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John Passant

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May 2015



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



The bullsh*t Budget

‘Have a go.’ This is the mantra of the Abbott government in response to Tuesday night’s Budget.

They forgot to add the final two words of this famous Australian sporting epithet. ‘Have a go, ya mug’ is what they really mean.  Mugs are what they are taking us for.

The Budget is anything but beige. There are a long list of losers.  These include many women workers covered by employer paid parental leave schemes, the unemployed, home mums and their families,  families receiving Family Tax Benefit Benefit B with kids 6 years or older, Universities and their staff and students, Aboriginies,  the health system with $2 bn in cuts now and in 2018, along with education, $80 bn in cuts. Here is a list complied by Peter Boyle from Green Left Weekly of some of the cuts in Abbott-Hockey’s ‘nice’ Budget 2015.

  • foreign aid $902 million;
  • Indigenous programs funding $36 million;
  • families with children $665 million;
  • veterans & dependents $198 million;
  • schools $228 million;
  • ABC & SBS $14 million;
  • student assistance $416 million;
  • hospital services $232 million;
  • health services $136 million; and
  • housing $72 million.

This list is incomplete and more and more cuts (for example to the Arts) will come to light as time goes on. And of course even some of the back-downs from the 2014 Budget such as the withdrawal of the GP co-payment have been introduced via the backdoor of a freeze on the Medicare rebate till 2018, putting real pressure on doctors to reduce or abolish bulk billing as their costs but not remuneration go up.

Make no mistake. This is a budget that gives with one hand and takes away with the other. It takes away from the working class and the poor to give to other groups in the working class a bit, but also to small business and the rich and even to big business.

The subterfuge continues in what the government won’t do – attack the massive but disguised spending on the rich through tax concessions. For example the Murray report into Australia’s Financial System highlights the $15 bn going to the top 20% of income earners through superannuation tax reductions and exemptions. This graph captures the reality of these tax grants to the rich.

Chart 6: Share of total superannuation tax concessions by income decile

This chart shows the proportion of superannuation tax concessions accrued to different deciles of income earners, based on 2011-12 ATO data. Higher income earners receive greater tax concessions, with more than half tax concessions accruing to the top 20 per cent of income earners.

Or take negative gearing, another area along with superannuation the Abbott government has ruled out doing anything. How gets the most benefits from negative gearing? This graph is from the Australia Institute via the New Daily.

Malcolm Turnbull's constituents gain the most from negative gearing. Source: The Australia Institute.


As Peter Martin reported:

No doubt you are as shocked as I am that the main beneficiaries of negative gearing appear to be rich people, and not just rich people but rich people in senior Liberal Party member seats. Of course, that wouldn’t explain the government’s inaction. Not at all.

The government’s guesses for future economic growth look – what is a nice word I can use? –  ‘optimistic’. In 2015/16 the Budget estimates that GDP will grow by 2.75% and in 2016/17 by 3.25%. If you believe this I have a nice little bridge in Sydney I’d like to sell you.

Their revenue projections look like mad hatter jabberings (or should that be jabberwockerings?).

The figures and predictions for total tax receipt growth are 3.7% in 2013-14, 3.9% in 2014-15, then skyrocketing to 5.3% in 2015-16  and a massive 7.1% in 2016-17.  Bracket creep of course will bring in some extra money from the working class but with only small wage increases and the end of the mining boom the trends for revenue collections should point at best to modest increases. To throw the hackneyed cry of conservatives down the ages back in their faces, where’s this money coming from?

These sorts of figures are designed to give the impression that in the medium term Abbott and co will return the Budget to surplus. The government is lying to us because it is trapped by its fake Budget emergency rhetoric of the past.

There is no government Budget emergency, now or into the foreseeable future. The Budget black hole bullshit was and is cover for austerity, basically attacks on the working class and poor to further the shift on national income from labour to capital.

While Australia has a private (personal and business) debt problem, the government’s program of immediate write offs for small business expenditure up to $20,000 will only worsen that. The banks are gearing up for a spending bonanza, as are local business suppliers and retailers.

This Keynesian neoliberalism won’t address the fundamental problem of Australian capitalism, the decline in profit rates since about 2011.

It may create a demand bubble for a while but one which doesn’t restore profit rates.

Other ‘solutions’, solutions which are already under way, include lengthening the working day – Australian workers already work long hours, on average 43 hours a week, with up to $110 bn in unpaid overtime – cutting real and even nominal wage and ‘refocussing’ spending on social welfare and services while increasing spending on the strong state (defence, border ‘protection’, spies, surveillance).

The biggie of course is a crisis in which a lot of capital goes to the wall, but perhaps the too big to fail syndrome will prevent that from happening, ensuring that the next crisis will be even deeper and fall even more heavily on workers and the poor.

The Budget shows the government is treating us like mugs. The next time Abbott or Hockey tell us to have a go, our response should be ‘you have to go, ya mugs.’


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