July 28th 2018

  Buy Issue 3025

Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The Strange Case of the Vanishing Safe Schools Resources

EDITORIAL By-elections will test Shorten's 'politics of envy' strategy

ASIA-PACIFIC AFFAIRS A modest proposal for Australia's regional security

CANBERRA OBSERVED Odds are that Labor won't Albo Bill aside

TECHNOLOGY Wonder carbon material on cusp of commercialisation

ENVIRONMENT Electric vehicles still only for elitist planet savers

ENERGY SECURITY Steam rail backup could get us out of hot water

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT NEG papers over crisis behind energy price hikes

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing goes 'boo', Qantas gets in a flap

EUTHANASIA Death with dignity, or putting Death to death?


MUSIC Aural wallpaper: The background hiss to our lives

CINEMA Ant-Man and the Wasp: Downsized superheroes

BOOK REVIEW Timely essays on religious freedom

BOOK REVIEW Fraudulent father of psychoanalysis



No question about it: the Don is in charge

Books promotion page

By-elections will test Shorten's 'politics of envy' strategy

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, July 28, 2018

The by-elections to be held in five federal seats on July 28 will tell whether the electorate buys Bill Shorten’s “politics of envy”, but the signs are that most people will reject it.

Labor held four of the five seats, while the other was held by a former Xenophon party member who quit the party to sit as an independent.

The Liberals have decided not to contest the two seats in Western Australia, but the other three – Mayo (South Australia), Longman (Queensland) and Braddon (Tasmania) – are all marginal seats, and could therefore fall to the Liberals.

As opposition parties usually win by-elections, Labor clearly has the most to lose on July 28.

Bill Shorten’s strategy is principally to paint the Liberals as the party of money, led by a millionaire who is determined to subsidise high-income earners by way of cuts in the personal tax rate, and assist the “big end of town” and the “big banks” with cuts to the corporate tax rate to 25 per cent.

Labor, Shorten claims, is the only party that will oppose these changes in the interests of working Australians and their families.

This is unashamedly a bid to harness the politics of envy, but most Australians are not buying it.

Australia’s progressive tax rate was designed to ensure that those who are the wealthiest pay the most tax, and that high-income earners should also pay at a higher tax rate.

When the system was introduced, most wage and salary earners fell into the lowest-income categories, where the marginal tax rate was lowest.

But, with rising income levels, an increasing number of middle-income earners are paying marginal tax rates once reserved for the very wealthy.

Flattening the tax rate therefore has wide public support, including from many union members who traditionally support Labor.

Shorten’s policy on personal tax cuts is therefore seen as imposing a punitive tax rate on many working Australian families.

Corporate tax rates

More surprisingly, Shorten’s attacks on the “big end of town” have failed to get traction.

While misconduct and abuse of power by some of Australia’s largest banks have been revealed in the royal commission into the banking industry, there is universal agreement that the banks have a vital role to play in Australia, and that it is important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Punish the guilty, not the innocent.

Further, there has been a failure by successive governments of both persuasions to stop transfer-pricing by large multinational corporations, including technology companies such as Google, which has enabled them to avoid almost all tax on earnings in Australia.

The present Government has done more than its predecessors to clamp down on what most regard as tax evasion.

In regard to the proposed company tax cuts, most Australians understand that lower tax rates for business will lead to both higher profits and more employment for Australians.

While many are sceptical of comparisons between tax rates in different countries, there is no doubt that higher corporate tax rates in Australia, coupled with higher wages, and occupational health and safety requirements, can influence decisions of companies to employ Australians.

For example, the relocation of call centres from Australia to countries in Asia, particularly India, is a direct consequence of the higher cost of doing business in Australia, and Australian governments, state and federal, must try to create a level playing field to keep jobs in this country.

A separate issue relates to company profits. Most companies in Australia are small businesses; and these also employ more Australians than do large corporations. Many of these are family-run businesses and farms. Lower corporate tax rates therefore directly benefit Australian families.

In relation to large companies, particularly those listed on the stock exchange, different factors come in to play.

One of these factors is that shareholdings in large companies are largely held by financial institutions, the largest of which are the superannuation funds, including industry funds, which are run jointly by unions and employers.

Most employees and their families are now very well aware that the profitability of large companies directly affects the retirement incomes of millions of Australian workers.

Shorten’s war on corporate Australia – he wanted to wind back tax breaks for small companies until he faced a revolt by his colleagues – leaves many Australians cold, and is unlikely to win votes at the forthcoming by-elections.

It has been about a century since an opposition party lost a by-election in Australia. So, if the Government wins any of the three contested seats, that will undoubtedly damage Bill Shorten’s poli­tical credibility, just months out from the next federal election.

Moreover, Anthony Albanese, Shorten’s deputy, whom Shorten defeated for the Labor leadership after the 2013 election, expressed deep misgivings over Shorten’s agenda in the recent Whitlam Oration.

Shorten’s survival as Opposition Leader could depend on the outcome of the five by-elections.

Peter Westmore is publisher of News Weekly.

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

Join email list

Join e-newsletter list

Your cart has 0 items

Subscribe to NewsWeekly

Research Papers

Trending articles

COVER STORY Murray-Darling Basin Plan based on debunked science

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal Pell's appeal to go to High Court

COVER STORY Extinction Rebellion: So, it's goodnight to us and a big welcome to mega-bucks

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ABC survey finds majority agree there is unfair discrimination against religious Australians

South Park Calls Out Transgender Takeover of Women's Sports

EDITORIAL A second chance to secure Australia's future

TECHNOLOGY Beijing's push to dominate world supply of electronics components

© Copyright NewsWeekly.com.au 2017
Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm