January 8, 2006


The next phase of Australian politics - the phase of consolidation (Kerry Corke, 5 January 2006, Online Opinion)

The Senate has now passed the policy trinity of:

* the final sale of Telstra;
* workplace reform; and
* the welfare to work initiative.

The final reforms that can be linked to the economic liberalisation of the Australian economy commenced in the 1980s and 1990s have been implemented. [...]

The political debate commencing the phase of consolidation is starting with the Business Council of Australia pushing for tax and regulatory reform. Victorian Premier Bracks has launched a Third Wave of National Reform.

A debate as to whether Australia can maintain a top level of personal taxation of 47 per cent has commenced, involving both Feeral Government and the Opposition.

The challenge for the realists within the political classes during consolidation is to make everything pay - to preserve the better parts of the current welfare state, while ensuring future generations don’t possess a taxation burden that denies them the ability to make policy decisions to reflect the value of that generation. And to permit them to develop their own sense of community.

It is fine for the politically pragmatic to do little, or to say it is too politically risky to change the benefit mix during a time when the Australian economy is doing well - (usually by asking “so what benefits would you cut?”, and then fold their arms triumphantly, without offering any further argument) - and promises and programs can be paid for as a result of (among other things) record corporate tax receipts.

However, there are advantages in making small incremental changes over a period of time, rather than make massive changes in policy when the inevitable train wreck occurs.

No one particularly wants to see the community dislocation that occurred around the period of the Recession We Had to Have. During that period, many in the manufacturing industry (particularly those in their 50s) lost jobs that disappeared forever. Many in regional Australia suffered as statutory marketing schemes were wound back and removed.

To ensure the continuation of a viable safety net, and to avoid One Nation-like reactions to structural change when it ultimately occurs, the Liberal realists of the Social Reform Period will need to show what they will do to ensure they remain the best friend Medicare ever had, without alienating their base with ever higher amounts of taxation.

Reminding us again of that great bit from Europe: A History (Norman Davies):
Conservatism began to crystallize as a coherent ideology in conjunction with liberal trends. It was not opposed to democracy or to change as such, and should not be confused with simple reactionary positions. What it did was to insist that all change should be channelled and managed in such a way that the organic growth of established institutions of state and society--monarchy, Church, the social hierarchy, property, and the family--should not be threatened. [...] Like the liberals, the conservatives valued the individual, opposed the omnipotent state, and looked for a reduction of central executive powers. Through this, they often turned out to be the most effective of would-be reformers, toning down proposals coming from more radical points on the spectrum, and acting as the go-between with the ruling court. The ultimate distinction between liberal conservatives and moderate liberals was a fine one. In many democracies, the large area of agreement between them came to define the "middle ground" of political life.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 8, 2006 8:30 PM

"the policy trinity of:

* the final sale of Telstra;
* workplace reform; and
* the welfare to work initiative."

The basis of the worlds left wing fear of America's influence.

Posted by: Genecis at January 9, 2006 1:26 PM