Lay off small business

Ken Kerrison writes: Re. “Why Hockey’s small business splurge is a waste of money” (May 13). When you rubbish small business you show abysmal ignorance of the economy and of economics. Small business is the biggest employer, accounts for much of production (about a third) and is where innovation happens. It is the front line of the economy and OK, there are many casualties. In the current depressed economy, giving small business cash benefits  is the second fastest way of giving the general economy a boost. The fastest way would be to give cash to householders, as was done in the Rudd/Swan stimulus. But Hockey is excluded from even considering this because of his repeated condemnation of the Rudd/Swan initiative (even though the biggest ultimate beneficiaries would have been the wealthy).

Thomas Richman writes: Joe could make a budget for every spending fantasy just  by cancelling our $24 billion F35 Joint Strike Fighter orders, 72 useless planes that are not only overpriced but would be shot out of the sky if confronted by any of Russia’s Sukhoi stealth fighters, which, I might add, are also used by the Chinese and Indonesian Air Forces. Alternatively, he or some other more daring minister could go to the public, honestly stating where our future  dangers lie,who are our real adversaries (if indeed,there are any) what it will cost and under what time frame — then raise enough taxes or sell war bonds to pay for it. The money received from a now consenting and trusting electorate would be used to honour our military with the best equipment available along with adequate paycheques and state of the art health facilities. Meanwhile, if Joe is so smitten with the virtues of small business why doesn’t he do the right thing and start one?

The Coalition’s war on everything

Martin Gordon writes: Re: “War on mums, war on China — all part of budget week games” (Friday). I know that Bernard has not been the victim of faulty editing, but I was intrigued at his flaying of critics of the current paid parental leave mess. This “war on mums” line of polemic is nonsense really and misses the point of the importance of paid parental leave as a good social policy — the Germans must have had it since 1883 for some reason!

The current multi-tiered parental leave arrangement is really a mess and largely came about from the 2009 ALP policy, which applied a 18 week minimum wage scheme on top the full pay schemes of public servants and some in the private sector (i.e. the first tier). The second tier are those on the 18 week minimum wage scheme and the third tier were on baby bonus. There may be a fourth tier too, if you get nothing at all. Australia’s current parental leave scheme lags behind the world in terms of income replacement. Wikipedia is often frowned upon as a reliable source, but it informs that virtually every country (160 or so) has better income replacement and terms of payment than Australia. Australia’s scheme is not only inadequate, but very inequitable and it fails to provide superannuation coverage for women who are already disadvantaged by absence from the workforce.

The superannuation top up may a good bargaining point (hint to the senate independents) to redistribute savings from at least a one payment system, and it would be more equitable. Or does partisanism inform ALP policy, given most of the winners from the current absurd system would likely be Labor voters?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey