Friday, June 22, 2018

Largest income tax cuts in Australian history pass the Senate

I have often noted how any innovation that crops up in one country of the Anglosphere tends to be followed quite quickly by similar innovations in other Anglospheric countries.  This is an example of it.  An acknowledged part of the inspiration for this was the recent big Trump tax cuts in the USA

The Turnbull government has secured a major political victory after pushing its landmark  $144-billion income tax package through the Senate.

Less than a fortnight before the first round of cuts were due to come into effect, the Coalition's negotiator-in-chief Mathias Cormann locked in the votes of crossbench senators One Nation and Centre Alliance to see the cuts through the upper house by 37 votes to 33.

The tax cuts are the broadest income tax reform package ever passed by the Parliament and will affect all taxpayers earning more than $19,000.

The government is celebrating after the Senate approved the budget promise to progressively cut income tax over the next seven years.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the changes were "the most comprehensive reform of personal income tax in a generation. It rewards and encourages enterprise, it encourages and enables aspiration," he said. 

Notices will now be issued by the Australian Tax Office to thousands of businesses advising them to increases the upper threshold for the 32.5 per cent marginal tax rate from $87,000 to $90,000 from July 1.

The step is the first in a sweeping overhaul of the income tax system - voted on with less than 20 minutes of debate given to Labor and the Greens in the final session - that will see seven major changes to Australia's taxation system over the next decade.

Under the changes the 37 per cent tax rate will be eliminated altogether by 2028, putting 90 per cent of all taxpayers on the flat tax rate of 32.5 per cent for every dollar they earn between $40,000 and $200,000.

"As workers earn more and get more opportunities, or do extra shifts, they will not be penalised for that," said Treasurer Scott Morrison.

Over four years,  taxpayers earning up to $125,333 a year will get a $530 bonus after filing their tax return. This offset will indefinitely increase to $645 a year from 2022, but only for taxpayers earning up to $67,000 a year.

The final stage is targeted at high income earners, raising the threshold for the 45 per cent marginal tax rate from $180,001 to $200,001 from July 1 2024.

Labor and the Greens argued against the package, warning it would lock future governments into unprecedented tax cuts that would not come into force until another two elections had taken place.

"This is one of the most shameful, disgraceful days that I have seen in my time in this Senate," said Greens leader Richard Di Natale. "One hundred and forty billion dollars ripped out of public revenue, taken out of our public hospitals, public schools and infrastructure because you want to ram this bill through without any scrutiny."

Labor has pledged to repeal the cuts if it wins the next election, putting it on a collision path with workers earning more than $120,000. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has promised to strip benefits from high-income earners to deliver more generous cuts to workers on low and middle incomes.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said Labor believed in responsible budgeting. “We do not believe in locking in unaffordable promises, six and seven years in advance.”

One Nation and the Centre Alliance had voiced repeated concerns about the package. Just days before the package passed they joined Labor in arguing it should be split into three stages before backflipping to deliver the government the votes it needed.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson confirmed she did not ask the government for anything in return for her support for the cuts, but said she would continue to push for the government to fund 1000 apprenticeship places.

"I'm going to take credit for this as well because I was one of the senators that actually has supported this," she said.

Once all components of the signature budget measure are in place, the total cost will dwarf former treasurer's Peter Costello's final tax cuts. Based on the 2007-08 budget papers, those would be worth $10.4 billion in 2018 dollars.

A Parliamentary Budget Office costing of the policy revealed the cuts would surge from $360 million next year to cost more than $24 billon a year by 2028.

Government senators were muted in their celebration of the landmark bill passing, filing out quietly after  Senator Cormann shook hands with crossbenchers.


Labor's lack of aspiration hurts the poorest

Sacrifices the good of the nation on an altar of class war

It's official. The Labor Party has now forgotten – or is simply apathetic towards – the aspirational class of Australians that Labor treasurer Paul Keating created in the 1980s by modernising the Australian economy and creating opportunity for working class people.

A generation later, modern Labor dismisses this as trickle-down neo-liberal economics that just benefits Malcolm Turnbull's rich banker mates. Bill Shorten doesn't actually believe it: as a political opportunist he simply senses that there are more votes in economic populism, class envy and abstract grievances than in actually improving people's real lives.

This new attitude was summed up by Labor's Tanya Plibersek – whose career has relied on well-paid taxpayer-funded jobs in universities, the bureaucracy and politics – saying that "honestly, this aspiration term, it mystifies me".

The deputy leader of the Labor Party – herself an aspirational daughter of Slovenian immigrants who has worked hard, became dux at her school in Sydney's Sutherland Shire and became a minister of the Commonwealth – argues for the notion that the government should impose punitive taxes on people who pull themselves up by their bootstraps and modestly improve their lot in life.

It is this attitude that sums up the rotten core of modern Labor: its complete dissociation from the people it is meant to represent. Instead most of its MPs are humanities graduates from universities where the world is taught through a prism of abstractions: inequality, neo-liberalism, power relations, capitalist superstructures, socialism and gender constructs.

Labor parties of the past, with representatives actually drawn from the people the party purports to represent, were concerned with practically improving the lot of people they represented.

 This disconnect reflects the findings in a new Centre for Independent Studies report that nearly 60 per cent of Millennials reckon capitalism has failed and government should expand. Almost two-thirds think ordinary workers are worse off than 40 years ago.

Try telling that to Bob Hawke and Paul Keating whose economic liberalisation laid the foundation for Australian household per capita incomes to grow, in real terms, by two-thirds since the 1990s, while barely increasing income inequality.

To advance its absurd new class war, Mr Shorten and Labor have resorted to the outrageous political lie that a doctor on $200,000, earning five times the amount as a cleaner on $40,000, will get 16 times the tax cut. How unfair! In fact, the doctor who earns five times as much as the cleaner actually pays 13 times more tax than the cleaner.

Labor resorts to fake news by repeating and repeating that they would pay the same tax rate under the Turnbull government's tax scales to apply from 2024. Those scales would include a flat 32.5 per cent tax rate to apply every extra dollar earned between $40,000 and $200,000. But the $18,200 tax-free threshold means that the doctor would end up paying 30 per cent of total income in tax, while the cleaner would pay 11 per cent of total income in tax.

In Parliament yesterday, Labor kept hammering example after example of workers earning around $45,000 who would get a tax cut of $10 per week, while a millionaire would get $7000 a year extra from an "arrogant and out of touch" government led by Mr Turnbull. In the world of modern Labor it isn't good enough that poor people do better, but the wealthy should be taxed more and more through bracket creep in order to bend the world to fit its Green-left undergraduate-level preconceptions about equality and social cohesion.

The outrageous lie here is that the Labor-Green snake oil of greater redistribution would end up hurting the less advantaged. Lower marginal tax rates, coupled with a removal of Australia's penalty tax on company profits, would drive incentive, business investment, productivity, the tax base, jobs and wages.

But Labor doesn't believe in aspiration and doesn't want Australians to keep more of their money. Instead, a Shorten Labor government would simply slow the whole place down, leaving less money for Labor monuments, lower incomes, and hurting the poorest that it claims to represent the most. Fairness will turn out to be least fair on those Labor claims need it the most.


Baby products maker fined by ACCC for misleading 'organic' claims

A lot of organic claims are shonky.  Think:  If an organic farmer sees his crops being devoured by a swarm of insects, is he just going to stand and watch or is he going to reach for the spray?

The company behind popular baby shampoos and body washes, Gaia Skin Naturals, has been fined for making misleading claims that its products are organic.

Gaia has been fined for describing some baby products including a Natural Baby bath and body was as organic.

Gaia described its Natural Baby bath and body wash, baby shampoo and baby moisturiser as pure, natural and organic, but the products contain two synthetic chemical preservatives.

The company paid a $37,800 fine after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued the company three infringement notices over the alleged false or misleading claim.

While companies do not legally need organic certification to label their products ‘organic’, ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said businesses must make sure they are not misleading or deceiving customers with that description.

“Businesses making organic claims must be able to substantiate those claims,” she said.

The commissioner said the ACCC was concerned about what a consumer would understand when they looked at the label of a product.

"Organic is a premium claim, designed to tell consumers ‘this is organic’, and often attracts a premium price," Ms Court said.

"We were concerned that the use of the word organic says to a consumer, at a minimum, this is an organic product and this doesn't contain any chemicals.

"In these products, there were a couple of synthetic chemicals, and that is sufficient to say this representation is misleading."

The company’s Natural Baby products are stocked throughout Australian supermarkets and chemists, including Coles supermarkets, Chemist Warehouse, Priceline, Terry White Chemists, and are also sold at Toys R Us.

The products contain the preservatives sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate and phenoxyethanol, which are considered safe and commonly used in cosmetics and skin care products.

Ms Court said the infringement notices issued to Gaia over the baby products did not mean the products were not safe to use.

"This is not about saying this product dangerous at all," she said.

"Companies that want to use descriptors like organic or free-range need to make sure their products generally conform to what consumers understand that to mean.

"We think to consumers that means it doesn’t contain synthetic chemicals."


The US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council leaves ally Australia in an awkward, lonely position

It was close to midnight in Geneva when Nikki Haley got to her feet in Washington and announced that the United States was pulling out of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

If there were any Australian diplomats still up at that hour at the council's headquarters in Switzerland, they would have been watching with dismay. Their lives are about to become more difficult.

The announcement from the US ambassador to the UN surprised no-one. Donald Trump's lieutenants have made it clear they hold the council in contempt, accusing it of "chronic bias" against Israel.

Ms Haley declared that the council's "disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel" was "clear proof that [it] is motivated by political bias, not by human rights".

She also pointed out that many countries with appalling human rights records — including Venezuela, China and Democratic Republic of Congo — are comfortably ensconced in the council.

Australia actually has plenty of sympathy for both of these arguments. But the Federal Government maintains that whatever the council's flaws, quitting the field achieves nothing.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop issued a terse statement this morning, making it clear she'd urged her US counterparts to stay, but to no avail.

"It was our strong preference for the US to remain a member of the UNHRC and I had made this known to senior members of the Trump administration" she said.

The Foreign Minister's frustration is understandable.

The Trump administration's decision to pull up stumps could put our officials in Geneva in an excruciating position. Particularly when it comes to Israel.

Last month Australia and the US were the only two countries on the council to vote against an independent investigation into the killing of Palestinians in Gaza. Both argued that the inquiry's terms ignored the role Hamas played in inciting the violence.

And like the US, Australia believes that the council's preoccupation with Israel is steeped in anti-Semitism.

But the debate over Gaza will inevitably flare up again as the council forges ahead with the investigation. There will be more resolutions on Israel, and more votes.  But this time, the United States won't be there.

If Australian diplomats hold the line, we could be the only country on the council voting against further investigations into Israel, or opposing resolutions condemning their conduct.

That leaves us terribly exposed, in the heart of a bitter and emotionally charged debate about one of the world's most intractable conflicts.

Israel's opponents normally focus their fire on the US and Israel itself, but if they're out of the room then the anger coursing through the debate will inevitably be redirected towards us.

The consequences of that are difficult to predict. But we'd rather not find out.

Our best hope will be to convince some of the 14 countries that abstained on the last vote to join us in the trenches, but that's an uncertain bet at best.


No witches, no death and no religion: Author says children's books are being dumbed down because politically correct parents are REFUSING to read their kids traditional fairy tales

Children's book publishers are losing the plot with the growing presence of political correctness, an Australian award winning author has warned.

Former Children's Book Council of Australia award winner Elizabeth Fensham is the second author this week to raise concerns about children's books being sanitised and dumbed down.

The Sydney-born author told The Daily Telegraph she believes language in children's books is being oversimplified, which could impact on young readers. 'If it was going to be absolutely terrifying, I can see editors saying 'no, don't do that,' Ms Fensham told the publication.

'We need beautifully written books for kids and we shouldn't be frightened to use complex words.'

Internationally best-selling British author Geraldine McCaughrean sparked the debate earlier this week when she criticised publishers for vetoing complex language in children's books in her acceptance speech after winning the Carnegie Medal, the UK's oldest children's book award.

'We master words by meeting them, not by avoiding them,' Ms McCaughrean said after receiving the children's literature award.  

'With a book that's going to be sold into schools you get a list of things that are unacceptable – no witches, no demons, no alcohol, no death, no religion. It really does cut down what you can write about.'

Ms McCaughrean, who has written more than 160 books, said there was now a range of topics that are no longer considered acceptable for young readers.

'It's extraordinary because in pre-school you can read fairytales in their original form and some of them are really scary and dark. 'But you go to junior school and all of a sudden the fairy tales that you read in school have been sanitised and cleaned up.'

Ms Fensham believes there are truths for children to learn from in more traditional dark fairytales.

'Stories like Hansel and Gretel resonate with you for your entire lifetime,' she told The Daily Telegraph.

'I often think of it and wonder if that story emerged from the grimness of the real-life famine that would have besotted Europe, where children would have been sent out because there wasn't enough food in the house and people would have eaten children


Tony Abbott steps up attack on Malcolm Turnbull's climate plan

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told Liberal and Nationals MPs that Australia must do its part to cut greenhouse gas emissions, as his predecessor Tony Abbott led another attack on the issue in the Coalition party room.

Mr Turnbull held the line on the government’s pledge to cut emissions by 26 per cent by 2030 under the National Energy Guarantee, against vocal concerns from six Liberal MPs, including Mr Abbott.

At one point Mr Abbott claimed he was “misled by bureaucrats” over the cost of the emissions cut he helped decide as Prime Minister in 2015, which was taken to the United Nations climate talks in Paris that year.

The skirmish is another stage in the federal government’s painful internal debate on energy and climate change, in the face of objections from conservative MPs including Mr Abbott, backbencher Craig Kelly and former ministers Eric Abetz and Ian Macdonald.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg defended the National Energy Guarantee against the criticisms and cited support from industry executives to assure backbenchers the plan would succeed.

Labor is attacking the guarantee for cementing cuts that it regards as too weak while Mr Abbott and his colleagues argue the targets are too ambitious, adding to the obstacles to an agreement in Federal Parliament.

Mr Abbott challenged Mr Frydenberg to address concerns aired by Tomago Aluminium chief Matt Howell about the unreliability of renewable energy sources and the fact that its battery system would only last minutes when the smelter in NSW needed power for hours.

Mr Frydenberg replied by telling the meeting he had spoken to Mr Howell before the Coalition party room meeting and could assure MPs the Tomago chief supported the guarantee.

Mr Frydenberg also cited support for the guarantee from steelmaker BlueScope and mining giant BHP Billiton, according to government MPs in the room.

In a revival of earlier disputes within the Coalition, Mr Abbott expressed concern about the 26 per cent target despite the fact his government signed off on the commitment in 2015 in a decision cleared with the Coalition party room at the time.

Mr Abbott argued in the meeting that the target was “aspirational” but Mr Frydenberg said this was not the case, quoting the former prime minister’s own words from three years ago.

In September 2015, Mr Abbott said: “Unlike some other countries which make these pledges and don’t deliver, Australia does deliver when we make a pledge.”

Fairfax Media was told that Mr Abbott warned about the cost of meeting the target and said he may have been “misled by the bureaucracy” about the full implications of the Paris commitment.

When Senator Macdonald questioned why Australia had to reduce any emissions, Mr Turnbull responded by emphasising the need to ensure the guarantee delivered on the targets agreed in 2015.

Mr Turnbull told the meeting that Australia had to “do our bit” to reach the target.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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