Recently over an abstemious lunch (the restaurant didn’t have a liquor licence) a friend and former colleague, Rob Gerrand and the blog talked – as many progressives do – about what on earth Labor should do in an election campaign.
Probably aided by the lack of alcohol – a substance that sometimes inspires more confidence than coherence – we tossed around some ideas which Rob wrote up. This is the result.
“Federal opposition Leader Anthony Albanese seems caught between the fear of being wedged by the Coalition and the fear that announcing detailed innovative policies will bring on a defeat like Bill Shorten’s in 2019.
Rather than being timid, the way forward is to announce clear policy differences that most Australians will find more attractive than their experience of the Morrison Government. These will focus on policies that are the most resonant with Australians in our current climate.
Two clear threads run through the eight wasted years of Coalition government: unfairness and rorting. Unfairness is exemplified by the virtual wage freeze that most Aussies have experienced since Abbott came to power, while the ultra-affluent have boosted their wealth as if they were on steroids. And also exemplified in the unfairness of Robodebt on the one hand, and the largesse through JobKeeper for companies that boomed throughout Covid, on the other.
There are too many examples of rorting to detail, but you name it, and they seem to have done it, whether for example Angus Taylor and Josh Frydenberg’s environmental case, the sports rorts of Brigid McKenzie, the railway car parks fiasco, the gifting of billions of JobKeeper money to companies that earned record profits, or the further gifting of billions to the fossil fuel friends in the guise of meeting COP emission targets, just to name a few.
Australia now has more than a trillion dollars of debt. The question arises: what would a Morrison Government do about it after an election win? Slash spending? And if so what would they target: the ABC, universities, education, the unemployed, women’s programs and more. Would they increase taxes? Possibly, but not on companies or the rich.
The media have covered these issues to a greater or lesser extent, but despite that Labor has trouble cutting though. We suggest they adopt a ten-point plan as follows:
- Everyone knows Morrison is careless with the truth – the French President called him a liar. You can’t trust him or his any-way-the-wind-blows government. Whatever he says in an election campaign will not be what he does if he gets back into government. In contrast, we will stand by our word and our commitments.
- The economy – we’ll grow the post covid economy through strategic spending on infrastructure in cooperation with the States and on the new green technologies. We’ll strengthen incentives for Australian companies to undertake research in tomorrow’s key industries and services. With Electric Vehicles, we will subsidise a national charging network, and give tax incentives to bring down the price of electric cars.
- Taxation – we’ll hold an independent high-level inquiry into the tax system. Morrison and Frydenberg have incurred a trillion dollar debt while at the same time cutting taxes. Any economist will tell you this is unsustainable and the nation has to fix it. A high-level inquiry is the only effective way to get recommendations that no one but the ultra-greedy can argue with.
- Climate change – we’ll adopt the 2030 emissions targets to align with those of the US, the UK and almost everyone else. And state the truth that even every coal miner knows: there’s no long-term future for coal. Labor will ensure these workers are looked after as Australia transition out of coal. They will not be left behind. As part of this we’ll divert the billions being spent on subsidies for fossil fuels and new gas exploration and invest it in green hydrogen plants (using solar and wind electricity to generate hydrogen).
- We’ll end corruption and waste, and establish a proper independent anti-corruption commission that has the power to hold politicians to account and stop the rorting.
- A fair deal in the work place. Wages have barely increased since the Abbot/Turnbull/Morrison governments have been in power, while company profits have surged. We are committed to good jobs with good wages and training all workers, especially the young, for tomorrow’s industries. While people are searching for work, we’ll increase JobSeeker to $450 a week, at the poverty line.
- Health – we’ll put a stronger focus on prevention and work with the health funds to reward people who pursue healthy lifestyles. We will fund Australia’s hospitals for their Covid costs, and raise the Medicare rebate for GPs, partly to acknowledge their selfless work during the pandemic, but also because it needs to be done: the rates have been held down for years by this incompetent government.
- International relations – we will stop lying to our allies. We are a treaty ally of the USA, and we are also an independent nation. We will always do what’s best for Australia.
- We’ll give the ABC proper financial support, with five year funding rather than the present three, and stop undermining its independence. Well also provide proper sustainable support to the arts.
- Innovation – we’ll make Australia the leader in green technologies. Clever investment will launch new firms and create thousands of jobs. We’ll increase funding for universities on the proviso they commit to increase the number of permanent staff. We’ll fund the nbn to fix the over-budget substandard debacle the coalition has created.
You simply can’t trust Scott Morrison – Mendacious Morrison. Time and time again he has lied, and even lied about lying. “
Given Morrison’s religious interests, and Rob and my committed atheism, it should be noted the restaurant was Pietro and Paolo which operates from a former convent alongside a Church where the turbulent priest (well that’s what the diocese thought even if parishioners, the young and unemployed didn’t) Father Bob Maguire once officiated.