Australia has, to put it bluntly, a public policy BDSM obsession. We like our public policy to inflict pain on ourselves and others, and when it comes to public policy failure, contemporary Australia is the definitive experience. If our government was to propose Australian citizens drop their strides and lower their buttocks over a white hot pointed steel pole, and if the media were to follow up with a vigorous discussion on the relative merits of white, red or blue hot poles, and the degree to which they should be pointy, or of the vast array of aromas searing flesh can produce, it would be perfectly in keeping with what we have.
If there was such a thing as Olympic Gold Medals for national economic self-harm then Australia would be legend. Monty Python at their most biting were nowhere near as grotesque as a nation which has (inter alia):-
- Enabled Australia’s banks to help make Australians the most heavily privately indebted on the planet, commit large scale fraud while facilitating that, gouge the living shit out of Australians in the attempt to service that, and then subsequently look Australians in the eye and run the line ‘You asked for it, and if anyone asks any questions about what we do you are all going to feel a lot of pain’
Australia’s private debt profile according to the RBA in March 2017
- Enabled Australia’s banks, while underpinned by Australian taxpayers, to import global capital into Australia in such volumes that the volume limits the effectiveness of monetary policy and the competitiveness of anything done in Australia, while hosing that ‘investment’ into an asset class which is a final product, adding no further value, and which generates further ‘demand’ in the most contorted manner, mainly for imports.
Australia’s debt promoters are innovative in new debt placement strategies and sensitive to consumers
- Turned an economy which had spent a generation opening itself up to competition into an economy which is – no matter where you look from energy generation, telephones, banks, insurance, retail, transport, media, entertainment – the single most spectacular menagerie of nationally protected gouging oligopolies on the planet
Australia’s employees are likely to be under far more competitive pressure than the companies they work for, and probably pay more of their income as tax.
- After a generation of economic restructuring around competitiveness, managed to outsource externally competitive jobs to fit in a mining boom which left global capital largely untaxed and left generally unrewarded the Australian people for the resources they made available.
- Crafted ‘supply’ as an issue in a housing market in a nation which has more land per head of population than almost any other.
- Crafted a public discourse in a land where houses are more expensive on an incomes and rents basis than anywhere in the world outside island states like Hong or Singapore, where politicians aren’t actually able to come out and say house prices need to come down.
- Crafted an unspoken narrative of housing construction being a bridge across the downturn in mining investment, against the backdrop of housing being globally expensive, when large volumes of the product are for clients (who receive preferential tax treatment) who keep the end product off the market.
The net economic benefit of empty apartments in our major CBDs is?
- Has maintained over 20 years that Negative Gearing of residential real estate is contributing to supply when more than 90% of real estate negatively geared is pre-existing. This is a public policy position (which cost the budget about $7 Billion last FY) which is less than 10% effective.
Negative Gearing as a contributor to new housing since 1990. A more pathetic policy outcome would be difficult to imagine – even in Australia where pathetic public policy outcomes are world class.
- Turned a public service which a generation ago was globally respected for its world class policy generation and management abilities, on behalf of the Australian people into a demoralised wreck which houses the private sector at its most rapacious, as contracted ‘service providers’ who have a sole purpose of extracting funds from the budget and under delivering every time – see IT, facilities, Training, HR, Grounds Maintenance, Call Centres.
- Created an economy where everyone – from multinational corporates using Panama tax or Singapore marketing, to medical finance & legal professionals, to tradesmen, to grandads and grandmas – thinks that the surest safest way to achieve prosperity is to avoid tax and organise ones affairs to do this to the greatest extent possible, with the most comprehensive array of property avoidance mechanisms – from the generations worth of taxes gas producers will never pay on the amortization of their white elephant investments, to the gold plating of the energy transmission sector, to the shelf companies, to the radiographers and GPs massaging negative gearing and CGT, to the private trusts and SMSFs, to the entitlement of millionaires to claim pensions.
Percentage of Australian corporates which paid NO fucking tax at all in 2014
Tax avoidance using negative gearing benefits the top 10% of earners the mostest – with surgeons, anaesthetists, lawyers, mining engineers and finance managers first in line
- Turned a foreign investment review (FIRB) and international money laundering regulatory process (AUSTRAC) into a fig leaf for the property Ponzi, by looking the other way when it comes to foreign buyers of Australian real estate, and by completely avoiding examination of billion brought into Australia to buy real estate, for the possibility that it is the proceeds of corruption which is being laundered. This is despite AML legislation having been in discussion for ten years, and repeated warnings by global bodies.
Foreign Investors aren’t allowed to buy existing Australian real estate, but they’ve been buying a lot of it for a long time – FIRB (and numerous governments) has done nothing about it
- Turned our Monetary Policy and Market regulatory agencies (RBA and APRA come on down) into plausible deniability agents for promoting more debt and housing speculation and/or looking the other way on risks to the banking sector. How exhilarating does real estate investment lending need to become before it is scary?
- Managed to craft gas supply shortages out of a natural gas bounty [this is actually genius level stupidity for Australia to have come to this point].
The billions invested in plants like this to supply a glutted global market, are being amortized so as to mean there will be never any taxes paid from their operations. But the upside is that they take the gas which used to be cheap for Australians, providing monopoly profits to the pipeline operator which also pays little to no tax, and convert it to LNG and sell it offshore at a near loss, while making gas far more expensive for Australian consumers. The corporates involved and most politicians want you to think that the problem is farmers who dont want fracking for coal seam gas in NSW & VIC. The genius of Australia’s public policy gas stupidity only dawns when you realise that the marginal electricity price in Australia is set by gas fired power stations (and think about the cost implications of this for them).
- Turned its education sector into a cash revenue loss leader for the private sector to extract budget funds while facilitating visa fraud by foreign nationals.
- Has turned education funding into a mechanism by which the wealthy have the entitlement to deprive the children of ordinary Australians the right to a decent education, or hold it to ransom unless they get their take first.
- Has made the worlds most expensive and generally irrelevant tertiary courses available for anyone thinking of tertiary education in Australia.
It isn’t just international students Australia has the world’s most expensive courses for. The ripoff starts at home.
- Has turned aged care into a mechanism by which the FIRE sector (think BUPA for starters) can hold aged Australians to ransom to sell their homes to find aged care, while providing a despicable institutionalised existence, staffed by temporary visa staff, and sucking funds (yet again – this is a regular theme) from the budget.
- Has tuned health care and medicine into a vehicle in which wealthier Australians get offset vast amounts of cash to go with a private system, which will shunt them the first time they have any health issue, into the public system, and by which doctors and specialists get to rip more funds out of the budget no questions asked, all while having <em> their </em> labour market as the most heavily protected in the nation with stringent safeguards on the requisite education and accreditation to ensure that Australians pay globally spectacular prices for medical services and that there is not one skerrick of adjustment to the ‘market’ in response to the economic profit scenario.
- Turned global warming and its obvious and data backed certainty into a lever for nutters of every walk and persuasion – from wind farms to inoculation to the anti gay and lesbian movement and that section of society which just wants the right to call people offensive names.
- Turned a once well respected immigration system into a binary (we are either for or against it) unmentionable stress factor in the lives of Australians, running at four times any previous level, simply to ‘dilute’ the ‘losers’ of Australian policymaking with some additional people who will be just that little bit more desperate to make Australia work for them than they will about identifying and acting on the socio-economic lunatic asylum we have become.
- Turned a once plausible commitment to free trade into an unquestioning and unquestionable commitment to trading away any competitive advantage for Australians in the Australian economy, and created a situation where every last Free Trade Agreement which has been signed by Australia over the last twenty years can be looked at in simple terms and be identified as a net loss for Australians and a net win for foreign companies governments and peoples looking to engage with Australia without endangering their own protected markets.
The projected outcomes of the now defunct TPP. Australia had a worse outcome than every nation but the US – yet both mainstream political parties were wedded to it until President Trump blew it out of the water.
- Turned a once plausible commitment to free trade into a situation where every last Australian buying software, intellectual property, music or literature from offshore by device is probably being charged more for it because they are in Australia.
- Created a narrative of Australia being a ‘Service’ economy where any service based in Australia and carried out by Australians will be amongst the most expensive of its type in the world, and where the everyday ordinary experience of all Australians when it comes to service is of being pursued to the point of harassment to sign a contract then being treated like a leper by any company providing a service to them after making their way through echelons of phone banks, elevator music, a message about the conversation being recorded for ‘coaching purposes’, a peon on the end of a line who cannot address the issue in any way, and who cannot make decisions, leading to a regular urge to lean out the window and scream ‘ffaaaaaaarkkkk!’ after experiencing Australian customer service.
The guiding principles of Australian customer service, and the bedrock of Australia’s new ‘Service’ economy – No Pain = No Gain
Of course all this has been cheered on by a bankrupt oligopoly media (one print proprietor which is openly run as the loss leader for a real estate sales outfit, and the other which is run as the loss leader for a foreign national gargoyle, three commercial TV networks who never make a profit either, and who present ‘news’ in which sport gets more time than anything else) captured by vested interests and all of which have a first impulse of reducing the competition they may face from a public funded ABC, and which generally react to events unfolding in this world the way Monty Python envisaged witch burning crowds.
Australia’s media in action
Rupert is the non real estate dependent print media proprietor losing money on Australian operations and making sure he pays as little tax here as possible (and thats before we get to the tenor of the contribution th Rupertarian stable makes)
And we have a political system at State and Federal Level which is best defined by the fact that our last five Prime Ministers have been a lying weasel in Howard who was able to coast along on the basis of prior economic restructuring to recast ‘relaxed and comfortable’ as the ‘almost comatose and flatlining’ economy we now have, Two ‘A’ Grade Psychopaths in Rudd and Abbott who didn’t give a shit about ordinary Australians as long as they got to be leader, and Two A Grade Frauds in Gillard and Turnbull who never have actually been able to convince Australians that A. they have some awareness of the experience of ordinary Australians or B. they actually believe anything they actually say about what they think is the experience off ordinary Australians.
John, Kevin, Julia, Tony & Malcolm – the guardians of our national wellbeing for a generation, and authors of our economic bequest to future Australians
That of course is before we get to the allowances they ream Australian taxpayers for, the contracts they (unaccountably) sign giving development rights, regulatory contracts, removing public interest oversight of, and then finally to the decisions affecting all of the above they are party to – without a single trace of accountability for their decisionmaking – and certainly without ever going anywhere near mentioning that these people are amongst Australia’s most spectacular psychopath careerists and property investors, who regularly – when subsequently ensconced in diplomatic postings, international agencies or board positions relating to companies they have materially influenced the fortunes of while in office – quite often chime in with observations that maybe the policies they have been part of dont actually work.
…………..And a big wave to Victoria’s Don Nardella (ALP) who has claimed 100k for ostensibly living in a caravan at Ocean Grove to represent an electorate in Melton, in Melbourne. <em> Well done, Sir. I didn’t think my estimation of politicians could go lower than Bronwyn Bishop, Sussan Ley, politicians claiming TA for their spouses to attend the Grand final with free tickets, or Ministers signing off on property developments or multi billion dollar freeways without cost value analysis, or other mechanisms to leave subsequent generations impoverished……….but you, Sir, have helped me set that bar just that tiny bit lower. Thank you
Don & Caravan of the type found in Ocean Grove (further from Melbourne than his electorate and the basis of his claim for 100k worth of living away from home money)
A small collection of Australian politicians who would jib you for expenses, sign you up for billions worth of contracts without cost benefit analysis, take funding from offshore, not declared investment property etc etc etc…..
They think losing a portfolio is a punishment, or that spending time on the backbench is penance
POLICY Failure has metastasized across every last facet of the Australian socio-economic body. Itis the prime factor in the visible tumors of the political system and the deformed behaviours of the Australian press. I have doubts about whether the patient can be saved, and find myself wondering if what we are going through is actually some form of weird palliative care in a weird national socio economic terminal ward, where we are going to sign cheques and provide card numbers until long after the treating doctors calls family to advise them to hang around – until the very end. I just hope the drugs are good, but suspect that, in keeping with the care provided by the health and aged care sector, disappointment lasts beyond life itself.