighten their belts.

But when it comes to Paid Parental Leave, the Greens put on their social-equity blinkers and actually support the idea that the rich should receive higher benefits than the poor, ensuring that divide can only grow wider - much, much wider.

Even after the widespread benefit-slaughter that was announced in the May Budget, the Greens were still considering supporting a PPL scheme that would see wealthy families paid more than $50,000 in welfare over just six months. That's almost eight times as much as the "unaffordable" School Kids Bonus paid over 12 years - and, contrary to standard welfare practice, you have to be already wealthy to qualify for the full PPL entitlement.

But the Greens were still prepared to support it.

The reason the Greens aren't supporting Abbott's scheme now, it seems, is because they haven't seen the funding - and reports suggest there's a $5.4B shortfall from the big-business tax that was supposed to fund it.

"The Coalition’s election policy shows the PPL payments would cost $9.8bn over four years, but the levy would raise only $4.4bn over the same period, with the gap covered by replacing an existing federal scheme and making cuts to parental leave for state and federal public servants."

The Greens know everything they need to know from a social-equity perspective. It's expensive. It heavily favours the rich. It drastically increases the rich-poor divide. It further marginalises stay-at-home parents, already demonised in political circles. It comes at a time when a raft of welfare benefits are being slashed.

Hell, it could probably be argued that such massive financial support for wealthy two-income families will be bad for the environment as it increases their ability to consume. And consume they will.

But the Greens were still prepared to support it, if only they'd seen the funding details.

No matter how the welfare benefit is funded, it will still be public money being spent on supporting the lifestyles of the relatively wealthy. No matter how this welfare benefit is funded, no matter where the money comes from, it will still be a case of "the richer you are, the more benefit you receive". It's money for back yard pools, restaurant dinners, a boat or holidays overseas. It is a lifestyle supplement. It is welfare, for the wealthy. Families who are struggling to feed and clothe their children won't see a cent of it.

But the Greens were prepared to support it - if all the money was raised from a new tax on big business (despite the fact the government had already announced an equivalent cut in the company tax rate).

The idea that the government can simply impose a new tax to raise the money to pay for this scheme - and that this means it isn't a welfare benefit - is patent nonsense. If things are so easily funded, by imposing a new tax and declaring it separate from general revenue, we could fund everything we've ever wanted to fund and no one, apparently, would care.

Both Abbott and the Greens have tried to play semantic games by insisting Paid Parental Leave is not welfare but a "workplace entitlement". Yes, I believe that. I also believe "a levy isn't a tax" and that the May Budget is entirely consistent with election promises.

Paid Parental Leave, when paid by the government to private-sector employees, is welfare and, in the case of Abbott and the Greens, it's heavily weighted for the benefit of the rich.

No matter how it is supposed to be funded, it will still be implemented at a time when low-income families, pensioners, the sick and the unemployed are being told to tighten their belts and that "the age of entitlement is over". How the supposedly left-of-centre Greens could consider supporting any welfare-for-the-rich scheme under those circumstances, is beyond me - regardless of any supposed funding model.

Either the government has money for welfare, or it doesn't. It doesn't matter what new taxes they impose to raise the money.

In other news, it seems Rupert Murdoch was made privy to details of the scheme before Mr Abbott had even bothered to tell his own political colleagues about it. According to reports, Mr Murdoch considered the scheme to be "visionary". That's hardly surprising given that the government was going to spend billions on a scheme that is supposed to be a workplace entitlement.

I imagine chief business leaders would be pleased if the government would take on all their workplace expenses.

The Greens would probably support it too - if it was funded "appropriately".


ABBOTT'S PPL: Even businesswomen don't support it. No one supports it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Day of the Endarkenment

Today is a dark day in Australian politics.

Today, the Palmer United party sold-out average Australians and sided with the Abbott-led Federal Government to repeal Australia's Carbon Tax.

At a time when the government is slashing benefits for pensioners and the unemployed because we can't afford it...

At a time when the government is proposing to slash funding to education because we can't afford it...

At a time when the government is proposing to slash health funding because we can't afford it...

At a time when that same government is proposing to impose a fee on the sick seeking treatment because we need the money...

At a time when the government is proposing to increase the debt burden of tertiary students, because we can't afford to support their education...

At a time when the Federal Government constantly whines that we have to tighten the belt and rid ourselves of any sense of entitlement, because we just don't have the money to continue due to a supposed budget black hole...

Today, the government has dumped a revenue-raising measure on the basis that it raises too much money.

Today is a dark day in Australian politics.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Vaccination - if only

I just watched a new video, produced by Richard Saunders, which features stories told by people who have been affected in some way by vaccine preventable diseases.

If you're wondering whether or not vaccination is for your kids, you should probably take a look.

I recommend clicking on the YouTube logo at the bottom-right of the video to view it at full size.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

QANTAS agrees with me on Carbon Tax

Just over a week ago, I wrote about Clive Palmer's apparent insistence that his party's support of any repeal of the Carbon Tax would be dependent on an assurance from the Federal Government that falls in electricity prices would be legislated.

At the time, I made the point that Tony Abbott is in no position to determine state-administered power prices.

Today, QANTAS has exquisitely illustrated the problem for Mr Palmer [my bolding]...

Qantas Airways has officially abandoned a “carbon surcharge” on its domestic and regional fares in anticipation of the likely repeal of the carbon tax.

However, the move is unlikely to result in lower airfares because the airline said the competitive nature of the domestic aviation market meant it had not been able to recover the cost of the carbon tax through price increases as originally intended.

And there we have it. The surcharge will go, but the ticket price will remain the same - for other reasons.

This is exactly what I contend will happen when the Carbon Tax repeal flows through to domestic power providers. State governments around the country will enjoy a reduction in their costs but there is no way to guarantee that saving will truly be passed on to consumers. Why would it?

Take note of your power costs today then compare them in a year or so and see just how much you save after this supposedly "toxic tax" is removed from the bill.


In other news, WA Premier Colin Barnett can't understand why West Australians are so grumpy after he's directly increased the cost of just about anything under his control and after other significant costs, such as housing, have also gone through the roof. And all this after we were promised we'd benefit from a massive mining boom.

He's also annoyed that people refer to him as "Emperor", just because he's busy spending billions on building monuments and killing sharks (against strong public opinion and for no useful purpose).

Maybe he'd be more comfortable with "Autocrat"?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Carbon Tax to go?

Reports late last week show "jubilant" Coalition members in federal parliament "celebrating" the passing of the Carbon Tax Repeal legislation in the Lower House.

Given the Coalition controls the Lower House and that repeal of the Carbon Tax was a key election promise (not that that means much to this Federal Government in other areas), I'm not sure why they were so apparently surprised they all voted for it. Every Coalition bill will pass the Lower House, election promise or not.

It appears, also, that the bill will likely pass the Senate with support of Clive Palmer's party...

"Mr Abbott met Mr Palmer on Thursday morning and emerged happy that the minor party's four upper house votes would support the abolition of the fixed price, subject to just one condition - a guarantee that the package would contain legislated assurances of cheaper electricity for households."

Of course, this isn't actually possible as the states control the price of electricity and, in WA at least, have been pushing it up on a regular basis for years, regardless of the Carbon Tax. Indeed, relative to all other increases, the Carbon Tax has had little effect on the domestic price of electricity.

How will anyone know if the Carbon Tax price effect has been appropriately accounted for when the bills just keep rising anyway? Ten percent off the bill this week, another fifteen percent back on the bill in a few months time. It's pointless.

Mr Palmer has, I'm afraid, been taken for a ride if he really thinks "legislated assurances" from the Abbott government have any value.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chaplaincy funding "unlawful"

The High Court has declared Federal Government funding of faith-based social workers in Australian public schools to be unlawful.

In a secular country like Australia, it's astonishing the High Court's time even had to be wasted considering this issue, but successive governments, including that headed by self-professed atheist Julia Gillard, have made it necessary.

Beyond pork-barrelling, there is no justifiable reason why a government should require counsellors to commit to an absolute belief in fairy tales, in order to qualify for government funding to provide psychological counselling to children.

It's obviously wrong - and the high Court seems to agree.

Let's see now if Abbott can separate church from state. But don't hold your breath.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Leaving paid parental leave behind

With Federal Government backbenchers slowly finding the guts to openly oppose Tony Abbott's monstrously unfair paid parental leave scheme, there just might be hope for this government yet.

But not while Abbott is still at the helm.

At a time when pensioners, the sick, low-income families and students are being told the age of entitlement is over, Abbott's proposed baby bonus will see high-earning families handed $50,000 each just to have a baby.

This lifestyle-maintenance welfare payment is proposed by a government that declared an $800 school kids bonus to be unaffordable at a time when the country is facing a supposed budget crisis.

Under the "unaffordable" School Kids Bonus (SKB), any family, rich or poor, would receive a grand total of $6800 per child, paid over 12 years of schooling - an average of $570 a year.

Under Abbott's apparently affordable Baby Bonus scheme, a family would receive $50,000 (plus superannuation benefits, I understand) - over just six months - every time they take time off work to have a baby.

That's almost 100-times as much paid in six months as the SKB paid in a whole year, and around eight-nine times as much as the SKB paid over 12 years.

BUT, welfare recipients have to be high-earners to qualify for Abbott's full benefit. Low-income families are far less deserving and some families will likely get nothing.

And don't be fooled by arguments that this isn't welfare - that it's a "workplace entitlement".

Long-service leave is a workplace entitlement. Holiday pay is a workplace entitlement. Sick leave is a workplace entitlement. Superannuation is a workplace entitlement. And, unless you're employed by the Federal Government, the Federal Government does not pay these entitlements.

Abbott's Baby Bonus is not a workplace entitlement. If it was, employers would be paying it.

When the government pays someone to maintain their lifestyle after they've had a baby, it is welfare. It's arse-about-face welfare, in this case, as the richer you are, the more you get, but it's still welfare.

It might be designed to help keep-up payments on the boat and the late-model Landcruiser, and to ensure the recipient can still afford to dine out each week, but it's still welfare.

In other news, Joe Hockey has announced that he's willing to get tough with our democratically-elected Senate if they don't go along with his deceitful budget and has warned that a double-dissolution is on the table.


If the parliamentary Liberal party won't get rid of Abbott and Hockey after the mass-dumping of election promises in their very first budget, I guess it'll be up to the voters to do it for them.

Abbott government, joe hockey, double dissolution

MORE: Joe Hockeys complains "I just say to the critics, you want us to keep our election promises, now you're doing everything you can to stop us keeping our election promises."

Yes Joe, we want you to keep your election promises. But you haven't, you've broken rafts of promises already, so don't come crying to us about it now that you've found one you claim you want to keep. You had your chance and you blew it. So put on your big boy pants, cop it sweet and accept that your Baby Bonus scheme is more on the nose than the gilt-lined disposable nappies it would have helped pay for.