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Federal

Jan 21, 2011

Labor's lazy levy

There's something faintly absurd about a government with a budget loaded with superfluous spending and the lowest debt levels in the developed world insisting that it needs a new tax to pay for the impact of natural disasters.

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A flood levy to pay for the cost of the catastrophic Queensland floods would be lazy policy from a fiscally lazy government.

There’s something faintly absurd about a government with a budget loaded with superfluous spending and the lowest debt levels in the developed world insisting that it needs a new tax to pay for the impact of natural disasters — especially when this government itself has been arguing that climate change will cause more extreme weather and preaches “adaptation” to Pacific Island states.

It also suggests this is a government that feels more comfortable playing on voters’ sympathies for the victims of the floods than about making the case for cutting spending in politically sensitive areas.

Remember that illuminating moment before the election, when Julia Gillard herself announced an expansion of the education rebate available to Family Tax Benefit A recipients. That’s a key voting demographic that had strayed from Labor and that the Labor brains trust, obsessed with micro-policies, wanted to win back.

It was Labor that took the first steps to start winding back the endless middle-class welfare spewed out by the Howard government in an effort to keep buying votes. It introduced a $150,000 threshold for Family Tax Benefits in 2008. Problem is, below that level, you start to eat into middle-income demographics with a lot more voting power than high-income earners. The expansion of the education rebate, and the Coalition’s election campaign response of offering to expand it even more, appears to have sounded the death knell for hopes either side would risk making serious cuts to middle-class welfare. Slapping a one-off levy on voters and telling them it’s for the floods is clearly more politically palatable than telling voters they’ve gotten used to levels of government spending that aren’t sustainable in the face of an ageing population.

One-off levies were a favourite tool of the Howard government, despite its reputation for handing out tax cuts. It slapped a levy on sugar to bribe the sugar industry to accept restructuring. There was a dairy levy imposed on milk for a similar purpose for nearly a decade — it only ended in 2009. But levies weren’t just for bribing influential National Party constituencies. There was an airfare tax after the Ansett collapse. There was also the East Timor levy, via an increase in the Medicare levy on income tax, introduced in 2000-01.

For those trying to predict the politics of a flood levy, remember that the East Timor levy — to pay for our peacekeeping commitment to that country — got the Howard government into trouble. Not because people objected to paying it — in fact, the opposite. The levy was only imposed on people earning more than $50,000, and doubled to 1% for those earning more than $100,000. The government immediately copped criticism that it was only targeting high-income earners, when the burden should be shared right across the community.

Levies appeal to politicians because one-off levies can be justified as dealing with one-off hits to the budget, and because the hypothecation of revenue from industry-specific levies can be sold as politically palatable “structural adjustment packages”. But all they do is hide long-term fiscal problems — expenditure that lacks discipline and revenue measures that are inefficient and jury-rigged to address political needs.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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109 comments

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109 thoughts on “Labor’s lazy levy

  1. Norman Hanscombe

    Hugh, since flood myths arose in distant unconnected parts of the earth, Ryan and Pitman’s theory is less plausible than the one which suggests their genesis lay in communities’ inability to understand why rivers mysteriously rose when water from rains in distant lands caused rivers to rise and flood the countryside at a time when there was no rain in the areas being flooded.

    As for Fed Up’s reference to artesian [as opposed to sub-artesian] water being forced up from below, while “near centre of the earth” was hyperbole, that IS how it comes about.

  2. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Fed Up, where do you get this stuff: “Sometimes the water is forced upwards from a subterranean level, which is proven to come from levels just above the near centre of the earth.” Proven? Yeah, right.
    If you want a far more credible explanation of the “Flood” try Ryan and Pitman’s Black Sea flood theory (C1997).

  3. Norman Hanscombe

    Venetia, why not report these “graft and corruption, under-the-table bribes” you know about to Alan Jones immediately, so he can publicise them more widely? It’s of little effect if you keep the secret to yourself. Since you belong to his inane ‘build a dam anywhere’ True Believer camp, he’ll love you so he’s sure to spread your quaint messages.

    But move quickly, before your mirror image green opponents place ALL potential sites in national parks. They’ve done this already with the last decent potential site for a dam to provide water for Melbourne — which is why Victoria was looking at desalination plants and bringing Melbourne its water from the north.

    Ironic, isn’t it, that greens and Alan Jones could both be involved in a ‘bringing water from the north’ issue?

  4. Jimmy

    Venetia – Where on earth did you get $3.5b, all estimates I have heard are bewtween $6-$20b and more likely $20b than $6b? Do you have examples of the graft & corruption and bribes you mention? Which “profligate” spending programs would you axe? And where would you build these new dams?

  5. venetia@speednet.com.au

    I don’t support a flood levy. Julia Gillard should find the $3.5 billion dollars from existing government coffers. Perhaps she could rein in the profligate spending by her ministers including the graft and corruption, under-the-table bribes and rampant waste of our tax dollars. Additionally, what about building some more dams to collect the massive flood waters next time? This would ensure that we all have enough water for the next drought. It’s time to come to our senses and build lots more dams before the next one.

  6. Norman Hanscombe

    1. Perhaps the most relevant aspect of the difference between artesian and sub-artesian bores is that an ever-increasing number of formerly-artesian bores have become sub-artesian, because it’s not just a simple matter of them being automatically ‘topped up’ by rainwater. Water at a Great Artesian Basin bore site has taken millions of years to reach there from where that water first fell. It reached this spot only because of the nature of the geological layers above and below it which contained the slow-moving waters in their ‘underground rivers’ and kept them flowing in that direction under the pressure of newer waters slowly soaking into the ground in the distant north.

    When bores were introduced, the waters began to be reduced at far faster rates than they could enter the system at their source, thus causing the necessary pressure to be reduced, resulting in many artesian bores becoming sub-artesian, and many natural springs drying up, because our needs for water in inland regions have always out-stripped whatever nature could provide. I have no I.T. link for these matters. I recall collecting quite good material on artesian water at the Department of Conservation’s stand at the 1947 Sydney Easter Show, but although Easter is almost upon us, I suspect they won’t have a stand there these days, and even if they did, it mightn’t have material on a subject matter where sincere belief is all that’s needed.

    2. I’d hoped while I was away that someone might finally have realised artesian referred to bores or natural springs where water came up without the need of pumping, while those requiring pumping [from various depths and with varying degrees of difficulty] were sub-artesian. As others pointed out above, the quality/nature of that water varies enormously. I’ve lived/worked out west where artesian bores a few miles apart could be drunk at one but the other was useful for little more than a steam engine. At another spot, in the Snowy, with two natural artesian springs perhaps 200 metres apart, one was delightfully warm all year round, so ideal for a winter dip, while the other was always cold, so ideal for hot summer days.

    Perhaps the most relevant aspect of the difference between artesian and sub-artesian bores is that an ever-increasing number of formerly-artesian bores have become sub-artesian, because it’s not just a simple matter of them being automatically ‘topped up’ by rainwater. Water at a Great Artesian Basin bore site has taken millions of years to reach there from where that water first fell. It reached this spot only because of the nature of the geological layers above and below it which contained the slow-moving waters in their ‘underground rivers’ and kept them flowing in that direction under the pressure of newer waters slowly soaking into the ground in the distant north.

    When bores were introduced, the waters began to be reduced at far faster rates than they could enter the system at their source, thus causing the necessary pressure to be reduced, resulting in many artesian bores becoming sub-artesian, and many natural springs drying up, because our needs for water in inland regions have always out-stripped whatever nature could provide. I have no I.T. link for these matters. I recall collecting quite good material on artesian water at the Department of Conservation’s stand at the 1947 Sydney Easter Show, but although Easter is almost upon us, I suspect they won’t have a stand there these days, and even if they did, it mightn’t have material on a subject matter where sincere belief is all that’s needed.

    An example of blind adoption of convenient ‘data’ is provided above by poor Cathy’s garbled reference to “a whole stack of Creative scientists– who maintain scientifically, that the cause of The Great Flood..yes, Noah’s Flood.. was not caused by a raining downpour of 40 days & nights alone, but by water that surged up from the depths of the earth in combination with the torrential rain.” Although I’m not (and never have been) a theist, I did read (and more importantly remembered what I read) books with which I disagreed, so even in primary school I knew the Bible claimed that the second factor behind that flood was waters ‘pouring out’ of the ground. Unlike Cathy I knew enough about artesian water to not make the quaint assumption artesian water was involved. Far more likely was the assumption that the ‘explanation’ proffered for Noah’s Flood by the Bible’s authors derived from the (for them) seemingly mysterious annual rise of rivers without there being accompanying rain. Those ancient scribes can be forgiven for not understanding how melting snows, for example, in distant lands the existence of which they had no idea were causing river levels to rise and flood their fields. I’d suggest, however, that there’s less excuse for Cathy being unaware of how the artesian cycle works?

    3. BARRY O9, if you genuinely think I’m a believer in ANY of the Religions of the Book, if I may (slightly) misquote the Bible, Barry’s mind moves in mysterious ways.

    4. Jimmy, there often has been subsidence caused by extracting ground water, and the report to which you referred made the news briefly, but only because it affected property owned in an area where ‘the locals’ were vocal (and more important?) and the potential loss of value was greater than was usually the case, and it was of interest to urban dwellers who after all constitute a significant demographic for the media.

  7. Cathy

    Jimmy

    In a P’shat sense, yes, but at the Remez, Drash and of course the Sod level of understanding, nothing is finite.

    Cathy

  8. Jimmy

    Cathy – Firstly don’t lump me in with Norman.

    Secondly answer me this – if all this water is trapped deep beneath the surface of the earth doesn’t that mean that it has to be a finite resource, even if there is enough there to cause “the great flood” it is still finite is it not?

  9. Cathy

    @Fed Up

    If we continue along these lines then the only thing that will be exhausted will be Jimmy’s, Norman’s and who ever elses…”sacred cows”.

    There’s a whole stack of Creative scientists, you know, those guys who don’t get the press-time, who maintain scientifically, that the cause of The Great Flood..yes, Noah’s Flood..and theres concern even among MS science at the discovery of the Ark on MT Ararat ( it’s no hoax )..that the flood was not caused by a raining downpour of 40 days & nights alone, but by water that surged up from the depths of the earth in combination with the torrential rain.

    But, I go no further, because I do respect peoples “sacred cows” and i do respect Adam’s new mate …immensely.

  10. Jimmy

    Fed Up – What Cathy is talking about is definitely an exhaustable water supply, Artesian water is topped up (or recharged) by rain. Some water may be “forced upwards from a subterranean level” but there isn’t some magic water machine down there making it, it was originally rain, it might have been there millions of years but the fact that it only got there because of rain means that it can be exhausted.
    I’ll also leave you with this from Wikipedia on the great artesian basin
    “Prior to European occupation, waters of the GAB discharged through mound springs, many in arid South Australia.Unfortunately, many of the mound springs referred to above have dried up due to a drop in water pressure”

  11. Fed Up

    [The problem is it is not an inexhaustable supply and it’s removal does impact the environment ]

    I agree, it’s always an environmental concern, but that should n’t prevent us investigating plausible ways of obtaining an alternative water sourse.

    But, what Cathy is talking about may not be an exhaustable water supply at all.

    The water that is gathered and collected naturally from rainfall is held in storage by the granite, but it’s not all collected from rain. Sometimes the water is forced upwards from a subterranean level, which is proven to come from levels just above the near centre of the earth. Where it came from and whether it is exhaustable or not I don’t know, but I guess it arrived by rain seepage over the eons but that may not be correct either.

  12. Jimmy

    Cathy – you are right that you can get access to ground water very easily in some parts of the country, and you are right that it is suitable for drinking or at the very least watering the garden.
    The problem is it is not an inexhaustable supply and it’s removal does impact the environment and as Rohan said experts find it difficult to tell what “long-term impacts on groundwater systems resulting from large-scale and extended interference” would be.

    I also have a vague recollection of houses in suburban Melbourne extracting ground water illegally of few years ago and causing a backyard to collapse? Can anyone confirm this or am I getting a little confused?

  13. Cathy

    Good afternoon Rohan

    I have seen artesian ( ground water ) pumped before and alas, it was actually via a cheap pump and poly-pipe, hehehe. It was a little brackenish, but still fit for human consumption and really good for stock water, so I can’t see a reason why you would n’t put it on your vege patch.

    Water can sometimes turn up in the least expected places you know..eg..granite rock outcrops can sometimes have huge reservoirs of water in and below them and all you need to access it is through a crag or crevice and away you go..seriously. There is huge amounts of water below the surface just about everywhere and getting it out is not as hard as the “experts” would have us believe..it’s an agenda, for what ever reason.

    @Nuytsia

    I do know how to spell backwards, you know. But ya wrong again. 🙂

  14. Rohan

    Touche Cathy.

    Sacred cows? I confess I have a few.

    – Water doesn’t flow uphill.
    – The vast majority of accessible groundwater resources in Australia are not “potable and drinkable”, if I may be allowed to use a Cathy-ism. A slightly smaller proportion is too saline or chemically unsuitable for use in agriculture.
    – Groundwater experts in Australia (of which there are unfortunately very few) find it difficult to predict long-term impacts on groundwater systems resulting from large-scale and extended interference. Apparently you know something they don’t, care to let us all in on the secret?

  15. Barry 09

    Nuytsia , totally agree with your comments about Norman. Can you think of his neighbours life would be like listening to him waffle on and on and on and sounds like a Bible basher . I don’t believe in sky fairies or the novel called the bible.

  16. Mobius Ecko

    Howard’s Lazy Levies (courtesy of Shane of Qld)

    I would like to point out the hypocrisy of these kneejerk comments in comparison to the levy for everything government he was a member of between 1996 and 2007.

    In 1997 our budget DEFICIT was 5.4 billion and a gun buyback levy was imposed as a result of the tragic massacre in Tasmania. While this was a tragedy and the removal of guns fully supported by myself, there was no natural disaster or infrastructure decimation. The levy imposed simply bought back guns people owned. The Levy went from Oct 1996 to Sep 1997. We were in deficit so OK we needed a levy for a one off event.

    In 1999 our budget SURPLUS was 4.3 billion and a Stevedore Levy was introduced out of ideological determination to break the MUA and Industrial Reform. This levy lasted from 1999 to May 2006. We were in surplus so under Abbott’s rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

    In 2000 our budget SURPLUS was 13 billion and an 11c a litre levy was introduced as a result of ideological determination to deregulate the dairy industry which forced thousand of farmers off the properties to pay them an exit grant. This was supposed to reduce milk prices to the public. It simply reduced milk prices to the farmers sending thousands of them to the wall. This levy was in existence from 2000 until it was abolished by the Rudd Government in 2009. This was an extremely expensive levy placed on the public as milk is a staple. We were in surplus so under Abbott’s rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

    In 2000 we also had the East Timor Levyevy at a time when our budget was in surplus by 13 billion dollars. We were in surplus so under Abbotts rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

    In 2001 Our budget SURPLUS was 5.9 billion and a levy of $10 per return flight ticket was introduced to compensate workers who lost their entitlements due to the collapse of a privately owned business who did not provide allowance for employee benefits. This levy lasted from Sep 2001 to June 2003. In addition $100 million of the funds raised was used for airport security and nothin to do with Ansett employees. We were in surplus so under Abbott’s rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

    In 2003 our budget was in SURPLUS by 7.4 billion dollars and a 3c per kilo levy on sugar was introduced as a result of ideological determination by the government to deregulate and reform the sugar industry. This levy ran from Jan 2003 to November 2006. Once again a savage levy on the general public. We were in surplus so under Abbott’s rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

    So while the levy for everything government has massive surpluses they slugged us via levies with a summary as follows.

    1996- Gun Levy
    1997- Gun Levy
    1998- No Levies
    1999- Stevedoring Levy
    2000- Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-East Timor Levy
    2001 – Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-Ansett Levy
    2002- Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-Ansett Levy
    2003- Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-Ansett Levy-Sugar Levy
    2004-Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-Sugar Levy
    2005- Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-Sugar Levy
    2006- Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-Sugar Levy
    2007- Milk Levy

    (there were other levies implemented on businesses as excise like the PSO levy in 2001. ME)

    In addition other than the gun buyback and Ansett levy the other levies were political ideology deregulation levies. Not one levy was as a result of a natural disaster effecting thousands of people but rather ideology busting.

    (Let us not forget Abbott also proposed a levy on business for his paid parental scheme. ME)

  17. Fed Up

    @Norman Handscombe

    ::She MISPLAYED it. Now be a man [[I hope that’s not a sexist? term]] and tell her you’re sorry.::

    Getting access to artesian waters is notoriously environmentally sensitive, and getting it out would probably be rediculous. So, I have no opinion either way, but why don’t you explain to Cathy your view and provide the information she requires.

    Other than that, get a room or take it privately and deal with it. All us fully paid up subscribers are looking at it sideways.

  18. Band In A Box

    @Norman Handscombe

    [Either way, it’s in my nature to forgive those who err in good faith, so I shan’t make a harsh comment.]

    yeah yeah, whatever, but all I want know Norman, is did you try that chord range [ bFlat minor 7th & C Major 7th ] I sent you. Most musicians don’t even know those chords exist. If you apply the right beat and tempo it comes up beautifully.

  19. Cathy

    Oh Norman..sigh!!!

    [The Bible could have had Cathy in mind when it (almost) said, Forgive her Lord, for she know not what she does. ]

    And the Bible could have had you in mind when it said ” tossed around like the froth of the ocean waves, for ever learning but never knowing.”

    Or..”my children perish through lack of knowledge”

    Take your pick, but I purely and simply asked you to provide me with evidence or information that supported your claims that artesian water cannot be pumped or milled…thus far your cupboard is empty.

    If the ladies and gentleman of the jury were asked to make their decision I know which one it would be.

  20. nuytsia

    What an obnoxious bully you are Norman. Educate, not humiliate? Please, give us some credit for understanding how human discourse works. I could have read all the relevant comments on this interesting article in a quarter of the time it eventually took for me to read of your awesome intellect and general superiority.

    The answer to the levy question is obvious. This Government is particularly keen to return the budget to surplus as soon as possible because it was a key plank in the opposition’s election platform that the economic stimulus package was an irresponsible and unnecessary outlay that would ensure that the country would be in debt for years.

  21. Jimmy

    You respond Norman but you only call others psots absurd, you don’t add anything to the collective knowledge and it isn’t just today every thread, every post is the same, point out others perceived inferiority but only allude to you superiority, you never back it up with facts.

  22. Norman Hanscombe

    Jimmy, if you look back at those claims, you’ll find I continued responding to absurd staements by people who eventually dropped off or couldn’t understand basic language, etc. Having spent today responding to issues here and in the outside world, I finally thought there were more important things I was neglecting, so I’ve just rushed through a bundle of emails, and just as I responded more briefly than usually perhaps to the last batch and my box was what I deem ‘clear’, up pops yours. But if that’s how you feel, I’ll have to live with it, won’t I?

  23. Jimmy

    Norman your are a disappointment – as someone else mentioned previously you are never willing to supprt your assertions, you simply criticise others opinions. If you are as clever as you believe why not try to illuminate the discussion instead of writing it off.

  24. Norman Hanscombe

    Jimmy, clearly we’ve seen very different aspects of what happened, and I’ll leave it at that.

  25. Jimmy

    Norman – So despite an independent report investigating all claims of waste etc from any individual, employed by the state or just a parent (after a vehement campaign by News Ltd to paint it as an abject failure) showing it to be a success you still say it was a failure just no one bothered to complain because something they apparently didn’t want and alledgedly cost to much is getting “something for nothing”? Face it achieved all it’s objectives.

    Also as I said if you can show me the extra spending on new housing in the stimulus I’d be grateful as I looked on the website and didn’t find it.

    The problem in the GFC involving housing was an over supply of houses at inflated prices, not the case here as we still have an under supply. Extra money to stimulate new houses (they do get a higher grant already) is one way to solve the problem but releasing more land (as Victoria has just done) and encouraging more dense population is cheaper and more effective.

    As for the public/private aspect, it wasn’t a mjor factor in the “home owner gifts” but it was in going with the BER, the fact that there was “shovel ready” projects that didn’t rely on obtaining private finance in a time when finance was contracting, bypassed the need for council approval and had a known demand was very important.

    As for here not being the place to discuss “that issue” isn’t that exactly what here is for to discuss the issue not just criticise others or make others feel small without proposing alternatives or proving how tall you are.

  26. Norman Hanscombe

    JIMMY, I know every decision has its pluses/minuses, but the ADDITIONAL help for homebuyers AFTER the crisis shouldn’t have been used for already existing homes [which thus increased house prices, a seminal problem of the GFC] but used instead to stimulate new-home construction. I believe that Australia, for a number of reasons, was better-placed than most economies, and there wasn’t as strong a reason with us as with many others, to start throwing money around so thoughtlessly. Here, however, is hardly the place to start discussing that issue. As for the public/private aspect, it wasn’t a major factor those with home-owner gifts.

    Re the so-called education revolution, it’s hardly a surprise if 97% didn’t criticise it. First of all, they were getting something for nothing, so under the circumstances people don’t usually complain. Even where it was seen as a farce, principals whose futures may be on the line weren’t always going to display the bravado of a Viking Berserki and speak out, were they?

  27. Jimmy

    Norman I posted the following this morning but I think a link to the govt stimuls website got it stuck in moderation

    Norman – If you are saying the govt shouldn’t have offered a first home buyers grant he below link is to the govt stimulus page after a search on “first home”, it doesn’t come up with anything. The first home buyers grants have been around snce 2000 well before this govt and I think they were increased well before the stimuls package, although I would be happy to be shown otherwise.

    I agree that providing an incentive to build new homes would of been a benefit to the economy but as you pointed out it wouldn’t of been put into the economy as qucikly as it would of been up to private invesstors to make the decision to spend, then planning permits would of had to have been sought etc etc. One of the big successes of the stimulus was that it was “timely” and prevented a significant slow down in the economy and loss of employment. this meant that in the long term less tax income was lost and less money had to be spent to pump the economy.

    The BER also resulted in vital spending on public schools with 97% of the schools very happy with the result.

  28. Norman Hanscombe

    Cathy, Oh Cathy. What can be done to help you understand you need help? Even Divine Intervention mightn’t be enough. I assure you I’d NEVER be so grossly unfair as to judge all women by you. Honest. My grandmother would have run rings around male ‘academics’ I’ve seen recently, and the only advantage in life that she had [apart from not being born a slow learner, of course] was leaving her rural Queensland school at 13 in 1893, which fortunately for her was long before standards slipped. I wish Gran’s friend and frequent visitor to her home, Jesse Street, was still around, because [in light of your sexist obsessions] you might accept advice from her? Although, now that I think about it, it’s a good thing you weren’t there, because their discussions mightn’t have fitted your dream-world obsessions, and it would be a shame to have had you attacking Mrs Street for being sexist.

    So, my poor little befuddled babbler, since you continue to be unable [or unwilling?] to direct me to where you ‘think’ I said what you claim I said, how can I help you? You do realise it’s an odd request from you that I provide the evidence for claims I haven’t actually made? Then again, you probably don’t realise it? The Bible could have had Cathy in mind when it (almost) said, Forgive her Lord, for she know not what she does. Either way, it’s in my nature to forgive those who err in good faith, so I shan’t make a harsh comment.

    Finally, dear lady, there’s little point in you bluffing about having, “no alternative but to discontinue this discussion.” You have never really participated in a discussion, but rather sat like a kid in a gum tree, firing your toy popgun at imaginary dragons — dragons which everyone else knows aren’t actually there.

    As for you FED UP, you owe Cathy a VERY big apology. She did NOT play the gender card. She MISPLAYED it. Now be a man [[I hope that’s not a sexist? term]] and tell her you’re sorry.

  29. Fed Up

    Hey Norm

    She just played the gender card. That’s Check Mate!!!

  30. Cathy

    Norman

    [Read my words, dear lady and the goal is that you be educated, not humiliated]

    There it is, so just because I am a woman you consider my views on artesian water not worthy or genuine. Is that what this is all about..Gender?

    But my dear “s*xist” friend, you still have not provided any evidence to support your claims, thus, rendering your argument completely empty and baseless.

    Evidence please Sir S*xist, or I have no alternative but to discontinue this discussion.

  31. Norman Hanscombe

    Cathy, I’ll try to put this even more simply, just for you:

    You simply do NOT understand the difference between artesian and sub-artesian. Learn about that basic difference and you’ll se how irrelevant some of your comments are. Since I knew the difference before I’d reached my teens without making any effort, is it unfair that I assume you SHOULD be able to handle that?

    If there’s a good example of what YOU believe to be unfair/unjustified “abusive rhetoric” or better still an example of “outright slandering” directed at you, please explain.

    If you REALLY can’t understand what’s wrong with your comment that “(you) have not seen one single piece of information of evidence regarding your assertion that artesian or “sub” artesian water is not millable or cannot be used for agriculture or industry” I guess out of sympathy for your plight, I have to explain why this poorly expressed non sequitur is NOT a worth-wile contribution:
    Read my words, dear lady, I never made that absurdly irrelevant claim. Was that simple enough to be understood? Should you wish to continue claiming your red herring is in fact a true statement, direct me to where I said such nonsense, and embarrassed as I’d be to learn I’d uttered such nonsensical statements, I’d apologise — both generously and promptly. May I make one (hopefully helpful) suggestion, however? When you find what you believe (however genuinely) to be the loaded gun, check with a reasonably literate friend re what it actually means before responding, because I really don’t think there’s much to be gained by it blowing up in your face. The goal is that you be educated, not humiliated.

    Try to remember, Cathy, I’m able to empathise with you re your problem, and my earlier helpful comments weren’t an attack on you as a person but rather an attempt (hyper-optimistic as it may have been) to help you overcome your obvious difficulty understanding the issues.

    Does that clear up your misunderstanding?

    P.S. Cathy, before you start advising Rohan, you really should — . No. It’s not a good idea to ask too much of you too soon.

  32. Cathy

    @Rohan

    [I truly admire your optimistic attempts to cure the terminally ignorant.
    It’s hard to think of a lower return investment.]

    I am quite capable of curing my own “terminal ignorance” thankyou very much, but only when I see you curing yours, which no doubt will take a little longer due to your inability to let go of all those “sacred cows” that you must unlearn in order to move forward…but there in lies the problem…how can it be wrong if YOU learnt it?….how can it be wrong if YOU spoke it?…and on it goes.

    Yea, that’s a lower return investment alright..but for who?

  33. Cathy

    Norman

    You ve been very big on abusive rhetoric and outright slandering of various posters to this discussion forum, but I have not seen one single piece of information of evidence regarding your assertion that artesian or “sub” artesian water is not millable or cannot be used for agriculture or industry.

    So either put up or shut up and take your fickle moody-broody personality elsewhere.

    Furthermore – [ the following comments were not presentable for discussion purposes or fit for public viewing. Would all posters, including Cathy and Norman Handscombe please focus on the issues at hand and not attack the each other. ]

  34. Jimmy

    Norman – If you are saying the govt shouldn’t have offered a first home buyers grant he below link is to the govt stimulus page after a search on “first home”, it doesn’t come up with anything. The first home buyers grants have been around snce 2000 well before this govt and I think they were increased well before the stimuls package, although I would be happy to be shown otherwise.

    http://www.economicstimulusplan.gov.au/search/pages/default.aspx?searchterms=first%20home

    I agree that providing an incentive to build new homes would of been a benefit to the economy but as you pointed out it wouldn’t of been put into the economy as qucikly as it would of been up to private invesstors to make the decision to spend, then planning permits would of had to have been sought etc etc. One of the big successes of the stimulus was that it was “timely” and prevented a significant slow down in the economy and loss of employment. this meant that in the long term less tax income was lost and less money had to be spent to pump the economy.

    The BER also resulted in vital spending on public schools with 97% of the schools very happy with the result.

  35. Norman Hanscombe

    1. “Enlighten” you, Cathy, what a big order. Where would one begin?

    2. With ‘defenders’ like emotively blinkered shepherdmarilyn, who’d need enemies. She’s the first person to come even remotely close to making me feel mildly supportive of Stephen Smith. Were she in a parliament, she’d certainly be a shoe-in for a Minister for Torturing Logic & Language Portfolio.

    3. Apathy, good luck with your mammoth project of getting Marilyn to say something which actually helps her beloved cause. Succeed and you’ll not only win a Nobel Prize, but may be in line for Emperor of the Universe.

    4. Jimmy, I’d argue that any emergency package [[reacting as it did to a crisis whose genesis had involved over-pricing homes]] which subsidised buying already constructed homes was ill-advised. Subsidising NEW construction only, might have meant new money wasn’t pumped into the economy as quickly, but its longer-term benefits would have been greater. It’s a pleasant change, Jimmy, when posters say something which has been seriously thought through.

  36. Jimmy

    Free Country – “You can argue that the debt was necessary in 2008-9, but it’s inexcusable that the government continues to pile on debt until 2013, assuming that the real world behaves itself for the next two years.”

    Firstly that’s a big assumption when Europe could collapse under an actual debt crisis at any moment and the US is still stuggling with almost 10% unemployment and a Trillion dollar deficit.

    Secondly if you remove govt spending from the economic growth figures how much is the Australian ecomonmy actually growing?

    Finally you once again have a crack at the BER claiming it to be a waste of money when all evidence (anecdotal and actual) shows otherwise. It may not have solved your housing affordability problems but that does not make it a failure

  37. Apathy

    Marilyn – I am not saying that you should give up on them completely as I agree in principle of what you are doing. You are right, they should be heard and not forgotten. It’s just that the delivery of your message is all wrong. Pick your audience and learn what to say, how to say it and when to say it. Your delivery just rubs people up the wrong way and so everything you say is just white noise. I suspect that some even delight in winding you up just to get a reaction. Which is a shame because it doesn’t make for effective debate.

    I also think you should give a little more credit to fellow bloggers on this site as I would think that most here are against harsh detention especially the locking up of children. You belligerence would be far better directed at News Ltd.

  38. shepherdmarilyn

    Well Apathy if I stop defending the refugees here who will do it?

    Smith was trying to win the 2004 election and be the new minister for torturing children.

  39. Cathy

    @Norman Handscombe

    Please Norman..enlighten us all.

  40. Band In A Box

    @Norm

    [Finally, Cathy, don’t be too harsh on the poor boxed band. He knows he’s being absurd, which puts him slightly ahead of someone like you who’s also being absurd, but doesn’t know it.]

    Was it the music Norm?-I am sorry you did n’t like it.

    ok,I purposely put A/D to see if you would try it, but it should have been C/G..to go with Gm7th, and then as a chorus Bflat Minor 7th to CMajor7th. It works especially well to an uptempo Reggai beat or even a Calypso beat as well, but you gotta sway with it and feel the rythm for it to flow.

    The notes to the BFlat minor7th chord are BFlat,D,F,A, these notes make up the chord of BFlat minor7th.

    The notes that make up the C Major 7th chord are C, E ,G, B and together they make a great go-to melody after the Gminor7th and C/G chord interchange.

    I am extremely upset that you were offended and I apologize for sharing it with you.

  41. Norman Hanscombe

    Rohan, I’ve successfully helped slow learners at every level from primary school through to university, so although some observers may not believe evolution has been a rip-roaring success, and many have told me people couldn’t be helped, although I’m no longer as hyper-optimistic as I once was, I appear to be genetically programmed to still feel that one should try.

    Not long before he died, my father commented he’d spent his whole life trying to make it a better world, and it was worse now than when he started. I guess it’s a family flaw? Except, I have to concede, that he was more tolerant of the blindly foolish than I sometimes tend to be these days.

  42. Rohan

    Norman Hanscombe,

    I truly admire your optimistic attempts to cure the terminally ignorant.

    It’s hard to think of a lower return investment.

  43. Norman Hanscombe

    Cathy, congrats on understanding the first point, but:

    You still have no clue re the difference between artesian and sub-artesian bores, but IF you can manage to understand that, your second point will evaporate faster than a desert puddle. Really.

    Not having had any problem, even in primary school, discussing artesian/sub-artesian water, unless you have a speech impediment, I really can’t explain why you mention it in your thirdly point. As for what lesson I need to explain why you have this difficulty, you’ll have to give me a clue, because your problem remains a mystery.

    Ooops!! Having read your quaint contribution a tad further, Cathy, I now realise I erred in assuming your non-reference above to the first point meant you understood why I’d mentioned populist announcers who are as one with you on this issue. I see now that you genuinely don’t understand irony, do you?

    The more you try to address these issues, Cathy, the more it becomes clear you need to research the subject before opening your well-intentioned mouth. But at least [assuming you meant what you said] you finally acknowledge you’re (to use your word) simply “inventing” these weird suggestions. Sooner or later, though, you’ll have to face up to the fact that “inventing” ideas isn’t quite the same as facing reality.

    Finally, Cathy, don’t be too harsh on the poor boxed band. He knows he’s being absurd, which puts him slightly ahead of someone like you who’s also being absurd, but doesn’t know it.

  44. John Anderson

    Bernard Keane is right to say that a flood levy is lazy policy. But it is a bit rich to say that it is a fiscally lazy government. Keane noted in an earlier blog that the government proposes to hold to a 2% real increase in spending. That’s pretty tough to do. If the Howard government had done that, the surpluses would have been much larger and economic demand more measured to the point where the RBA would not have needed to increase interest rates ten times. Despite all the rhetoric about Costello, I think he was one of the laziest treasurers we’ve had, whose only claim to fame is his very first budget.

    We should all remember that the economic stimulus spending is one-off, and capital in nature, not recurrent. As the stimulus is ebbing away, the government is actually subtracting from economic growth. It is of course hoping that the private sector will pick up the slack. A levy would also subtract from growth if it wasn’t to be spent. So there is a bit of a balancing act going on here with the effect of the floods on the economy still not known. I would prefer as Keane does, a strong focus on mopping up middle class welfare – John Howard’s welfare extravaganza – accompanying a levy which is a bit of insurance if the budget revenues don’t grow as expected.

  45. Fed Up

    @Norman Handscombe

    (((FED UP, it’s after midnight and while I wish the possum fight on the roof hadn’t woken me, at least Cathy has helped illustrate WHY those radio commentators can be so influential if they pick a piece of populist nonsense which happens to appeal to the dreams of an audience member)))

    That might be a witzy bitzy bit unfair Norman, to lump a visionary like Cathy in with a mob of shock-jocks like the PARROT…don’t you think?

    Hey!!..I really love Possums. One morning I got up and discovered the loungeroom had been ransacked. I immediately went on the defensive expecting to find a would be assassin or a burglar, but after 10 minutes of intensive searching, all I came up with was a very big Possum who came down the chimney and was curled up like a ball just below the ceiling…I hardly even noticed her because she was so still and all curled up.

    Aggghh, but she caused a right mess. Everything was over on it’s side and the mantle piece looked liked a war zone.

    So, I coaxed her down with some bread, gave her a good feed and a hug and then sent her on her way to the trees. I loved that little Possum and occassionally I still see her at my door or up one of the trees.

    Hope you enjoyed your excursion.

  46. Cathy

    FFSake Band In A Box!!!..are you trying to tell me your a musician too? Well, judging by the lyrics you certainly aint no poet. Ok, Ok & Ok..I’ll give you the thumb-nail sketch and you fill in the details…hahahaha

    Actually, I have to admit I am really tone-deaf and would n’t understand a thing about music, but i emailed it to a muso friend of mine and he said it very good.

    I think I better stick to artesian water and other more earthly sciences.

  47. Band In A Box

    Cathy, will you please chill out?… heres a quick number I put together for you. The tempo is mediaum rock beat and vocals is mono rising to scale.

    Gm7th..you call me up on the telephone..D/A ( with grunge )..Gm7th..coz you think I am all home alone..D/A..Gm7th..but you don’t know my other place..D/A…Gm7th..and soon it be clear to you there is no trace..( drop dead chord/chorus )..Bflat m7th to Cmaj7th and repeat.

    If the Cmaj7th chord is too sweet then just use C chord.

    Then we do it all again with:

    Maybe you think I wanna cry…or is that just a false…( sustain ).. alibi
    when you leave please say goodbye….then I’ll know you do ( sustain ).. wanna try.

    No charge to you Cathy if you promise to stop discussing things you don’t know anything about.

    BIAB

  48. Cathy

    Band In A Box..that’s not even funny.

    We are trying to have a serious discussion here and all you can do is try and be funny. Who do you think you are?…El Cid?

  49. Band In A Box

    @Fed Up, Norman Hanscombe, and Cathy

    Will you all please stop rabbiting on about building inland cities and artesian water? Otherwise the readers are going to think it’s all a Communist Plot.

    Besides, there is n’t the room for anymore inland cities due to that huge one underneath Pine Gap where aeroplanes land and come & go without official clearance.

    As for the Levy, well, I drove my chevy to the levy and the levy was dry..haw haw haw!!!

  50. Cathy

    And secondly Norman, even artesian water has to be pumped at sometime. How else do you get it out of the ground in mass as suitable volumes for industry or agriculture?..by truck?..train?..depending on it’s use, even surface water has to be pumped, or perhaps you have invented a way to just SPIRIT it away to another destination?

    Thirdly Norman, do you have any idea how hard it is to discuss artesian water?…no!!!…see?!?!.. you don’t. So let that be a lesson to you.

    Personally, I think you refuse to colour outside the square on this one Norman just because a couple of broken-down shock-jocks have “alledgedlly” plugged it once or twice on the airways and YOU go nup on the basis that if they are saying it then YOU must oppose it….it may not be totally “populist”..Alan..errrp..umm, sorry..that was Norman, just because the PARROTS like to chirp about it for their supper.

    Inventing ways to do things rather than inventing ways NOT to do things, is my mantra, Norman.

  51. banistersmind

    If I receive any new levy like this retarded one then all’s I’ll be doing with it is tossing it in the bin.

  52. Norman Hanscombe

    Firstly Cathy, you missed the point of WHY I referred to what the “2GB tossers” said, but read previous posters said and you MIGHT get it.

    Secondly I was aware of your “concept of developing Central Australia” before the 1950s, but unlike you I understood what was involved. Even then much of what had been artesian had become sub-artesian [you do understand that simple but immensely important difference?] and it has become a far more significant issue since, even if you’re oblivious to that problem. I recall seeing the effects first hand in February 1958 in the Pilliga Scrub where the flow was still artesian, but what had once been a large lake with enormous freshwater mussels was now a small diminishing pond, and that was a spot with none of the heavy demands of extensive agriculture. You do, by the way, realise not all of our declining artesian reserves are suitable for agriculture?

    Thirdly (should you ever spend the necessary time to research the topic) you’ll appreciate the irony of your amusing comment, “I am not saying you are making it up, but perhaps ill-informed”. Cathy, I don’t say that about you because there’s no “perhaps” about your being “ill-informed”. You ARE ill-informed, and it’s a belief you share with a well-known 2GB identity, Alan Jones.

    Fourthly, of course (as you so irrelevantly say” “There is more potable and drinkable water under the desert than in Sydney Harbour 10 x times”, although your claim “it’s just below the surface” shows you’re in FAR more need of help than I first realised. That’s NOT “alot of water”, Cathy, so it mightn’t hurt to brush up on basic arithmetic too, before you start the very big task of coming to grips with basic economic geography?

    Fifthly, if you need a pump, it’s NOT “called Artesian” Cathy — but let’s add an understanding of the relevant “technology” to your need to understand basket anyway, shall we?

    Finally (to use your words, Cathy) “Nup!!! what (I’m) really saying is, there is no will” on your part to do the necessary easy research which shows clearly why you and your unwanted ally Alan Jones are talking populist nonsense. But I’m sure you mean well.

    FED UP, it’s after midnight and while I wish the possum fight on the roof hadn’t woken me, at least Cathy has helped illustrate WHY those radio commentators can be so influential if they pick a piece of populist nonsense which happens to appeal to the dreams of an audience member.

    Now back to the cot for a brief (hopefully possumless) sleep before the alarm starts my rush to make it for my excursion to the big smoke.

  53. freecountry

    It’s up there with an old favourite of mine: “Why don’t they just make the whole aeroplane out of that black box stuff?”

  54. Fed Up

    @Cathy

    Interesting point about the Artesian Water, but you still have to drill and you still require an adequate pipe-line to transfer it…and I suspect it might cost a bit more than $120.00, point taken though.

    Like you, I don’t give a rat’s arse for the Radio Parrot Heads either, in fact, I was never aware of it ever being discussed outside of engineering circles let alone the Shock Jocks.

    It’s almost midnight and I have just taken the match-sticks out that were prying open my eye-lids..gotta go!!!.zzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!

  55. Cathy

    @Norman Hanscombe

    Firstly Norman, I could n’t give a damn about the 2GB tossers or what they say. The concept of developing Central Australia has been around since the 1950’s and as it being too costly economically and too dificult technologically is not entirely correct.

    I am not saying you are making it up, but perhaps ill-informed.

    There is more potable and drinkable water under the desert than in Sydney Harbour 10 x times, and it’s just below the surface…that’s alot of water and it’s called Artesian, Norman, and what technology do need to get it up and running?….a $120.00 pump and a few hundred yards of poly-pipe.

    Nup!!!what you are really saying is, there is no will to do it.

  56. Norman Hanscombe

    Australia has changed dramatically over my lifetime, Freecountry. Even the poorest are now well off by earlier times’ standards, but we’re far more dis-satisfied. Homo sapiens isn’t an easy species to please; but fortunately I’ll be gone before the worst of the faeces hits the fan.

    I’m off to bed now for an early train trip tomorrow costing a mere $2.50 to Sydney, including Bankstown and return. That’s quite a change from my childhood, when old age pensioners literally died from malnutrition. On the other hand, they not only rarely complained, but also even worried about others they knew, and their country in general. Sound like I’m making it up?

  57. freecountry

    Well, it would be music to my ears, is all I can say. And that’s assuming they would find a way to kick me in the guts too, along with everyone else. It hurts a lot more if you’re the only one getting kicked and everyone else looks the other way.

  58. Norman Hanscombe

    Freecountry, we’ll have to disagree re whether vocal pressure groups (as you suggest) “drown each other out” OR (as I see it) tend to become an internally conflicting but nevertheless unintentionally uniting chorus in their efforts to decide who shall form governments. Listening quietly to people noisily discussing politics began as a childhood hobby in the 40s; but perhaps my reasonably accurate assessments in the past have been sheer luck, and finally that luck has run out.

  59. freecountry

    [and they’ll often rationalise that the cuts to which they object wouldn’t be needed now ‘if only’ there hadn’t been waste on other (however vague) programmes which helped someone else]
    That’s the key. If you cut programs one at a time, everyone has their turn being the victim of the hour. Cut them all at once, and they drown each other out. As I recall, the majority who quietly approved of Fraser’s “razor gang” made no noise at the time, but afterwards could be heard asking, “Is that it?” Many felt it had barely scratched the surface.

  60. Norman Hanscombe

    Freecountry, many people may think ‘a Frazer-style “razor gang” is long overdue.’ Unfortunately, however, the numbers thinking that way tend to drop dramatically when it affects themselves — or they think it affects them — and they’ll often rationalise that the cuts to which they object wouldn’t be needed now ‘if only’ there hadn’t been waste on other (however vague) programmes which helped someone else. Someone else who naturally was less ‘deserving’ than themselves.

    Another, not insignificant, problem in the sort of “rabidly Labor area” you mention is that many Labor voters there can feel [whether rightly or wrongly is irrelevant] that Labor has ignored them, while concentrating on policies aimed at trendy middle class cliques who are in bed with latte lapping leaders who have little understanding of, and even less concern for, ordinary workers. It’s what they feel that counts, regardless of whether or not those feelings reflect reality.

    I hope my assessment is wrong; but hopes don’t always equate with realities, do they.

  61. freecountry

    Norman Hanscombe:
    [Deferring expenditures upsets those who’d benefit from those expenditures — or can be misled into believing they were ‘un-necessary’ cuts. Delaying reductions in deficits will increase total debt, and someone will have to pay for that additional debt. That’s why politicians are less sanguine than you are about adding further costs for taxpayers — who have been known to complain about such things.]
    I’m not so sure. OK, there’s always someone to make an almighty din when you cancel their favourite gravy train for project management consultants– the school canteens program or the indigenous housing program that doesn’t build any houses–and sure, they know how to get lots of airtime (and sometimes their job requires them to make a big fuss, whatever they think privately) but I think most people feel a Frazer-style “razor gang” is long overdue.

    I live in a rabidly Labor area, but even here, so many people have been talking about government waste that I get the sense they even exaggerate how much money the Labor government is wasting. It’s unusual to get that perception in a Labor area.

  62. Norman Hanscombe

    Barry 09, I’ve worked with many for whom English is a second language, so if you not having a translator to help you (with the resultant incoherent nature of some of your message) causes me to misinterpret your argument, please let me know. In no particular order then:

    1. Transport is primarily a State area, so you need to explain who are your (as you so eloquently put it) “tight arse bastards” and for what aspects of transport failure do you blame them? I trust that’s not asking too much.

    2. Your references to “conservative” car salesmen and Telstra is a tad unclear. Please explain.

    3. Re your quaint notion (and you REALLY did say this) that, “if Australia stopped pumping our shit out to sea and pumped it inland (use Rail/road /power corridors ) and put it though a worm farm , we would have great soil to grow and trillions of cheap workers paid with just your shit( food ) and living arrangments” it’s difficult to be sure where to suggest you start. Perhaps you might try to come to grips with the subject areas involved in your inappropriate suggestion? You’ll find it often helps to know what you’re talking about before you start talking.

    4. I suspect you may not be all that happy to learn, Barry O9, that your suggestion in point three is in line with the dribble one hears regularly from the “2gb tossers” to whom you don’t listen — although in fairness to them, while they’re unrealistic and ill-informed in these areas, they’re not quite as far off the planet with their approach as you are.

    Best of luck with any reading programme you undertake.

  63. Barry 09

    Labor should tell the voters, that due to the tight arse bastards that was running the country before didn’t keep up maintainance of the main transport areas and just run it to it stopped. Would not buy a car from a conservative , you end up fixing their problems Telstra ?
    Norman , if Australia stopped pumping our shit out to sea and pumped it inland (use Rail/road /power corridors ) and put it though a worm farm , we would have great soil to grow and trillions of cheap workers paid with just your shit( food ) and living arrangments . But thats organic and would keep on improving yearly the soil with worm castings and worm eggs . No chemicals , no pollution, no corporate bonuses. Worms are our friends.
    PS Don’t listen to 2gb tossers.

  64. Norman Hanscombe

    Cathy, it’s a dream pushed regularly by radio talk-back show announcers, but unfortunately it’s a joke. Australia has been a net food exporter for a long time, but there’s little scope for increasing productive areas. Our soils are NOT phosphate rich, and one problem we’ll face in the not too distant future [as fertilisers become scarcer/dearer] will be just that. In any case, irrigating central Australia is neither technologically feasible nor economically viable, no matter how much entertainers such as the blinkered 2GB announcers rave on about it.

    As for the planet’s “dispossessed people”, even were we to lower our living standards significantly [which wouldn’t be something governments could sell] and devote those resources entirely to the causes you suggest, the impact on global problems — even IF those problems suddenly, miraculously, stopped following their upward spirals – would be irrelevant.

    I acknowledge it would be a better world if it were a better world, but wishing doesn’t make it so.

  65. Fed Up

    Thats a very “Grand Plan” indeed Cathy – but I guess if refugee people agreed to go there and recieve allocations of land and were prepared to till the soil under condition of lease or sale, including the installation of irrigation systems and housing for their families, then I guess it’s possible.

    Most of the soil in that area of central Australia is very quartzy, which means that it needs copious amounts of water for anything to grow at all, too hard, but there many areas where the soil grows some of the best pastures in Australia. This is evidenced by the excellent condition of some of the cattle and sheep stations after the rains both east and west of Alice Springs. If the soil can grow good pasture then it could certainly grow food….buts it too “Grand a Plan” Cathy, for those who make the policy.

  66. Cathy

    @Fed Up – rural programmes that increase local food production – for starters.

    That comment got me thinking about inland Australia and all that iron and phosphate rich red desert soil. Maybe I am a dreamer, but all that land needs is an effective irrigation system and water supply, then suddenly it becomes the Foof Bowl of the world.

    It might even fit the theme of loving the stranger (refugees) among you, while providing a continuing food supply system at the same time, not just for Australia, but possibly the whole world and providing housing, land, incomes and a future for dispossessed people.

    The Refugee issue would be fixed, the Aboriginal Communities would benefit and Australia could stop importing it’s food and could even become a major exporter.

  67. Norman Hanscombe

    Greg, putting aside disaster contingency funds (and passing on part of the costs/profits to underwriters) is appropriate for insurance companies; but it wouldn’t work all that well for governments which (in addition to underwriting possibilities not being applicable) have very different expectations and pressures on them from anything faced by company boards. It’s even more complicated than reaching agreements on emergency household budgeting decisions.

    Deferring expenditures upsets those who’d benefit from those expenditures — or can be misled into believing they were ‘un-necessary’ cuts. Delaying reductions in deficits will increase total debt, and someone will have to pay for that additional debt. That’s why politicians are less sanguine than you are about adding further costs for taxpayers — who have been known to complain about such things.

    Perhaps Swan has good reason to remain silent, hoping to not disturb the hornets’ nests waiting for ANY opportunity which comes their way?

    Angra, it could be worse than being part of a dying breed. Mine’s extinct.

  68. Greg Angelo

    At the risk of intruding into the debate on irrelevancies, I believe that Bernards article article was addressing the issue of funding flood reconstruction, and the impact on the accumulated deficit. Itshould be obvious to even the most obtuse politician that disasters occur regularly, and and that like a household budget having to deal with the occasional “disaster” like a fridge breaking down or the need for a new hot water service, that one adjusts the pattern of expenditure to suit. On this basis one reschedules discretionary expenditure by deferring expenditure on some items to make room for the required outlay. We are talking about 10 or $20 billion which in budgetary terms is a drop in the bucketover several years. Disasters occur regularly and this should be factored into government expenditure projections as a contingency. One could defer returning to surplus by three or four months and achieve the same objective without having to introduce new taxation. The issue that does need to be discussed is the method by which redemption of the profligate expenditure of over $150 billion over a five-year period in excess of taxation receipts is going to be funded. In the short term the interest bill will be an annual $10 -12 billion or so, but one assumes that this accumulated debt will be repaid by the government at some point. As indicated quietly as one respondent Swan is silent on this subject.

  69. Angra

    Thank you Norman – that is a considered and intelligent response – unlike some we get here.

    I too have seen a change in local candidates, from what I would call genuine local representatives to career candidates foisted on us from the ‘smoke’. It is indeed a sad change. I vote based on my perception of the local candidates irrespective of their party.

    Maybe I’m a dying breed?

  70. Norman Hanscombe

    angra, I’d have voted, even worked, for Combet had I lived there, because he was an excellent candidate. I don’t suggest he was lying to you, merely saying that candidates must choose their words carefully to avoid upsetting voters. Being an intellectually coherent and frank candidate wouldn’t be easy. Can you imagine trying to hold a rational discussion with some of the obsessive ‘noble cause’ posters who pop up regularly on internet sites?

    I’ve seen a change in candidates over the decades, and believe there are more nowadays for whom career opportunities is the primary interest; but isn’t that true of modern society generally? An underlying problem with politics is that fewer people join Parties (or voluntary organisations generally for that matter) and an increasing proportion of those who do join do so for reasons which relate more to their personal aspirations than anything else. Even with those who have no career hopes when they become involved in community-based activities, all too often they’re so obsessively driven by a personal ‘noble’ cause that they’re blind to anything other than what fits their sacred beliefs.

  71. Johnfromplanetearth

    So let me get this straight, Julia wants a new Tax to to cover the cost of the flood rebuilding? The very same floods that former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said would not happen again due to lower than usual rainfall and eco nutjob Tim Flannery’s call for desal plants in Queensland because dams and rivers will never fill again? I reckon i would get morse sense out of Chief Wiggum than those two dropkicks. I don’t think Julia has the foggiest idea what to do about all of this, this Government has hit the iceberg and no matter what any global warming alarmist might tell you, she is going to sink! Once again Mother Nature has the last laugh!

  72. Angra

    Norman – I am just an ordinary ignorant bloke, and a voter – so what am I supposed to go by? In my ‘wisdom’ I decided to ask my local candidates about certain issues close to my heart. Combet gave the best response. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt and voted for him.

    What more am I supposed to do?

    Are you suggesting that candidates are lying bastards?

    Maybe you’re right. I am shocked.

  73. Norman Hanscombe

    ANGRA, Combet is extremely competent and a good operator, thus careful enough to do no more than ‘imply’ what he’d have worked out would suit your views re Rudd’s departure. In any case, since Combet {not to forget Belinda Neal?} was one of the candidates Rudd imposed on local ALP Branch members against the local branches’ wishes in 2010, Combet had reason ro be grateful to Rudd.

    JIMMY, you need to keep in mind that some True Believers, especially those so blinded by their certainties that they genuinely can’t think straight, can convince themselves that whatever fantasy ‘helps’ their noble cause is ‘true’, and they don’t always know it when they’re saying something which may be far from true. You can’t really hold them responsible for delusions arising from an unfortunate combination of a bad deal in the genetic lottery, plus landing in a sadly traumatic environmental quagmire.

    Life hasn’t been fair to them, so fantasising about events does make it a little less intolerable for the poor souls.

  74. Angra

    “cunningly” was meant to be ironical. But Combet did imply he was a bit pissed off with the Assassination of Kevin Rudd by the Coward Julia Gillard.

  75. Angra

    Shephermarilyn – they can’t all be that bad. How about Greg Combet? He’s my local member and strikes me as a good bloke. He even had the courtesy to talk to me during the last election campaign, with respect and I believe honesty.

    Well he won my vote at least. I cunningly judged the local candidates on their responses to my inquiries. He and the Greens candidate were the only ones who bothered to talk to me.

  76. shepherdmarilyn

    Yes Jimmy, that was a direct quote. I would not claim he said it if he didn’t.

  77. Jenny Lee

    Whether a levy is a good idea or not (I don’t think it is, but I can see the political attraction), there’s obviously a lot of confusion about what it might be there for. If you trawl through the Fairfax and Murdoch sites, most of the comments are based on the assumption that the levy is to give grants to households who didn’t insure. Not to rebuild damaged railways, roads and public buildings, or develop infrastructure that would be less flood-prone. The government has done a terrible job of explaining itself.

  78. freecountry

    Sickofitall – I respect your view that the mining sector is undertaxed due to windfall price gains on the international commodity markets. I only partly agree, but I respect that view. My comment was aimed at “Political Animal”, not you. Sometimes a socialist takes off the mask of compassion and concern for his fellow man and reveals himself for what he is, a looter with democracy on his side. “Political Animal”s comment was one of those moments.

  79. sickofitall

    @fed up: all of that, too…

  80. Cathy

    A new govt levy or tax to assist with the damage caused by the flood in QLD would be fine with most rank & file people, providing that none it diminishes the responsibilty of the Insurance companies who I am sure will soon plead poverty and seek govt assistance anyway.

    Also, it must be temporary and taken off the books as soon as the jobs done, otherwise it will be the classic money grab that everyone fears it will be.

  81. Fed Up

    @sickofitall – I pay plenty of tax, and I don’t begrudge it

    Providing that the money is spent in the right areas, such as…caring for the homeless, looking after the widows and orphans, job creation programmes, education in the area of teaching self-reliance and personal initiative and financial independence, affordable housing, support for the family unit instead of trying to destroy it, manufacturing and small business, rural programmes that increase local food production – for starters.

    instead of spending it on senseless and useless wars like Iraq and Afghanistan, pay rises for politicians who work to a foreign agenda, roads – enough already, tired old employment programmes, quick fix stimulus spending, any type of bureaucracy – for starters too.

  82. Chris Sanderson

    Re: Labor’s lazy levy

    How about using this opportunity to help Qld by paying a one-off levy, providing the govt guarantees that the increasing risk of extreme weather events due to climate change is taken fully into account in the re-straucturing?

    In other words no re-building in flood prone areas of infrastructure or buildings or where insurance companies will not provide cover.

    Otherwise we will increasingly be asked to pay for such disasters, when they should never happen with proper planning, given the warnings from the world’s climate scientists.

    There will need to be serious federal and uncorruptible policing to make sure developers and state govts are not allowed to collude to repeat such ‘mistakes’.

  83. sickofitall

    @Freecountry – I pay plenty of tax, and I don’t begrudge it. (and not a PAYE earner either – it comes out after I’ve got it, so I notice it more.)

    I’d gladly pay (a little) more tax if there weren’t others paying far less than their share. Twiggy Forrest’s et al assault on Australian Crown land is wrong because they pay the minimum (next to none) tax on earnings that should be shared among everyone. I’d put Aboriginal welfare first, looking at long term sustainable economic stability (and don’t spin me that the ‘jobs’ they’ve been given are long-term – they’ll be chewed up and spat out, as will most mining workers eventually.)

    So, while I in general agree (too much NIMBYism), in this case, let’s share the load fairly.

  84. The Hungry Years

    you are wasting your time Jean. All political parties regardless of any nation, including the despots, are all owned by You Know Who….so, you might as well milk it for what it is, do your best for your fellow man by joining the suburban guerrilla movement and understand that there is nothing new under the sun ;-)…sorry to ruin the discussion but I am just so damn immature.

  85. Jean

    The Liberals being nice to the widows and orphans, Labor trying to make things easy for the mine owners- it’s just too confusing.
    Could we please go back to the good old days when parties had an ideology, so we actually had something substantial to vote for?

  86. freecountry

    Tax everyone more except any group that includes me, me, me.

  87. political animal

    We need to increase the top tax rates to make up for Costello cutting them too much when the mining boom Mk I was roaring along. That would ensure real surpluses sooner and means future recessions or mere shocks don’t plunge our economy into such huge deficits again. For the same reasons people with private incomes should be kicked off the old age pension and the health care rebate cancelled—that will help heaps with the boomers retiring too.

  88. sickofitall

    It seems to me that the best solution would be to tax an undertaxed industry which has a strong Queensland base – like, ooh, I don’t know, the mining industry…

  89. freecountry

    Yes, special levies aim to give the impression that we’re running a really tight ship. When the truth is, politicking just takes up so much time, effort, and money that there’s not much left over for good government.

    One thing: we keep hearing about “the lowest debt levels in the developed world” as if the average debt were some kind of benchmark of good government. It’s like saying, “I drink-drive less than all my friends and neighbors.” You can argue that the debt was necessary in 2008-9, but it’s inexcusable that the government continues to pile on debt until 2013, assuming that the real world behaves itself for the next two years. There have been so many independent economists commenting on the government’s inflationary spending, including RBA directors, that it’s outrageous to keep piling on that debt for no reason.

    I’ve seen some Crikey readers who were under the mistaken impression that the debt will be paid off in 2013, and I have no doubt a lot of the less sophisticated population believe so, because Swan has carefully avoided any projection whatsoever of how long it will take to pay off.

  90. Norman Hanscombe

    APATHY, you ask too much of the dear lady. If marilyn’s career prospects and/or self-image are inextricanly interwoven into migration, she’s only doing the best she can in her job, isn’t she?

  91. LisaCrago

    seems like every two bit pollie and his dog want to get some political runs on the muddy boards at the moment.

    It is a disgrace, BK is right it is lazy and I would go further to say a greedy money grab to pray on the shock and grief while we are still looking for the actual bodies.

    Shame on them all. Brown blaming the coal pushing his doom and gloom AGW adgenda, Abbott using it to scrap the NBN and anything else he did not think of and typical ALP slugging us with another new TAX; they can take their levy and shove it and call it what it really is another ALP TAX.

  92. Apathy

    Thanks Sascha – it’s nice to know that I am not the only one who thinks this way. Sometimes I feel alone in the herd.

    Marilyn – It’s nice to see someone speaking up and fighting for the rights of refugees and it’s people like you that ensures that society doesn’t forget them. However, I think Jimmy has a point. All roads don’t lead to Refugee Advocacy. It would be nice if you could stick to the topic once in a while and not twist everything around to suit your refugee agenda. Otherwise you are no better than the politicians and MSM you criticise. You do your cause more damage with this approach. As JWH showed, it doesn’t matter how much noise you make, if no one is listening, you are just a dead man walking.

  93. Norman Hanscombe

    Hand it to her, Jimmy? I wouldn’t imagine anyone would even consider her worth handing hemlock.

  94. Sascha

    Apathy,

    Thank you so much for saying that. I have hope again. (no sarcasm in that btw)

    As for the levies, It wouldn’t be so bad if they were tempory and removed once they had paid what they were supposed to pay for. It’s a levy not a tax after all. I’d say the medicare levy has payed for all the guns many times over by now, but still it remains.

  95. Jimmy

    You do have to hand it to Marilyn though – no matter what the topic of the article is she always finds away to post about refugees.

  96. Norman Hanscombe

    JIMMY/TONY, poor marilyn has spent too much time bleating to sheep to realise how counterproductive her hysterical raves can be. Why her friends haven’t tried to placate her I don’t know — or perhaps they have, without success?

  97. geomac

    Marilyn
    In 2004 Smith was in the opposition not in government. Surely your rant belongs to the minister responsible at that time or the present one. You detract from your argument with abusive comments that have little substance.

  98. tonyfunnywalker

    I am just plain disgusted – shepherdmarilyn – what do you want to become – a Sarah Palin equivalent or the Glen Begg of the b logger’s world.

  99. Jimmy

    Shepherd Marilyn – is that an exact quote from Smith? Maybe all your good points would be taken more seriously if you didn’t mix them with such outlandish statements.

    A question for all – would it be the end of the world if we had a deficit in 2012/13 and returned to surplus a year later? Why is a small surplus so important nin the current circumstances?

  100. The Hungry Years

    [Remember that illuminating moment before the election]

    Yes

  101. shepherdmarilyn

    When I pleaded with him before the 2004 election about kids in refugee prisons he told me to piss off because the plebs liked it.

    A report that year showed that locking up refugee kids is torture.

    Ergo Stephen Smith is a child torture advocate.

    As are the rest of the blithering cowards who go to our high court and demand that unaccompanied children be locked up by their guardian, the minister Bowen or whoever of the day, thinks it’s best.

    They blather endlessly about frigging visas, but guess what? The law changed by the ALP way back in 1992 means there is no offence in not having a visa so why do we waste $1 billion per annum pretending there is.

  102. Jolyon Wagg

    shepherdmarilyn

    [Stephen Smith is a cowardly, craven child torturer disguised as someone mild.]

    Don’t hold back…tell us what you really think 🙂

    Cowardly and craven seems a tad harsh to me. BTW, where does the child torturing come in?

  103. Apathy

    It’s truly astonishing and more importantly it’s an absolute disgrace that we have allowed our society to become what it is today. Politics is a reflection of society and it appears that the world is not mature enough for democracy. I feel ashamed about how leadership in this country has been dumb down to a point where logic and common sense is non-existent and narcissism rules. Both sides are as bad as one another yet people still will defend one side over the other, not seeing the forest through the trees. Have we really become that stupid? Do people out there in voter land just not get it or is it a case of we just couldn’t be bothered? Maybe John Elliot had a point?

  104. Mahaut

    Bernard
    I agree that a levy would be fiscal laziness. With prudent fiscal management the Government should still be able to maintain a sound budgetary situation without a special one-off tax.
    I don’t think the politics are going to be in the government’s favour with this one. Politicians seem to take the view that a levy is not really seen as a tax because it is for a special purpose and on many occasions that is the view of the community as well. In our current environment, where we already have in play two tax proposals which have created stark areas of contestation between the two major parties, the community, after a vigorous campaign by the Opposition, be brought round to the view that a levy, yet again, is an undue additional tax burden.

  105. John Reidy

    If this government were smart they would use the recovery spending to justify dropping popular middle class benefits – say the private health care rebate. If it were Keating he would be able to skewer the opposition.

  106. JamesH

    Bernard has half a point in his relentless blathering about middle class welfare, but ignores that every time you cut “middle class welfare” you raise the effective marginal tax rate. “Welfare” in Australia cuts out so quickly that someone trying to go from “welfare to work” faces a 70%+ effective income tax.

    Also worth noting that studies of the Australian Welfare system have found:

    “The highly selective nature of Australia‘s income support arrangements means that it traditionally has less middle class welfare than virtually all other developed countries, including other low-spending countries such as the USA and Japan.36 This is illustrated by the low share of direct social security transfers in Australia going to the richest households. For example, a 2000 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study found direct transfers to the richest 30 per cent of households of workforce age in Australia to be 6.5 per cent, the lowest of 21 OECD countries studied, substantially lower than most other countries.”

    from Money for nothing? Australia in the global middle class welfare debateby Luke Buckmaster at the APH parliamentary library research service (www.aph.gov.au/library)

  107. shepherdmarilyn

    Stephen Smith is a cowardly, craven child torturer disguised as someone mild.

    Wouldn’t trust him anymore than I trust Gillard.

  108. John

    Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott are the problems in Australia’s politics.
    We need a new way forward.
    Stephen Smith is the ideal Labor PM.
    Malcolm Turnbull will be the ideal next Liberal PM.

  109. geomac

    Watching the 7.30 report last night the PM clearly stated that a levy may be an option. After being pressed she repeated that cuts would be made and a levy may be an option. I doubt that there is any fiscal sense in committing to a surplus purely for the sake of saying we have a surplus. One year Costello had a surplus that was in fact a deficit but manipulating the books gave the appearance of a surplus.
    Bolte put Victoria 60% in the red to build Tullamarine airport and didn,t suffer any electoral pain. A healthy budget is a sustainable budget not one dictated by a false presentation of the value of a surplus or deficit.

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