Monday, November 15, 2010

Political Vacuum

As Stephen Conroy defends the National Broadband Network (NBN) from criticism by an OECD report, there are also other things to consider.
The OECD has criticised a number of policies. The Federal Opposition is beating its slogan drum, and both sides of politics have much to work on.

The policies comments on Australia by the OECD include:
  • Response to the global financial crisis: Tick. Good for Labor, unhelpful to the Liberal/National Parties' Coalition.
  • GST: Cross - the OECD believes it's too low, and we should tax (fresh) food. Not good for either Labor, or the Coalition. Flat taxes are regressive, and hurt those with lower incomes more. Neither side wants to raise taxes, even if they should to fund the services taxpayers demand.
  • NBN: Cross. The OECD believes it's anti-competitive. Unhelpful for Labor, good for the Coalition, which doesn't want it.  The Coalition wants the private Internet and phone companies to build a spaghetti network of copper and wireless. But wireless is already overcrowded, not likely to get any better, and none of the companies want to invest in new infrastructure.
  • Emission Trading Scheme: Cross. the OECD believes we should have one. Not good for either Labor, or the Coalition. The criticism stems because Labor has not implemented this policy, or even a simpler carbon tax. It was spooked by voters' acceptance on the Coalition's sloganeering.
Meanwhile Tony Abbott has been spruiking his "stop the boats" slogan in Parliament. He does this knowing that he doesn't have to. Indeed, he doesn't even have to have a policy - just a slogan. Meanwhile the UN has expressed its concern about "off-shore processing", including Labor's Timor solution, and the Coalition's "Pacific Solution" on Nauru.

The fact is that many of the OECD's criticisms, but not all, stem from the fact that our politicians, and their parties, do not, and will not, determine good public policy and run with it. They simply spend too much time palying politics, and paying 'media advisers' with taxpayers' money.