Sunday, June 26, 2011

Abbott: “Tax Cuts are in our DNA”

Yesterday, Saturday 25-July, Ton Abbott gave his speech to the 55th Federal Council of the Liberal Party of Australia. In it he criticised the current Labor government’s lack of achievements under PM Julia Gillard in the last 12 months, & in the seven and a half months since the last election.
In proposing tax cuts, Mr Abbott said:
“Tax cuts are in our DNA...”
So, What else in in the Liberal Party's DNA? Tony Abbott made 6 references to the Howard government and its policies. Deep in the Liberal Party’s DNA, as implemented by John Howard’s government, of which Tony Abbott was a member, are the following:
  • Industrial Relations:
    • Guards & attack dogs on the wharves to attack a union, under the guidance of John Howard and Peter Reith. Reform was needed, but many question whether it needed guards drawn from military commandos and paratroopers, in black uniforms, wearing balaclavas, and with attack dogs. Peter Reith has just failed in his attempt to take over as President of the Liberal Party of Australia.
    • In NSW the (liberal-National) O’Farrell Government has introduced IR legislation to attack public service unions, and their members’ pay and conditions.
    • WorkChoices. Tony Abbott said ‘the term WorkChoices is dead’, but IR is still firmly on the agenda to further the cause of, mostly, big business, and the ideology of reducing workers pay to benefit business is prominent.
  • Tax:
    • introduction of the ‘never, ever’ GST. Yes, it replaced a mish-mash of other taxes, but the effect was to increase the amount of tax collected.
    • the use of tax cuts, and the 30% Health Insurance rebate, which were of most benefit to middle and higher income earners. That is, it was a redistribution of wealth from poorer to richer people.
  • Welfare:
    • increases in middle-class welfare, and reductions / harsher penalties for those less fortunate. Proposals for business welfare were made at the last election, as a means to be seen to do something about climate change, to the benefit of businesses and farmers.
  • Lies, mistruths and integrity:
    • the ‘never, ever’ GST was introduced months after voters were told it would not happen, and every Liberal member supported the new tax. Tony Abbott would have called it a “great big new tax on everything”, except his party did it, and it was, indeed a new tax on (almost) everything.
    • the children overboard mistruths, later shown to be lies, during the 2001 Federal election campaign
    • In its first term of government, the Howard Government introduced a Code of Conduct for Ministers, which included having to be truthful to Parliament, and to divest themselves of shares related to their portfolio. Between March 1996 and September 2007, 7 Ministers had to resign: Jim Short, Brian Gibson, Bob Woods, Geoff Prosser, John Sharpe, David Jull & Peter McGauran resigned because of breaches of the Code of Conduct.
    • The Code of Conduct was amended in 1999 to allow Ministers to retain shares that relate to their portfolio. So much for ethics and honesty.
  • Breach of International Law & obligations under UN Conventions:
    • the Tampa Affair, where Australia breached its obligations under international maritime law to a ship which had rescued people on the high seas.
    • “the Pacific Solution” for refugees was heavily criticised by the UNHCR. It was similar to the current Labor Government’s proposal for its “Malaysian Solution”, which also is not supported by the UN.
  • Reduction in Government Spending. Cuts were made to:
    • The Public Service, and resultant drop in government services to & for people.
    • Universities, to the point where they are now dependent on foreign, full-fee-paying students. It has caused ethical problems about student grades and marks at a number of universities, where people believed there was pressure to pass such students because the universities needed the money. HECS debts can be enormous for new graduates.
    • Funding to states for public education, at the same time redistributing more public money to private schools. Without wishing to enter into the debate about public vs. private education, there was a real redistribution by the Liberal Party of public money from public education to private entities. 
    • Welfare: (see 'Welfare' above)
    • Privatisation of Public Assets:
      •  Telstra: it is widely acknowledged among economists that the infrastructure should have been hived off before sale. ie only the retail arm of Telstra should have been privatised. It caused years of conflict among Telstra, other telcos which wanted access to the infrastructure the ACCC, the government, and the public.
      • Commonwealth Employment Service: remember that?? It was essentially privatised by disbandment, and its job-finding functions sold off to private entities who wanted not only the cost of the service, but profit as well. It was never done at 'cost-recovery' amounts.
      • The attempt to sell Medicare Private. It was stalled by political unpopularity, but Howard had a strong history of desiring, and pursuing, privatisation. See:;fileType%3Dapplication%2Fpdf
    As much as Tony Abbott wants us to wary of the current Federal Labor Government, we voters should be very mindful of that part of the Liberal DNA he is selectively NOT telling us, and which he wants to keep from public scrutiny.