Memo Pinko Socialists: Australia Does Not Need More Tax

A LETTER — from 50 socialist activists — calls on Canberra to collect “more tax, more equitably” to pour more money into Health, Education and Transport whilst maintaining welfare spending. Ostensibly aimed at Coalition plans for a stimulatory company tax cut, the letter does not mention efficiency, is mute on waste inherent in current expenditures, and shows ignorance of cost of living pressures already hurting ordinary Australians.

The problem with socialism, as Margaret Thatcher famously observed, is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money to spend; here in Australia, this truism — combined with the ingrained notion that the state knows best, and that alleged elites of the Left know best how to direct it — has seen a situation where simply flinging billions of dollars of taxpayer money at a time has become the entrenched norm whenever a problem or spending deficit is identified: whether real, imagined, or invented through political expediency.

I have been a consistent critic of blatantly political government expenditures in this column, with some of that criticism applying to the middle class welfare measures introduced by the Howard government as much as to the electoral enslavement of poorer people through recurrent largesse financed on international money markets by the odious Rudd-Gillard government; the merit, at face value, of some of these measures is not questioned, but the practice of simply borrowing infinitely to fund socialist pedagogy is a blight this country neither needs nor can afford.

And taxing people more, when Australia is not a low tax country as many assert — when the Medicare levy and GST are included in such pronouncements, from which they are usually omitted — but one of the higher-taxing OECD countries, is no solution either.

First things first: The Australian has coverage of this issue that readers may access here, with the actual open letter able to be viewed here.

And just in case anyone was deluded enough to think this stunt was independently motivated…the same newspaper covers opposition “leader” Bill Shorten “warning” about mooted Coalition plans for a company tax cut here.

Heaven forbid the Left should neglect to co-ordinate and synchronise its crap.

I saw a report earlier in the week that noted the program instituted by the Coalition to weed out disability support pension recipients who didn’t qualify was on track to save $680 million per annum; this is one spending program, one bloated, wasteful budget, and one sacred cow of the Left among thousands of others on the statute books.

These are people who — rather than take the government assistance they are entitled to, and do the right thing by not pushing the favour — have simply been found to be overclaiming on welfare or, even worse, claiming payments to which they were not entitled at all.

And the Left — including many of the names on that letter — opposed the crackdown to the hilt.

If you have a look at the names on the letter, none of them are what a reasonable person would describe as being in any way right of centre; most are openly or latently hostile toward the Liberal Party, and none is so insufficiently remunerated as to be in any way adversely impacted by their own calls for big tax hikes.

These are the people who, in the main, are already loaded; that list is heavily comprised of people who have made millions off the back of one form of constituent contribution or another. It’s not that I necessarily begrudge them their wealth — with a few exceptions, I don’t — but to have these people shaking their fingers at the rest of us whilst agitating to get their filthy paws further into our pockets is inappropriate.

These are the kind of people who are utterly resistant to any attempt at getting value for money; the $680 million saved by not paying disability pension recipients who could only be described as rorters is, to them, proof of what nasty arseholes the Liberals are: a rorter and a bludger addicted to welfare rather than trying to help themselves is a rorter and a bludger who will vote for the Left, which is the only group prepared to further the scam when in office.

Any suggestion for these people that perhaps Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan didn’t get it right first time around with the NDIS — and that at least a few billion could be chiselled out of its obscene $24 billion eventual cost without making an iota of difference to service delivery — is jumped all over as evidence of how heartless “non-believers” are, replete with vicious declarations about attacks on the sick and suggestions those who merely wish to ensure good value without jeopardising the scheme in any way are willing disabled people to die.

It’s the same over at Health, where billions of dollars are wasted through duplicate state-federal bureaucracies, and armies of well-remunerated pencil pushers soak up disproportionate amounts of health budgets that could and should be diverted to frontline service delivery if the back office wasn’t filled with unionised personnel hiding from the real world at taxpayers’ expense.

Over at Education — where, like Health, more money is being spent in real terms than ever before — there is a huge problem: despite the largesse, record teacher numbers, record real teacher salaries and record low teacher to student ratios, educational outcomes at Australian schools are falling fast, with ballooning numbers of school leavers unable to read, write or add up properly.

You only have to read the first few articles in any Australian news portal to spot the problem. If, that is, you are literate enough to know the difference between proper English and what some of these sites publish in the first place.

But suggest paying the best teachers more than the also-rans — or even getting rid of the worst of them — is to invite a barrage of militant bullshit from powerful education unions, which arguably have been the greatest beneficiaries of the various Labor governments that have ruled most states for a majority of the past 30-odd years.

You hear how hard teachers work, despite the fact teaching contact hours are now just 20 hours per week to free up time to stop them having to spend much of their own time on the job at all.

You hear how nasty Liberals have “secret agendas” to smash education, destroy public schools, and “divide and conquer” teachers by paying some more: not that the no-hopers in their ranks deserve to be paid at all.

Meanwhile, the best teachers (and there are many) are unable to earn more to reward their competence, and are forced to watch on as the clods in their staff rooms turning out kids who are not adequately equipped for life get paid exactly the same money as they do.

It’s a bit rich for the 50 socialists behind that letter — and I am not going to dignify any of them with  the publicity they clearly seek by naming them, except to say some, like Ged Kearney, are no more than jumped-up noisemakers who should simply be ignored — to assert the current federal government is somehow defective because the budget deficit has increased during its tenure.

After all, it was their friends and henchmen who created the problem in the first place, and their friends and henchmen — in the form of the insidious Shorten and his colleagues — who have led the charge to ensure the present Senate denies the present government virtually all of the savings it has sought to achieve in order to fix the deficit.

And it is perhaps no surprise that the “policies” announced to date by Shorten boil down to just two words.

New taxes.

If these people want more spent on Health, Education, and those who would rip the taxpayer off by claiming more than they are entitled to, they should first be prepared to accept a rigorous, line-by-line review of the record monies already being spent, for nobody (except those with their snouts in the trough) could credibly suggest adequate value is being realised from that expenditure.

There is no such thing as “government money:” there is revenue collected from the payments of wage and salary earners, consumer spending, and businesses. Every dollar spent by a government has been paid for by someone, and the cavalier assumption the pot is endless is obscene.

The idea people can simply be fleeced more to pay for this week’s Utopian fantasies is even worse.

This “open letter” (a tactic that is becoming as overused and clichéd as sealed sections in teenage magazines) purports to be aimed at rumoured Coalition plans — yet to be confirmed — that the company tax rate is set to be cut from 29% to 25% in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s looming pre-election budget.

Of course, anything that might grow non-unionised businesses must be belted out of existence using any and all means available.

Anything that might help create non-unionised jobs must similarly be smashed into pieces using any and all means possible.

And, naturally, anything that allowed non-unionised businesses to give their non-union staff pay rises, without Trades Hall being able to claim bragging rights for them, is an absolute no-no under any and all circumstances.

Whether they care to admit it or not — given everything that is wrong with government funding, the waste and inefficiencies involved, and the fact such expenditure is already running at record levels in real terms — what these people are really advocating is the ability to stack even more cronies and fellow travellers into unaccountable jobs at public expense, away from prying eyes, but whence unions can take aim at any government with the temerity to come looking to upset the apple cart.

Don’t believe it? Then let’s have these people jointly declare for an efficiency drive to free up some of the funds to cover the new measures they want and/or to enact budget redress. After all, it doesn’t take a genius to surmise that the scope to realise efficiencies — without jeopardising services, if not, perhaps the jobs of socialist stooges — runs to the tens of billions of dollars.

Don’t hold your breath.

Until or unless that happens, Australians are taxed quite highly enough as it is: and if 50 pinkos with more money of their own than most normal people will ever have don’t like it, there are plenty of Eurosocialist countries they can move to: where, of course, more of other people’s money has been spent than was ever on hand to begin with, and the ruinous state of those countries is a monument to the end destination people like the 50 pinkos are seeking to push Australia towards.

 

Stone Age: Knuckle-Dragging Unions Are Australia’s Filth

A DENIAL OF REALITY so abject as to motivate an attempt to expel of one of their best servants in Martin Ferguson from the ALP showcases the incompatibility of labour unions with any meaningful role in modern Australia; this archaic, feather-bedded, self-serving cabal of rent seeking Neanderthals is a pox on Australia, its governmental and social institutions, the ALP, and on workers they pretend to represent but rather compromise and imperil.

It is, perhaps, one of those delicious ironies that a group of thugs who profess undying hatred and contempt for “conservatives” should in fact be the most conservative band of troglodytes in this country itself, but this is the reality of the “modern” union movement in Australia.

Dwindling in size and number but clinging stubbornly and malignantly to long-outdated organisational structures that they refuse — almost violently — to submit to transparent standards of governance, Australia’s unions are today a byword for mindless attacks on business, compromising the employment of their members through frivolous wage claims, and the ruthless purging and victimisation of anyone in their ranks who dares speak out about the deep culture of thuggery that sustains an edifice that is predicated on a lie.

I suggested to readers a few days ago following a brutal onslaught on Twitter from union thugs and associated mouthpieces for the labour movement that I would have something to say on the subject at some point this week; I have been pipped at the post to a degree by the appearance of an excellent article in The Australian today by Janet Albrechtsen — no friend of the Left — and I will come back to that fine missive shortly.

But to fill readers in on the shitfight (an understatement if ever there was one) I got embroiled in on Twitter over the weekend, I must say that an attempt to discuss the fraught issue of penalty rates soberly and intelligently was responded to with some of the most ridiculous slurs and insults I have ever heard; I’m a big boy of course, with the hide of a rhinoceros, and this sort of thing doesn’t faze me in the least.

But for once, it’s noteworthy not because of the undiluted hatred and venom hurled in my direction, but on account of the bald assumptions made about me by people I don’t know and the total insistence among themselves (and presumably publicly, for Twitter is no private platform) that they were right that does make me shake my head, for if this is indicative of how the unions treat any individual seeking to engage in discussion then it’s little wonder they carry so little moral authority (or membership) among ordinary Australians today.

Weeding out the proliferation of Fs and Cs that were thrown my way, I was a “Tory arsewipe” who was on “six figures” who championed “slave wage rates” in my “brutal attack upon Australian workers;” penalty rates — about which I was said to have never worked in a role that attracted them — were something I cruelly and callously wanted to take away from decent people struggling to make a living. I was on a vicious crusade to destroy workers and advocate for business, which had “fat enough profits” to pay more without endangering the viability of individual enterprises: and when pressed on the struggle of small businesspeople to make a living, I was high-mindedly told that people should ensure they could pay all penalties and plan for wage rises before they opened a business, and that if they couldn’t afford to trade on a Sunday (for example) they shouldn’t bother going into business at all as Sunday penalties were a “right” of workers that is “stolen” by businesses who close “to avoid paying what they owe.”

I could go on, for that is just a small (and sanitised) selection of the “arguments” put to me: and whilst I admit to being “a Tory” every other assumption about me was false.

The point — simply stated — is that penalty rates are a relic of the time when Australia more or less operated from Monday to Friday between the hours of 9am and 5pm, and in an old story, the increasingly global nature of our world and the increasingly 24/7 nature of our society means that for wages to be sustainable, the concept of “ordinary time earnings” needs to be expanded, revised, and brought into the 21st century.

Unions love the idea of additional employment and available hours for workers that go with these evolutionary societal changes. But they refuse to acknowledge that they, themselves, must change; the one constant in an ever-changing world is the union movement, with its demands for usurious pay rises, obsolete penalties that no small business should have to place at the top of its list of budgeted expenditures merely to be able to open the door, and the culture of extorting what it wants by brute force, thuggery, disruption of the world around it, and — when all else fails — violence.

It should be noted (and here is as good a place as any) that unions now count just 15% of Australia’s workforce as members, which tends to explode the myth that unions are the only parties able to bargain with employers to secure satisfactory outcomes on wages and conditions, but they dispute that too: and for my trouble over the break, I was told by my assailants on Twitter that I was “delusional” and one of the “lucky few” people who weren’t ripped off by a boss if I thought that way.

So there you have it: Australia boasts tens of millions of exploited people. Who’d have thunk it?

At some point we will come back to the seismic trouble in Australia’s economy, its budget deficit, and the ballooning pile of debt left behind by the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government, for which Labor presently refuses to take responsibility nor even acknowledge the existence of at all. It’s all another Tory conspiracy, you see.

But in the sense that some tough decisions must be made to aright the ship after Labor (in cahoots with its thuggy mates in the union movement) spectacularly and reprehensibly trashed it, once again, the staid conservatism of the unions is on show for all to see: the rest of the country can pull its belt in, and make sacrifices, and do it a little tougher for a little while as far as the union movement is concerned; they, meanwhile, will continue to go about their business of driving businesses into the ground, imperilling the jobs of countless workers by militantly pursuing ambit wage rises that are unaffordable and unsustainable, and seeing to it that Parliaments across the country are stacked out with Labor stooges guaranteed to do whatever they are told by their masters over at Trades Hall.

We have talked quite a bit about the unions and their bloody-minded crusade against reason and the real world in recent months; from their penchant for bringing whole cities to a halt to advance their insidious agenda, to the price they seek to extract from Labor governments indebted to them for the fruits reaped from their thuggery at the ballot box, and to the charade of “penalty rate flexibility” that merely redistributes the total cost of the penalty rate bill across the whole wage ledger of gullible businesses who bargain with unions in good faith, there has been an awful lot going on when one remembers this “bastion” of workers’ rights that claims to be fighting for its existence shows scant regard for the realities of modern Australia that are so incompatible with the spurious and ambit nature of its agenda.

(Obviously there are a lot of related subjects I could have included, but in the interests of concision we will leave them — for now).

But this brings me back to Albrechtsen’s excellent article (and if you didn’t click through earlier in this post, the link is replicated here); with an eye to the despicable campaign waged in unions’ interests in NSW against electricity asset leasing, we’ve already discussed the notion that expelling former ACTU head and Labor minister Martin Ferguson runs counter to every constructive consideration the unions might care to entertain — but it seems, bloody-minded as they are, that the unions will persist in having Ferguson thrown out of the labour movement anyway.

I urge readers to peruse Albrechtsen’s piece today, for in the context of the ground I have already covered, it fleshes out the case I had in fact intended to make anyway; as I said at the outset, I have been beaten to the mark to some extent by her article, but that’s fine: it’s all part of a conversation that needs to be had.

But Albrechtsen highlights the background of the militant CFMEU that now arguably controls the state government in Victoria, bought its way to influence through donations to Queensland Labor, and exerts a heavy influence over Labor in NSW — as evidenced by the campaign the union mouthpiece Luke Foley waged in that state in an unforgivably dishonest (and racist) campaign against asset leasing.

The fact such thuggish organisations wield such disproportionate power with just 15% of the population buying into them is a cause for alarm, not celebration, as Albrechtsen correctly notes in reflecting the triumphalism of ACTU chief Ged Kearney after the election result in Victoria became clear last year.

And when it is remembered that former union hack (now federal Labor “leader”) Bill Shorten was instrumental last month in scuttling legislation that would have enforced the same standards of governance on union conduct as applies to the business community — hardly an unreasonable proposition — the deeply enmeshed ALP is as much part of the problem today as it always has been, and no Labor government can ever be expected to institute responsibility where workplace relations are concerned whilst Shorten remains at its head, or whilst Labor’s present and unhealthy reliance on union henchmen for its daily riding instructions continues unabated.

Lest the import of my case today be lost in the detail, I conclude by restating the clear thesis I started with, and which the balance of this article — and its various links — flesh out: and that, very simply, is that the union movement in Australia is composed of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who are a filth upon Australia, and a disgrace to what historically might be seen as a fine tradition of union representation.

“Modern” unions add nothing to this country, and it is time the debate about their role and influence is properly had; insults and bastardry are one thing, but as the lobby group for workers’ rights in this country the unions are a powerful agent for economic destruction: and far from advancing or enhancing the interests of anyone or anything — except themselves — Australia’s unions will, if left unchecked, simply destroy the very benefits they insist must be spread further and further among those they purport to represent but which, in practice, are mere tools to featherbed their own sinecures and self-interest.

 

Industrial Sabotage: Make Casuals Permanent, Says ACTU

A CHARACTERISTICALLY DESTRUCTIVE proposal from ACTU head Ged Kearney for casual employees to be made permanent would disadvantage workers, reduce employment, add cost and administrative burdens to business, and destroy more of the precious little flexibility left in the industrial system in the wake of the Rudd-Gillard government. Yet again, the ACTU seeks to harm the workers it claims to represent in its crusade against business.

You can say what you like about Bob Hawke — and I’m no fan, just to be sure about it — but at the very minimum, his tenure as head of the ACTU in the 1970s was marked by at least the attempt to strike some kind of consensus between business and labour and, unlike a lot of unionists before and since, Hawke at least understood that hard reality meant industrial outcomes had to benefit both employer and employee: even marginally, and however grudgingly, where business was concerned.

It says much about the post-1996 union movement and the old-style, inflexible Fair Work regime it extracted from the last ALP government just how far the pendulum of union focus has swung, with plenty of evidence that ingrained anti-business union mentalities have cost tens of thousands of jobs in recent years.

I could be talking about the demise of the car industry, for example, where EBAs stuck in “good” faith by unions priced their workers out of their markets and led to the big car manufacturers abandoning Australia as a place to make cars; or I could be talking, for example, about the stout refusal of unions to budge on things like weekend penalty rates for restaurant workers that can see hourly rates in the vicinity of $60 per hour payable on Sundays, with the direct consequence that increasing numbers of hospitality businesses are choosing not to open on Sundays at all in our supposed “24 hour world economy” because it is simply too expensive to do so.

Yep, those unions have looked after the jobs — and the interests — of their members in recent times, and the apparent mentality that no job is preferable to the one an employer is literally able to afford to provide has a lot to do with the results of the unions’ handiwork.

The latest shot in this misdirected campaign is set to be fired by ACTU president Ged Kearney — not a patch on Hawke, of course, or those such as Simon Crean who followed him — with a submission to the Fair Work Commission that casual staff be made into permanent employees.

I will leave it to readers to go through the article to which I have linked; this morning’s post will be a relatively quick one, as I am going to be otherwise busy for most of the day. But this great new idea raises far more questions than it purports to answer, and I suspect the redoubtable Ms Kearney is happy to revel in the “we’re standing up for exploited workers” signal this sends but would struggle to provide meaningful (or satisfactory) answers to any of those questions.

The most obvious of which is an answer to the charge — made by Kate Carnell, the CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry — that for many businesses, if they couldn’t use casuals, they wouldn’t use anyone.

Does Kearney think she can legislate the behaviour of business? Does she think big, blunt and counter-productive instruments like the Fair Work Act can deliver tokenistic outcomes that make for good headlines whilst eschewing responsibility for the cost? And does she think legislative and executive amendments to industrial instruments can radically alter the nature of business simply to fit the agenda of her anachronistic union movement?

Who knows. But the fact she stipulates her proposed changes would not apply to “genuine casuals” such as students working “irregular shifts in bars or restaurants” tends to suggest Kearney is at least aware of just how destructive what she advocates could be in terms of the employment market. Or perhaps it’s simply a pre-emptive measure to insulate those industries already placing existential burdens by way of penalty rates from the additional lunacy for which she now says she wants to fight.

What I want to know is which causal employees in particular have pleaded with the ACTU for their hourly wages to be cut, given these currently include loadings of about 25% to offset the fact no annual leave, sick days or other benefits provided to permanent employees. The flipside is that casuals take this money home in their pay upfront, and rely on it when planning out their expenditure and savings. How is Kearney planning to explain an effective 25% wage cut to these people?

She claims her “initiative” applies to those casuals “who genuinely work permanent hours,” but who is the union movement to dig deeper into the circumstances surrounding those arrangements and/or to impose unilateral change to them irrespective of the situation of each business and/or employee?

What does Kearney propose businesses who need to take on seasonal workers do — give these workers, often travellers and students who will leave the country soon enough, employment agreements that confer benefits like holiday pay and long service leave that will never be used?

Some businesses, especially those struggling to survive, or adversely affected by other market forces, may simply not be in a position to provide permanent, guaranteed employment; others — such as government departments in hiring freezes, for example, as has been the case in Victoria for some time — are not in a position to take on permanent employees at all, yet those who join these organisations get significantly more each week in their take-home pay than those on full employment contracts. What is Kearney’s solution? That unions run the employment and personnel functions of these bodies?

Some workers are perfectly happy to accept regular casual employment in the knowledge there will be no paid leave, for whatever reason. How does Ms Kearney propose to explain to these individuals that her union is acting in their best interests by destroying the conditions under which they prefer to work?

There is a greater burden on businesses in terms of administration, payroll management and compliance with a roster of permanent employees that does not exist compared to the better suitability  — again, for whatever reason — of providing causal employment within their business models. Is Ms Kearney happy for these businesses to close, at the cost of whatever jobs they nonetheless provide, if the difference in the burden is too wide for them to cover?

And more broadly, where business has a short-term but intensive need for additional labour that permanent employment is an ill fit for, the changes Kearney apparently advocates might see them opt simply to increase the workload of their additional employees, and hire nobody extra at all. How does that reconcile with the advancement of either the conditions of the existing employees, or the employment prospects of those who might otherwise join their ranks?

I could go on, but as I said, today’s post is more of a discussion starter than any comprehensive analysis. But I would make the observation that once again, the unions — under Kearney’s stewardship — seem to be embarking on a tangent that sounds great from the PR perspective of their anti-business agenda, but which falls down badly when the inevitable pitfalls are exposed, questioned, and prove unable to be satisfactorily resolved.

What is that union rallying call — a claim to support “your rights at work?” With friends like these, Australia’s unions represent the last thing the country’s workers need when it comes to thrashing out the finer points of their employment arrangements.