Monday, February 25, 2013
Mungo still hates the rich
Because he writes with a jocular touch, Mungo MacCallum is not generally seen as the far-Leftist that he is. In his twilight years he seems in fact to have become near-Communist.
Gillard's refusal to wreck the Australian mining industry by imposing even more taxes and royalties than they already pay is deeply disturbing to him
To take Australia's biggest miner as an example, BHP is valued by the market as worth $190 billion. Its most recent profit was $5.7 billion. That amounts to a return of 3% on assets employed -- which is below the rate of return that some banks offer on your savings. And Mungo calls that very modest rate of return an "orgy of looting and pillage". Even after allowing for comedic exaggeration, Mungo is still all hate and hot air, in the best Communist style. No wonder he got only a third class honour (fail) from Sydney university.
Mungo makes no attempt to link to the facts the way I have done above because his hate needs no facts. He is quite happy to live in a fantasy world created by that hate. There is no truth in him, as Jesus said of the Devil (John 8:44). I don't believe in the Devil or anything metaphysical at all but there is certainly an evil in human nature -- and it is in Mungo, despite all his jocularity.
So it is all the more amusing that the only authority he quotes for anything is a hymn! See below -- JR
For months now critics of Labor in general and Julia Gillard in particular have been complaining that her government lacks a narrative - a simple story that defines what it is and where it wants to go.
But last week it appeared that the Prime Minister had come up with one, or at least the one she intends to take to the election. And it can be summed up in three words: eat the rich.
Of course, Labor's strategy is not quite as crude as the ironic Trotskyite slogan of the 1960s suggests. But it certainly looks as though Gillard is determined to turn back the economic revolution of the Hawke-Keating years and even the progressive forays of the Whitlam regime that preceded them to launch an old-fashioned Labor campaign based on the simple formula of Us against Them: Us being the workers and Them being the bosses.
This at least was the theme of the AWU conference last week at which she said she was proud to lead a union-based party and willingly accepted the embraces of Australia's best-known faceless men, AWU boss Paul Howes and his predecessor Bill Shorten.
It was Howes who set the tone with his description of the mining magnates as "robber barons", rhetoric more reminiscent of the 1930s Great Depression than of the boom years of the 21st century. But if this was supposed to be a challenge, then Gillard turned it down flat. She is completely unwilling to reverse her 2010 capitulation over the mining tax or to take any other serious measures to restrain the robber barons' orgy of looting and pillage - which leaves her entire campaign looking more like bluff and bluster than a genuine crusade on behalf of the downtrodden.
She and her Treasurer, Wayne Swan - himself a factional warrior for the AWU - are pretty good at verbal bellicosity; in recent times, Swan has invoked the spirit of Bruce Springsteen, derided his opponents as antipodean versions of the American Tea Party, declared war on the banks, and lambasted sitting ducks such as Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer.
But to date nothing serious has been done to rein in either their depredations or their profits; indeed, their balance sheets show that the government has treated them with a generosity bordering on dissipation. Gillard and Swan talk a good fight, but have been very reluctant to step into the ring.
The budget will show whether they are fair dinkum or not, and on the surface at least they might as well throw a few punches, because not only do they have nothing to lose, but they have a story to tell.
It has long been accepted that executive pay packets have become quite simply unconscionable; the gap between the top and the bottom, or even the middle, is now quite obscenely wide. And as the rich have grown richer, they have also become more arrogant and selfish; they now give proportionately less to charity than the poor and spend far more time and effort in rorting the system.
Last week alone, assistant treasurer David Bradbury drew attention to devices such as the one he termed the "double Irish Dutch sandwich", by which multinationals like Google avoid paying tax in Australia. It was revealed that the big coal power generators had not only passed all or more of the carbon tax on to consumers, but were trousering billions in compensation for their trouble.
And of course, those earning 90 per cent more than their fellow Australians continued to insist that they were not rich - well, not really. And if they were, well fair enough. As a letter writer to the Sydney Morning Herald once put it, the reason the rich need more money than the poor is obvious: the rich have greater expenses.
But any attempt to introduce a modicum of restraint into this manifestly inequitable system is immediately greeted with loud cries of "Class warfare! The politics of envy!" by those with the money and the power. It is taken as a given that there is no class in Australia, and therefore any attempt at closing the gaps in society is a sinister and wrong-headed attempt to promote not equality, but division. Robert Menzies set the myth in stone back in 1944. "We believe," pontificated the great man, "that the class war is a false war."
In fact our longest serving prime minister was an unashamed worshipper of England, an assiduous gatherer of imperial honours. No one joined with more gusto in the now forgotten third verse of the hymn "All things bright and beautiful":
The rich man in his castle
The poor man at his gate;
God made them high and lowly
And ordered their estate.
If ever there was a Bunyip Aristocrat, it was Ming, Knight of the Ancient Order of the Thistle and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
But, false though his premise clearly was, it appealed to the egalitarian streak in Australians, and is now considered unchallengeable. To take it on, Gillard and Swan will have to do more than simply promise the unions a blue collar future; after all, few present day Australians see their own, let alone their children's, future as a lifetime spent on the assembly lines.
And simply shovelling more lower and middle class welfare into the marginals won't cut it either. Not only is that unaffordable, it doesn't attack the real problem: the fact that the super rich are now seen to set their own salaries, choose whether or not to pay tax, and cynically ignore their obligations to the rest of the Australian community.
If Gillard and Swan want to be taken seriously, they will have to cut down a few tall poppies just for starters.
The political backlash will be fierce, but so what? Can things get any worse? And if "eat the rich" sounds a little too brutal for an election slogan, then how about "Time for a fair go"? Gillard, for one, should be able to relate to that.
Newspoll shows NSW Labor has lowest support for six months
To lose the election, Julia just has to lose Queensland -- but now she is losing NSW as well
THE latest Newspoll shows support for NSW Labor is at its lowest point for six months as a corruption scandal dims the party's prospects at a state level and federally.
In Queensland, it's not clear if Liberal National Party support is increasing or falling, but voters still rate it well ahead of Labor.
The NSW poll conducted for The Australian newspaper in January and February shows primary support for state Labor at 27 per cent, two points down on a poll conducted in November and December last year.
Labor was last at 27 per cent in a poll conducted in July-August last year after dipping to only 24 per cent in March-April.
Support for the O'Farrell coalition government is up one percentage point, at 46 per cent, indicating a 60-40 split in favour of the coalition in two-party preferred terms.
The poll, published this morning, is bad news for federal Labor, with half of the party's 20 most marginal federal seats in NSW, and big swings against it widely tipped in western Sydney and on the NSW Central Coast.
Polls have shown support for Labor has been slipping since NSW's Independent Commission Against Corruption began hearing last year into allegedly corrupt conduct by three former state Labor ministers.
Today's poll result is also bad news for state Opposition Leader John Robertson whose support as preferred premier has slipped back two points to 19 per cent.
Premier Barry O'Farrell's support has risen four points to 48 per cent.
He has 43 per cent of voters satisfied with his performance and 38 per cent dissatisfied compared with 28 per cent satisfied with Mr Robertson and 35 per cent not satisfied.
Two Queensland polls released today reveal differing trends, but both show the LNP would still decisively defeat Labor in an election.
A ReachTEL poll shows primary support for the LNP rose by almost five per cent to 47.1 per cent over the last month, but a Galaxy poll indicates it fell to 43 per cent, down one per cent since November.
Labor's primary support slid by six per cent to 28.9 per cent, according to ReachTEL, but Galaxy respondents put support up at 34 per cent.
Premier Campbell Newman's management during the ex-tropical cyclone Oswald floods impressed ReachTEL respondents, with 20.8 per cent saying he is doing a very good job, up from 18.1 per cent in January.
But Galaxy says Mr Newman's support has fallen, with people unimpressed by his performance rising by four percentage points.
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell visiting Coonabarabran. in wesern NSW after fires devastated over 50 homes. Picture: Bullard Simon
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk isn't faring well either with 18.6 per cent of ReachTEL respondents saying she is doing a very poor job, up three per cent since January.
Galaxy shows Ms Palaszczuk has recorded a seven percentage point increase in the number of people dissatisfied with her performance.
The ReachTEL poll shows 0.5 per cent of respondents don't know who Mr Newman is, while 13.5 per cent of respondents have not heard of Ms Palaszczuk.
The response to a separate question in that poll, asking people if they believe the Newman government should lift the ban on uranium mining in Queensland, will be released at a later date.
Gillard trying to take control of schools
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is vowing to take on state governments which are unwilling to overhaul school funding, amid increasing hostility from some state and territory leaders.
Over the weekend, Victoria announced plans to implement its own scheme, with an extra $400 million in education funding focusing on areas of disadvantage.
Queensland is considering whether it should follow Victoria's lead in the absence of clear details from the Commonwealth on its proposal, and Western Australia has indicated it is not yet willing to sign up to funding changes.
Ms Gillard says she is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Gonski report, which suggested an annual boost to education funding of $6.5 billion.
"It will take political will to get this done. I've got the political will to do it, and we will fight through to get it done," Ms Gillard told reporters in Canberra.
"Now I hope that fight is concluded in April around the COAG [Council Of Australian Governments] table, but if there are states that are still holding out from giving kids the best possible education, then we will certainly fight on to secure that for those children."
Under the Gonski plan, each school would receive funding based on how many students are enrolled, with extra loadings for educational disadvantage, including students with poor English skills, disabilities or geographical distance.
On Friday, Ms Gillard told an Australian Education Union conference that if Labor lost this year's election, the opportunity to implement the Gonski report would also be lost.
The ABC understands that the Federal Government only plans to inject an extra $1 billion next financial year, with more money to be "phased in" over time.
Ms Gillard is hoping to reach an agreement with state and territory leaders within months, but several states appear unwilling to sign up in the absence of firm details.
It will take political will to get this done. I've got the political will to do it, and we will fight through to get it done.
Prime Minister, Julia Gillard
"We've had 18 months of Chinese water torture coming from the Australian Government, and the vast bulk of the populous have no idea what we're talking about," Queensland's Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek told AM.
"What we've seen from the Prime Minister is Julia Gillard saying 'this is what you'll get from the Labor government if we're re-elected'.
"And at the next COAG meeting in April, Premier Campbell Newman, along with the other premiers, will be put under pressure to agree to something, the detail of which we haven't seen yet.
"We can't sign up to Gonski until we see more detail."
Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett says the Commonwealth is close to finalising its offer to the states, but he has declined to provide details about how much money is involved.
"My expectation is that in this week and the weeks ahead we will be sitting down and specifically going through with those states who are committed to a national plan for school improvement both what we believe are the necessary components of the plan, and also the likely offers that will come onto the table for us to pay our fair share - as we've always said we would do - and to seek the same from the states," Mr Garrett told AM.
West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says most funding for government schools comes from state funding.
He says the Gonski report would mean more state funding for private schools at the expense of government schools, something he is not prepared to do.
"We don't have to change. They're our schools. We don't have to do anything," he told reporters on Friday.
"Gonski's a fair report and points to some real issues in education, but just because the Commonwealth Government thinks we should change our funding, doesn't mean we'll do that.
"And in fact we won't."
While visiting a school in suburban Canberra this morning, Ms Gillard announced the appointment of the first National Children's Commissioner, whose job it will be to advocate for the needs of young people.
"As Government gets on with doing tasks across a wide range of portfolios, the National Children's Commissioner is there to make sure that the outlook of children and their needs is always being taken into account," Ms Gillard said.
The Government has asked Megan Mitchell to carry out the role. She is currently the New South Wales Commissioner for Children and Young People.
Ms Mitchell says it is important to have a children’s advocate at a national level, to review federal laws and policies and to ensure compliance with international agreements.
"I'm really very, very keen to ensure that children’s voice is up there and heard by adults who are making decisions on behalf of and for children," Ms Mitchell told reporters.
"Personally and professionally, I do have an interest in ensuring that we identify kids that are at risk of disengaging from education and social life, as I think there are lots of implications of that.
"I'd like to look at the laws and policies of this nation - and states and territories - to make sure that we very early on pick up any risk factors for kids and act on that."
Ms Mitchell has been appointed for a five year term beginning on March 25.
Greens encouraging single parenthood
In accord with their generally very Leftist agenda. And they hate miners too
The Greens are proposing single parents receive a top-up to their welfare payments of up to $127 a week.
The Federal Government this year moved thousands of single parents onto the lower unemployment payment, Newstart.
The changes meant parenting payments were cut by up to $110 a week.
Deputy Greens leader Adam Bandt told the ABC's Insiders program his plan would effectively reverse those cuts.
"Labor really slugged single parents, especially those from January 1 this year who are forced to live on Newstart," he said.
"We're going to put forward a proposal that will allow single parents to work more hours, keep more of that money and have greater rights to flexible working arrangements with their employers, together with a small funding boost."
Mr Bandt says his proposal would cost an extra $340 million a year.
"You could pay for that just by closing one of the loopholes in the mining tax and you'd have change left over," he said.
"The people of Australia want to change the mining tax. The majority of the population is on our side. That we need a mining tax and/or that it should be increased.
"Let's raise the revenue to fund the services that Australians expect."