Friday, 17 August 2018

Malcolm Turnbull's NEG problems

Grattan on Friday: Malcolm Turnbull's NEG remains in snake-infested territory

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Malcolm Turnbull had a party-room victory but a god-awful week, and it wasn’t because his approval plunged in Monday’s Newspoll. His energy policy is back in the mire, and Tony Abbott is being – as one colleague neatly describes it – the agent of chaos.

It’s nearly unimaginable how the Coalition chooses to replay that old self-destructive record. In Bill Shorten’s office they’ve been digging out the 2009 headlines, such as “Battered Turnbull faces mutiny” and “Abbott leaves leader in crisis”.

Well, Turnbull is not “in crisis” but things are quite a serious mess, as those who hate him, plus others who don’t, sharpen their attack in another round of the climate wars.

In Tuesday’s Coalition parties meeting, where Turnbull won strong support for his energy policy, several reserved their right to cross the floor on the emissions reduction legislation, and later more said they might do so. There was talk of up to ten.

Read more:
Turnbull beats Abbott over NEG, now Frydenberg has to win Victoria

Assistant minister Keith Pitt, from the Nationals, let rumours run that he might stand down from the frontbench to oppose the legislation (a cynical Nationals source said: “he’s made hollow threats before”).

Resources Minister Matt Canavan (also a National), asked in the Senate whether he’d attempted to persuade Pitt on the National Energy Guarantee, said he’d “tried to persuade all I’ve spoken to about the common sense of adopting” the NEG.

The Nationals’ federal council meets this weekend in Canberra, where there will be a lot of chatter about the NEG. Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack in his council address will emphasise the vital importance of lowering power prices – very safe ground – but given his divided ranks, he isn’t expected to come out with a passionate advocacy of the technology-neutral NEG. A motion on the council’s agenda calls on the government “to support the building of high-energy, low-emissions, coal-fired power stations”.

It’s one thing for backbenchers to talk about crossing the floor, quite another to do it. Turnbull is working hard on the rebels – though obviously not on Abbott – to try to bring them around.

They have wish lists, and Turnbull, the ultimate transactional politician, is seeking doable ways to mollify them. The government has already indicated it will accept the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s recommendation to underwrite new dispatchable power projects.

On Thursday night a senior source said Turnbull was considering “heavy-handed intervention” to bring down prices. “The prime minister is not afraid to pull out the big stick on electricity companies if that’s what it takes,” the source said.

The stakes are clear. If everything went pear-shaped and there were enough floor-crossers in the House of Representatives to sink the package’s emissions reduction legislation, that would effectively (though not literally) amount to a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.

Hard to imagine, and probably only Abbott is thinking that far ahead. When other dissidents contemplate what could happen, some can be expected to fold on that ground alone.

Meantime, things fray as pressure mounts.

Take Peter Dutton’s Thursday interview with 2GB’s Ray Hadley. Hadley challenged Dutton over the energy policy, demanding to know, “Are you blindly loyal [to Turnbull]?” Instead of mounting a full-throttle defence of the policy, Dutton said he gave frank advice in private as a member of the cabinet and didn’t bag out colleagues or the prime minister publicly. This just left a question mark over what Dutton actually thinks about the policy.

Turnbull is up against multiple obstacles, apart from the insurgents.

He needs to get the states and the ACT onboard for the NEG, but the Victorian Labor government has a particular interest in procrastinating, and may do so until it goes into caretaker mode in October. It is judging what’s best for itself electorally, especially given its battle with the Greens in Melbourne’s inner metropolitan electorates.

Impatient as the federal government is to get finality on the NEG, it could be risky for it to press the Victorians too hard before the November state election. That might just increase the chances of a firm “no”. As one federal source says, Victoria needs to be accorded some space.

After the state election, things would be easier. If the government changed in Victoria, the new administration would sign up. If Labor was returned – and had left open its position on the NEG during the campaign – it might be more readily persuaded to fall into line.

Then there is federal Labor. It is generally thought the government will need ALP support to pass the emissions reduction legislation in the Senate, and defections could mean Labor was needed in the lower house too.

The argument has gone: Labor would try to amend the emissions reduction target in the legislation but, assuming that failed, it could then pass the legislation in order to take the climate/energy issue off the 2019 election agenda. That would leave a Shorten government able to increase the target later.

If Labor sees Turnbull being wounded by the internal battle, however, it would have every incentive to hold out on the emissions legislation, leaving the prime minister unable to deliver it.

Another set of players in Turnbull’s energy problems comprise the media shouters: Alan Jones, Hadley, Peta Credlin, Andrew Bolt.

They direct their megaphones to the so-called Coalition “base” and their messages resonate particularly with the Liberal National Party’s grass roots in Queensland. This makes some backbenchers nervous, inclining them (in one description) to “virtue signal” to the base.

Coalition backbenchers generally, increasingly frightened for their seats, are caught in a swirl of pressures and emotions. Some are angry at Abbott. Some look for an unrealistic nirvana, where prices suddenly plunge in time for the election.

The Conversation

Some just want the NEG out of the way, a policy in the kit bag, whatever they think of it. NSW Liberal senator Jim Molan, who describes the NEG as “sub-optimal” told Sky he supported the package on the basis that “we’ve got to focus on getting re-elected”, noting: “I’ve spent all my life making rubbish policy work.” An endorsement of sorts.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

A preview of Labor ads in the election campaign to come

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Government by referendum - let the people decide

The future of popular votes:

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Australia Post changes its mind about not advertising on Sky News. Did the government intervene?

That reply by Bec does not seem to appear on the Australia Post Twitter page any more.
And it seems the ads on Sky are back on.

Surely it would not be related to this:
Or to an intervention by one of these two shareholders:
Australia Post is a government-owned business, with the Australian Government as the only shareholder through the Minister for Communications and the Minister for Finance. It is governed under the Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989. Australia Post has the following general obligations:
To perform its functions as far as possible consistent with sound commercial practice.
Commercial obligations for sound commercial practice when possible.
Community service obligations (CSO).
Governmental obligations such as directions by the Minister, international conventions and government policies.
The Australia Post Board and management are responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation. Australia Post receives no funding from the government.

We advise the government on how the policy and legislative framework of the Australian postal industry can best meet its objectives.

Monday, 6 August 2018

A new theme song for Sky News as its love affair with right wing extremists grows

The former Country Liberal Party Chief Minister Adam Giles trying his hand as a television personality with the United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell who has a criminal history, including being found guilty last year by a magistrate of inciting contempt, revulsion or ridicule of Muslims

Perhaps this jolly singalong should be played as an introduction to Sky's political programming.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Russia appoints a diplomat with some things in common with President Trump and that deserves a singalong

BBC news reports Russia has appointed the US actor Steven Seagal as a special envoy to improve ties with the United States.
Seagal was granted Russian citizenship in 2016 and has praised President Putin as a great world leader.
Born in the US, the martial arts star gained international fame for roles in the 1980s and '90s like Under Siege.
He is also one of the Hollywood stars accused by several women of sexual misconduct in the wake of the #MeToo campaign, which he has denied.

@realDonaldTrump has not commented.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Not bearing the Bear

The new Disney film Christopher Robin has been banned in ChinaChinese censors began blocking pictures of Pooh Bear, the essential star in the Disney film, after their country's social media circulated this picture:

Juxtaposing Xi Jingping standing in his presidential limousine and Pooh in his toy car forced the censors into action. They reacted badly too when President Xi as Pooh was depicted with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as Eeyore

Singalong with Scomo as he blames us, the customers, for Australian banks' greed and largesse

And this great quote from the Treasurer trying to prove he is really a comic:

“It’s the bacon and egg principle. The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed”.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

No evidence in the latest opinion polls that Labor is on the way to certain victory

The latest measurements of Newspoll, Ipsos and Essential all are now showing the federal election mood as 49% for the Coalition to 51% to Labor. That is a long way short of justifying the "Labor is on the way to certain victory" mood that dominates my Twitter feed after the weekend by-elections. On the contrary it suggests that while Malcom Turnbull might not be favourite to retain the Prime Ministership he is still well and truly in the contest.
If PM Turnbull really believes that company tax cuts are the right thing to do then there is no evidence in the opinion poll results to abandon that policy. Voters, maybe grudgingly, tend to prefer leaders who stick to their guns rather than abandon beliefs when backbenchers start worrying

Sunday, 29 July 2018

The peasants are revolting in the Adelaide Hills

Alexander Downer on the Mayo campaign yesterday:
“We are Adelaide Hills people and been in politics here for decades and through multiple elections never come across such abuse.
Sharkie supporters have brought such horrible hate to our district. Never seen this before. You must all be new arrivals.” 
Last night he said Ms Downer would make a profound contribution to the Federal parliament. “She won’t just be a water carrier, she’ll be one of the great leaders of this country in the years to come,” Mr Downer said.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Sunday Morning Coming Downer with Georgina Downer

The Guardian captures the mood as the Mayo votes come in. The Owl reckons this music will suit Georgina Downer in the morning.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Have a kewpie doll along with your Pauline Hanson cardboard cutout

That story surely merits a political singalong.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

The shaky case for prosecuting Witness K and his lawyer in the Timor-Leste spying scandal

John Braithwaite, Australian National University

Much of the media commentary on the government prosecution of Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery has focused on government duplicity in suppressing the trial until it had its oil and gas treaty signed with Timor-Leste.

But this focus on government hypocrisy has neglected the accountability of the director of public prosecutions, Sarah McNaughton. The prosecution policy of the Commonwealth says:

The decision to prosecute must not be influenced by any political advantage or disadvantage to the government.

McNaughton’s job is to be the key politically independent actor in the process. She must be a check on state political revenge.

This is why the case should of course be in open court, so the public can see how the DPP justifies its independence in the case.

Read more:
When whistleblowers are prosecuted, it has a chilling effect on press freedom in Australia

The reason people are worried about the case is that it has the appearance of state revenge against Witness K, who complained through proper channels about the illegality of the bugging he was asked to do, but a decade on served the public interest by blowing the whistle.

Alexander Downer was foreign minister when our international intelligence services were moved away from their counter-terrorism work to focus on commercial espionage on behalf of oil magnates who later offered him a lucrative consultancy. Witness K went public after Downer started working for the consultancy.

So, let the public see in open court whether this is, or is not, a coin-for-the-crown-case that rightly provoked a whistleblower, and not a political revenge case.

Public confidence has been shaken

An even greater concern is that K’s lawyer, Collaery, has been swept up in the government’s prosecution.

From assault to complex commercial crimes, it is common for both sides to make allegations of criminality against the other. We expect the DPP to show independence in assessing who is the greatest victim of crime in complex cases like this. That person will be the least likely to be prosecuted.

The prosecution policy of the Commonwealth also requires the DPP to take into account the views of crime victims in deciding how to manage its deliberations, not only about whether to prosecute. In this case, the public needs to see what kind of victim support services are being provided to Collaery.

For example, the DPP should be asking the government as one of the alleged offenders to make one very public announcement. This is that Australia will continue to abide by the spirit of the International Court of Justice order that the government keep sealed the documents it seized from Collaery’s office in 2013.

The Commonwealth should also assure the public that it will continue to desist from spying on Collaery’s legal work and any bugging or invasion of Collaery’s office.

Read more:
Lawyer and witness face charges under spy laws, raising questions of openness and accountability

Further, the prosecution policy says the government should avoid cases that “undermine the confidence of the community in the criminal justice system”.

That confidence has already been shaken by this case. It will be further shaken if much of it were heard in secret. “Openness” and “accountability” are specified in the policy, binding the DPP to “maintain the confidence of the public it serves”.

Citizen confidence that counter-terrorism laws would not be used against civilians is a public issue. It seems these laws are now hanging over Witness K and Collaery, who most Australians view as patriots rather than terrorists.

Question of resources and timeliness

Lastly, the prosecution policy emphasises that prosecutorial resources are limited. Only those cases most worthy of prosecution should go forward.

Banking and insurance crimes are a real threat to the security of our financial system. These are the kinds of cases where the “public interest” test demands more focused resources, not cases against public-spirited civil servants.

Another element of the prosecution policy is that the passage of time since the alleged offence occurred should also be taken into account.

In this prosecution, the passage of time has been taken into account in the wrong way, delaying prosecution until a political interest of the government has been realised.

The ConversationRarely have the courts in our country faced such a moment of truth for our justice values.

John Braithwaite, Professor, School of Regulation and Global Governance, Australian National University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Pauline Hanson on a love boat off Belfast

An update to the Owl's earlier post about Pauline Hanson being in Scotland. The Bolt report says she has now moved on to a ship in the Irish sea off Belfast with her partner as well as her sister and her sister’s husband.

Will Ye No Come Back Again Pauline - singalong with her deserted candidate

Pauline Hanson has been holidaying in Scotland rather than being out on the Longmans campaign trail. Join in with her deserted candidate and sing:

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

"Death of a Clown" seems an appropriate singalong for Liberal MHR Craig Kelly

Anthony Maslin, the Perth father whose three children were killed on MH17 which was shot down in 2014, accused US President Donald Trump of "kissing the arse" of Russian President Vladimir Putin at their Monday summit. Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly responded to the grieving parent by saying Russia's involvement should be "looked over" for the sake of good relations.

Death of a Clown will be the appropriate song when Mr Kelly loses preselection.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Greens and the yellow peril

Australia's Greens, it seems, have joined in the "fear the yellow peril" sentiment. The party's Tasmanian leader, Cassy O’Connor has called on the state government Government to explain why it has backed a 900 per cent increase in visa applications by Chinese business and skilled migrants. As reported by the Hobert Mercury Ms O'Connor believes “the relationship between the Hodgman Liberals and the Chinese Communist government is unhealthily close” .
“Will Hodgman is being played by the Chinese Communist party because he only understands the value of something if it’s got a dollar sign in front of it.
“He is putting Tasmania’s sovereignty, food security and environment in jeopardy.”

Singalong with big Trev Ruthenberg, the Liberal candidate for the Longman by-election

Monday, 16 July 2018

If Turnbull is greatly preferred to Shorten as PM, then why is the Coalition still trailing in the opinion polls?

If Australia had a presidential election, the opinion polls suggest that Malcolm Turnbull would defeat Bill Shorten easily. Newspoll this morning had the Prime Minister 19 percentage points in front of the Opposition Leader when voters were asked "Who do you think would make the better PM?" So why is it that Shorten's Labor lot have for ages now been comfortably in front of Turnbull's Coalition when it comes to voting intention?
That's a question the Liberal and National Parties should be thinking about.
The Owl reckons, for a start, they should be hiding this pair of vote losers:

Prime Ministers prove the need for compulsory sport in school

The federal government will lobby states to make sport mandatory in schools in a push to improve children's health and performance in class.
Federal Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie said physical activity was not just good for kids' health and wellbeing, with research now linking it to better learning.
"Sport is a powerful platform for a whole lot of things, not just for the fun of it (and) I want to use the power of sport whenever I can,'' Senator McKenzie told News Corp on Monday.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

The group-think of journalists covering elections and a couple of victories they missed

For political journalists, writes Walter Shapiro on the US Brookings website, there is safety in a system that places inordinate emphasis on objective measures like polls and campaign coffers.
Before the votes are tallied, everything else in campaign stories is subjective. Experienced reporters make arbitrary decisions on who to quote, which anecdotes are relevant, and the “underlying mood of the electorate.” Sometimes their instincts are right, sometimes they become overly wedded to an existing storyline like Hillary Clinton’s inevitability.
At a moment when all reporters worry about accusations of bias, it is comforting to say their candidate assessments are based on tangible numbers from polls and fund-raising tallies. This invariably leads to group-think campaign coverage in which only the most iconoclastic reporters are willing to challenge the conventional wisdom about who will win.
Sometimes the herd gets it wrong when unexpected candidates run campaigns that go viral and the media ends up surprised.
That's what happened recently in a couple of Democratic primaries and the You Tube videos show why two political unknowns defeated well established incumbents.
In New York Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's “The Courage to Change” narrates a capsule history of her life, recounting how she was born in the Bronx, worked as an educator, organiser and waitress and became a candidate because “every day gets harder for working families like mine to get by.”

MJ Hegar, running in Texas, describes how "my whole life has been about opening, pushing, and sometimes kicking through every door in my way. Ready for a Congress that opens doors for Americans instead of slamming them in our faces? "

Monday, 9 July 2018

Singalong for Mark Latham and Pauline Hanson and the new love affair of Australian politics

Mark Latham has come to the aid of Pauline Hanson by making robocalls for One Nation in the Queensland by-election seat of Longman And tonight the pair further develop their new political marriage with a joint appearance on Sky News starring Graham Richardson as the best man.
It is something worth singing along to.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Malcolm Turnbull is the leader who should be worried about leadership challenges

Perhaps it is Malcolm Turnbull who should be worried about a leadership challenge after the by-elections not Bill Shorten. The Australian this morning is certainly stirring the pot by giving prominence to yet another of those attacks by Tony Abbott on climate policy.
This time it seems the ex Prime Minister brooding on the backbench has support from the National Party arm of the Coalition who want a $5 billion dose of socialist style government intervention to have three coal fired power stations built.
Sorting out that kind of policy nonsense should be enough for PM Turnbull to put any thought of a federal election this year finally out of his mind. The only vote he will have to worry about is within his Liberal Party should he do poorly at the by-elections.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Sinking Georgina Downer at a photo opportunity for Mayo

The Owl has been on sabbatical for a month but returns to find that the madness of political campaign advisers continues unchanged. This surely is the most stupid photo opportunity ever devised by the Liberal Party.

The person who thought this will influence the good voters of Mayo should be replaced immediately.
Georgina Downer, IPA freedom fighter, proprietor of Prahran based Tenjin (“sky deity”) Consultancy and SA Liberal candidate stands behind Malcom for a lusty version of Sink The Bismarck to try and save the mayo.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

In the battle of the tax cuts Bill Shorten is doing well

Bill Shorten outbids Turnbull's tax cut for lower and middle income earners

File 20180510 34018 1mu5a3k.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Shorten pledged to give bigger income tax cuts for 10 million taxpayers.
Lukas Coch/AAP

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has launched a tax bidding war, promising to top the government’s tax relief for lower and middle income earners, as he prepares to fight a string of byelections in Labor seats.

The Labor alternative almost doubles the budget’s relief for these taxpayers, incorporating the early part of the government’s plan and then building on it.

Delivering his budget reply in Parliament on Thursday night, Shorten pledged to give bigger income tax cuts for 10 million taxpayers. Some four million would get A$398 a year more than the $530 under the government’s plan.

Labor’s “Working Australians Tax Refund”, would cost $5.8 billion more than the government’s plan over the forward estimates.

Labor’s alternative comes as debate intensifies about the latter stage of the government’s plan, when a flattening of the tax scale would give substantial benefit to high income earners.

The ALP hardened its position against that change as modelling cast doubt on its fairness. The opposition launched a Senate inquiry which will report mid June on the tax legislation, introduced into parliament on Wednesday.

The government says it will not split the bill, which it wants through before parliament rises for its winter break, but will be under pressure to do so including from the crossbench.

Under Shorten’s proposal, the ALP would support the government’s budget tax cut in 2018-19. Once in power, it would then deliver bigger tax cuts from July 1 2019, when it began the refund.

In Labor’s first budget “we will deliver a bigger better and fairer tax cut for 10 million working Australians. Almost double what the government offered on Tuesday”, Shorten told parliament.

The Labor plan would give all taxpayers earning under $125,000 a year a larger tax cut than they would get under the budget plan.

In a speech heavy on the theme of fairness, Shorten said: “At the next election there will be a very clear choice on tax. Ten million Australians will pay less tax under Labor”.

He also pitched his budget reply directly at the campaign for the byelections.

Read more:
View from The Hill: 'Super Saturday' voters get first say on tax

“This is my challenge to the Prime Minister. If you think that your budget is fair, if you think that your sneaky cuts can survive scrutiny, put it to the test. Put it to the test in Burnie, put it to the test in Fremantle and in Perth.

"I will put my better, fairer, bigger income tax cut against yours. I’ll put my plans to rescue hospitals and fund Medicare against your cuts. I’ll put my plans to properly fund schools against your cuts and I’ll put my plan to boost wages against your plan to cut penalty rates and I’ll put my plans for 100,000 TAFE places against your cuts to apprenticeships and training and I’ll fight for the ABC against your cuts.”

In the Labor model, a teacher earning $65,000 would get tax relief of $928 a year, $398 more than the $530 offered by the government.

A married couple, with one partner earning $90,000 and the other $50,000 would receive a tax cut of $1855, making them $796 a year better off under Labor than under the government.

Shorten said Labor could afford the tax cuts it proposed because it wasn’t giving $80 billion to big business and the big four banks. Also, it had earlier made hard choices on revenue measures.

Read more:
Politics podcast: Mathias Cormann and Jim Chalmers on Budget 2018

An ALP government could deliver “the winning trifecta” – “a genuine tax cut for middle and working class Australians; proper funding for schools, hospitals and the safety net; and paying back more of Australia’s national debt faster”.

Shorten said that the Liberals were proposing to radically rewrite the tax rules in their seven year plan. Research had revealed that $6 in every $10 would go to the wealthiest 20% of Australians, he said .

“Very quickly, this is starting to look like a Mates Rates tax plan”.

“And at a time of flat wages, rising inequality and a growing sense of unfairness in the community”.

Other initiatives he announced include:

· A plan for skills, TAFE and apprentices costing $473 million over the forward estimates.

· Abolition of the cap on university places, re-instating Labor’s demand driven system, at a cost of $140 million over the forward estimates.

· Reversing cuts to hospitals and establishing a Better Hospitals Fund, seeing an extra $2.8 billion flow to public hospitals. This would cost $764 million over the budget period.

· Invest $80 million to boost the number of eligible MRI machines and approve 20 new licences – which would mean 500,000 more scans funded by Medicare over the course of a first Labor budget.

The Conversation· Provide $25m to the Commonwealth Public Prosecutor to establish a Corporate Crime Taskforce. The Taskforce would deal with recommendations for criminal prosecution from the banking royal commission.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Coalition budget - there yesterday, gone today

Under Labor you will pay less in tax because I think that you are more important than multinationals, big banks and big business.
          -Bill Shorten in his budget reply speech
 It is more than 50 times I have been in Canberra and commentated on a federal budget in one form or another. I cannot remember another occasion where the impact of a government's plans has lasted for so short a time. The front pages of the papers this morning told the story. Barely a mention of goodies for the public bar a couple of minor references in the Sydney Daily Telegraph and The Australian.
Tonight Labor's Bill Shorten put budget matters back into the discussion but not in a way that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would like. That conservative commentator Andrew Bolt got it right.

The budget - Helping the rich get richer

Most of the benefits from the budget tax cuts will help the rich get richer

File 20180509 34015 7hqble.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Chris Samuel/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Robert Tanton, University of Canberra and Jinjing Li, University of Canberra

In the federal budget, Treasurer Scott Morrison promised tax cuts to all working Australians in the form of an offset and changes to tax income thresholds. But our analysis of Treasury data shows that while the government advertised these as payments to low and middle income Australians, most of the benefits would flow through to high income earners in future years.

If all of the stages of the tax plan passed parliament, there would be a sharp increase in benefits for people earning above A$180,000, due to the reduction of their marginal tax rate from 45% to 32.5%.

Taxes in most countries are progressive. This means that the more you earn, the higher your marginal rate (the additional amount you pay for each dollar earned).

There are good reasons for this - progressive tax systems mean those on a lower income pay a lower average tax rate, while those on higher incomes pay a higher average tax rate. This reduces income inequality - as you earn more, for each dollar you earn, you will pay more in tax than someone on a lower income.

With the 2018-19 budget, the proposal is for a “simpler” tax system from 2024-25. This means a reduced number of tax brackets, and a lower rate of 32.5% to those earning between A$87,001 and A$200,000.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said following the budget:

Well, you’ve still got a progressive tax system. That hasn’t changed. In fact, the percentage of people at the end of this plan, who are on the top marginal tax rate is actually slightly higher than what it is today.

However this new tax system from 2024-25 is less progressive than the current system. It means higher income inequality - the rich get more of the tax cuts than the poor.

As part of the new proposal, low and middle income earners get a tax offset in 2018-19, with high income earners getting very little. This part of the plan is progressive - more money goes to lower income earners.

However, by 2024-25, the tax cuts means high income earners gain A$7,225 per year, while those earning A$50,000 to A$90,000 gain A$540 per year, and those earning A$30,000 gain A$200 per year.

Of course, another factor of tax cuts is that they only benefit those who are employed. Tax cuts don’t benefit people like the unemployed, pensioners, students (usually young people) and those on disability support pensions.

The conversation Australians need to have is how we should be spending the revenue boost we are seeing over the next few years. We can either spend this windfall gain on benefits to high income earners, in the hope that this will flow through spending to everyone else; or maybe we should encourage young people into housing through an increase to the first home owners grant, or increased funding for our schools, universities and health system.

The ConversationWe’ve developed a budget calculator so you can see how your family is affected by the 2018 budget.

Robert Tanton, Professor, University of Canberra and Jinjing Li, Associate Professor, NATSEM, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

The media should ignore all budget events expected to occur further out than a year.

The Owl finds it hard to take seriously all those predictions and projections about what will happen in two, three, five or even 10 years because of this budget.
The one thing for certain is that most of the outcomes will be very different to what the budget documents say.
The media would do its customers a favour by ignoring all events expected to occur further than a year away.

Wendy and Peter give a singalong version of the federal Australian budget

Peter where do you live
It's a secret place.
Please, tell me!
Would you believe me if I told you?
I promise.
For sure.
For sure!
I have a place where dreams are born,
And time is never planned.
It's not on any chart,
You must find it with your heart.
Never Never Land.
It might be miles beyond the moon,
Or right there where you stand.
Just keep an open mind,
And then suddenly you'll find
Never Never Land.
You'll have a treasure if you stay there,
More precious far than gold.
For once you have found your way there,
You can never, never grow old.
And that's my home where dreams are born,
And time is never planned.
Just think of lovely things.
And your heart will fly on wings,
Forever in Never Never Land.
You'll have a treasure if you stay there,
More precious far than gold.
For once you have found your way there,
You can never, never grow old.
And that's my home where dreams are born,
And time is never planned.
Just think of lovely things.
And your heart will fly on wings,
Forever in Never Never Land

Monday, 7 May 2018

The steady and substantial decline in the average hours worked every month

When the Australian Bureau of Statistics started collecting the figures back in 1979 the average worker was working 153 hours a month. The latest ABS figures for March this year show that the average has dropped 139 hours a month.

That 9% fall in hours worked is one reason why the employment growth the government will no doubt congratulate itself on in Tuesday night's budget is not resulting in much wages growth.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Singalong to "Road to Nowhere" with the bankster spokesperson Anna Bligh

Anna Bligh told Leigh Sales on 7.30 tonight that Commonwealth Bank customers should now be pleased to clutch the APRA report into their bank as a roadmap. The Owl thinks this makes Talking Heads the appropriate commentators.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Those running a campaign against Labor for the Business Council would be wise to be getting their fees upfront rather than relying on success fees.

PHOTO: Jennifer Westacott says the Business Council felt it had "no choice" but to get more involved in political campaigning. (ABC News)
It would be difficult to think of a more difficult environment than that in Australia today for an employer group like the Business Council of Australia to be mounting a bid to persuade people to vote for the federal Coalition government. The banks and other financial institutions are giving the free enterprise system a bad name. Labor has successfully been plugging the idea that tax cuts for "the big end of town" will come at the expense of services for the rank-and-file. The collection of advisers recruited by the BCA to run its campaign would be wise to be getting their fees upfront rather than relying on success fees.
There was one aspect of Laura Tingle's debut performance as a 7.30 pundit that particularly amused me. The BCA's chief executive, Jennifer Westacott was reported saying that its television advertising campaign which it says will "focus on two basic truths — business provides and generates jobs; and big and small businesses rely on each other to be successful" would involve paying Sky News $1 million for showing a series of panel discussions. And then:
Ms Westacott would not comment on how much money was involved but said the two organisations had a commercial arrangement in support of jointly held views [emphasis added] about the need to promote policy discussions.
That's something for the Murdoch conspiracy theorists to get their minds around!

Treating children a collateral damage and other editorial views from around the world

Treating children as collateral damage - Washington Post

INFANTS, TODDLERS, tweens, teens — Trump administration officials are less interested in the age of an unauthorized child migrant than they are in removing the child from his or her parents as a means of deterring illegal border-crossers. ... The United States has a legitimate interest in deterring illegal border-crossing. It is within its rights to detain and deport individuals and families who fail to make a persuasive case for asylum. But to splinter families and traumatize children in the name of frightening away migrants, many of whom may have a legitimate asylum claim, is not just heartless. It is beyond the pale for a civilized country.

Please Stay, Justice Kennedy. America Needs You. - New York Times

Dear Justice Kennedy,
As you have no doubt heard, rumors of your impending retirement are, for the second year in a row, echoing around Washington and across America. While you and your colleagues on the Supreme Court were listening to the final oral arguments of the term in recent days, those rumors were only growing more insistent.
How can we put this the right way? Please don’t go.

From here to normality  - Kathimeri, Greece

It is indeed time for Greece to become a normal country again, but an official exit from a system of austerity and supervision alone is not enough to make this happen. ... For Greece to return to normalcy, it first needs a normal government that believes in reforms which will unleash the country’s productive capabilities and put an end to the vulgar mentality of old-school politics that currently prevails. And the faster we get this normal government, the better.

Don’t let these smug stooges derail Brexit - Daily Mail, London 

TREACHERY is a very grave charge. But it is hard to think of any other that adequately describes today’s plot by Remainer peers to deprive their country of its strongest card in the Brexit talks.
In any negotiation, whether over business or diplomacy, the ultimate bargaining tool is the threat to walk away from the table if the terms are unfavourable. As Theresa May has put it succinctly: ‘No deal is better than a bad deal.’
Yet in the most flagrant bid to derail Brexit so far, today’s proposed Lords amendments would rob Britain’s team of this trump card – dreaded by our partners, who stand to lose more than the UK if talks collapse, since they sell much more to us than we do to them.
Instead, they would force our negotiators to keep going backwards and forwards to Brussels in quest of an agreement acceptable to the Europhile majority in Parliament, while opening the way for a second referendum before we can leave.

China needs to act as a responsible creditor - Financial Times, London 

With power comes responsibility. China is already a great power, not least as a lender for development, notably in support of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative. Chinese institutions and multilateral bosies under its influence have become significant creditors of emerging and developing countries. This role can only grow. How China handles it, not least how well it co-ordinates the management of lending and debt relief with the traditional creditors is increasingly important.

Hope comes to a peninsula - Globe and Mail, Canada 

The hostilities of the Korean War ended in 1953, but eastern Asia’s longest ongoing conflict has never been officially resolved – until, it seems, now. When North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un stepped on South Korean soil on Friday, it was the first time a leader from the North had done so. The thaw between Mr. Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In is momentous. But it prompts a question: Can it really be this easy?
Maybe. We have been at or near this point a few times, most recently in 2000 when Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, hosted South Korean president Kim Dae Jung in Pyongyang. ... But the details matter, and history tells us North Korea is devilishly hard to pin down. ... And then there is U.S. President Donald Trump, the only politician who can rival the Kim dynasty for bombast and unpredictability. Historians may remember his bold offer to hold a summit with Mr. Kim as a pivotal moment, but there is no way of knowing whether or not he can see this through to the end.

With Sophie Mirabella its a case all about a push or a shove so singalong with the Grateful Dead

An intriguing case that hinges on a push and shove so singalong with:

The Owl wonders what Sophie's current employer Gina Rinehart thinks of Sophie's practice of secretly recording conversations like she did when talking with Ken Wyatt.

Economics has the awkward distinction of being both the most influential and the most reviled social science and other news and views

Economics: the view from below - Marion Foucade in theSwiss Journal of Economics and Statistics
In the course of the twentieth century, economists have been able to establish a remarkable position for themselves, as experts in local and national governmental organizations, in independent agencies and central banks, in international institutions, in business and finance, and in the media. They supplanted lawyers in government and historians in the public sphere. As such, they have been involved with some of the most consequential decisions that societies make—decisions having to do, for instance, with the level of unemployment that might be left unattended, because it should be considered “natural”; with whether or not to authorize the purchase and sale of untested financial products or with how to organize the delivery of clean water, vaccines or electricity. This involvement has come at a cost. As Robert Chernomas and Ian Hudson put it, “economics has the awkward distinction of being both the most influential and the most reviled social science”. We might add: economics may be the most reviled social science precisely because it is the most influential. ...
One Nation voters’ changed habits prompt Newspoll rethink - The Australian
A reassessment of One Nation preference flows prompted a change by Newspoll late last year to the way it calculates the two-party-preferred vote in its regular poll of Australian voting intentions, published exclusively by The Australian. ... YouGov Galaxy managing director David Briggs said the new methodology had been in place since before Christmas.
Jacinda Ardern: ‘we should not expect women to be superwomen’ - Financial Times, London
New Zealand’s PM on Trump, being pregnant in office and whether she’s too nice to lead 
The politics of pill testing: even the ACT Chief Minister is over it - The Mandarin
Australia’s first trial of pill testing at a music festival came and went over the weekend, but one can’t say the same for the political argument that it somehow means the government is endorsing or encouraging recreational drug use.
Despite So Much Winning, The Right Feels Like It's Losing - NPR
At the core of the problem for many American conservatives is a feeling that the culture war has been irrevocably lost to their ideological opponents.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Societal challenges such as obesity and unhealthy lifestyles cannot be legislated away plus other news and views

Politicians with hopeless legislation will not fix the obesity epidemic - London Sunday Telegraph ($)
In the eyes of many politicians, it isn’t important that regulations deliver results so long as it feels like a good idea and authorities are seen to be doing something. ... Even the most apparently obvious policy solution to a problem – introduced in good faith and with the best intentions– creates ripples impacting on people’s lives in ways politicians may well have been unable to predict, particularly when it comes to lifestyle issues. It is therefore of paramount importance to exercise caution when legislating, and to proceed only when there is overwhelming evidence to suggest the measure will deliver.
The problem is that politicians are increasingly expected to provide a solution for every problem under the sun as we look to the state to replace the influence of other institutions – family or religion, for example – in our lives. It requires a significant amount of self-awareness and moral fortitude to recognise and accept that the power to legislate over people’s lives doesn’t necessarily translate into the wisdom ideally required to do so. Especially when there is a rising tide of voices telling legislators that it is a moral responsibility of the state to act.
A truly wise politician knows to resist the siren call. Societal challenges such as obesity and unhealthy lifestyles cannot be legislated away. To try and do so is unwise and irresponsible.
The Military Doesn't Advertise It, But U.S. Troops Are All Over Africa - NPR
When U.S. troops were ambushed in Niger last October, the widespread reaction was surprise: The U.S. has military forces in Niger? What are they doing there? Yet in many ways, the Niger operation typifies U.S. military missions underway in roughly 20 African countries, mostly in the northern half of the continent. They tend to be small, they are carried out largely below the radar, and most are focused on a specific aim: rolling back Islamist extremism.
The U.S. Has No Clear Strategy For Africa. Here's Why It Really Needs One  - NPR
What needs better explaining is why it is necessary for U.S. diplomatic, military and other government agencies to provide support to our partners on the continent. U.S. policymakers and senior leaders in the military and State Department have known for decades that Africa is a nexus of extremist groups, criminal networks and illicit trafficking, yet the government has inadequately addressed the root causes of instability in parts of Africa.
EU bans pesticides linked to declining bee numbers - Financial Times
Environmentalists welcome ban but agrochemicals industry calls for further research 
Today, Francis is increasingly embattled. The political climate has shifted abruptly around the world, empowering populists and nationalists who oppose much of what he stands for. Conservative forces arrayed against him within the Vatican have been emboldened, seeking to thwart him on multiple fronts.
Yet a close look at his record since becoming pope and the strong reactions he has engendered also shows that Francis continues to get his way in reorienting the church. And his supporters say that the backlash against his views has only made his voice more vital in the debate inside and outside the church over the issues he has chosen to highlight, like migrants, economic inequality and the environment.
But even they concede that Francis’ message has fallen decidedly out of sync with the prevailing political times, in contrast to, say, Pope John Paul II, who provided the spiritual dimension for Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher’s battle against communism.
When Russia Becomes the U.S.S.R. on Steroids, Israel Can Become a Target Too - Haaretz
Russia has returned to the international stage and considers itself an equal to the United States, despite Washington’s huge economic and military advantage.
And to gain dominance once again, the Russians are increasingly using all the tried and true methods of the Cold War (not that the Americans are innocent of using very similar methods). Cyberattacks, along with sophisticated propaganda and disinformation on social media, ramp up the consequences. This is already the Soviet Union on steroids, both because its rivals’ secrets are more accessible than in the past, and because it’s easier today to spread the messages to the general public.
At the same time, the Russians are helping to weaken Westerners’ confidence in the effectiveness and justness of their democracies. When Russia’s RT television films Syrians who deny that a chemical slaughter was carried out by the Assad regime, when on Twitter the Russian ambassador in London mocks the claims about the poisoning of the former spy, the purpose is the same. The propaganda isn’t designed to convince Westerners of the justness of the Kremlin’s ways, it’s to confuse their perception of reality to the point where they’ll no longer believe in anything.