Saturday, May 15, 2010

There's Something About Tony

It really disturbs me when I think of how modern politics panders to the lowest common denominator in society. Ignorance and prejudice. Narrow minded, backward looking people who swallow soundbites of partial truths and propaganda because they are either too lazy to eat a whole meal or because they lack the capacity to chew and digest it.

There's something about Tony Abbott and his equally non credible mate, Joe Hockey, that resonates with ignorance. The media supports the ill informed opinions of the masses as people get worked up over issues which are in fact non issues. There are three I want to mention here: boat people, resources rent tax, and economic management.

Boat people? Does anybody seriously think that people smugglers pay attention to Australian immigration policy changes? They are engaged in illegal activity for the purpose of profit making. Do the disaffected residents of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka study Australian politics and decide whether to attempt to seek asylum here based on the latest policy re processing and detention? Hundreds of people are coming to Australia in boats because they are desperate, not for any other reason. Hundreds, that's all. Do you know how many people are in Australia illegally as a result of overstaying their visas? Tens of thousands. In 2005 there were an estimated 47,800 overstayers under the Howard government. In 2007/08, the number is believed to be about 14, 000. Why isn't that information in the news? Stop crapping on about boat people, Mr Abbott.

Thankfully, he has changed his tune. But now he's singing a pathetic little ditty called Great Big New tax. The so called resources super profit tax, apart from needing a shorter, more catchy name, is the latest attempt by Abbott and his vacuous shadow cabinet to make people question the economic credentials of the Labour government. Apparently the mining industry is terminally ill and needs palliative care. This Great Big New Tax (somebody please make him stop saying that because I'm losing my mind)will kill the mining industry instead of allowing it a pain free and dignified death. What a load of rubbish. This kind of tax was suggested by the Henry review, and endorsed in principle by the mining industry. This kind of resources rent tax, as it is technically called, has been operating for 25 years in Australia with the oil industry. We heard the same anguished cries back in 1985 when the Hawke labour government introduced a 40% super profits tax. Anybody crying now? As far as I know oil companies are still doing all right. The mining companies are in superb health and this tax won't hurt them. Another storm in a teacup, Mr Abbott.

Finally Tony Abbott wants us all to vote for him on the basis that Kevin Rudd can't be trusted to run the economy. Why can't we trust him? Because he changed his mind. God forbid! Do you mean to tell me, Mr Abbott, that politicians don't change their minds? He says the government spent billions during the Global Financial crisis so we can't believe them when they say they will spend much less now that the crisis has been averted. Ridiculous. The government did exactly what all the governments of the world did, and what governments should do in financial downturns. They should spend. As Mr Rudd has said, when the private sector's involvement in the economy shrinks the government's role must expand and when private sector investment fires up again, based as it is solely on confidence and speculation, then the government should reduce its role. Tony Abbott, if faced with the same situation would have done exactly the same thing.

There's something about Tony which irritates and worries me. He's a broken record of economic and moral conservatism without a vision for Australia's future, or any policies.

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