In calling the election yesterday, Scott Morrison insisted there was a clear choice between the Coalition and Labor. Sadly, at their core, there is not as much of a difference between the two governing alternatives as there should be.
For example, Labor is committed to a 45 per cent emissions reduction target, while the Coalition’s policy is to reduce emissions by up to 28 per cent. Similarly, Labor’s policy is to keep the top corporate tax rate at 30 per cent, which Morrison confirmed last week would be the same under a re-elected Coalition.
Even on the recent hot topic of electric vehicles the Coalition’s policy is indistinguishable from Labor’s, which is for half of all new cars from 2030 to be electric. The Coalition’s target is 25 per cent to 50 per cent.
Both parties also continue to support compulsory superannuation, high taxes, high spending and large government debt.
So, next month’s election will not change the fate of the nation. That is why we must look beyond the next three years to the next three decades.
The period between now and 2050 will be a fight for the heart and soul of our nation.
That is why today the Institute of Public Affairs has released a list of 20 policies to fix Australia. Fifteen of those policies are what governments should do, and five are what they should not do. For brevity, three do-nots and seven dos are discussed here.
First, do not hold a referendum to divide Australians by race. The proposal to hold a referendum on mentioning indigenous Australians in the Constitution is divisive and an affront to Martin Luther King Jr’s vision that people be judged by the “content of their character”, not the “colour of their skin”. All Australians are equal and race has no place in our Constitution.
Second, do not increase government spending. The cause of high taxes is high spending as every dollar of spending must be paid with higher taxes. Since the end of the Howard government, government spending has grown 80 per cent, about three times the rate of inflation.
Third, do not proceed with Snowy 2.0. The project will cost at least $4.5 billion, it won’t become operational until at least 2024-25, and it will be a net energy user. The best way to get electricity prices down is to provide policy settings to facilitate the development of coal-fired power.
Now on to the seven dos.
First, repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (1975). Section 18C places an unconscionable restriction on freedom of speech for us all, and an overwhelming 95 per cent of insist free speech is important to us according to our 2017 survey.
Second, withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Paris forces Australia to cut its emissions by 28 per cent, based on 2005 levels, by 2030, yet China (the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas) can increase its emissions by 150 per cent. The agreement puts Australia at a competitive economic disadvantage and will make no noticeable difference to the climate.
Third, implement a flat rate of income tax. Australia’s income tax system is punitive, discourages upward economic mobility and, when combined with the welfare system, creates high effective marginal tax rates that trap people in poverty. The fairest tax is a flat tax that applies to everyone on an equal basis.
Fourth, hold a royal commission into tampering of climate data by the Bureau of Meteorology. The bureau appears to have fiddled with temperature data to make it appear as if the temperature is higher than it is, and that it has risen faster than it has. Australians deserve to know the truth about their public institutions, and this inquiry would be the best way to discover it.
Fifth, reintroduce the debt ceiling. A debt ceiling set at $75bn was implemented by the Rudd government in 2007. With the support of the Greens, the Coalition government abolished the debt ceiling in 2013. Government debt is at $546bn.
Six, abolish compulsory superannuation. It is a tax on wages. Workers should be able to choose how much of their income they want to defer for their retirement and how much they want to spend now on housing, education and healthcare. But those decisions are being made by politicians, bureaucrats and financial advisers.
Last, implement a one-in, two-out approach to cutting red tape where two regulations are removed for every one introduced. Red tape costs the Australian economy $176bn each year, the equivalent of 10 per cent of gross domestic product. This is why new business investment as a percentage of GDP is lower than it was during the Whitlam era, and why productivity growth is slow and wages growth even slower.
Quibbling about minor changes to taxes, electric vehicles or greenhouse gas emissions misses the main issue: Australia is a divided nation in a per-capita economic recession that is losing its character.
This can be fixed. What is needed is bold vision and the wherewithal to take the slings and arrows that come with such a vision. The list of 20 policies to fix Australia is a good start.