A lesson from Canberra [update 6]
In around four hours from now we will know whether or not Australia has a new Prime Minister--and whatever the outcome, John Key will have been delivered an important lesson.
Only last year, K. Rudd was enjoying unprecedented seventy-percent approval ratings, but is now so unpopular that senior Labor party folk consider themselves unelectable with the Krudd at their helm.
The two chief reasons for his unpopularity? The latest is the usurious tax on mining profits, which threatens to send many of Australia’s biggest mining companies offshore--unpopular not just because it’s an economy-killer, but because the Krudd said he wouldn’t spend taxpayers’ money on advertising such programmes, and he did.
But even that misbegotten behaviour pales into insignificance compared to his backing and filling over Australia’s Emissions Tax Scam, i.e., the very scheme John Key said he’d be following with his own one, not preceding.
And therein, really, lies two lessons for Mr Key. The first is that popularity is not something on which you can bank forever. It’s here today, and gone tomorrow. Gone like the dust on the wind. So just because you have the support of a focus group today, don’t expect that same support to be there tomorrow, especially if you go back on your word.
The second lesson is well articulated by Andrew Bolt, and should give Key cause for pause on his own Emissions Tax Scam:
How strange. Global warming a year ago was seen as the policy supported by everyone of sense, and by all political parties. Since then the leaders of the both [Australia’s] biggest parties have lost their jobs essentially over this issue.
Let that point rattle around the empty crania of the Beehive, and resonate through its corridors. As that sign in Tuesday’s protest suggested ETS (Emissions Tax Scam) could easily mean OTG (One Term Government).
Unless he intervenes to defer implementation of the forthcoming emissions trading scheme (ETS), Prime Minister John Key runs the risk of the same level of sudden electoral backlash that now threatens the re-election prospects of Kevin Rudd’s Labor government in Australia. This today from the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, commenting on the description by two Victoria University researchers that New Zealand’s current ETS is “technically obsolete” and “beyond rescue.”
UPDATE 2: Don’t think for a moment that Julia Gillard, Rudd’s likely replacement, will take the country in a different direction, or grasp more firmly the nettle that Rudd refused to. Gillard is simply Helen Clark with lipstick.
Nonetheless, her ascension will allow her to permanently park the Krudd’s Emissions Tax Scam, if she wants to, but abandoning his unpopular Mining Theft Tax will be heck of a lot harder. It will be harder because Treasurer Wayne Swan was relying on it to pay Australia’s unaffordable and ever-growing welfare bill. That’s the very sharp nettle that any Australian Prime Minister urgently needs to grasp, the scale of which John Humphreys’s now prescient comments from 2005 make clear [hat tip Tim R]:
Our top marginal tax rate is higher than the rate in communist (sic) China, our income tax burden is one of the highest in the developed world and Australians are currently suffering from the highest level of tax in our history. An estimated 80,000 people are employed to avoid or enforce taxes, and those taxes result in about $30 billion of lost efficiency every year. The current system of welfare payments is complex, expensive, inefficient and ineffective. If we distributed the current federal welfare budget directly to the poorest 25% of Australians, each family of four would receive $72,000 per year.11 And welfare spending continues to increase quickly. In three years, we will reach $100 billion federal spending on welfare ($80,000 for each of our poorest 25% of families). And yet, despite this massive level of expenditure, poverty remains and is even entrenched.
Australia’s welfare bill is now $111 billion, making that $88,000 per family, yet this War On Poverty has done nothing to roll back the enemy, it is still entrenched, and as countries from Britain to Greece to Australia are now discovering, it’s a War that becomes more unaffordable every day.
How Gillard seeks to pay that bill, or to reduce its size, will define whatever time she can manage in the job.
UPDATE 3: Via kochie_online, “Final numbers being counted ... Word is 64-70 votes for Gillard... Solid win.”
Andrew Bolt gives a timeline of how it happened. Apparently, it started with a meeting called over the need to resolve the resource super-profits tax….
UPDATE 4: It’s done. Rudd steps down without a ballot, with no visible blood on the floor to mop up (he really must be wanting that Foreign Affairs job).
And in even better news, ABC news in Australia is reporting that Julia Gillard may take a 'new direction' on the mining tax…
UPDATE 5: Sam Hearne posted this pertinent point at his Facebook page:
Gillard as PM. Can anyone think of any policy successes that she has had in her portfolios? Can think of a lot of disasters (BER, computers in schools, Medicare Gold, and having responsibility for the training aspect of the home insulation scheme). Additionally, she has been central to every disastrous policy that this government introduced. Same old Labor.