Pave paradise, put up a parking lot - The AIM Network
When Julia Gillard left office we had a carbon price in place, a
burgeoning renewable energy industry, and the respect of the world as
leaders in taking action on climate change. The system had not been
perfected but it was underway and open to refinement with expert bodies
set up to advise us on the best way forward.
Now we are advised on climate change by Maurice Newman and Dick
Warburton. Billions of investment dollars have been lost due to the
abandonment of the Renewable Energy Target. Instead, we are pinning our
economic future on coal whilst killing our natural wonders and tourism
industry. Instead of collecting $10 billion from polluters, encouraging
them to move to clean practices, we will give them $3 billion to do
their upgrades while we pay for the research – a $13 billion turnaround
When Julia Gillard left office, we had a mIning tax that paid us a
small but growing dividend for the huge profits being made by selling
our resources. Once again, it was not ideal but at least it was in place
and the original concessions like accelerated depreciation were running
Now we have no mining tax which, even according to Hockey’s
pessimistic outlook, will cost the budget about $5.5 billion in foregone
When Julia Gillard left office, we had signed agreements with most
states and territories for hospital and school funding. To get the
federal funding, the states had agreed to matching proportional funding,
locking both parties in, and to accountability reviews where standards
had to be achieved to maintain funding support.
Now we have reneged on those agreements, cut $80 billion in funding
from health and education, released states from their obligation to
direct set amounts into these areas and from accountability goals, and
seem on the road to privatising both sectors and increasing the GST.
When Julia Gillard left office, the rollout of a world class National
Broadband network was underway where over 90% of us would have fibre to
the premises. There were teething problems as there would be with any
such undertaking, but the contracts were signed, the plan was made, and
premises were being connected at an increasing rate.
Now the rollout has slowed down while Malcolm Turnbull conducts three
reviews into why Labor was bad. In the meantime we have no contract
with Telstra, who are in a monopoly situation, who can hold out for the
best deal for their shareholders (note the dividends this year were
higher?). We will now get some mix of technology sometime, maybe, but
certainly not soon and definitely more expensive in the long run.
When Julia Gillard left office, the orders had been given to bring home our troops from Afghanistan.
Now we are sending them back to Iraq and farewelling them with a wage cut.
[And before anyone mentions the one year freezing of politicians’
wages, could I point out that in the 16 months leading to July last
year, they received three payrises, delivering a salary boost of $54,220
or more than $1000 a week since March the previous year.]
When Julia Gillard was in office, she was unable to get her media
reform laws passed that would have protected against ownership monopoly,
and against factually incorrect reporting. Who could forget the screams
of censorship and the Murdoch photoshopping.
Now we have the possibility that the Attorney-General can decide to
prosecute and incarcerate a journalist for ten years for telling the
truth about what our government bodies are doing.
When Julia Gillard left office, pensions were indexed to rise with
Average Male Weekly Earnings which kept their standard of living
relative to the community.
Now pensions will be indexed to the Consumer Price Index. The
proposal to change the indexation, due to commence in 2017, would cut
the value of the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Veterans’
pension and Carer Payment by an estimated $80 a week within ten years.
Despite the anger the changes sparked, they raised a modest $449 million
over five years.
When Julia Gillard left office, we had a universal health care system that was the envy of the world.
Now we will have to pay every time we see the doctor or have a test
and our Pharmaceutical Benefits System will be at the mercy of free
When Julia Gillard left office, we finally had universal agreement
for a National Disability Insurance Scheme funded by an increase to the
Medicare levy, a move widely accepted by the population, even if the
Opposition didn’t bother to turn up for the introduction of the
legislation of this groundbreaking reform in Parliament.
Now we find Mitch Fifield tasked with the job of holding it up for as
long as he can while he conducts….you guessed it… more reviews.
The third quarterly report on the NDIS, released in May, makes clear
that there is no case for any cut, cap or delay to the NDIS but Tony
wants a surplus so I guess he will collect our increased levy and sit on
it while he pays consultant mates to recommend winding it back or
leaving it to Labor to pay for.
“In response to the capability review, the Agency has developed an
action plan and will provide further advice as to whether the current
implementation timetable is consistent with a successful full scheme
rollout.” – Mitch Fifield, March 2014
Senator Fifield’s comment echoes previous statements from senior
Coalition figures that indicate the national start date of 2018-19 could
be pushed back.
CEO of Carers Australia, Ara Creswell, said:
“The NDIS has an inbuilt review, a cost review at this point in time
is both curious and concerning. Costs are right on track, package
numbers are consistent and hopes are high. We need to move forward, not
tread water while we undertake yet another review.”
[ARA CRESWELL, CARERS AUSTRALIA, 1 MAY 2014]
Kevin Stone, President of the National Council on Intellectual Disability said:
“…we expect the State and Territory Premiers and Treasurers to stand
by people with disability and their families and stand firm against any
attempts to change the agreements made”.
[KEVIN STONE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL COUNCIL ON INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY, 1 MAY 2014]
What will be next?
“Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well
explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached
from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what
the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that
no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more
saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the
corn growing. One day it is over his head.”
Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’