Part 2 of a 6-part series.
Politicians at all levels have systematically failed the Australian people. The costs to Australians through taxes, levies, fees, duties, rates (etcetera) of sustaining the plethora of government agencies and erratic policies that successive governments have spawned over the years are no longer justifiable. There is simply no value anymore.
On average, every three years Australians are forced to vote for incapable candidates and for the three years thereafter they must endure double speak, unaccountability, ambiguity, avoidance of clear answers to straightforward questions, continual lies, and unexplained policy reversals.
In between elections, Australians have become immune to the negativity and infighting, and long for the day when politicians might actually get down to the business of running the country. By the time the next election arrives, voters are worn out by the petty nonsense to the point where frustration sets in and they choose any candidate to replace the sitting member.
Regardless of who is elected, voters instinctively know that the county will be a little more worse off. They also know that undesirable choices do not make the political system more effective, but just like rabbits caught in a spotlight, they are at a continual loss to know the best course of action to take next.
This essay outlines more examples of incompetence, ignorance, arrogance, blind ambition, egocentricity, and blatant deception that together demonstrate the extent to which the above statements are well founded. The earlier essay “Australian Politicians Must be Given a Use-By Date” began this important and necessary discussion on the assumption that a Federal election will occur sometime this year.
Transparency – where does the money go?
The Australian Tax Office does not contribute to the advancement and well-being of Australia. It is a revenue raising tool of the Federal Government and does more to destroy business and incentive than any other agency in the country.
Rather than being a means of collecting taxes in a fair and equitable manner so that government may distribute the revenue to areas of genuine need, the ATO presides over a system of taxation that permits the rich to minimise their tax obligations to levels that are the envy of most wages earners. As recent reports indicate, many international corporations pay little or no taxes in Australia.
Evidence provided to a 2014 parliamentary inquiry into tax disputes has revealed that small business taxpayers have been intimidated, made bankrupt, and suffered mental breakdowns and contemplated suicide after drawn-out disputes with the Tax Office.
While big business has the time and money to fight tax bills in court, small business is forced into compliance though threats of garnishee notices that require them to make immediate payments to the Tax Office, even while those debts are in dispute.
Even once the dispute has been resolved, the outcome does not result in “democratic” outcomes for taxpayers, especially individuals and small business.
Figures compiled by Insolvency Notices, which tracks insolvencies and bankruptcies, showed there were 568 wind-up applications in September 2015, which followed 582 wind-ups filed in May and therefore well in excess of the ATO’s long-term average of 92 a month.
A spokeswoman for the ATO said there were about 1000 ATO-initiated small business wind-ups in 2014/15 though there was a greater focus on legal action in the second half of the 2014/15 year with around 1200 wind-up actions filed during this period.
Contrast the struggle for small businesses to succeed with a letter to the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin dated 27 Feb 2015, in which N.W.H.Timms summarised the foreign aid paid out by the Australian taxpayer. The following figures highlights another reason there is inadequate funding for infrastructure in Australia:
Foreign Aid Australia has given $359 million to Congo; $397 million to Egypt; $981 million to Ethiopia; $1.4 billion to Haiti; $351 million to Hamas; $1.8 Billion to Iraq; $463 million to Jorden; $304 million to Kazakhstan; $816 million to Kenya; $1.45 billion to Libya; $622 million to Mexico; $404 million to Mozambique; $456 million to Nigeria; $2 billion to Pakistan; $698 million to Russia; $566 million to South Africa; $698 million to Senegal; $870 million to Sudan; $554 million to Tanzania; $451 million to Uganda; $331 million to Zambia; $650 million to Indonesia; and $500 million to New Guinea.
These figures total $17,121 million. On top of all this, the Australia taxpayer is about to spend $900 million to allow 12000 Syrian refugees into the country.
Then there is the Labor government’s stimulus package to reduce the impact of a potential 2007/2008 global economic disaster. They introduced green, eco-friendly incentive schemes such as roof insulation, gas conversions, and solar panels, all of which resulted in enormous costs not only to the taxpayer, but also for the individual as the market price of these services doubled upon the introduction of these schemes. When the school improvement programme is included, the total Rudd/Gillard legacy amounts to $52.4 billion: http://www.smh.com.au/business/rudd-unveils-104b-stimulus-plan-20081014-50a6.html and http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/swan-splashes-cash-in-rescue-bid/story-e6frf7jo-1111118741834
In 2013, the Coalition argued that Labor’s original all-fibre to the premises (FTTP) network could cost as much as $94 billion. In the 2016 NBN Corporate plan, the figure was revised down to $74 billion to A$84 billion. The NBN’s multi technology mix (MTM), incorporating fibre to the node (FTTN) and upgraded hybrid fibre coax (HFC) was less costly, with a price tag of $46 billion to $56 billion (The Conversation 01/12/15). These figures (as imprecise as they are) do not include ongoing operational costs.
As of 03/03/16, 851,449 premises were connected to the NBN. The NBN Corporate Plan 2011-2013 estimates coverage of approximately 13 million premises by the NBN, of which 12 million would be fibre (FTTP).
At the same time that funding to the CSIRO was reduced by $100million, $250m was provided for a school chaplaincy program. Mining companies continued to receive billions in diesel rebates while the motorist incurred increased fuel levies. As the Federal government dismantled the clean energy industry, Tasmania’s old growth forests were once again under attack and plans were underway to dump dredge spoil into the Great Barrier Reef. All the while, government members referred to key environmental protections as ‘green tape’ thinly implying that the restrictions should be removed.
During the Rudd / Gillard period, circa $27 million was donated (through AUSAID) to the Clinton Foundation. In August 2012, Gillard committed $320 million for the furtherance of women’s roles in the South Pacific. As always, establishing exact figures is impossible. See: http://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2015/04/australian-government-grants-to-the-clinton-foundation.html and http://www.ywca.org.au/newsletters/spring-2012/australia-announces-320-million-pacific-funding
Australians rightly react to inequity when taxpayers’ money is used to support immigrants who have no intention to contribute to society, while pensioners are forced to live on less. Nor should defence personnel receive $30,000.00 ‘gender reassignment’ operations at taxpayers’ expense.
Taxpayers’ money should not be used for gaining votes or improving flagging poll surveys.
The Campaign Advertising by Australian Government Departments and Agencies Half Year Report dated April 2013 stated that total expenditure made through the Central Advertising agency by the Federal government for the period 2004 to 2012 amounted to $ 1,141,100,000.00.
Consider also that for the same period, the total cost to the taxpayer of running federal elections and by-elections was $666,700,602.00.
Now, add to these figures the donations made by individuals, businesses, and companies to the Liberal, National, Green, and the Labor parties. These figures are not complete (as amounts under $12800.00 are not declared), so it is difficult to calculate the exact totals. The AEC reports that for 2014-15, the total receipts for the ALP came to $65,759,030.00; the Liberal party $75,911,043.00; the Nationals $11,166,507.00; and the Greens $9,366,912.00.
In addition to the enormous cost of voting politicians into power, Australians must suffer the insult of paying to advertise (sorry educate) us on issues and policies that should have been resolved through competence, diligence, and hard work.
At present, a federal politician who has stayed in office for 8 years (there are conditions) is able to retain their ‘hard-earned’ benefits and privileges should they choose to retire. The estimated total cost for prime ministers alone is approximately $42 million dollars per year. The figures for other retired MPs are difficult to obtain, but it is known that retired Senators receive an annual pension of around $80,000 per annum. The former prime minister Kevin Rudd now receives a total retirement package of $600,000.00 per annum for the remainder of his life. For full details see: http://www.aph.gov.au/about_parliament/parliamentary_departments/parliamentary_library/pubs/bn/1011/superannuationbenefits#_Toc274224141
The SMH (05/03/16) reported that the majority of federal politicians who have announced their retirement this year will be paid annual pensions of at least $118,000, which will add more than $2 million to the annual bill. Of the 22 MPs and senators who have already announced they will not re-contest the upcoming election, 16 are believed to be eligible for the controversial Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Scheme. That will add close to $1.9 million to the total, with more retirements to come. These amounts do not include extra allowances for time served as a minister, parliamentary secretary, or other office holder. Of the 16 eligible, 14 will get loadings that could add tens of thousands to their retirement income. See: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/retiring-federal-politicians-will-get-sixfigure-pensions-for-life-20160303-gna6c1.html#ixzz42kXEUIXI
Even with such privileges, and despite endless promises, politicians display no genuine concern for the taxpayer who is watching and reading endless reports on wasteful expenditures knowing that their families, children, their parents, and their neighbours are going without the basics of life.
Accountability – Do Politicians Really Care?
Cloward and Piven explain that the “electoral process” is designed to serve the interests of the ruling elite by providing a safety valve to dissipate the anger of the less well off.
They wrote: “that as long as lower-class groups abided by the norms governing the electoral–representative system, they would have little influence.… [I]t is usually when unrest among the lower classes breaks out of the confines of electoral procedures that the poor may have some influence,” as manifested through actions such as “strikes,” “riots,” “crime,” “incendiarism,” “massive school truancy,” “worker absenteeism,” “rent defaults,” and other forms of “mass defiance” and “institutional disruption”. See: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/printgroupProfile.asp?grpid=7522
This analysis may seem out of place for Australia, but at least it gives some insight into the attitudes of politicians towards the electorate.
Politicians’ attitudes are starkly exemplified through the deceptive practice of making promises that they do not intend to fulfil. Australians accept as fact that politicians lie and are rarely true to their word. This acknowledgement has caused most electors to disengage and lose interest in deciding which candidate to vote for or even why. As long a badly performing politician will not be re-elected then that is the best outcome they can expect. Of course, there are voters who nominate the same party election after election regardless of its dismal past performance.
What are Politicians Really Doing for Us?
While there are scientists and physicians working towards better treatments for our sick, entrepreneurs building our economy, and numerous selfless people working towards the improvement of our communities, Australians should not accept the appointment of incompetent self-promoters to positions of power and prominence, and later given dubious recognition for so-called excellence and service.
A member of parliament who has lied and manipulated their way into power, who has betrayed their voters, is a fraud and a conman. If this is the case, politicians should be held accountable for their actions in the exact same manner as every other Australian citizen. If it is not the case, and politicians have not achieved their election promises, then at the very least, they are incompetent and should be removed from power before they needlessly waste more of the taxpayers’ limited money. In light if what is written above, is it all a case of:
All Animals are Equal, But Some Animals are More Equal than Others
FYI, a rough estimate of the costs outlined in this essay exceeds $128 billion.
Part 3 follows below.
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