About bloody time

At last a Labor leader who understands what is needed and can articulate it – powerfully, coherently and convincingly. It’s what Australia needs, in contrast to the cynical patrician populism of Costello’s budget. This is the position statement Beazley should have given 7 or 8 years ago when he was keeping his head down and running a small target strategy while waiting for the GST to kill the Howard Beast. And it’s the statement that I hoped Latham might be able to express given his earlier apparent policy orientation, but which his innate loopiness obscured and then derailed.

Better late than never, I suppose. Trouble is, can Beazley encapsulate it in the 10 second and 30 second grabs that will be needed to sell it to the broader electorate? I’ve got my doubts; prolixity is Beazley’s achilles heel. But at least there’s hope. And that’s much more than I expected.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Agreed – it was a very good speech. But I don’t think it was that prolix – hopefully the grabs will get across on the late news.

Tiny Tyrant
2022 years ago

The media seem to be generating a ‘rumble in ALP the ranks’ story, over the decision to block the tax-cuts.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

I saw the end of it on the tele. It reads very well.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Very good Ken. Much the same as I thought. Nice to get a little uplift, ay.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Well the Federal ALP appears to think they may be on a bit of a roll soon (with big Kim out front – now there’s an image to conjure with, Don A) judging by the way they’re now cherrypicking gun politicial and media advisors from the more successful State Labor Ministerial offices.

wbb
wbb
2022 years ago

I ruined my best leather patents tonite – I blubbered standing there in front of the box.

Give ’em hell, Bomber.

Give ’em $12 instead of $6!

And did you clock Howard’s mug? He was doing Exorcist impressions – superb – been looking for jpegs on the net all night long since but no bastard will put one up – it was a picture of perfect reptilian wrath.

saint
2022 years ago

To me it seemed to start strong but seemed to peter out. But on rereading it, clever in parts. Bit subliminal in parts (Bradman as a time reference?)

“If you think anyone here of Labor principle would vote ourselves a $65 weekly tax cut when the people who put us here get $6 —

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

Sorry to demur, but it was the same old, same old. Bombast and bluster. You’d think Labor hadn’t just been trashed in an election, lost a leader and recycled an old one. The electorate knows it well enough. It won’t bother Howard one bit, with his coming Senate majority. I thought there was an extraordinary feeling of impotence about it.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

It was a speech to soothe the aches in the hearts of the ALP faithful, not a policy proposal- which, by the sounds of the reaction here, it has done a very good job of.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Bradman rhetoric aside, what is Beazley proposing?

To give tax cuts to those up to $100,000, like Howard, but not to those making between $100000 and $130000 and instead to give bigger tax cuts to those on less than $80000.

Big deal.

Howard sets the agenda and Beazley gives it a small tweak.

Some of you people need to be a bit more clear eyed about what a loser Beazley really is.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

I was much more interested in Beazley’s elucidation of the case for investment in infrastructure training, higher education, R & D etc, and his linkages with the record of the Hawke/Keating government and contrasting with Howard’s performance then and now, than in the immediate bells and whistles of his “tweak” of the Costello tax cuts. I agree that the latter is in many respects neither here nor there (although it needed to be spelled out, mostly for the faithful but also for some of the uninterested multitudes who will absorb a vague general impression of Beazley’s proposal from talkback radio etc).

Link
2022 years ago

It was a first class piece of rhetoric – very inspiring, and the look on Howard’s grimacing dial very entertaining. But it is afterall, Labor’s tenth budget ‘reply’ – there’s no escaping this sorry fact.

Beazley’s history in Parliament stood him in good stead, something that Latham could never draw on convincingly.

The National Infrastructure Council is a policy wheelbarrow they should push very hard over the next ?three (sigh) years. That is of course if the Coalition don’t hijack it and contort it to suit their miserable ends.

meika
2022 years ago

I have to go back to Costello’s budget delivery when he used the word ‘biometrics’, if you watch the PM behind costello you’ll see his face react as if someone breathed their garlic breath all over him, he hides this immediately and sagely nods/grins.grimaces

why i wonder, was it a completely new term to him?

in character, but unlikely?

wish i could read it better

David Tiley
2022 years ago

What is getting reported? Beazley lays down broad program to renew Australia in a new century?

No. Beazley to shovel cash back to the electorate but a bit less to mongrels who don’t vote for him anyway. Follow me policy with Johnny leading the conga line.

The Libs are experts at providing the fragments to go on the front page, as Ken has implied by asking about sound bites. A lot of that is about feeding into simple memes that lazy journalists can spin easily. So much of that is about the hip pocket nerve.

Beazley made a good speech to play in parliament – and he needs these to stand and fight in the bearpit which does so much to determine morale and leadership – but not to reach the electorate.

I reckon it needed some more steel and less “more in sorrow than in anger”. More – these people have the imagination of dingos. All they can do is pinch the money and then give it to their mates. Nothing for our kids, nothing for our futures, nothing for an Australia we can be proud of. Just old men treating the nation’s budget like they are sitting in a hotel room with a wad of stolen cash giving it out to the strong arm boys and the getaway driver. We need leaders and we get leeches.

Beazley from bomber to bayonet. Go fatboy, kick some heads.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

David

Have you thought about deserting the yartz and becoming a political speech writer for the ALP?

Graham
2022 years ago

I’m afraid my sentiment’s not dissimilar to the two Daves; Beazley’s really only tweaking Howard’s message to minimal effect. But then he’s not in a position to do anything else unless the economy slows.

observa
observa
2022 years ago
Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

Starting off by saying we’re entereing our second decade of conservative rule was a mistake, IMO. It probably worked for the party faithful, prompting the requisite groans of ‘Oh my god how could this be’, but my response was, ‘Well, whose fault is that, Kimbo?’ It also sounded as though the leader of the ALP was resigned to another 10 years out of office. Like Dave R said, he came across as a loser.

Bring on Julia G.

Joe2
Joe2
2022 years ago

“No taxcuts for the rich”, would have been the start of a good speech. They don’t need it. Let’s face it, our economy is on the decline and he might have mentioned that fact.

“If we don’t want to follow Nehru, we need to do something different”. Apart from organising a slush fund to pay public servants their Super.

Kimbo did his best,sadly.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“Let’s face it, our economy is on the decline and he might have mentioned that fact.”

He did and I think that suggesting that the proceeds of the Future Fund go to infrastructure is both smart politics and good policy – it’s recognised that the “problem” with the super fund actually isn’t one – as Beazley pointed out.

It was also good politics to imply that the effect of the tax cuts on pollies was part of Costello’s leadership play – since the new Libs have apparently been whinging that they don’t get the generous super from the old pollies’ scheme.

Although I wasn’t a supporter of Beazley for the leadership, I think the naysayers are being unnecessarily negative. It was a fine Labor speech, as Ken said.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

Also think Labor has stumbled badly by deciding to block the tax cuts in the Senate. It’s so futile, given the govt will get control in a couple of months. Costello’s smirk will just get worse as he waits for the day to play Father Christmas to Beazley’s Scrooge.

Matt Price has a good take on that in the Oz:

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,15269442%5E2702,00.html

More broadly, I’m not sure the politics of envy thing works any more. Plenty of people earn 70K or over, and a whole lot more aspire to. And they don’t all vote for the Libs. What’s the point pissing them off? It’s the same mistake Labor made during the election with its anti-private schools policy.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

It remains to be seen, Rob. I’m inclined to think the media would have attacked Beazley either way. As tonight’s news demonstrated, it gives Beazley a platform for talking about his position, which probably wouldn’t have been there otherwise. I think it could prove to be a smart move.

I don’t think it’s got anything to do with the “politics of envy” (which is a cliche not a phenomenon anyway I suspect). Someone on 50k no matter what their aspirations would like a decent tax cut, one would presume. In any case, the difference between Labor’s scales and the government’s only adversely affects a tiny amount of people.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

‘the politics of envy’ is merely the ruling class-preferred way of characterising the politics of greed.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Nicely put, Chris.

And, Rob, you say “Plenty of people earn 70K or over”.

As I’ve been repeating in order to give this debate something of a reality check, ABS figures for May 2004 show that 75% of employees in all categories of work earn less than 50k a year.

At the same date, average weekly earnings for all employees were $39938. Note the difference between that rather modest figure and the usually quoted figure for full time average earnings (and remember that 30% of employees are casual and that’s rising).

3.1% of the workforce earn around 70k a year. They may enjoy plenty, but there aren’t plenty of them around.

Tex
Tex
2022 years ago

‘the politics of envy’ is merely the ruling class-preferred way of characterising the politics of greed.

Hmmmmm

Someone else spending my money on something I don’t want against my will = enlightened & compassionate

Spending my own money on something I do want = “greed”

Nah, no moral inconsistency here at all.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Andrew Leigh explodes this furphy about Howard’s tax cuts being targetted to middle income earners:

Here is the annual pre-tax income distribution for adults (aged 18-64 with positive incomes), and the corresponding tax cuts in the budget.

* Poorest 25%: $6,830 per year ($80 tax cut)
* Median: $29,890 per year ($312 tax cut)
* Richest 25%: $49,000 per year ($312 tax cut)
* Richest 10%: $70,000 per year ($1752 tax cut)
* Richest 5%: $90,000 per year ($2752 tax cut)
* Richest 1%: $162,000 per year ($4502 tax cut)

These income figures are from the 2003 HILDA survey, so you might want to add a couple of thousand to them, but the picture will be essentially unchanged today.* In sum, you need to go to the top 10% before you find individuals who are getting thousands rather than hundreds of dollars from this tax package, and into the top 1% before you find the folks who are getting nearly $5000.

http://imaginingaustralia.blogs.com/imagining/2005/05/the_shifting_mi.html

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

There was a very weird paragraph in Beazley’s speech. I was amazed when I heard it just before he finished.

“Of course, the Prime Minister will instantly dismiss Labor’s stand for the 7 million forgotten Australian taxpayers and say that it is populist, opportunistic, and Labor Party class warfare. But I say it’s just that we have different priorities and different values.”

Those watching will probably remember all the Coalition front bench smiling and nodding as he said it.

What a strangely negative and defensive way to put his point.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Labor = 11 per cent unemployment. And a Gucci-wearing former council clerk boasting about it. That certainly affected what John Dawkins used to call the poo-ar.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

I like the way he expressed that Nicholas. They will say that. They have said that. I too have different priorities and values.

What’s wrong with good clothes Currency?

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Zegna not Gucci.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Fine point Mark, but telling in the context. PJK was a follower of quality (CL, please explain working class speed limits here), not a follower of fashion.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

I have to say I don’t have a big problem with the tax cuts. If you earn more, you pay more tax. Happy with that. If there’s a tax cut you get more of it back. Happy with that, too. I admit to being a financial ignoramus but it just seems to me to be the flip side of progressive taxation. Maybe there’s a case for making tax breaks progressive in reverse but on the face of it that doesn’t seem fair.

And the ‘rich’ donate tax cuts to themselves all the time by way of various kinds of rebates. You’d get more back out of the taxman by buying an investment property and negatively gearing it than you would out of the tax cuts, I’d suspect. Or borrowing scads of dosh for shares.

No doubt I’m wrong but I think the whole tax thing is a furphy and Labor ought to be focussing on other things: conventional ‘socialist’ things like education, housing, infrastructure, services, health, the aging population, etc. All very unsexy no doubt but they do resonate with the electorate if properly packaged. Plenty of room to carve out some respectable left-wing territory there, I would have thought., without pissing off the punters.

As some other commenters have said on this thread, at the moment Beazley is just following along in the John Howard slipstream. I don’t think he’ll get in unless he gets out of it.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

And just quickly to go back to the point I was really trying to make in my earlier comment, I think it’s just plain silly for Labor to take a position where they’re basically saying ‘We’re going to stop the government giving you some of your money back’. It’s just dumb politics, sorry. They should be saying, ‘It’s not equitable, but OK it’s better than us keeping all of it, and BTW we’ll have a better deal for ALL of you when we get back in three years or sooner. Watch this space.’

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Rob

Most of Beazley’s speech WAS about infrastructure, education, training, R & D etc. And it was the way he argued the case on those issues that most impressed me about his speech. Obviously his alternative tax cut proposal received just about all of the media attention, but I suppose that’s only to be expected. I think Beazley’s tax cut proposal was clearly superior to Costello’s, in political, economic and equity terms. But in a long-term sense, it doesn’t mean much. It’s how Beazley fashions Labor’s policy and rhetoric on those big issues for Australia’s future that will determine Labor’s (and Australia’s) fortunes over the next decade or so, and I thought Beazley’s speech made a strong start on all fronts.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

Fair enough, Ken, and maybe I focused too much on what the media were saying about the tax issue being central and all. I don’t think tax is all that important – we have a shite tax system but everyone seems resigned to the fact that it’s too hard to fix it. It’s like democracy – there’s no perfect way of doing it. Maybe the budget response wasn’t the best time and place but if Labor can come up with credible and costed alternatives in these other areas they may be in with a chance next time. They’ve just got to be smarter at the basic game of politics. That’s where Howard leaves them dead in the water every time.

observa
observa
2022 years ago

“I have to say I don’t have a big problem with the tax cuts. If you earn more, you pay more tax. Happy with that. If there’s a tax cut you get more of it back. Happy with that, too. I admit to being a financial ignoramus but it just seems to me to be the flip side of progressive taxation. Maybe there’s a case for making tax breaks progressive in reverse but on the face of it that doesn’t seem fair.”

Well that’s the rub here really. Assuming we all agreed a priori on some idealised progressive tax scales, then clearly even a neutral adjustment of the scales by way of indexation would produce larger absolute tax cuts at the top. However inflation had already clawed that larger amount out of them. Although some idealised tax scale was never agreed, it certainly was the case that Beazley and Labor had agreed that too many ordinary taxpayers were being caught by high marginal rates and any international comparisons pointed to that. Why draw a line in the sand when a Govt does something aboutit? The MSM have rightly seen the flip flop here. Now Labor are committed to hold hands with the Greens and the Dems to die in a ditch in August over it, whereas the Govt can make hay. They’ll be able to pass the cuts and hand back two months of them retrospectively to the punters, saying this is your dough that Labor didn’t want you to have. More dumbass feelgood politics.

observa
observa
2022 years ago

Actually I didn’t quite get the gist of the Future Fund re kicking it off by bankrolling it with T3 shares. Was this mooted? If it wasn’t then it would be a master stroke to do so and let the fund managers dribble the shares out into the market as they saw fit, to adjust their portfolio. How could anyone from either side of the privatisation debate argue with that?

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Shaun Carney makes a good point in The Age:

“consider what would be said about Beazley and the ALP if it decided to denounce the Government’s tax cuts but then pass them in the Senate. Peter Costello would mock Beazley as a fatuous windbag who said one thing but did another, a bloke who did not have the courage of his convictions.

That was exactly the theme that ran through Beazley’s previous stint as leader. If you want to chart his decline as a serious leadership figure during that period, you need only look at the examples of him railing against a policy or a bill and then backing it in the Parliament: the private health insurance rebate, the restructuring of schools spending to favour private schools, the Tampa legislation.

He would be an utter fool to do it again, even if it does set the hares running within the caucus and the media. Even if it does initiate the process that could cruel his reheated leadership.”

observa
observa
2022 years ago

Carney’s point is OK as far as it goes Mark, but there are a couple of overriding arguments here. Firstly Labor faces the same problem of ‘sandwich and milkshake’ tax cuts from time to time, but more importantly they are flirting with the hoary old chestnut of blocking Supply here. That’s something you do very judiciously, because the boot may be on the other foot some day. They are adding to precedent here for very slim political gain. IMO their best strategy would be to raise all their objections and then abstain in protest. This protects the principle of affording Supply and doesn’t frustrate workers’ tax cuts, while at the same time detaching themselves from the Greens and Dems. The ALP needs to think longer term here, while getting its immediate point across.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

It’s not what the media think that counts, it’s what the electorate thinks that really matters. Tax cuts are popular; why reflexively oppose them at all? As for Carney’s view of it, Howard’s made an art form of appealing to the people over the heads of the commentariat and it seems to work for him. It’s typical of a journalist to think that the most important thing any politician has to worry about is the opinion of journalists. And observa’s right that blocking supply is a different thing to opposing discrete pieces of legislation.

BigBob
2022 years ago

But are tax cuts still all that popular?

Especially when for the vast majority of us they amount to bugger all?

I think that people are becoming seriously worried by issues like infrastructure problems, health and education.

$6 a week or better hospitals? I think most people would plump to sacrifice the $6.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Bah. I know a few of these people who officially earn far less than the me and the missus. They’re called small business people or primary producers, and have ways and means of minimising the fortnightly theft suffered by the householders Bundy, who, as PAYE milch cows, get touched for a third of OUR income. Meanwhile, all those lovely child-care subsidies and family benefits? Forget it.

And, no, Bigbob, I don’t want to contribute another six bucks a week into the black hole of health. The sooner we whip that puppy into some sort of sustainable submission, the better.

What is it with this cradle-to-grave mentality and its crapulous eat-the-rich corollary?

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

So Al, after nearly nine years, the Howard Government is still not working out for you?

Wot a whinger.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Damn straight, Nabs.

Just because I vote for them doesn’t mean I don’t think that they’re an over-taxing, over-spending, Big-Government bunch of nanny staters.

The pace of reform is achingly slow, and I was disappointed that the budget didn’t serve up a lot more stick with its carrots. I can’t help but feel that this last budget was just the opening scene in a well planned succession strategy.

Still, what’s the alternative? The ALP? How are they going to solve my problems?

Don’t get me wrong. I like the Bomber – he makes a terrific leader of the Opposition. He’s tailor made for the job, and I wish him every success in keeping the job for the next ten years or so.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

Good column from Paul Kelly in today’s Oz:

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,15279139%255E12250,00.html

By denying the tax cuts in the Senate Labor is playing into the government’s hands. And making political fools of themselves, IMHO.

mark
2022 years ago

Al, you can vote for the awful bastards who’ll take all your money and do nothing useful with it, all the while pretending to be economic liberals. Or you can vote for the awful bastards who’ll take all your money and maybe do some good.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Mark,

Clearly that depends on your definition of ‘some good’.

As someone who believes in tax-justice over social-justice, I’ll always go with the party I think is going to be less generous with MY money.

Anyway, I’ve been reasonably content with the spending priorities of the Coalition. Let’s see what they can do with the Senate on-side.