AS MACHINATIONS over the Abbott government’s budget continue, The Guardian is reporting the Nationals and Clive Palmer’s party are being lobbied to spare the Low Income Super Contribution (LISC) from the axe; at a cost of $3.8bn and completely unfunded, this was a Labor election bribe that the Commonwealth can’t afford. The scheme should be abolished, but this new ruckus neatly illustrates the addiction to handouts that must be smashed.
I have a Twitter protagonist who sporadically engages with me in banter; she doesn’t follow me on Twitter, but simply surfaces every now and then to spar with me. She claims not to identify with the Left, although every position she has advanced in these exchanges to date are exact matches with the narrative of the ALP and the
Communist Party Greens.
Most recently we argued in relation to welfare “entitlements” over what I have referred to in this column as a “handout mentality” that must be smashed, and today — right on cue — we have fresh evidence of that particular affliction to discuss.
The Guardian — no slouch when it comes to publishing content designed to encourage political hostility toward the Liberal Party — is reporting that the National Party, along with Clive Palmer’s eponymous outfit, are being heavied to block the repeal of Julia Gillard’s Low Income Super Contribution as the budget bills find their way through the Senate.
I agree there is a case to be made that abolishing this particular program will result in less money in the pockets of those who stand to benefit from it, but the mere fact money is being spent is no reason in itself to blindly continue to do so.
The LISC dates all the way back to 2012 — hardly a historical measure steeped in decades of history or tradition — and was conceived by Gillard and her snivelling, self-important Treasurer Wayne Swan as an emotional blackmail tool designed to help smooth the path of their mining tax through the Senate, and to try to buy off low-income voters in the process with a difficult election looming.
It is a matter of fact that the mining tax — as we have noted time and again — raised (in round terms) next to no revenue, poorly contrived as it was, and I still can’t believe that the party with the longest and most proficient record of tax-and-spend politics in this country actually managed to stuff up a new tax: potent proof of the incompetence of the Gillard government if it were needed, which thanks to the proliferation of such evidence, it’s probably not.
But despite the mining tax being a dud in terms of its capacity to generate any cash, the Gillard government characteristically spent the money despite never receiving it.
The so-called “Schoolkids Bonus” — also slated for abolition by the government — was one such initiative; the LISC was another; and the two measures add up to a collective drain on the federal budget of $7.8bn over a four-year period.
These measures are difficult to regard as anything more than blatant bribery.
I think the time-honoured practice of pork barrelling has become ridiculous in recent years, and it is important to see the “initiative” of the LISC in that context; don’t get me wrong, both the Liberal and Labor parties are guilty of it, and both have put similar baubles before electors in their endeavours to win votes.
Indeed, to some extent the tough budget Joe Hockey delivered last month goes a small way toward undoing some of the damage these bribes have done to the Commonwealth’s finances.
But it’s not possible to pay for everything, for everyone, irrespective of prevailing economic circumstances and especially with the books hundreds of billions of dollars in the red, and whether you agree with measures like the LISC or not, the irresponsible alternative to ruling a line under these practices is simply to run up more and more government debt.
It is now apparent that with every government cut or every electoral bribe the government now seeks to make or remove, outrage erupts in whatever section of the community is set to be affected. And if it doesn’t erupt by itself, Labor and the Greens — happily aided and abetted by the Left-leaning sections of the media, such as The Guardian — jump on the bandwagon in faux outrage that goes so over the top as to be counter-intuitive.
Still, the very fact something like the LISC — which has operated for just one full financial year, has no source of recurrent funding attached to it as pledged, and will deliver nothing to anyone until its intended recipients retire, which mightn’t be for several decades — is being fought over in the way it is serves as a timely reminder that as much as most people accept the previous government was an abysmal manager of money, many still want the cut of government largesse to which they are “entitled.”
In other words, ending the “age of entitlement” is fine — so long as it applies to someone else.
The LISC and the Schoolkids’ Bonus both deserve to be abandoned, representing as they do the 30 pieces of silver Labor under Gillard was prepared to pay in its desperate struggle to entice people to re-elect its useless, talentless government.
But I have been quite open that other measures should get the bullet as well; from the equally unfunded National Disability Insurance Scheme ($22 billion per annum when operational) right down to this little gem that serves no better purpose than to produce the ideological propaganda of the hard Left (for about $500,000 per annum); add in schemes like the First Home Owners Scheme, too, just in case anyone thinks I’m aiming only at programs initiated by Labor. I’m not.
And I should remind readers, lest I be accused of a cavalier and disinterested attitude to these matters, that my family will lose out thanks to the budget too: we’ll lose most or all of the money we receive in Family Tax Benefit (along with higher taxes on tobacco — remembering that I smoke — and a sizeable weekly fuel bill that’s set to get incrementally bigger). I don’t like “losing” money either. But come the next election, I’ll still vote Liberal.
The point that really needs to be emphasised is that even with the abolition of measures like the LISC, there are still hundreds of billions of dollars shovelled out by government in the form of one handout or another, and that whether the Left cares to admit it or not, the overwhelming bulk of this money is (and will remain) extremely heavily skewed to those who earn the least.
And whilst Labor and the Greens will never admit it, the suggestion that the poorest members of the community are somehow being “targeted” to carry “the brunt” of budget cuts is patently false: to do so is callous, malicious and an outright lie. But the ALP and the Greens don’t worry about lying in politics, and their accusations that others do it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
The real target of the abolition of the LISC — like so many other expenditure items either doomed to extinction or set for a hefty pruning — is the practice of pork barrelling that has been allowed to run out of control, and the unjustifiable enticements this practice has increasingly seen dreamed up into existence on the specious pretext of “helping” people.
People need to take more responsibility for their own lives, and stop expecting the government — which really means those of us who pay tax — to hand them everything on a silver platter.
Australia is not a socialist nirvana. It is not a communist utopia, despite the most dogged intentions of the Greens. And it is not some populist plaything, which the likes of Clive Palmer ought to recognise as the damage wrought by past practitioners of the pork barrel is slowly, and painfully, unwound.
This is why the LISC must be abolished. And not to put too fine a point on it, I reiterate that it’s a shame Hockey failed to properly grasp the nettle and abolish a slew of other, similarly election-oriented inducements along with it.