Job Number 1

They say it’s nice to start with a win. So as we get down to business for another year let’s celebrate a small win (‘I told you so’ is so 2018!).

In May 2015, The Political Sword discussed the release of Anglicare’s annual rental affordability snapshot, which highlighted that 8 of the 65,614 properties available for rent across Australia met the affordability requirements for a single person on Youth Allowance. The results in 2018 were no better. As a part of the 2015 discussion, we highlighted the concept of governments (specifically Utah, New York City and other jurisdictions in the USA) giving the homeless a place to call home as a mechanism to improve the quality of life of those that need a hand. Among the benefits stated at the time were reductions in health expenditure, justice costs and the ability of those who received a place to live to participate to a greater extent in their society as they had a ‘place to call home’. We noted in 2015:
If a person has a home, they are in a better position to access government services, a job application is easier (as personal hygiene is better and the potential employer has a contact point) and a person can make plans for the future.
In the general discussion around cricket teams, which city’s fireworks were better and other first world issues that seem to be front and centre in the Australian media around the beginning of the year, you might have missed that ACT Housing is partnering with tenants to convert rental homes into owned homes by sharing the costs involved with a home purchase. The tenant stumps up the repayments for 70% of the value of the home, the housing agency covers the rest. The ABC reports:
Around 100 public housing properties have been sold-off as part of the scheme, and in half of those cases, tenants have completely bought-out the government — breaking them out of the public housing cycle altogether.
While it’s not quite the same as providing homes for the homeless, it will help. Those that just need a hand to gain home ownership are given what they need and ACT Housing can reinvest the sale proceeds into more housing stock for those that can’t fund private rental homes and therefore meet the greater need with no additional budget. While the ABC article suggests that the implementation may need a bit of work, the concept is sound.

Again we have a progressive (in the non-partisan sense) government showing the current LNP federal government how it should be done. As well as the ACT’s housing policy, South Australia’s former ALP Government managed to introduce alternative energy sources into the state while encountering a F(ear), U(ncertainity) and D(eception) campaign from the current federal government and the then South Australian Liberal opposition. When the opposition became the government in South Australia, they kept the alternative energy generation systems.

During January, Victoria gave planning approval for a wind generation plant that could generate up to 10% of the state’s power requirements (subject to federal government approval) and what do you do with an old gold mine in North Queensland? Turn it into a 320MW solar farm of course!

In May 2015, we also noted:
The Australian Government is in contrast withdrawing money from social service providers. Conservative states in the USA demonstrate that the current Australian Government’s policy is deeply flawed and doesn’t help anyone. At the same time, the Abbott government — to the detriment of our economy — supports processes such as negative gearing, novated leasing and capital gains.
So, four years or thereabouts later, there’s not much different apart from the name of the Prime Minister. The current LNP Government is still sucking funds from non-government organisations that make a real difference to their communities, supporting fossil fuelled electricity generation, woefully inadequate welfare payments, negative gearing, and capital gains policies that actively discriminate against those on lower incomes, as well as kicking own goals on issues such as taking citizenship off ‘alleged terrorists’ that don’t really have dual citizenship (seriously, a simple phone call would have saved Dutton from that particular embarrassment).

While Morrison was on leave over Christmas, leaving the country in the ‘capable’ hands of the National Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister McCormack, he did admittedly slap a racist Queensland Senator (the one that Hanson complains about) across the face with what seemed to be a wet lettuce leaf when he used taxpayer funds to fly to Melbourne in business class to attend a meeting with assorted other right wing zealots while claiming to represent his Queensland constituents (possibly all the 19 people that voted for him but not many more).

As soon as Morrison came back to work, like most leaders he announced his plan of attack for the new year. Is it something that will improve the standard of living for a large number of us that live in Australia such as adoption of an energy policy that will see Australia meet or exceed our commitment to the Paris agreement (meeting or exceeding the Paris agreement is entirely possible by the way); is it sorting out the mess whereby Australians can’t find out about the machinations of government that affect them; is it increasing welfare payments so those that receive them receive a realistic amount to survive with some dignity; is it devising or implementing a solution to the taxation mess where negative gearing and other ‘legal options’ for high income people distort the ability of the government to help those in need, or even sorting out the mess that is the Liberal Party in Australia so they represent more than their mythical ’base’ at the election later this year?

Of course not. Morrison’s self-proclaimed first item of business is to propose new regulations that require citizenship ceremonies must be held on Australia Day.

Give us strength.

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Lawrence Winder


A litany of the dead hand of capitalism.

Ad Astra



Timely piece. Morrison should read it, but won't. There was no mention of homelessness in his recent address to his party faithful given in Brisbane at the end of January, nor of any of the nation's other pressing problems: climate change, energy policy and wage stagnation, as Bernard Keane points out so well in his article in Crikey, reproduced below:

Morrison’s ‘major’ speech showed an empty man with nothing to offer but noise

Scott Morrison's speech on the economy was marked by complete silence on the three biggest issues facing the government.

“How good is Trevor Evans?” Scott Morrison inquired, perhaps rhetorically, at the start of his “major speech” on the economy yesterday. The goodness of Trevor Evans, the local Liberal member — sorry, a “great community based local member”, whatever that means — was enthusiastically detailed by the Prime Minister, who graced us with the anecdote of how he had “recently asked Trevor what he d about his job. He said ‘’s the wrong word … I love it”.” Good one, Trev — a bon mot truly worthy of a prime ministerial lapel pin. It was that kind of speech. From that kind of prime minister.

Perhaps it’s not the media’s fault that it got so little coverage — though 7.30, commendably, had Leigh Sales quiz Morrison on aspects of it, the 1.25 million jobs commitment — given the sheer emptiness of the speech. In fact it’s hard to recall a prime ministerial speech as hollow, as meaningless, as what Morrison offered yesterday. For all that Josh Frydenberg offered 2013-style neoliberalism in his economic speech last week, at least the Treasurer had something to say, even if it was a debauched version of Adam Smith. Frydenberg has a ing brain. It’s not at all clear that his leader does.

The emptiness of Morrison’s speech was reflected in what he failed to mention. What are the three big issues that the government is either hopelessly divided on or ideologically incapable of grasping or both? Climate change, energy policy and wage stagnation. What three big issues were completely absent from a “major speech” on the economy by the nation’s leader? You guessed them. Climate change was totally absent — not mentioned even in passing. It’s when Tony Abbott became prime minister and all mention of climate change had to be extirpated from any government of any kind. There was one — one — passing mention by Morrison of energy, supposedly the issue on which the government was going to differentiate itself from Labor and win the election how very 2017 that now seems. That absence might reflect that the government literally has no energy policy, and doesn’t really have an energy minister, given Angus Taylor appears to work from a witness protection program. And wages? One mention: “by focusing on delivering a strong economy we create the right environment for wages growth”. There’s your wages growth policy, workers. Just hang in there and eventually the economy will deliver. we’ve been promised for years now.

What Morrison did talk about, almost to the exclusion of everything else, was an attempt to link economic management to delivering jobs and health services to Australians. Jobs, the economy and health are of course the three big issues that voters say influence how they vote. And clearly Morrison’s staff have been obsessing over ways to address the widespread voter perception that the economy, and politics more broadly, serves only the interests of elites and corporations, and not themselves. Here’s the link, Morrison was saying over and over: we can pay for medicines and provide jobs courtesy of our brilliant economic management, un that awful Bill Shorten — and we can do it without raising taxes well, except for that thumping two percentage points of GDP more that the Liberals are taking out of the economy in taxes compared to when Labor was in office, but never mind the facts.

At least they’ve diagnosed the problem. The solution, however, seems beyond them at this point. Political speeches are supposed to end with some sort of flourish. Morrison, as if to confirm that his problem with wrong words isn’t limited to hail-fellow-well-mets with Brisbane backbenchers, ended with a list of cliches — “if you have a go, you should get a go”, “the best form of welfare is a job” etc — and that weird tic he has of saying redundant things — “we’ll help small business, because that’s what we’re doing”, “looking ahead to what more can be achieved”, “looking forward to the road ahead”.

It’s probably fitting: Morrison’s entire prime ministership — the rationale for which he has never explained yesterday: “I’m just getting on with it” — is one of cliches and redundancies, without point or meaning. what is unsaid is far more important than what is uttered. important policy and the need for leadership is marked by silence and inaction, and the rest is noise. 

Karin Stokes


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