Shorten’s budget reply offers more within the set parameters

Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images: Labor Party leader Bill Shorten delvers his budget reply
Contributed by Joe Montero

Labor leader Bill shorten has delivered his budget reply. Those critical of what was delivered last Tuesday by Scott Morrison, will be pleased with some of what he had to say.

He explained what many of us had already discovered. The budget pretended to give most of us $10 a week, but in the fine print tekes a lot more.

As Shorten said, hidden in the text was an $80 billion hand out to big business, including the banks, a $17 billion cut to schools, a $715 million cut to hospitals. A further $270 million is cut from TAFE, and funding for the ABC is cut, yet again.  The retirement is still going up to 70. This is an effective cut on the age pension. Pensioners get a $14 cut every fortnight.

The most important promise made by the Labor leader, is that the $80 billion hand out to big business would be stopped. part of this money has been earmarked for spending on health, education, boosting wages and real tax cuts for the average Australian.

It is a start. At the same time, more could be done.

In the first place, the tax cuts presented by Morrison are designed to carve into what remains of the progressive nature of the income tax system.  This means, the higher the income up to the $200,000 threshold, the bigger your tax cut. It would be much better not to support this.

There could have been a pledge to put an end to the scandalous massive tax evasion industry that sees corporations not contributing their fair share. Not a word. If the  732 biggest companies had paid the 30 percent company tax, would have contributed $16.6 billion. Out of a profit of $500 billion in the previous financial year. This is for one year alone. Many of them paid absolutely nothing and the rest paid almost nothing. All this comes from the data of the Australian Tax Office.

There is a promise to “reform” negative gearing and the capital gains tax, and increase funding for hospitals, schools and welfare. Some of the other promises are a little more controversial.

As a package, Shorten offered a better alternative.

Even so, it remains that there could have been a lot more detail. This could have been backed up by a commitment to undo the damage that has been caused.  Imagine what could be done with captured corporate tax evasion dollars.

bill Shorten faces pressure from the Business Council of Australia and other  big business organisations, which command considerable resources to put into campaigning, not only for lowering the company tax rate, but also into promoting that Australia should not deal alone, with laundering money out of the country until the global economy changes. This really means don’t mess with the tax evasion system.

It is highly likely that at least in part, the reluctance to face these matters and be scant on the details is a response to this pressure. The prioritising payment of the government debt is anotherpart of it.

More reason why it would have been better to trust the Australian public and enlist active support to take the response to a higher level.

If there is one thing the tax evasion industry proves, besides the depths of the greed in some quarters, it is that the problem with the government’s finances is not debt, but the failure to collect the revenues needed to meet government commitments. Ending it is as easy as ensuring that those who have not been paying their share, are going to pay it from now on.

Although they are important, It’s not just about the details of specific areas of expenditure. The big picture is that Australia needs a new economic direction that buries the neoliberal doctrine once and for all, together with a vision for a future that we can all aspire to. This did not materialise.

This is about a fairer future that offers hope and reward and the capacity for all to reach their potential. It is a future that build an economy that is sustainable, builds communities and provides quality work for all. It is a future that democratises the economy and society, and puts an end to the domineering power of the boardrooms.

We need to talk about these things. The alternative is to continue to be locked into the same cycle, ending on in most people being left worse off, while a few laugh all the way to the bank.







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