Monday, September 13, 2010

If you have a job, the Greens don’t like you

How many people who voted Green at the last election have any idea what their actual policies are? Originally the Greens represented a protest vote, and as such were essentially a protest party. It didn’t really matter what their policies were, they were just assumed to be warm, fuzzy and had something to do with lesser spotted quolls or numbats or something. “Maybe”, people said hopefully, “they might legalise pot”. What wasn’t to love, right? Now, however, they have a member in the lower house and the resulting power-broking alliance with the minority Labour government, plus holding the balance of power in the senate. They would have us believe they could be a party of governance. So in the spirit of this, let’s have a little look-see at what they actually want to do with our country.

I started looking at their economic policies first, just because. Most Green’s voters could tell you that they want a price on carbon, but few probably realise that they want to tax you up the whazoo, redistribute your wealth and (probably) send you to the country side for re-education.

First off, let me preface this with a personal position statement: I’m poor. Really poor. However, given that I can get an education with little cash up front, eat pretty damn well and don’t have to bash my clothes on a rock down by the river to get them clean, I figure I have little to complain about. One day, though, I wouldn’t mind being better off, and so I’m a little bothered that the Greens want to:

• Increase the maximum tax bracket to 50% for high income earners, impose a minimum income tax obligation in your bracket so there is no way to reduce your personal tax burden and do away with concessions for capital gains tax. “That’s alright”, you say, “I can put it in a trust for my kids or post a loss on those dodgy soy-burger stocks that never broke even”.

• Au contraire. They want to tax your family trust as a company (whilst mentioning elsewhere that they will increase the company tax rate to 33%) and reckon you can only post a loss on an investment against income from that same investment. (This is kind of missing the point, if you ask me.) “Fine”, you say. “I’ll salary sacrifice and get as many fringe benefits out of my employer as I can”.

• Ha. Sorry. They’re gonna end fringe benefit tax concessions (and remember that fringe benefits tax is paid at the maximum income tax bracket which will then be 50%. Try selling your boss on that.) Purportedly, this is because fringe benefits tax concessions encourages people to drive more in company cars, confirming that, indeed, all Green policy seems to come out of the inner city. Seriously, just look at a map of this country sometime. Some people have to drive for 4 hours just to get to a shop. “Instead of driving the company car, why not just catch public transport?” the Greens say. (It’s the long distance coach that stops past twice a week, you can’t miss it.)

• “Alright then, I can give my hard-earned to my spouse or kids, or failing that, they can have it when I’m gone”. Nope again, if the Greens have it their way, they’re going to end capital gains tax concessions, too, and introduce an additional death duty that would be imposed on estates over a certain amount. Don’t worry, though, Bob Brown has made an unspecified promise he’ll help protect the family farm when you die (which is what I thought family trusts were for). An unfortunate shame when you won’t be able to operate that family farm anymore because of its environmental impact.

“Wow. That’s scary.” You say. But wait, there’s more, let’s have a little look at some of their foreign policies:

• They want to cancel the ANZUS treaty. You know, the one usually touted as “the only reason we aren’t all speaking Japanese or Indonesian right now”. Perhaps it’s time to send a memo to the Greens that the treaty is an agreement to be allies, not best buddies? We can have a treaty and still bitch about the US behind their back when they have a bad hair day, dress tres slutty or want us to cancel our national pharmaceutical benefits scheme.
If you think dropping ANZUS would be bad for Australia, consider what could happen to New Zealand if we dropped the treaty. Since New Zealand took the high ground, and themselves, out of the treaty with the US over their nuclear stance, they enjoyed treaty-by-proxy because we were allied with the US and they were still allied with us. In the event we drop ANZUS, hopefully that would mean their little nuclear-free, small population idyll would be invaded first. Sorry NZ.

• Hidden in the environmental section, I also discovered another gem. The Greens would like to limit our maritime Economic Exclusion Zone to only a 200 (presumably nautical) mile limit. At the moment our EEZ is 200 nautical miles OR the limit of the continental shelf. This was ratified by the UN under the Convention on the Law of the Sea. If we limit ourselves to 200 nautical miles (or the equidistant line between two countries less than 400 NM apart), East Timor may pick up a couple of natural gas rigs, but we would lose rights to 2.5 million square kilometres of seabed. Count them. Not that it matters, because they would lock up most of the oceans in Marine Protected Areas with a minimum 30% of that “no take” zones and oppose any new non-renewable resource drilling operations, anyway.

East Timor picks up a couple of gas rigs that they are already getting royalties from with line C, we lose 2.5 million Sq Km of seabed.

If you think that’s a worry, have a read up on their “Peace and Security” section:

• Among other things, they want to “close all existing foreign bases in Australian territory and end foreign troop deployment, training and hosting on Australian territory” (sorry America, we don’t want any of your high tech communications and satellite equipment anymore, we want to pay for it all ourselves and get a (Greens designated publically owned) Telstra to run it) and “end training and joint exercises by the ADF with the armed forces known to have committed human rights abuses”. Which would kind of rule out, ummm, everyone except the Swiss, who are famously neutral and lay claim to the second most boring city in Europe.

• Now for my favourite: “support the development of an Australian Coastguard to replace military personnel and equipment in coastal policing.” Ba ha ha ha. Just ask the US (while we’re still on speaking terms) how their hooligan’s navy is working out for them. A coastguard isn’t a police force, it’s a repackaged defence force for alcoholics, generally with the primary objective of dealing with illegal immigrants among other things, but with the unintended consequence of harassing recreational boaters trying to get their beer on. This amounts to an expensive marketing ploy, but what scares me is they probably think its solving some kind of imaginary problem. (I have been advised that the US coastguard isnt quite the same as it used to be, and has been known to do scary rescues in huge seas in places like Oregon, but the basic ridiculousness of the Australian proposal still stands.)

There’s more, but halfway through the blatant hypocrisy of their indigenous policy I suddenly needed to go and have a drink, and don’t worry, they’re going to tax that, too, based on the alcohol content of your beverage. I see a Green led future, and it involves light beer.

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't worry about the Company tax rate changes - their energy policies will ensure no Australian business makes a profit anyway. Immediate reductions in coal powered generation, plus no mining of coal or uranium within 25 years. The only reliable energy source will be Bob and Sarah's hot air.


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