Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Tony Abbott MP: the man who lied about a carbon tax is preparing to lie to voters once again

The week former chief of staff to Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin, confirmed that he had deliberately lied when characterising the Gillard Government’s price on carbon as a "carbon tax", The Sydney Morning Herald reported this:

Tony Abbott has laid out a five-point plan for the Coalition to have a chance at the "winnable" next election, including cutting back immigration and scrapping the Human Rights Commission.

In a major speech in Sydney at the launch of a new book, Making Australia Right, on Thursday evening, Mr Abbott gave the clearest signal yet he believed the Turnbull government is failing to cut through with voters, and that the contest of ideas - and for the soul of the modern Liberal Party - between the current and former prime minister has a long way to run.

Mr Abbott noted nearly 40 per cent of Australians didn't vote for the Coalition or Labor in the 2016 election: "It's easy to see why".

In a sign a return to the leadership was on his radar, Mr Abbott set out ideas on how to take the fight to Labor and win back Coalition voters thinking of defecting to Pauline Hanson's One Nation.

"In short, why not say to the people of Australia: we'll cut the RET [renewable energy target] to help with your power bills; we'll cut immigration to make housing more affordable; we'll scrap the Human Rights Commission to stop official bullying; we'll stop all new spending to end ripping off our grandkids; and we'll reform the Senate to have government, not gridlock?"
He said the next election was winnable for the Coalition, however, "our challenge is to be worth voting for. It's to win back the people who are giving up on us". [my highlighting]

So let’s look at this jumble of potential three-word slogans being readied for the next Coalition federal election campaign.

RET –renewable energy target

In 2014 the Abbott Government ordered a review of RET. This review found that RET tends to lower wholesale electricity prices and that the RET would have almost no impact on consumer prices over the period 2015–2030.

Despite Abbott's downgrading of RET targets when he was prime minister, in 2017 the Turnbull Coalition Government (of which Abbott is a member) continues its support of these targets.

According to the Dept of Industry, Innovation and Science network costs are the biggest factor driving up the cost of electricity and  a large part of these higher costs has been the need to replace or upgrade ageing power infrastructure, as most electricity networks were built throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Housing affordability

In December 2016 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recorded 11.3 million houses/units/flats purchased by investors for rent or resale by individuals and a further 1.3 million for rent or resale by others. [ABS 5609.0 Housing Finance]

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) in June 2015 clearly indicated that purchase of housing stock by investors had increased to almost 23 per cent of all housing stock and, that increased investor activity and strong growth in housing prices were occurring along with an increase in negatively geared investment properties. [RBA, Submission to House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics Inquiry into Home Ownership]

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) put the matter bluntly in Fuel on the fire: negative gearing, capital gains tax & housing affordability - The tax system at both the federal and state level inflates housing costs, undermines affordability, and distorts the operation of housing markets. Tax settings are not the main reason for excessive growth in home prices, but they are an important part of the problem. They inflate demand for existing properties when the supply of new housing is insufficient to meet demand. Ironically, many public policies that are claimed to improve affordability - such as negative gearing arrangements, Capital Gains Tax breaks for investors, and first home owner grants for purchasers – make the problem worse.

Competition between investor-developers recently saw $1.3 million added to the sale price of an older house at a Sydney metropolitan auction.

Although population growth is a factor in competition for housing stock, nowhere in reputable studies or reports can I find mention of immigration levels significantly contributing to this competition.  Which is not surprising, given that natural population increase and increase through migration do not occur uniformly within Australian states & territories and natural increase will outstrip migration in some states and territories in a given year.

Human Rights Commission

On 26 December 1976 the Fraser Coalition Government announced its intention to establish a Human Rights Commission which would provide orderly and systematic procedures for the promotion of human rights and for ensuring that Australian laws were maintained in conformity with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in order that citizens who felt they had been discriminated against under specific Commonwealth laws such as laws relating to discrimination on grounds of race or sex (but excluding laws in the employment area) would be able to have their complaints examined.

The Commission was created in 1981 by an act of the Australian Parliament and later rebirthed as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 1986 by another act of the Australian Parliament.

Whilst ever no Commonwealth statute exists which sets out the core rights of Australian citizenship the federal parliament continues to fail to guarantee protection against its own legislative or regulatory excesses.

The Human Rights Commission is one of the few points at which ordinary citizens without considerable financial means can seek redress of a wrong or harm done to them.

No new spending

I simply refer readers to Tony Abbott’s economic record in the slightly less than two years he spent as Australian prime minister, when on his watch economic growth was slowing and living standards were falling.

Senate reform

This is Section 57 of the Australian Constitution which would have to be amended and is required to be taken to a national referendum before reform can occur:

Disagreement between the Houses
                   If the House of Representatives passes any proposed law, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, and if after an interval of three months the House of Representatives, in the same or the next session, again passes the proposed law with or without any amendments which have been made, suggested, or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor-General may dissolve the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously. But such dissolution shall not take place within six months before the date of the expiry of the House of Representatives by effluxion of time.
                   If after such dissolution the House of Representatives again passes the proposed law, with or without any amendments which have been made, suggested, or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor-General may convene a joint sitting of the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives.
                   The members present at the joint sitting may deliberate and shall vote together upon the proposed law as last proposed by the House of Representatives, and upon amendments, if any, which have been made therein by one House and not agreed to by the other, and any such amendments which are affirmed by an absolute majority of the total number of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives shall be taken to have been carried, and if the proposed law, with the amendments, if any, so carried is affirmed by an absolute majority of the total number of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, it shall be taken to have been duly passed by both Houses of the Parliament, and shall be presented to the Governor-General for the Queen's assent.

The last national referendum held in Australia was in 1999 and cost $66,820,894 according to the Australian Electoral Commission for a vote on two questions.

Like 34 of the 44 referendum questions before them these two questions did not carry. In fact the last referendum questions to be carried were in 1977.

Prospect of successful right-wing reform of the Senate? 

No comments: