May 7th 2016

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Safe Schools: Sorry, chef, but the entire sex-ed menu's off!

CANBERRA OBSERVED Mild unpopularity of Libs preferable to ALP slogans

EDITORIAL Turnbull's stuttering election gambit

ENERGY Media shows no interest in Shorten's renewables plan

LEGISLATION Viability bill at least a baby step for the babies

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Intifada of the Knife: Israel's unknown war

FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Gender symmetry: women can be as abusive as men

ECONOMICS AND POLITICS Overhauling Australia will require more than a tinker

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Media gush over study only to find same-sex parents more irritable

RESEARCH The scientific objectivity of gender difference (Part One of two parts)

CINEMA Mowgli takes on the lore: The Jungle Book

BOOK REVIEW A sliver of hope

BOOK REVIEW A primer on Western civilisation

BOOK REVIEW Of ships and shots

Books promotion page

Turnbull's stuttering election gambit

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, May 7, 2016

For a man who promised certainty and clear direction on his accession to the Prime Ministership last September, Malcolm Turnbull has been a huge disappointment.

The Minister for Announcing

Thought Bubbles.

His succession of announcements on fiscal policy – lifting the GST rate to 15 per cent, extending the range of the GST, capital gains tax on taxpayer’s primary residence, negative gearing on residential property – have all been abandoned in the face of community opposition.

Other measures foreshadowed, including a cut to company tax, will have a negative impact on the government’s election prospects, as they fuel the perception that Mr Turnbull represents the big end of town, not battling families, farmers or small businesses.

The fact that Mr Turnbull, a man of considerable private wealth, has a family interest in businesses that operate in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, fuels those perceptions.

It remains to be seen whether the federal budget, to be released shortly after this issue of News Weekly is published, tackles the rorting of the taxation system by multinationals and, sadly, some of Australia’s large companies.

Deep-seated problem

The problems go beyond the handful of multinationals – such as Apple, Microsoft, Chevron, Google and News Corp. The fact that these organisations pay so little tax on Australian earnings is well known, but has been put into the “too hard” basket by successive governments.

Their tax-minimisation strategies also mean that Australian companies that pay their fair share of tax are at a serious competitive disadvantage.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald (December 17, 2015): “Out of 1539 of Australia’s largest corporate entities, 38 per cent did not pay any tax in 2013–14.

“Tax commissioner Chris Jordan has released the tax details of corporate entities with $100 million or more annual turnover – 985 of which are foreign-owned, and 554 of which are Australian foreign entities.”

Mr Turnbull also said he would create a vigorous, competitive environment, based on the buzzword “innovation”. So far, we have seen little or nothing of this, other than hype and government spin.

Last December, with much fanfare, Mr Turnbull announced the government’s new innovation agenda, saying: “The Government’s innovation package that we are releasing today will incentivise and reward innovation, entrepreneurship and risk-taking.”

He added: “We want to be a culture, a national culture of innovation, of risk-taking, because as we do that, we grow the whole ecosystem of innovation right across the economy.”

He announced the Government’s Innovation and Science Agenda, the Industry Department was renamed “Industry, Innovation and Science”, and he promised to spend $1.1 billion over four years. Six months later, innovation fatigue has set in.

The Vice-Chancellor of Sydney University, speaking at the recent opening of the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, a research centre into which the university has invested $110 million, said there had been “a lot of stupid talk about innovation”, highlighting the fact that while the Government had talked up innovation, it had cut funding to the university sector.

Professor Michael Spence said: “It is paradoxical that the Government advocates the importance of translating research into tools that will build the economy of the future, while simultaneously proposing to cut funding to the very institutions in which the majority of that research will take place.

“Indeed, universities can only act as the catalyst for innovation that the Government desires them to be if they function within the right funding and policy settings.” (The Sydney Morning Herald, April 21, 2016)

The chief executive of the Group of Eight top universities, Vicki Thompson, separately said that there was a “policy vacuum” around university funding, arising from funding cutbacks accompanying deregulation of university fees, producing a mess.

“And all of this is against a backdrop of a Government that says the nation must be more innovative and an Opposition that has given us little clue as to its policy direction, except some vague back-to-the-future suggestions that have already been shown not to work.”

A separate but related issue is that nearly a fifth of Year-9 students fall below the basic national benchmarks for writing, lacking the ability to spell and to express themselves, according to a recent study.

Another problem for the Prime Minister is that his three-week pre-budget session of Federal Parliament ended after just two days when the Senate voted down the planned Australian Building and Construction Commission.

With nothing else to do, MPs and Senators simply packed up and went home, while the Prime Minister announced that the election would be held on July 2, over two months away.

Little wonder government MPs are demoralised, while Labor Leader Bill Shorten can’t believe his luck. Mr Turnbull has given him another two months in which to chip away at the Prime Minister’s credibility.

Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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