THE LIBERAL /NATIONAL GOVERNMENT IN POWER
THE Liberal-National coalition believes in low taxes; minimum supervision of financial institutions; no ICAC; ineffective legal system; you do what you think you can get away with; minimum social welfare; reducing wages and union power; maximising wealth for individuals; scruples and integrity not important; above all stay in power at any price.
It is dealing with an electorate which is obsessed with housing prices and greed; she’ll be right, mate; believes in the tall poppy syndrome but wants to be a tall poppy; dreams of something for nothing; is apathetic; consumes a large amount of alcohol; likes to speculate; is more interested in sport than politics.
It is a paradigm built in heaven for a coalition determined to do whatever it can to benefit its supporters and stay in power.
For 18 of the past 24 years there has been a Liberal/National Coalition government in Australia.
A good starting point would be an examination of the Howard government. In his 18 February 1996 policy launch speech delivered at the Ryde Civic Centre in Sydney, John Howard emphasised that Labor had been in office a long time, and cited high inflation, a poor current account deficit and high national debt as evidence of bad economic management.
He called for industrial relations reform to increase flexibility and improve productivity and offered tax relief for families. The other significant action of his term was increased privatisation: the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) was privatised and Telstra introduced Australian Workplace Agreements.
Howard brought in a strong anti-gun policy after the April 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, and an equally strong anti-migrant policy when boat arrivals overwhelmed the Immigration Department in 2001.
His policies have been followed by Australian governments ever since. While the gun policy has been lauded by most Australians, the immigration policy is being questioned on humanitarian grounds.
2007–13. The Rudd/Gillard years covered the period of the great financial crisis (GFC) which began in 2007 and continued in earnest for several years.
The Labor Party response of massive spending on pink batt insulation and school halls helped ensure Australia was the only country in the world that did not go into recession.
The period was one of great internal conflict in the Labor Party, mainly because of the obnoxious managerial style of Rudd during his period of office, but nevertheless it kept the ship of state afloat.
Tony Abbott promised to tackle government debt, eliminate ‘waste’ in government expenditure, and decrease taxes which placed a burden on industry and business. He said he would get the budget back under control by ending Labor’s waste.1 He promised “no change to pensions, no cuts to the ABC or SBS, no cuts to health, no cuts to education”. In 2010 he even physically signed a ‘contract’ that the Fair Work Act would not be amended.
His tally of blatant falsehoods was then 31.
Abbott was elected as PM in 2013. It was the beginning of the period of the Four Jesuits of the Apocalypse: Abbott, Joyce, Hockey and Cormann.
Jesuits consider themselves far superior to other Catholics because of the dedication to better education standards.
The Sydney Morning Herald at the time reported:
Besides, maybe there was a touch of envy. Jesuits were far better educated than most contemporary clergy and their intellectual dexterity and talent for fitting morals to suit the occasion, arguing on a case-by- case basis against principles or rules, infuriated many and gave rise to the abusive adjective ”Jesuitical”.
The Jesuits drew a bead on parents from the mercantile class and lately the professions. For more than 100 years, through a mixture of educational excellence, snobbery, astute appreciation of societal changes and high fees, the Jesuits retained a stranglehold on shaping the intellectual development of the sons of well-to-do Australian Catholics.2
The ranks of law, medicine and the higher echelons of commerce are filled with Jesuit products.
Upon election Abbott broke his promises on pensions, the ABC and SBS, on education and health. The Abbott government removed the Rudd/Gillard era Resource Super Profits Tax and carbon pricing. It established the National Commission of Audit to advise on restoring the budget to surplus, instituted the Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption, and removed subsidies in the car industry from Ford, Holden and Toyota, in Australia. Senator Kim Carr (ALP) says the entire Australian automotive industry could be saved by spending $300 million a year to save 160 component manufacturing companies and 45-50,000 jobs as well.3
A recent ANU poll found more than three-quarters of Australians viewed home ownership as part of ‘the Australian way of life’. Countries such as Germany and Sweden have far lower rates of home ownership, Carr argues, offset by controlled rents or tenancy insurance. By the early 1990s property prices rose faster than inflation while interest rates decreased and there was negative gearing, which allowed the cost of borrowing to exceed the rental income and the losses to be offset against the increased value of an asset, mainly housing.4
One of the worst decisions that Tony Abbott ever made was to try to destroy the NBN and reduce its efficiency by using copper to the node to save money. It doomed a lot of Australian business that required faster broadband to reduce inefficiency. Optical fibre would have been much better.
One of the unintended consequences of legislation relating to capital gains tax used in 1985 by the Hawke/Keating government was that housing as an investment vehicle became extremely popular, causing rising prices. Its preference as an investment meant money that might otherwise have been used for more productive investments was lost.
Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin were a formidable pair in attacking Rudd and Gillard but not so good at constructive politics. The level of civility in Parliament was lowered a few notches. This was a period when there was continued growth of large shopping centres and many overseas chains, such as Costco and Aldi among others, opened branches within Australia. With access to international supply at extremely low prices, they were able to offer increased competition to Australian suppliers who could not match their prices. Smaller Australian retailers closed, unable to compete, meaning fewer outlets for Australian manufacturers. It was a recipe to make Australian manufacturing smaller. On the food side, where once small growers could supply central markets, which would then supply small grocers and greengrocers, there were now huge agribusinesses covering many acres to supply the large chains with the huge quantities of food they required at contract prices.
Online shopping via eBay became a growing phenomenon making competition for Australian retailers more difficult. It was based on cheap postage rates from China – the $1 per Kilo Bulk Rate Loophole.5 The Australian government has done nothing about this, even though it must be aware of it. It could only be imagined that the Liberal Party in some way was afraid of upsetting China. The only thing that is keeping Australia afloat is Chinese imports of coal and iron ore and nothing can be done that might jeopardise them. After all, the Minerals Council of Australia has major influence over politics in Australia via its lobbying and donations.
Malcolm Turnbull followed Abbott, who in his determination to oppose anything that Labor did, had changed the NBN from fibre to the node, the best solution, to copper to the node. It was an expensive disaster. Australia was crying out for an energy policy but sanity was never allowed to prevail. The Minerals Council of Australia, which represented coal interests, had its tentacles into the Liberal Party and made sensible policy development very difficult.
Overseas companies bought Australian companies and there was transfer pricing and dodgy tax arrangements, and they were able to prosper where Australian companies could not.
The Australian population was increasingly being divided into two groups – one which owned its own house and was able to reflect each week on the increased value and behave as if they had that much extra money in the bank to spend. Rising house prices meant rising prosperity. The second group – who didn’t own their own homes – were the renters and they faced increasing rents because of the increased demand from ever rising numbers of immigrants.
They were on a merry-go-round of poverty.
Shorten and the Labor Party campaigned in the 2019 election for changes to negative gearing and franking credits, the tax reform that infuriated older Australians who stood to lose thousands of dollars. The Liberal Party stood in the way of any legislation that would increase taxation payments by its supporters.
The ‘Sports Rorts affair’ involving Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie and other scandals involving politicians Angus Taylor and Michaelia Cash demonstrate that, for the Liberal Party, the law is very flexible and that scruples and integrity are not important when compared with the need to stay in power.
Not only is the Liberal Party supported by large donations from the minerals sector but there is an interchange of personnel to the Party.
Giles Parkinson writing in Renew Economy;
Former coal industry boss is Scott Morrison’s chief of staff
The close link between Australia’s major coal lobby and the prime minister’s office under the Coalition government runs ever deeper, whoever the leader is at the time.
The chief of staff of new prime minister Scott Morrison is John Kunkel, the former deputy CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia, the same group that thoughtfully provided a lacquered lump of coal for the then Treasurer to wave around parliament in February last year in the middle of a drought.
Morrison was obviously impressed, and has appointed one of the country’s leading anti-wind campaigns as his new energy minister, splitting the portfolio from environment. The new environment minister is a former lawyer for a mining company.
Kunkel’s key role continues the close connection and the merry-go-round of advisors between the Minerals Council and key policy advisory positions in the Coalition government.6