Friday, 29 April 2016

Report card on the Nationals 2013 election promises as set out by Kevin Hogan, MP for Page during that election campaign

This is Nationals MP Kevin Hogan's large electorate:

Excerpts from Kevin Hogan's 2013 election campaign website with annotations in blue text:

The Nationals have a plan to reduce the cost of living by:

* abolishing the carbon and mining taxes; Done.

* lowering taxes and reforming the tax system; Not done to date with regard to tax system reform. As for lowering taxes: As est. 70% of all incorporated businesses do not pay the full company tax rate. So it was no surprise to find that the Abbott Government's cut in the small business tax rate of 1.5 per cent, along with the ability for companies with revenue under $2 million to claim an unlimited number of tax deductions for items that cost less than $20,000 each, is only thought to have contributed to a brief two-month surge in retail goods and cars sales as an est. 30.8% of business owners splurged, according to the CPA Australia Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey 2015 - presumably for the deductions against future tax liability. While neither the Liberal-Nationals tax increases via the Temporary Budget Repair Levy nor the reintroduction of the twice-yearly indexation of the fuel excise contributed to the promise to lower taxes. Indeed, since the Liberal-Nationals Coalition won government in September 2013 federal taxation has increased from 21.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to an est. 22.3% of GDP in 2015-16 according to Budget Paper 1 for 2015-16.

* restoring the private health insurance rebate; This rebate was never abolished but became means tested in 2012 with thresholds increased annually and, it remains means tested to date.

*making childcare more affordable and flexible; Not actually done to date, with out-of-pocket childcare costs continuing to rise, with low-income families having to find an est. $700pa per child according to The Conversation Fact Check in March 2016. Flexibility is still a work in progress with the principal thrust being allowing private nannies to be registered childcare providers.

* protecting and strengthening Medicare; Not done to date. In June 2014 Kevin Hogan spoke in favour of weakening Medicare by creating a Medicare patient co-payment, which has since been shifted to a reduction in the Medicare rebate received by GPs. In July 2014 he voted in favour of increasing the price of subsidized medicines by increasing the concessional co-payment. and

* paying back government debt to keep interest rates low. Federal Government net debt is higher now than when Kevin Hogan entered  parliament. In September 2013 net government debt stood at $174,577 million and in March 2016 net debt totaled $288,681 million, with net financial liabilities of $518,013 million according to Dept. of Finance figures. In Nov-Dec 2013 he first voted to increase the amount of money government could borrow to $500 billion and then voted to remove the debt ceiling entirely. In spite of higher government debt and a budget deficit in excess of $35 billion in 2015-16, the Reserve Bank has kept the official interest rate at 2% during 2016.

Local families deserve some breathing room between weekly pay cheques. Under a Liberal and Nationals government hard-working families will be able to enjoy more rewards for their efforts. Low wages growth continues to date. According to the NSW  Dept. of  Family  & Community Services, with the exception of Ballina and Byron, all North Coast local government areas had a higher proportion of low income households at the 2011 Census than the NSW average (47.3%), with high rates of both very low and low income households in rental stress in the region. Yet I never heard Kevin Hogan speak out against his government’s December 2014 announcement  that it was abolishing  the $21.13 million Housing and Homelessness Grants program, part of which funds three national peak bodies; Homelessness Australia (HA), National Shelter and the Community Federation of Housing Australia (CHFA). He should have been well aware of social conditions in his electorate as in January 2014 he officially launched the Northern Rivers Social Profile 2013, which clearly states that 1 in 200 of this region’s population are homeless and it has median weekly household incomes which are 62-70% of the State average, depending on where you live - with the lowest in the Clarence Valley.

As part of The Nationals team in Canberra, I will create jobs here at home by:

* helping small business growth and productivity by reducing red and green tape; The Abbott-Turnbull Government's Red Tape Repeal Day (commenced Autumn 2014) was itself repealed this year by the Turnbull Government and appears to have been largely ineffective in relation to both productivity and business growth. National productivity growth in 2012-13 was 3.7, by June 2014 it was 2.5 according to The Conference Board data. In 2015 productivity in the manufacturing, retail/wholesale, transport/logistics, business/property services sectors were below the average productivity of our global competitors in those sectors according to a Deloitte Access Economics analysis.In NSW compared with 2010-11 there were 9,675 fewer businesses at the start of the 2014-15 financial year. Nationally, agriculture, forestry and  fishing  industry sectors have seen business counts decrease by -2.4% from June 2014 to June 2015 according to the Australian  Bureau of Statistics. In Hogan's own electorate in December 2013 there were est. 3,900 local businesses but by June 2014 that number had reduced to 3,863, representing an annual "year to June 2014" growth of -1.5% according to Lawrence Consulting.

* creating a world class 5-Pillar economy building on our strengths in manufacturing innovation, advanced services, agriculture exports, education and research, and mining exports; The 5 Pillars1 economic goal has not been achieved. The Reserve Bank recorded GDP growth in 2014 as 2.75% and projects GDP will only be between 2.50-3.50% in December 2016.

* investing in local roads and modern infrastructure; A work in  progress in relation to roads, while the Abbott-Turnbull Government's idea of modern infrastructure appears not to have advanced beyond sloganeering and an approx. 90 project-long "rolling" wish list in its 2016 Australian Infrastructure Plan which seems to be confined to roads and railways.

* delivering higher real wage growth and protecting workers’ rights; Not done. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015 ended with the lowest wages growth on record since it began monitoring wages in 1998. As Kevin Hogan has never voted against his party's policy or position on any matter before the parliament, it is not expected that he would support protecting workers' rights in any move to change existing industrial relations law.

* increasing job security; Not done. Nationally the unemployment rate has gone from 5.6 in September 2013 to yo-yoing around 6 or over and then to 5.7 in March 2016. By December 2015 in Kevin Hogan's own electorate unemployment rates were still above the state average - Kyogle LGA 11.1%, Lismore LGA 10.2%, Ballina & Clarence LGAs 6.7%2a. The Coalition federal government continues to reduce the number of public service and government agency jobs2b. 

* providing safe workplaces; Not done. According to Workplace Safety statistics in 2013 workplace fatalities numbered 186, in 2014 they numbered 187, in 2015 fatalities totaled 193 with 2016 to 7 March seeing 22 workplace-related deaths nationwide. In 2013-14 there were 531,800 cases of work-related illness and disease and work-related conditions are reportedly among the top five leading causes of disability in Australia. Data on work-related illness and disease beyond 2013-14 is not yet publicly available.

* implementing workplace law reform to balance the system and reward people for effort;
Not done to date in relation to workplace reform and, as for rewarding people for effort, this appears to be confined to various as yet untested proposals to increase services, cash transfers, subsidies and tax cuts for predominately high income households. and

* providing incentives for tradespeople, professionals and businesses to relocate to regional Australia. NSW Regional Relocation Home Buyers Grant closed on 30 September 2014 & Skilled Regional Relocation Incentive closed on 21 March 2015. Both had a poor take up rate. The Commonwealth  Relocation Assistance to take up a job commenced in July 2014 – it  too  reportedly has a patchy take up rate.  Nationally, agriculture, forestry and  fishing  industry sectors have seen business counts decrease by -2.4% from June  2014 to June 2015 according to the Australian  Bureau of Statistics. 

The Nationals in government will create one million new jobs over the next five years and two million within the decade; To reach the first target an est. 8,333 additional new workers would need to be in employment on average each month until the end of 2018. ABS labour force surveys tell us that in September 2013 there were 11,646,800 people employed nationwide and, by January 2016 the total was 11,909,900 people in work - not the 12,143,224 total is would have been if Kevin Hogan and the Nationals had actually met their election promise. Since the Liberal-Nationals formed government in 2013 the combined unemployed & underemployed rate has ranged from 13.1 to 15.0%, currently at 14.3%. During the preceding two terms of Labor government the underemployment rate ranged from 9.5 to 13.8%, finishing at 13.3% according to ABS Labour Force, Australia, Mar 2016.

The Nationals plan for roads and infrastructure includes:

* delivering on our commitments by making $5.6 billion of funding available to complete the upgrades to the Pacific Highway through our region; Some of the upgrade work since 2013 used funding which was committed under the  former Labor Government’s 2013-14 Budget. During Kevin Hogan’s time as MP for Page Pacific Highway funding was deferred  with  Maclean and Ballina projects delayed and the final completion date put back to 20203.

* ensuring that regional NSW roads receive appropriate funding and working with the state to upgrade our major regional transport routes including bridges; Local governments in the Page electorate have successfully applied for funds from the federal  Bridges Renewal Program.

* continuing the successful Roads to Recovery and Black Spot programs started by the Coalition in Government; Current funding (2012-13 to 2018-19 ) for these programs was allocated by the former Labor Government in its 2012-13 Budget when it extended the life of these programs  for another five  years according  to  the  Dept.  of  Infrastructure  and  Transport Annual report 2012-13.

* supporting regional and general aviation by abolishing the carbon tax on aviation fuels, continuing the Remote Aerodrome Safety Program and providing assistance to encourage the expansion of our regional network; In May 2013 the former Labor Government allocated  $1.06 million to the Grafton Regional Airport Upgrade in Round 4 of the Regional Development Australia Fund– something Kevin Hogan took credit for in February 20145.

* delivering the National Broadband Network quicker and cheaper than Labor while providing users with faster speed downloads than current broadband allows. Readers  in the Page electorate are excused for cynically laughing out loud at this point, but the situation is serious for regional areas like the Page which is being locked out of genuine high-speed broadband at a time when access to a workable NBN will be the principal way to create new & innovative employment the local economy to offset the predicted existing job losses that increased computerization of business and industry will bring6.

Under a Liberal and Nationals government our roads will be built faster and more fairly without the bureaucratic squabbling between the two levels of government. We will stop the blame game and get the job done. See footnote 3.

My plan to build a sustainable environment includes implementation of a direct action plan which:

* abolishes the carbon tax; Done

* balances the economic, social and environmental considerations in decisions between business, primary industries and nature; Not done to date.

* increases government investment in and incentives for local green projects including soil  carbon storage; Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority received funding of $548,000 ex GST (under round 1 of Action on the Ground from June 2012 to June 2015) to trial & demonstrate multiple farming practices which reduce farm greenhouse gas emission and increase soil carbon sequestration.  At time of writing no local projects are known to  me which were funded  by  the Abbott-Turnbull Government.

* encourages investment in clean green technologies; In 2014 Kevin Hogan voted for the  abolition of  the Australian  Renewable  Energy  Agency (ARENA) and against restoring funding to this agency7 after which investor confidence in the renewable energy industry stagnated according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

* refocuses environmental spending on Australian projects, rather than sending money overseas; Not done.  and

* creates a 15,000 strong green army to work on environmental projects within Australia including cleaning up riverbanks and creek beds, revegetating sand dunes, revegetating  mangrove habitats and a host of other environmental conservation projects. In December 2015 Green Army projects were capped at 500 per annum & funding was cut by est. $165.7 million8

We need a sensible balance between the environmental, economic and social needs of our regions. Mining and gas extraction continue to generate vast wealth for our country but should not be conducted where there is a risk of land and/or water contamination. In 2014 Kevin Hogan voted for a bill which would allow the handing over of approval  power to the states in relation to large coal  mines and coal seam gas fields 9.

  As part of The Nationals team, I will work to deliver world class education in our region by:

* working with the states to ensure quality education is delivered to students regardless of  where they live; Neither the Abbott or Turnbull federal governments guaranteed  the full six years of Labor’s Gonski  funding  program and former  Education Minister Christopher Pyne has said the government believes it has a  particular responsibility for independent schools that it doesn't have for public schools10.

* investing in job skills training; TAFE fee waivers were abolished in December 2014 with TAFE  funding  cuts in the 2014-15 Abbott Government budget and, the cessation of  the Tools For Your Trade (TFYT) program. 

* providing incentives for teachers to relocate to regional areas; N/K

* driving genuine reform to give principals and local communities more power to put students first; Mixed success as reportedly teachers in several  schools have endorsed resolutions for their school to be withdrawn from the Empowering Local Schools, a joint federal-states initiative.

* ensuring our curriculum is rigorous without being too prescriptive or overcrowded; A narrower curriculum focus is now in place & ministers of religion are allowed to proselytize within  the school  system with impunity.

* continuing current levels of funding for schools, indexed to deal with real increases in costs and ensuring that money is targeted based on the social and economic status of the community; Non-government schools will receive  the  same  level of  Federal-State funding  per student as  their public  school  counterparts  by  018. Public schools  are  repoted to be facing  an est. $30 billion funding black  hole  from 2018 if  the last  two  years  of  Gonski  funding  are not forthcoming in the Turnbull Government 2016-17 budget.

 * encouraging and investing in science education at primary schools; National programs are underway. However, Australia's OECD PISA global ranking for science has slipped from 9th place in 2012 to 10th in 2015, with mathematics remaining as 12th in the rankings. Australia's ranking for reading skills has dropped from 8th place in 2012 to 10th place in 2015.

* working with social media operators, schools, parents and children to tackle cyber bullying and other harmful material and behaviour targeted at children online; The Safe Schools program has been reviewed due  to pressure  from far-right Coalition MPs & senators  obviously uncomfortable  with  the existence of  lesbian,  gay, bisexual, trans and/or intersex (LGBTI) school students. Funding for this program will now end in 2017. Kevin Hogan appears to have  never spoken out in support of this  program in the  House  of Representatives.

* reviewing and restructuring government research funding to make sure each dollar is spent as effectively as possible; Research funding was reduced in the Liberal-Nationals 2014-15 and 2015-16 budgets, which saw National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy and Sustainable Research Excellence combined funding cuts at est. $674.2 million, however there appears to be no coherent planning by government for research into the future as the National Innovation & Science Agenda remains to date vaguely pie in the sky and potentially open to rorting by business at the expense of established research agencies.

* ensuring the sector, including higher education, has a stable, long-term source of infrastructure funding; Not done to date and

 * growing higher education as an export industry and to support international students studying in Australia. The VET-Help loans scheme was rorted by private ‘colleges’11before the federal government would act, leaving an est. 40% of all these loans to private vocational course students now being considered unrecoverable

My vision is to see every child in Australia given access to and receiving the highest possible quality of education, and the genuine reform throughout the sector that will make this a reality.
The Liberal and Nationals have released 'Our Plan: Real Solutions for All Australians' which outlines many of the initiatives we will be pursuing should we form government at the next election. As to the best of my knowledge Kevin Hogan has never rebelled against the orders of his Canberra masters and never crossed the floor to vote against any Abbott or Turnbull government measures, I suspect that his 2013 grand vision of "Our Plan" faded into nothingness long ago. 


as examples

4. Regional Development Australia Fund — Round 4

No comments: