Tag Archives: andrew robb

Usury In Christ’s Kingdom?

9 Apr

Jesus+and+Wall+St

Our modern day Aussie crusader against the dangers of government debt, Senator Barnaby Joyce, makes no apology for his Catholic Christian upbringing and professed belief system.

As does Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, Shadow Minister for Finance, Deregulation and Debt Reduction Andrew Robb, and Shadow Assistant Treasurer Mathias Cormann.

That’s the entire front line economic team of what looks likely to be Australia’s next Federal Government.

All self-professed Christians.

And yet, need any of us be left in wonder, even for a moment, just how each of them would respond to the following video, and to the question posed above.

For if ever there were a shining example of a CFZ – Conscience-Free Zone – then politics is it.

(h/t reader Kevin Moore)

See also:

Robb And Joyce Have A Vision, Dam It

12 Apr

Media Release – Senator Barnaby Joyce, Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water, and Andrew Robb MP, Shadow Minister for Finance, Deregulation, and Debt Reduction; 12 April 2012:

Northern vision held back by leadership deficit

The Coalition Dams and Water Management Task Group visited the Northern Territory this week and found that the vast economic opportunity of the north is being held back by a culture of bureaucratic inertia and apathy from the Northern Territory Labor government.

“There are enormous economic opportunities in the north of Australia” said Chairman of the Dams Task Group, Andrew Robb.

“Currently 28 per cent of the world’s middle class now lives in the Asia-Pacific. The OECD forecasts that by 2030, 66 per cent of the world’s middle class will live between India and China. This finally delivers to the north what they have lacked, affluent markets close to our ports.

“To take this opportunity though we need to have governments which show leadership and vision. I was astounded that the Northern Territory government snubbed the task group and refused to meet with us. Every other government in Australia, be they Labor or Liberal-National, have welcomed the task group.

“From what we did learn, the Northern Territory government is letting down Territorians. They released a plan for Darwin without any plan for where future water supplies would come from. Down south this kind of stubbornness has lead to the financial disasters of desalination plants. The Northern Territory does not want the same outcome up here.”

Senator Joyce, Deputy Chair of the Dams Committee, said that the government seemed to be hiding between environmentalism rather than doing the hard work of providing a proper balance between economic, social and environmental factors.

“It’s so disappointing when you meet people who want to make a go of it, who want to create a new area of wealth for our nation, but then are held back by stifling bureaucracy and inertia on the part of government.

“It seems like you only have to mention the word “environment” and you are miraculously transformed into an omnipotent being who dare not be questioned. It’s not good enough. Why should we limit water use to an arbitrary figure of 20 per cent? Nobody could tell us.

“That’s absurd. The flow of some of these rivers is half the whole of the Murray, and use is currently less than 1 per cent of what is used in the Murray. Development seems to be stopped because people are afraid the Territory could end up with the issues of the Murray-Darling.”

Tony Abbott established the Coalition Dams and Water Management Task Group in January with the remit to look at options for investment in new or expanded dams throughout Australia. The task group has now visited every State and Territory in Australia and has met with and received submissions from over 100 organisations and individuals.

The task group will issue an interim report in the coming weeks.

Andrew Robb Speaking My Language

29 Mar

Last week I praised the Opposition’s Finance spokesman Andrew Robb for … well  … lots of things. Including an excellent policy on dams, courage in opposing his own leader on superannuation, and most recently, an epic speech in Parliament exposing the lies and deceit of Wayne Swan.

In the Weekend Australian, we learned more about the philosophy that is driving Mr Robb.

I like it.

Here are some selected excerpts from a lengthy article that you can read here if you are are paying subscriber to News Ltd:

Seeking a return to freedom of choice

ANDREW Robb, chairman of the Coalition’s policy development committee, is doing more than assembling a political platform for the next federal election. He is trying to build a philosophical framework that will support the platform when its details are revealed and, in the meantime, provide a rallying point for Coalition members that will boost their unity and discipline.

“A very clear set of four guiding principles have shaped our policy development, which are true to core Coalition values and present a stark contrast to the massive growth of government that we have seen under the Rudd and Gillard governments,” he says.

“We will live within our means, reverse the nanny state, back our strengths and restore a culture of personal responsibility. By adhering to these principles it puts us in the best possible position to help people get ahead.”

Robb, a senior figure in Liberal ranks since he became the party’s federal director after the 1990 election, is making a fascinating – albeit tacit – admission. He is acknowledging the Howard government lost its drive, direction and discipline and embraced big government conservatism, surrendering key Coalition points of differentiation from Labor along the way.

He is admitting policy populism and superfluous spending blocked traditional Coalition avenues of attack on the ALP that helped lead to its defeat at the 2007 poll.

“We have reached a point in Australian governance where philosophy really does matter,” Robb insists. “Since the fall of the Berlin Wall there has been a growing perception both here and abroad that there is little separating the two major sides of politics, but in this country at least the fundamental differences between federal Labor and the Coalition have become stark.

“It is the difference between a nanny-state ‘government knows best’ approach, compared with the personal dignity and control that comes from the freedom to make your own choices while taking responsibility for those choices.”

Robb says since 2007 we have seen the greatest growth of government outside the Whitlam years. “We were the only country to re-regulate the labour market during the global financial crisis and the only country I know which is renationalising its telecommunications sector under the guise of the NBN (National Broadband Network),” he begins.

“There was also the failed attempt to nationalise 40 per cent of the mining industry and on top of it all is the carbon tax, which is the highest-taxing, most bureaucratic and interventionist model imaginable and will come at the worst possible time for industry and jobs.

“We have also seen the government shut down the live cattle industry virtually overnight to the detriment of northern communities and relations with Indonesia.”

Robb dismisses Kevin Rudd’s efforts to see Canberra take over health services delivery as “amounting to nothing except more layers of bureaucracy”.

He takes a libertarian line, slamming what he calls “this government’s patronising proposal to impose mandatory internet filtering, which was unceremoniously dropped following public outcry”.

Robb characterises the newly introduced means-testing for the private health insurance rebate as “the erosion of personal choice, a mere cash grab prosecuted with nasty and divisive class warfare rhetoric, the politics of envy which Labor is renowned for”.

Robb is making a very traditional pitch and avoiding any radical policy prescriptions. After all, Robb, as federal director, and his leader, once John Hewson’s press secretary, have seen the Coalition in a position in the polls just like it is in now, yet go on to lose the unloseable election in 1993.

Here Robb returns to philosophy. “As a government the Coalition is committed to living within its means, reversing the nanny state, backing our strengths and restoring a sense of personal responsibility. It is true that in isolation these sound like little more than slogans, but in combination they present a powerful set of markers, the ballast of which guide the direction a Coalition government would take the country.”

Those core principles, that set of markers, that ballast, are designed to steer and steady his own party as much as convince voters ahead of the stormy months that lie between the forthcoming budget and the next election.

Live within your means.

Reverse the nanny state.

Culture of personal responsibility.

A “libertarian” line.

Mr Robb is speaking my language.

And speaking of language … and philosophy … have you ever paused to think about the problems that come from the use, and misuse, and simple misunderstanding, of language?

Let me give you an example.

Your humble blogger is very well-accustomed to being automatically and hastily prejudged on account of the mere title of this blog and Twitter account.

I must be a “right wing” “extremist”, you see, by virtue of my advocacy for the [ _____ ] views of Senator Joyce.

Why did I insert the [ _____ ] in that sentence?

To highlight the reality that we all tend to pre-judge. We “label”.

Folks see a blog title. And instantly make assumptions about the blogger. Without first seeking out more information.

The information needed to fill in the [ _____ ] in that sentence.

In this case, it is the [ debt and deficit ] views of Senator Joyce that this blogger supports, in particular.

But that does not mean they are the only views of Senator Joyce that I support.

Nor does it means that I support all his views.

Indeed, your humble blogger finds it ironic, and laughable, and lamentable, that so many people (especially mainstream journalists) incorrectly label Senator Joyce an “extreme” “right wing” politician … when he has always been an openly self-confessed “agrarian socialist”.

It is no wonder then, that new visitors to this blog and Twitter feed have a natural tendency to make false, hasty assumptions about the blogger, on the basis of no more information than the title, and their own often-false pre-judgments of … not the blogger … but of Senator Joyce.

It may come as a surprise to such folks to see the results of my completing The Political Compass test:

Click to enlarge

And for comparison, here are some examples of where notable historical figures feature on The Political Compass:

Click to enlarge

I will let you in on a snippet of my own personal philosophy, dear reader.

“Labels” are a problem.

I despise labels.

Sadly, we all use them.

And they contribute to all manner of personal and social ills.

False assumptions.

Bias.

Stereotyping.

Of others … and, our selves.

Pre-judging … that is, pre-judice.

Endless miscommunication … and all the ills that result from it.

Superficiality … that is, a failure to appreciate context, nuance, depth of character, and variety of ideas.

I have no doubt that there is far, far more to each and every one of us, than meets the eye.

And while we have all been born into a world and a time wherein it is habitual to use words in the form of “labels” in an attempt to identify or classify “things” and “ideas”, in order to communicate them to/with others, the reality is that every “label” is limited, and subjective.

We do not all attach exactly the same meanings to words.

What I understand a word to mean, may well be subtlely … or hugely … different to how you understand it.

I may attach more, or fewer, or different ideas to a particular “label” than you do.

Indeed, I think that “labels” are, far from being a help to communication, far more of a hindrance.

I hope that all readers of my blog will daily strive, as I (try to) do, to overcome our practiced tendency to rigidly “label” people, and ideas.

I consider that to be “keeping an open mind”.

That is also why I am consciously resisting the temptation to excessive enthusiasm over Mr Robb’s seeming to be speaking my language.

Instead, I wait and watch.

To see if the actions will match (my understanding of) the words.

“Call each thing by its right name”

~ Boris Pasternak, Dr Zhivago

Thank God For Andrew Robb

23 Mar

Shadow Finance spokesman Andrew Robb is giving me ever more reasons to be thankful.

First, he is honest enough to not bullsh*t about the future. Instead, he simply tells a journalist in a TV interview the plainly obvious truth – that it is impossible to say when the Coalition could get the budget back to surplus, because “who knows what the state of the books will be” when the next election is held.  Please do watch the interview. I was deeply impressed above all else by his frank honesty. And by the fact he was essentially right, on almost all points.

Then, he joins Barnaby Joyce in researching and presenting a wise and innovative plan to build dams across the country, and especially in our monsoonal North, and avoiding increases in government borrowing to achieve it by bankrolling the costs via partnership with mining companies. Not unlike the Norwegian model for nationalisation of their natural resources, which I have long advocated we should follow.

Then, he goes against his own leader and party to fight for the interests of struggling small businesses, who are going bankrupt in record numbers.

And now, this epic lie-exposing, Swan-plucking speech in Parliament on March 21st (my emphasis added):

Matter of Public Importance: Budget Honesty

Mr ROBB (Goldstein) (15:19): Over the last 10 years in office, Labor has never delivered a surplus. In fact, it has racked up a total of $241 billion worth of deficits— or a quarter of a trillion dollars—over those 10 years of wall-to-wall deficits since 1989. This compares with $103 billion of cumulative surpluses over the last 10 years of coalition government. To go from such a surplus to such a deficit and to have nothing to show for it is what Australians find unbelievable and unforgivable. Yet, if you listen to Australia’s lightweight Treasurer, you would think all was well. It means that we all have to look beyond Labor’s spin and instead look at the facts because Labor has turned sophistry—clever but deceitful arguments—into a fine art. Today I would like to provide just three examples of potentially hundreds of examples of this sophistry. I highlight the deceit of Labor’s stimulus claims, I highlight the deceit of Labor’s spending claims and I highlight the deceit of Labor’s surplus claims.

Let us look at Labor’s stimulus claims. A report out today by the Australian National Audit Office once again suggests that the mammoth $87 billion spending splurge failed to boost growth as promised or, as endlessly claimed by our lightweight Treasurer, that the overall stimulus meant that Australia avoided a recession in 2009. The auditors found that the last of the payments under the inspired Greens initiative to create jobs by building bike paths, a key part of the $650 million so-called Jobs Fund, unveiled at the height of the GFC, was not expected to be made until next month. This is almost two years after the funds were meant to have been spent and a full three years since the end of the first quarter of 2009, the quarter that would have confirmed a recession following the negative 0.7 per cent growth quarter at the end of 2008. The Audit Office actually rebuked the government for not ensuring that taxpayer funds delivered the economic gain.

A similar audit from 10 July of the separate $550 million regional community infrastructure project found the cash was spent too slowly to ensure the gains first claimed—the sorts of claims we have heard ad nauseam in this place for three years now. We know Treasury confirmed that a massive $10 billion of stimulus money was still to be spent this year, 2011-12. These are the facts as distinct from the spin. By the way, it is all borrowed money which will not be repaid for years and years.

The Orgill report into the $16 billion school funding program showed that spending began several months later than planned and it is still being spent to this day—several years after the GFC. One-ninth of the stimulus was spent towards the end of the one quarter of negative growth, which was the 2008 December quarter. We supported that first stimulus because of the collapse of confidence. In fact we suggested how it should be spent. Despite the nonsense peddled by our lightweight Treasurer, a Treasurer so far out of his depth.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms AE Burke): Order! The member for Goldstein will refer to the member appropriately.

Mr ROBB: Despite the absolute nonsense peddled by our Treasurer, a Treasurer so far out of his depth, a Treasurer who claims that the stimulus was the reason Australia avoided a technical recession, almost all the stimulus was spent after the economy was bouncing back, which it was by the end of the first quarter and the start of the second quarter of 2009.

It was the automatic economic stabiliser of the exchange rate and the work of the Reserve Bank which restarted our economy. In the first quarter, you might recall, our exchange rate fell to 60c against the US dollar. We all understand the significance of that now. It is not a surprise that the biggest trade surplus in Australia’s history came in that first quarter of 2009—in the middle of the global financial crisis. Then the Reserve Bank cut interest rates—not only cut but slashed. They took 4.25 percentage points off interest rates between September 2008 and April 2009. The stimulus money had not been spent, but by April 2009 the pockets of households had more in them than they had ever had as a result of the 4.25 percentage point cut in interest rates.

The interesting point is that seven months later, in November 2009, when some of the spending was starting to take place, interest rates were back up by 3½ percentage points. Why was that? It appears the Reserve Bank was worried about overspending in the economy. The RBA had reduced interest rates by 4.25 percentage points—that got us going—but by the time the money was being spent out of the government’s $87 billion stimulus, they were reducing interest rates due to worries about overspending. These are the facts as distinct from the spin. By the way again, it was all borrowed money and it will not be repaid for years and years.

This deceit has been used to justify borrowing and spending of $87 billion and more. All that has meant is that the government has been in the market borrowing $100 million a day ever since. The effect has been to push up interest rates for households and for small and large businesses; push up our exchange rate; ensure that many small and medium sized businesses have not been able to access finance for love or money, many going to the wall as a consequence; and make Australia highly vulnerable to any—even a reasonably modest—downturn in commodity prices. That vulnerability is due to our huge structural deficit, a deficit which is twice Germany’s and even 30 per cent worse than Italy’s, would you believe. Yet you never hear our Treasurer talk about structural deficits. Do not lecture us about transparency. The rest of the world, especially Europe, talks—is consumed with concern—about structural deficits. The Treasury are not even allowed to produce a figure for the structural deficit. The words have hardly ever even passed the Treasurer’s lips in this place. This is yet more spin.

Let us look at the deceit of Labor’s stimulus claims. I could recite a litany of issues which have not been addressed by this government, yet they continue to parade this nonsense that the stimulus had some effect. It has had an effect; it has had a deeply negative effect over the last three years and it is contributing to the huge debt hanging around the neck of every Australian.

Let us look at the deceit of Labor’s spending claims. The government’s response to every problem has been to tax, borrow and spend, spend, spend and then to do high fives after they have passed each tax and spin it as reform. The government should be paying down debt to position Australia for some of the best and most extraordinary opportunities—across virtually every sector, including manufacturing—which are emerging in the Asia-Pacific. They should be paying down debt to weatherproof Australia’s economy against growing volatility on world financial and commodity markets—as the Howard-Costello government did ahead of the global financial crisis. That is why we got through the global financial crisis—we went into it with a $20 billion surplus and with a balance sheet that was $70 billion in the black. That and the automatic stabilisers are why we got through it, not the politically inspired stimulus spending which we are still suffering from and which businesses are still suffering from.

Instead, this Treasurer who is out of his depth has consecutively delivered the four biggest deficits in Australia’s history—$27 billion, $55 billion, $48 billion and $37 billion. I will not be surprised if that $37 billion blows out a lot further to help manufacture a surplus for 2012-13. Under Labor, annual spending has grown from $272 billion in 2008 to an estimated $370 billion this year. That is an increase of $100 billion in just 4½ years—$100 billion out of a budget which started at $262 billion. That is a 40 per cent increase. I suppose they would say it has kept pace with inflation, but inflation over those 4½ years was only 13½ per cent.

Despite all that, they are increasing spending again this year. Forget the stimulus for a moment. Let us say that the stimulus was warranted, that it has not brought thousands of small businesses to their knees because they cannot get finance as a result of having to compete against a government borrowing $100 million a day. You would think that, after they had spent the money on the stimulus, they would come back to something like the long-term level of spending, would you not? That is what a household would do if they had put an extension on their house. The next year they would come back to their long-term level of spending.

Not this mob.

Under this government the deficit has gone up and up—$87 billion, but they could better that. Now they are at $100 billion more than they were spending 4½ years ago. That is why they never talk about expenditure. This Treasurer is out of his depth and he never talks about expenditure. This government has had two to three per cent more over expenditure than previous governments as a percentage of GDP every year, on average, for 4½ years. Look at the facts, not the spin. So much for fiscal consolidation. It is a monstrous amount of money, much more than the $87 billion. This government has spent $70 billion over and above that $87 billion they have spent above the long-term spending trend. And they talk about fiscal responsibility. This fiscal consolidation line is, again, more spin.

Labor’s third outrageous line of spin is its claims about the surplus. Labor has been boasting for three years about its projected 2012-13 surplus while delivering the biggest deficits in our nation’s history. You will hear it again this time—they will brag about a surplus that they have never delivered and try to bury one of the four biggest deficits in our history. In fact, a detailed look at their budget figures shows we have every reason to treat the surplus, if we ever see it, as thoroughly dodgy and thoroughly manufactured. It is a product of accounting tricks to shuffle money and hide spending to keep it off the budget bottom line and engineer the appearance of a surplus next year.

Let me give just one of the many examples that I documented in a speech last Friday to VECCI. Labor accept that their damaging carbon tax poses a threat to Australia’s energy security, and in response they will spend over $1 billion this year, 2011-12, to support energy markets through its Energy Security Fund. Jump forward two years, to 2013-14 and 2014-15. They will spend another billion dollars in each of those years. What happened in the middle? What happened to 2012-13? Apparently the carbon tax magically poses no threat to energy security in 2012-13. They are spending 1,000 times less—$1 million, not $1 billion. So it is a billion, one million, a billion, a billion.

I could take you through 34 examples of very obvious cases where they have done this. Again and again they have brought spending forward or they have pushed it back into those two years. Get up and answer those claims. Explain to us why it is a billion, one million and then a billion, a billion to alleviate the threat to business from the carbon tax. This Treasurer has been pulling forward expenditure for two years and now it is being pushed out from 2012-13 into the subsequent two years, and he does not think anyone is looking. A forensic examination of the budget papers shows dozens of examples of this sort of chicanery. It is one reason why Labor’s claim to be delivering a wafer-thin surplus in 2012-13 should be taken with a very large grain of salt. All these things add up to tens of billions of dollars. In fact, whatever they come up with in May, the real truth will be tens of billions of dollars more in deficit. This is a government that has practised and perfected the art of spin.

Finally, we have the most notorious example of the government’s spin. They have not only shuffled money around but have about $100 billion of items for which there is no identified funding, or they are hidden. They have taken it off the balance sheet or they have not identified funding. There is the Clean Energy Fund, the NBN, the structural black holes inherent in the mining and carbon taxes, the 12 new Australian-designed submarines—all of these add up to an extraordinary amount of money, $100 billion. That is the real $100 billion black hole. Remember on budget night Labor’s $100 billion real black hole. Remember Labor’s cumulative deficits over the last 10 years in office, including a whopping and shameful deficit this financial year of $37 billion, adding up to a total of over $200 billion. For God’s sake, look beyond the spin and look at the statistics. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms AE Burke): The last comment was not worthy of parliament.

Note that well, dear reader.

An impassioned plea to look beyond the lies and deceit to the evidentiary truth, is deemed to be “not worthy of parliament”.

Could there be any better exemplar of just how completely rotten-to-the-core our political system is?

Thank God for Andrew Robb.

Legend.

* About that video above, where Andrew Robb asks the government about their having spent $578,000 on a study into “an ignored credit instrument in Florentine economic, social and religious life from the 1500’s”WTF?!?

If any reader has more information about this scandalous squandering of more than half a million dollars in borrowed-from-foreigners money – that you and I will have to pay back, with interest – please let me know in comments.

UPDATE:

Andrew Robb via Twitter kindly points us to the following news story –

MILLIONS of dollars in government research funding is being ploughed into studies of emotion in climate change messages, ancient economic life in Italy and the history of the moon.

Studies of sleeping snails and determining if Australian birds are getting smaller because of climate change have also been allocated funding in the latest round of grants totalling $300 million by the Australian Research Council.

A study of “an ignored credit instrument in Florentine economic, social and religious life from 1570 to 1790” secured $578,792 for a researcher from the University of Western Australia.

The council insists the study was approved because it had modern day relevance to the global financial crisis as it shows how Florence in ancient times recovered from an economic downturn and because no one had studied that element of history before.

Another project titled “Sending and responding to messages about climate change: the role of emotion and morality” by a Queensland university secured $197,302. The council said it was an important psychology project.

The study to determine if birds are shrinking was awarded $314,000 and another of sleeping snails to determine “factors that aid life extension” was given $145,000. Studying the early history of the moon will cost taxpayers $210,000 and another study looking at “William Blake in the 21st century” comes with a $636,904 bill.

At a time when every available dollar could be put to backing innovation and research and development to make us more competitive, we have seen a growth in support for some real eyebrow-raising activities,” opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb said.

“Australian Research Council criteria has been extended beyond the scientific, the innovative and the practical to include some real airy-fairy stuff.

“Which means less money for more worthwhile research.”

Three-Quarters Of Turkeys Vote For Christmas Super

20 Mar

From Yahoo!7 News:

Three-quarters of Australians support having the superannuation guarantee lifted to 12 per cent, an ACTU-commissioned survey has found.

The union movement is releasing polling results as the Senate prepares to vote on the mining tax, which would fund the three-percentage-point increase in the super contribution.

The online poll of 1000 people found 75 per cent of respondents to be in favour of the policy.

*Thump* *Thump*

Yes, dear reader.

That is the sound of your humble blogger beating his chest, to restart his shocked heart.

Stunning, is it not?

75% of people surveyed like the idea of getting money for nothing.

Because that is what the average Aussie thinks an increase in “compulsory superannuation” means.

More money for moi. Without doing anything whatsoever to earn it.

Little do they realise that any and every increase in compulsory superannuation, must be paid for by their employer.

And most Aussies are employed by small businesses, who are struggling like never before.

Indeed, there was a 48% increase in small business bankruptcies last year.

Your humble blogger has lots of anecdotal evidence from fellow small businesspeople, who say that they simply can not afford to pay extra superannuation, and will have no choice but to reduce hours and/or terminate staff if the government forces them to increase super contributions for their employees.

This survey is a classic example of turkeys voting for Christmas supper.

Because even if you are confident that your job will be unaffected, the fact is that you will suffer too if other people lose their jobs due to the government jacking up the rate of compulsory super.

How so?

Other people losing their jobs means one or all of the following consequences, that will eventually impact on you too:

Increased unemployment => reduced retail spending => more job losses => mortgage arrears increase => forced sales of homes => house price falls => bank “assets” value fall => bank credit ratings cut => increased cost of funding for banks => increased interest rates => more reductions in retail spending => more job losses => more mortgage arrears => more forced sales of homes => more house price falls => more bank “assets” value fall => more bank credit ratings cut => more increases in cost of funding for banks => more increases in interest rates =>  more reductions in retail spending => more job losses => more mortgage arrears => more forced sales of homes => more house price falls => more bank “assets” value fall => bank/s collapse => government taxpayer bailouts => “austerity” policy => increased taxes => more business failures => more unemployment => GET THE PICTURE?

At least there is one (1) politician who does seem to understand that small business is struggling, and simply can not afford to pay increased superannuation.

No, it’s not Barnaby Joyce.

It’s Andrew Robb:

TONY Abbott’s finance spokesman, Andrew Robb, has re-opened old divisions within the Coalition’s economic team over superannuation with an attack on Labor’s plan to boost workers’ retirement savings.

As Labor prepares to spruik the benefits of the super changes with moresuper.gov.au – its new website – predicting workers could be $100,000 better off at retirement, Mr Robb has again raised concerns about the impact on small business.

The Sunday Herald Sun can reveal Mr Robb, a senior members of the Liberal leader’s economic team, surprised colleagues with an attack on Mr Abbott’s policy not to repeal Labor’s boost to workers’ super if he wins office.

Andrew Robb has been on to this danger since at least November last year:

OPPOSITION finance spokesman Andrew Robb was excluded from the meeting where the Coalition’s leadership group decided it would not oppose the government’s planned increase to compulsory superannuation.

Senior Liberal sources said Mr Robb was “ropeable” at the decision to exclude him from the Friday telephone hook-up between the opposition leadership group and assistant Treasury spokesman Mathais Cormann, chaired by the Opposition Leader, that decided to back the super guarantee rise.

The opposition finance spokesman is understood to be pushing a message that a Coalition government will need to live within its means. He is understood to believe that with federal debt approaching $250bn the superannuation increases are unaffordable. Mr Robb previously said that at a time when many small businesses were struggling they could not afford to pay the extra compulsory super.

Andrew Robb is right.

His being right means … of course … that his viewpoint must be excluded.

Even by his own party colleagues.

Ain’t “democracy” grand?

Oh yes … about that headline story, of all the turkeys voting for Christmas.

The respondents to the survey weren’t the only turkeys having their say:

ACTU president Ged Kearney said the next few days were the last chance to pass the legislation before parliament went into a long recess ahead of the May 8 budget.

“It is time for all parliamentarians, including the Liberals, Nationals, Greens and independents to stop putting at risk the retirement savings of working Australians,” she said in a statement.

Take three (3) wild guesses at who makes millions from fees and commissions (and more) on compulsory super for employees that is paid into UNION industry super funds?

Your first two (2) guesses don’t count.

Anyone else in favour of lifting the rate of compulsory superannuation?

The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees, the peak body for the $450-billion non-profit sector, is also delivering the government several thousand online and petition signatures.

Ummmmm … hello?!

What was it that Wayne has been banging on about lately?

Something about “vested interests” that are “threatening our democracy”, wasn’t it?

We are living in a nation populated, and ruled, by self-interested turkeys.

If only the ruled turkeys knew the consequences of voting for Christmas supper.

If only they knew that both sides of parliament already have formal policies and systems in place to steal their super, when the time is right.

*Gobble* *Gobble* ….

Dam Fine Thinking By Robb And Joyce

11 Mar

It’s long past due time that we had some dam fine thinking from politicians, in this land of drought and flooding rains:

MINING companies would be asked to bankroll a host of new dams across the nation, some of which could be owned by taxpayers, under a Coalition bid to unlock private capital reserves and store the water needed for its goal of doubling Australia’s food production.

Water allocations for some projects could also be sold like off-the-plan apartments, where construction doesn’t start until at least 70 per cent of the water take has been pre-purchased by irrigators or miners.

The Sunday Age believes a range of financing options are being considered by the Coalition as it draws up a shortlist of viable dam projects it might sponsor in government.

The opposition dams taskforce is due to release its interim report in the next six weeks, with a list drawn from more than 100 proposed sites put to it.

Most of the projects will be across the rain-soaked north of the country, where miners might finance dams that could also be used for large-scale agriculture.

But dams taskforce chairman Andrew Robb has also visited at least one site in Victoria in the past six months, talking to locals and the Victorian government about the viability of a dam at Lake Buffalo and Lake William Hovell, and an aquifer project backed by Wangaratta Council.

In an interview with The Sunday Age, Mr Robb said a big challenge for an incoming Coalition government would be how to fund infrastructure with a cash-strapped federal budget. He tipped partnerships with the private sector would be optional.

”We won’t have money when we get there. We’re not going to borrow. So how do we unlock very large sums of money sitting on balance sheets in companies around Australia who are not investing because of the crisis of confidence?” he said.

”We have done a lot of work, there’s no one answer to this, but how do we involve the private sector more effectively in all sorts of infrastructure, social and economic?”

Asking mining companies to fund dam projects was one of the options being considered.

”For instance, some of the dam work we are looking at, we think we can get – instead of taxing the mining industry – suggest to them they can invest in a dam and then have access to water to wash their coal. And they’ll pay serious amounts of money, in fact they will pay for the construction of the dam,” he said.

”That is not going to apply in every situation, so it’s a suite of approaches that can be taken, which lead to productivity improving assets being built.”

Dams taskforce deputy chairman Barnaby Joyce said the floods had reinforced the need to store water, both to protect communities from flooding and to acquire reserves for droughts.

”Some of these dams wouldn’t need any public money,” he said. ”And you’d have an asset that might be owned by the government or in some instances it could be private.”

Barnaby Joyce has long been one of the leading proponents for building more dams in Australia.

Barnaby is right.

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