Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Today by Paddy Manning

Bowen’s economic case
Could Labor make Australia richer?


Beneath the government’s scaremongering there’s an important question that is often neglected: How will Labor make Australia not just fairer and more sustainable, but richer? We’ve heard from the government ad nauseam about their own business tax cuts, free-trade agreements, and record spending on infrastructure and defence. We’ve heard from Labor about making the tax system fairer by abolishing refundable franking credits, and restricting negative gearing and capital gains tax. We know they would restore workers’ penalty rates, review workplace laws and abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission. We’ve heard about their plans for health and education, climate and energy, and a genuine federal ICAC. But in plain terms, what are Labor’s policies to foster “jobs and growth”? At a press conference in Sydney today, shadow treasurer Chris Bowen gave a rather woolly answer to that question.

Taking the podium straight after the release of benign [$] inflation figures for the December quarter, Bowen slammed the government’s scare campaign as “ridiculous and shrill”, adding that Morrison had “no real economic agenda, no real plan for growth, no real plan for jobs other than a forecast”. I asked: “Mr Bowen we’ve heard a lot from Labor about how you would make the country fairer, how would you actually foster jobs and growth?” Bowen: “Well what we would do is have a holistic plan for the economy, to ensure better growth and growth that is shared by all. As the Financial Review pointed out today [$], Labor has the better corporate tax plan now. We have the same corporate tax rate, headline rate, regardless of who wins the election, and under Labor you get the investment guarantee – far superior to what the government’s promising.”

Bowen’s press conference followed defence minister Christopher Pyne’s weekend warning, that election of a Shorten Labor government would cause a recession, which was derided yesterday, and both Scott Morrison and the finance minister, Mathias Cormann, instead warned that Labor would weaken the economy – which, if it happens over two successive quarters, means much the same thing. We face a few more months of this scaremongering – for example, assistant treasurer Stuart Robert’s claim that Labor’s abolition of cash refunds for unused franking credits will “overwhelmingly hit low and middle-income earners, with 84 per cent of the individuals impacted on taxable incomes of less than $37,000”. The RMIT ABC fact check unit today found that statistic, often wheeled out by the government, to be “misleading”.

Yet if the government scaremongering can be dismissed, the need to keep the economy growing and generating jobs cannot, particularly in the face of stiffening global economic headwinds. Australia’s dream run of 27 years of uninterrupted growth cannot last forever, and it has been Labor’s historic misfortune to be in power for three of the last four big global economic shocks: the 1973 oil shock, the “black Monday” stock market crash of 1987, and the global financial crisis of 2008. (The Asian financial crisis of 1997 was on the Coalition’s watch.)

Bowen deflected a question about the effect $200 billion in new taxes would have on economic growth, saying, “This is the Scott Morrison–Josh Frydenberg playbook … they never talk about Labor’s bigger tax cuts for every Australian earning less than $125,000 – almost double their tax cuts.”

He went on to talk about Labor’s planned investment in skills and human capital, and engagement with Asia. “Wherever you look, whether it is tax, infrastructure, education, or engagement in our region, Labor has a superior plan.” Which sounds good, but doesn’t provide a lot of detail to convince the electorate.


“The Berejiklian government will be breathing a sigh of relief this morning over the fact it is seemingly ‘back in the game’ … today’s Newspoll will calm the horses at government headquarters in Sydney’s Martin Place, but the most likely result on March 23 still appears a minority Coalition government.” the australian [$]

Andrew Clennell, analysing the first Newspoll in New South Wales this year year, ahead of the March 23 state election. 


“When people choose offence about distractions like Australia Day over facing truths about the real problems, they are contributing to the culture of silence.”the australian [$]

Alice Springs councillor Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, also in today’s Australian, bagging Yumi Stynes’ appearance on Studio 10, in which Stynes called host Kerri-Anne Kennerly racist.

The Number

The proportion of female directors on the board of ASX200 listed companies, according to the Australian Institute of Company Directors, making Australia the first country in the world to achieve 30 per cent gender diversity in top 100 boardrooms without regulatory intervention or quotas. READ ON

The Policy

“Enrolment trends mean that students who are already advantaged are concentrating in high achieving schools, while the disadvantaged are being segregated into struggling schools, so that the burden of lifting up the most disadvantaged is not evenly spread across schools, sectors and locations.” centre for policy development

The list

“‘It’s somewhere out that way,’ Abbass says of the wreckage, pointing through one of the resort’s porthole windows towards the choppy grey sea. ‘Figuring out exactly where it lies and how it ended up there has become my life’s mission.’” the monthly


“To be performed outdoors at a timber mill at Jarrahdale, 47 kilometres south-east of the city, the work takes up the cross-dressing theme as enthusiastically as the pig stealing and opium smoking that colour its depiction of the Kelly gang’s DIY-armoured republican fervour.” The Monthly


“No other colonised country celebrates its national day on the anniversary of the day its invasion, colonisation and genocide began. At the very least, January 26 as Australia Day should be understood as disrespectful to First Nations people.” the saturday paper

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is also the author of three books, including a recently updated unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Born To Rule?


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