November 26, 2012

Sunday Extra

ABC Radio National


Budget of the Century


John Hewson: Coalition Opposition Leader, 1990-4; Professor and Chair, Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Australian National University

[The] inequity of the process!
To argue that everyone is sharing the burden, when obviously they are not, because, people at the bottom end of the income scale are losing between 12-15% of their disposable income and people at the top are losing less than 1%.
The inequity just screams at you …

I think [Abbott and Hockey] actually did believe they had brought down the 'budget of the century' — [one] that actually will be remembered as probably one of the worst; because, it was so ill conceived, so many incoherent messages, so many partial attempts to solve problems, with massive inequity overriding the lot.
A lot a pain for very little gain.
What do they do now?
If the revenue continues to be weaker than predicted, which is … a pretty high probability, and the deficit will start to blow out and they can't go back an try and fix it again.

(The rise of anti-establishment political parties, 25 May 2014)


Contents


Budget of the Century

Choosing Inequality

Betting against the climate

Effective Governance

A Cranky Tory

The Fate of Removed Asylum Seekers

The Richest Country in the World


Sunday Extra


Jonathan Green

  • Fact checking school funding, 2 October 2016.
    Dean Ashenden: Honorary Senior Fellow, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne.
  • The demise of the Great Barrier Reef, 12 June 2016.
    John Veron: Former Chief Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science.
  • Good v Evil: The politics of language, 19 October 2014.
    Raimond Gaita: Philosopher, Professorial Fellow in the Melbourne Law School and The Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne; Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy, King's College London.
    James Dawes: Professor of American Literature, Literary and Language theory, Macalester College, Minnesota.
  • Are we creating a permanent underclass?, 15 June 2014.
    Sinclair Davidson: Professor in the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing at RMIT; Senior Fellow, Institute of Public Affairs.
    Shelley Mallett: PhD, General Manager, Brotherhood of St Laurence Research and Policy Centre Office; Professorial Fellow in Social Policy, University of Melbourne.
    Janene Evans: Manager, Crisis and Homelessness Services, Wesley Mission Victoria.
    David Morawetz: PhD, Economist, psychologist and co-author of the 'Advance Australia Fair?' report.
    Micaela Cronin: ACOSS Deputy President and CEO of MacKillop Family Services.
    Tim Hansen: Superintendent, Victoria Police.
    Joe Hockey [Federal Treasurer]:
    The average working Australian, be they a cleaner, plumber, or a teacher, is working over one month full time each year just to pay for the welfare of another Australian.
    Our welfare spend is 35% of the federal budget, more than is spent on health, education or defence. …
    Jonathan Green:
    [The government] expects 500,000 of applications for [emergency assistance as a consequence] of its budget cuts. …
    [More] than 2.2 million of us, including 600,000 children, are already living below the poverty line. …

    David Morawetz:
    The gap in inequality in Australia is growing second only to the United States …
    [Joseph Stiglitz points out that] inequality is a choice.
    We can choose to have a more equal society.
    We can choose to have a less equal society. …
    Over the last decade tax revenues have fallen from 26% of GDP to 23%, while spending has stayed about the same at 25% …
    In the last seven years the income tax cuts we've had: the benefits to the top 10% have been greater than the benefits to the bottom 80% combined. …

    Sinclair Davidson:
    Inequality is something I don't worry about.
    Poverty, on the other hand, is something we should worry about. …

    Janene Evans:
    In order to participate you actually need to be able to assist people …
    So at the moment, the way it seems, we're punishing people.
    So in punishing people it makes it twice as hard.
    So when you find yourself in a position of disadvantage it is ten times harder to get back up …

    Tim Hansen:
    There's predominantly two main causes of the drivers of crime, that being alcohol and drugs …
    But there's actually an emerging theory that there's a third driver of crime [namely] community marginalization or social exclusion [ie] homelessness, unemployment, no contact [with] judicial services or health services. …

    Jonathan Green:
    [Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews recently observed] that welfare denied the opportunity for people to be virtuous.
    Is there almost a sort of moral dimension to some of this discussion … ?

    Micaela Cronin:
    What the evidence is about what helps people get a job, live a meaningful life, the sorts of programs that [enable people to] do what most people actually really want to do, which is to belong and have a sense that they are contributing to society. …
    What seems to be the logic behind this budget seems to be quite counter to that.
    The sorts of programs that enable people to contribute to society, and to achieve the life that they are want, are being cut. …
    It seems to be ideologically driven rather than evidence based, in terms of what we know works to address issues of poverty. …

    Janene Evans:
    We've seen a 47% increase in people seeking assistance for material aid [over the last 3 years — people] who have never accessed our services in the past. …
    If we don't invest in the very basics, which is just having food and shelter, then how do we expect people to participate?
    Because the focus is on economic participation. …

    Sinclair Davidson:
    We all believe a growing economy raises all boats and that once we become rich we can all share. …
    I don't know that a lot of people actually like the idea of a measure of relative poverty as to a measure of absolute poverty. …
    That poverty could be anything from being homeless … to only having one plasma television. …
    We need to unravel poverty from inequality. …
    Because when we hear statistics that … one half of the population receives a payment from the government in some form or another we might then think … our welfare system is not well targeted.
    We need to think carefully about who we are targeting, why we are targeting them, how much money they are getting, and actually develop a greater sense of community involvement and understanding. …

    David Morawetz:
    The NewStart unemployment benefit at the moment is $36 a day … that's 20% below the poverty line.
    The poverty line in 2010, $752 a week for a couple with two kids … that's $27 per person per day. …
    There are something like … two million people living below the poverty line. …

    Micaela Cronin:
    Our young people, who are all our future, are not being invested in, in terms of being able to get out of the cycle, to be able to get a job, to be able to earn.
    And I think one of the dichotomies in terms of the way people are being described.
    There's a lot of pitting people against each other.
    Either you're a lifter … and you're paying your month out of your salary a year or you're a leaner … and you're the recipient of charity. …

    Jonathan Green:
    [We're] a tremendously wealthy country.
    We're one of the best performing economies in the world …
    How can the experiences that we've been hearing about actually exist? …

    Sinclair Davidson:
    What [people] begrudge is the leaner argument …
    [Most people] are not going to think they are leaners.
    Most people are going to think they are lifters.
    Whereas, in actual fact we have a huge overlap of the welfare system with people who don't really need that money.
    We saw this massive growth during the Howard era of money just being splashed around all over the place and ten years down the track we realise we can't really afford this. …

    But what we're saying to young kids now is that if you don't have a job now go and study.
    But we know … that higher education institutions are going to be massively ramping up their prices.
    So we're actually saying to people who don't have a job now:
    Go into debt! …

    David Morawetz:
    [Australia has] the most targeted [welfare system] in the OECD bar none. …
    [In] more equal societies like Denmark if the father is well above the average the son is about 15% above the average.
    In the United States if the father is above the average, the son is about 50% above the average.
    [We're] moving in the United States direction.
    Where, if your parents are rich, you're probably going to rich.
    If you parents are poor, you're probably going to be poor.

    Tim Hansen:
    From a crime perspective, people don't tend to choose a life of crime. …
    People get drawn to it for a variety of reasons generally because [of] a lack of opportunity in the lives … or because they are affected by alcohol or some other substance.

    But what we know is that greed doesn't generally drive crime.
    People might find themselves in the crime cycle and they become greedy but that's not the impetus for them to get involved.

    If we talk about protective factors, making the community and resilient as we can … is going to have sustained benefits from a crime point of view.

    Shelley Mallett:
    One of the things we've lost in this budget is Youth Connections.
    The only youth transitions program in the country which services young people who leave school early …
    So now we have no transition service … to help those young people find their way back into education. …
    It's just a small example of a policy shift that is going to have huge ramifications for those young people.

  • Zoe's Law, 24 November 2013.
    Hannah Robert: Law Lecturer, La Trobe University.
  • Phone Hacking: Murdoch's Tragedy, 3 November 2013.
    David Folkenflik: Murdoch's World: The Last of the Old Media Empires, Media Correspondent, National Public Radio.
  • Climate Change: The Economics of a 25% cut, 3 November 2013.
    Richard Denniss: Executive Director, Australia Institute.

    Australia has a larger share of the world coal market than Saudi Arabians have of the world oil market and we're planning to double our coal exports.
    So, we're betting billions of dollars that the world isn't very serious about tackling climate change.
    Why else would we double the number of coal mines we're building?

  • The inner workings of political polling, 7 July 2013.
    Antony Green: Election Analyst, ABC.
    Andrew Catsaras: Polling Analyst.
  • Bureaucracy and Accountability, 13 April 2013.
    Terry Moran: National President, Institute of Public Administration Australia.

    Over the last 30 years, [the Australian public services] been a critical ingredient in bringing about the change and transformation in the Australian economy and Australian society that has made us as prosperous and strong as a country as we now are. …

    Politics has become more tactical, and in part, that's driven by the media. …
    I'm incredibly sympathetic for the role of the minister because the media is now forcing ministers to be responsible and accountable for almost anything that they, the media wants to lay before them as a deficiency … in their area of responsibility.
    [It is] a system that is exhausting ministers prematurely, wearing them out before they should be worn out, and basically, therefore, not giving us … the sort of government … we'd hope [for]. …

    The Australian public services [are well and] widely regarded for what [they've contributed to the transformation] of the Australian economy and society [over the last 30 years].
    [And they've achieved this with] one of the smallest public sectors in the world.
    At 35% of the GDP devoted to the public sector in Australia for all purposes — local, state, commonwealth government — we're the second smallest, or third smallest, in the OECD world …
    {[In] America, the public sector is [consumes] 41% of GDP …}
    [Furthermore, the] public service is a contracting proportion of the workforce [—] down to 28% of the workforce …

    There's too much mystery about many of the things that [the] government's doing.
    And mystery is corrosive in a democracy …
    [To] bring about reform, it's essential that the community … understands [and accepts] what's going on …

    I'm … in favor of senior officials, with the support of ministers, taking more responsibility for coming along — after announcements have been made — to explain what's going on, and why.

  • The Great Disruption, 9 December 2012.
    Paul Gilding: Author, The Great Disruption: How the Climate Crisis Will Transform the Global Economy, Bloomsbury Press.
  • Income management, 9 December 2012.
    Matthew Gray: Professor in the College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University.
  • Opinionista, 25 November 2012.
    Jo Wainer: Adjunct Associate Professor, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University.
  • Newsmaker, 19 August 2012.
    Mark Textor: Managing Director, C|T Group.

    Jonathan Green:
    He's the man who put the politics into the Pacific Solution. …
    [Long] time Liberal [Party pollster, political strategist and] king-maker, Mark Textor …

    Mark Textor:
    [We] have a material problem with the shear number of boats arriving.
    Now, in their thousands, compared to an average of three a year under the Howard government.
    The imperative now, as far as voters are concerned, is to see the problem fixed, and fixed for good.

    Jonathan Green:
    There's no real fixing the problem is there?
    That's the folly of our local politics.
    We dealing with something well beyond our control.

    Mark Textor:
    It's up to governments to control things.
    You elect governments to do things.
    To say it's an international problem is to offset a real desire and need in the community to do something about it.
    It's no good saying:
    This is a world wide problem.
    To most people that's an excuse.
    It's like saying:
    Well I'm going to clamp down on your household budget through increased taxes.
    Why?
    Because of the GFC.
    Well, I don't have that excuse.
    I manage to get to work on time.
    I manage to contribute to my community.
    I manage to work hard.
    I manage to fulfil my roles in the community and at my workplace, without making excuses.
    I don't say:
    Relative to people around the world, I'm doing a good job.
    Even though I was late today, I'm expected to do what I need to do in order to fulfill the role and responsibility I have as a citizen.
    And people expect governments to do the same. …

    [There's] no doubt that there's universal concern about deaths at sea.
    There's universal concerns about aspects of illegality.
    In terms of people smuggling … people entering your territory without your consent.
    The Australian public's consent. …

    Let's assume, that there [are] strong international reasons, in respect to treaty obligations etc, for allowing ASYLUM seekers in the country.
    That's all very well.
    But, there is no social license for it.
    If you use international conventions to say to the Australian people:
    You have to take this.
    Then what is democracy for?
    They figure:
    I have a stake holding in this society.
    I am a voter.
    I have rights as well as responsibilities as [a] citizen.
    I take my responsibilities seriously. …
    I abide by the law.
    I contribute economically and financially.
    And I want a say [I'm not] comfortable at all with the situation at hand.

    They say it's Australia's obligation to take asylum seekers.
    That may be true.
    But there is no social license for it for me or my community.
    This gets to a lack of empowerment.
    These days you don't vote for interest rates.
    You don't vote for you competition policy.
    You don't vote for the Carbon Tax.
    (Certainly you get that imposed on you.)

    So there are many in the community that are feeling disempowered in relation to a lot of very significant decisions that are made out there, allegedly on their behalf.
    [If] you truly believe in social cohesion …
    [That] we should be a society which is in harmony with itself, in terms of accepting different people, different cultures and different races.
    Then you don't impose those views.
    What you … at least try [to do is] engender a situation where there is some sort of social license.
    There is absolutely no social license, in terms of what the majority of Australians think, with an increase in the number of asylum seekers Australia is prepared to take.
    [It's] been mooted at 20,000. …

    Jonathan Green:
    There was an interesting piece in the Australian … saying that a more honest position might be to step away from those UN agreements …

    Mark Textor:
    In a way, I say:
    What international commitments?
    Most Australians aren't aware that Australian governments are making these commitments.
    So again, decisions are being made on the Australian community's behalf [about] which they've had no say.
    There [may be] arguments legally about whether they should have their say. …
    [But you] can't get frustrated that the Australian community doesn't accept these things when they've been introduced by stealth.

    This is a big issue in Britain right now.
    We a whole bunch of European laws have been imposed on the British people.
    And a significant social change has been … thrust upon the British people [without] their consent. …

    No wonder there is debate about the pound, and the EU.
    No wonder there's debate about treaty obligations with Assuange.
    Because … a lot of these agreements are made without voter consent … without [a] social license.
    [Then] people are … amazed that there is division in the community [over] immigration.
    [There's] division because people feel angry.
    And they feel angry because they have been disempowered.
    They're not part of [the] process. …

    If issues like this are a function of international obligations.
    Then, isn't it about time we had a conversation about the acceptance, or otherwise, of these obligations.
    And the license that government has to sign these international obligations without significant community debate.
    [A] lot of them … that I've observed in the last 25 years, have been snuck in under the radar.

    … I'm not saying that I'm opposed to a lot of those conventions …
    I just saying, as a democrat, surely there needs to be a conversation about them. …
    A lot of this [talk] about stepping away from international obligations is a cranky Tory thing …

    Jonathan Green:
    [And you're] not a cranky Tory? …

    Mark Textor:
    No, not at all.
    … I think there's a broader question here …
    What about some democratic transparency on the nature of these obligations?
    [This] would be a very good thing in our community.
    Because, at least there would be some awareness, if not acceptance, of these broader international agreements.
    Then we could say:
    Hey, I've heard of that.
    I understand that there is an obligation here and I better think about it.
    But when it comes as a surprise to people.
    I thing that is a very significant issue. …

    Jonathan Green:
    Is [there] a sense our politics is starting to lack that license in very broad terms? …

    Mark Textor:
    One way to think about it is reciprocity. …
    [The modern requirement is for] the elite media class, the elite political class, and the elite business class to reciprocate their efforts.

    [Ordinary people] work hard …
    [They] meet their obligations without excuses.
    To the extent they have job, although technically not as important as a politician or a businessman's, they meet that job in a capable, [methodical], honest way.
    They manage to deliver.
    They don't have any room for excuses.
    They can't say:
    Gee, I turned up half and hour late for work today … because of the GFC, and that damn train system!
    They can't make excuses.
    And so they're sick of politicians and business leaders and others making excuses along the same lines:
    Oh, it's the unions fault.
    Oh, it's our trade obligations.
    No excuses from business leaders.
    No excuses from political leaders.
    No excuses from community leaders.
    I am a citizen on my own.
    I still manage to contribute to my community.
    I turn up to work on time.
    I do a good job.
    I expect you to do the same.
    It's a very very simple requirement on behalf of the community.
    I work hard.
    I work capably.
    I'm competent.
    I get to work on time.
    I perform.
    I'm productive.
    Yes, there's all sorts of [pressures and] challenges in my life …
    But that's not an excuse not to perform.
    I'm sick of business, community and political leaders making excuses when I can't. …
    Just get on with it … because that's what I'm required to do.

    Would you like to know more?

  • Asylum seekers returned to their home country, 29 July 2012.
    Phil Glendenning: Director, Edmund Rice Centre.

    I not saying every asylum claim that comes to Australia should be accepted …
    But if claims are not valid, those people need to be returned to places of safety.
    The decision to seek asylum in Australia should not attract the death penalty for you or your children. …

    If that determination … is not properly assessed [or reviewed], then that's where the mistakes are made. …

    People who are sent back there, from countries like Australia, are targeted because they've gone to the West.
    They are seen as sympathetic to the West. …

    We've interviewed in Afghanistan over 85 people.
    There are some of those who simply did not have valid claims under the refugee convention.
    Under … complimentary protection, they may have had valid claims.
    But under the refugee convention … a well-founded fear of persecution [due to 'race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion' …]
    They wouldn't have fitted that particular criteria. …

    Money can move across borders rapidly.
    People with transportable skills can move across borders very easily.
    People … escaping persecution ‒ we put all sorts of barriers in front of them. …

    Very famous people, in this country, from Frank Lowy, to Gus Nossal, to Nick Greiner [were refugees.]
    [Refugees] have done so much for this country. …

    Those who come by boat, scare the living [daylights] out of us.
    Those who come by plane, don't.

  • Newsmaker, 3 June 2012.
    Bill Gammage: Adjunct Professor, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University.
  • Outsiders, 22 April 2012.
    Ben Eltham: Fellow, Centre for Policy Development.
    Chris Berg: Research Fellow, Institute of Public Affairs.
    Peter Whiteford: Professor and Director, Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales.

    Ben Eltham:
    Why do we want to reduce the size of government?
    Australia has one of the smallest governments in the … in the OECD.
    We have one of the lowest tax rates.
    We have a very, very small safety-net.
    In terms of the welfare provisions that our state gives to citizens, we're fairly stingy.

    Chris Berg:
    We want to reduce the size of government because we want to keep growing, so we can afford the generous entitlements that we give the poorest in our community. …

    Jonathan Green:
    As Ben says, by world standards, the size of government in this country is not large, the tax take is not large.

    Chris Berg
    Absolutely not.
    Australia is doing the … one of the best in the world because of its relatively lean public sector …

    But there's no reason why we can't be better.
    There's no reason why we can't have a more efficient public service.
    There's no reason why we can't be the RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. …
    I don't think that just because the rest of the OECD are STUFFED, that's any reason for us not to try do as well as we can.

    Peter Whiteford:
    [You] can have high spending welfare states so long as you design them in ways that help people maintain attachment to the labor force, so spending on childcare … active labor market programs, and on parental leave, is actually a crucial part of what makes Nordic welfare states successful, because it helps them keep high employment.
    {There's also the importance of supporting people who have caring responsibilities.}

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