Weekend reflections

I’ve been on a very pleasant family holiday, so I haven’t posted for quite a while. I’ll take a little while to get back up to speed. In the meantime, I’m reviving an old regular. It’s time for another weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Side discussions to sandpits, please. Absolutely no personal criticism of other commenters.

12 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. The following is a letter to the Canberra Times – which on past experiences – is unlikely to be printed.

    Political debates in Australia are competitive rather than cooperative. Politics has become a spectator sport and a form of reality TV. This amplifies conflict and encourages authoritarian behaviour by governments when in power.

    This is unfortunate for the electorate who lose. The best solutions are almost always arrived at by consensus.

    The current debate over Light Rail is such a case. The debate is now a South versus North conflict over allocation of public funds. It pitches buses against Light Rail. It turns motorists against public transport users.

    Light Rail is a good idea because it is Rapid Transit on its own right of way. Bus Rapid Transit is a good idea for routes where there is capacity on the existing right of ways. We should have both.

    We can resolve the conflict over allocation of public funds. We do this by changing the way we fund infrastructure. We can fund both Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail Rapid Transit at the same time. We achieve this by funding infrastructure ourselves. This means anyone in Canberra can invest in public infrastructure. This means North can invest in South infrastructure and vice versa.

    Motorists will encourage others to use public transport as it removes congestion from roads. Public transport users can encourage motorists to drive if they help them get to public transport.

  2. Just wondering where the tax debate is headed – after having “everything on the table” each option was quietly shifted one by one to “under the carpet”. Now it sounds like a bit of duck and weave income tax shifting between Federal and State that somehow can deliver less taxation with more revenue? It’s predictable that interested parties would make a lot of noise but they want to appear to be up for making “tough decisions”. I can’t claim any expertise or inside knowledge but this latest exercise does not have the look of something that’s desirable let alone achievable, which leaves me thinking this is distraction politics of some kind. That or bad judgement in an Abbott style Captain’s pick. Given the intention to go to a July DD election it seems like bad timing for opening a can of worms.

    Is it purely a Federal government decision to make, one that the States have to wear, like it or not or is it something the States would have to agree to first? Whilst I don’t doubt the States would like a significant new revenue stream it does seem like the sort of thing a State opposition would like to see the government of the day introduce and wear the political unpopularity for but leave legacy of that revenue to use.

    I think the LNP has painted itself into a corner with no new taxes populism with Labor too inclined to paint themselves in there with them – for the sake of the same populism as well as opposition opportunism. Frankly I think we would be well served by a loophole free Carbon Tax – with avoidance allowable – encouraged – by reducing emissions.

  3. Ken Fabian :
    I think the LNP has painted itself into a corner with no new taxes populism with Labor too inclined to paint themselves in there with them – for the sake of the same populism as well as opposition opportunism. Frankly I think we would be well served by a loophole free Carbon Tax – with avoidance allowable – encouraged – by reducing emissions.

    I credit the ALP for showing good leadership with their announcements so far – especially the changes to NG. That seriously took some balls! Their proposals for reforming superannuation are also good policy IMHO – taxing super income >$75K @15% and reducing the Super charge threshold from $300K to $250K incomes. I think they’ve committed themselves to an ETS? although I’m not sure how much detail is around for any proposal. They appear to take the issue a lot more seriously than LNP.

  4. Troy – that may be a bit harsh on my part; I grant you that Labor is showing a bit more agility than the LNP. Though LNP backflips are impressive. However I hesitate to call anything Labor has proposed as courageous.

  5. @Kevin Cox

    When you write ‘Political debates in Australia are competitive rather than cooperative’, you create (intentionally or not) an implicit contrast between Australia and some other (unidentified) place or places.

    Do you have in mind some other place or places where the things you’re saying about Australia do not apply?

    Or is it rather the case that your comments should be more general ones and that the qualification ‘in Australia’ can be omitted with a resulting gain?

  6. I’m sorry to read of Bob Ellis’s terminal decline; he had and continues to have an important contribution to the so called “conversation”. A person of considerable interest, as they say in police jargon, and his analysis, observation and prediction have been pretty close to the mark. Let’s hope he is saved modern pharmacology.

  7. @rog

    “We all know that a party, a palace, a great undertaking, a lunch for writers and journalists, an atmosphere of cordial and spontaneous camaraderie, are essentially horrendous.” – Jorge Luis Borges.

  8. I am somewhat embarrassed to recommend it, but it seems to me that Judith Sloan’s commentary in the Oz today (Google-able) on the 3 day tax reform program this week provides a useful and uncontroversil summary of the problems such an idea would bring.

  9. Our capitalists are getting desperate now, so is this how our modern Keynesians really seek to fix their system? – to get a central bank to buy $US 65 billion in assets every month for over a year, and then when this doesn’t work, increase it to over $US 80 billion per month???

    Matio Draghi – March 10

    Just crazy.

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