JOHN MENADUE. The ongoing class warfare .

 Pauline Hanson  usually votes for the wealthy end of town. She has done it again.

Upper income earners will be the biggest beneficiaries over the next seven years with the recent tax cuts. Average total earnings for employees is about $62,000 a year.  Moving to  a flat marginal tax rate of 32.5% for incomes from a low $41.000 a year to a high of $200.000 is a massive attack on our progressive taxation system. It decisively favours the wealthy at a time when we are seeing disturbing increases in inequality.

To defend this largesse for the wealthy, Malcolm Turnbull  tells us that the Coalition ‘believes in aspiration’. He tells us that the tax changes are ‘good for working families’. That is  privilege speaking.  It is not good for most families and aspiration is not peculiar to the wealthy friends he serves. We all want to improve and do better. And aspirations are not just about more money. They  include relationships and quality of life like clean air,clean water,liveable cities and a healthy planet. They also include aspirations,indeed rights we all have for ourselves and our families for equal access to good education,good health care and good housing.  We are citizens , not just taxpayers.

People from privileged backgrounds like Malcolm Turnbull have little appreciation of other people’s aspirations and needs They think every one starts life like themselves on third base. If only lazy people were more aspirational and worked harder.

  Without any doubt Malcolm Turnbull and his wealthy  mates are winning the class Australia. But to disguise their activities in creating more inequality  they blame the victims  for not being aspirational  enough and their advocates who protest about unfair treatment of waging class war

 These are classic examples of what the billionaire investor, Warren Buffett, said in describing class war in the US.  ‘There’s class war all right, but it’s my class, the rich class that’s making war and we’re winning’.

Malcolm Turnbull and his rich banker and other mates are waging class war in Australia in cooperation with a pliant Murdoch media.  And they are winning . To disguise their greed they accuse those who seek justice of being instigators of class war and political agitators.

This  undermining of progressive income taxation by the Turnbull Government is only part of a class war that the rich and powerful, along with their lobbyists, have been initiating and winning in Australia.

There is a long list of examples of successful class warfare by the wealthy in Australia .

  • There is massive tax avoidance, particularly for the benefit of large multinational companies whose benefit for Australia is grossly exaggerated.
  • The Coalition successfully protected miners and polluters from the Mineral Resources Rent Tax and the Carbon Tax.
  • Through negative gearing and capital gains concessions, older and wealthy property owners in Australia benefit at the expense of the young and people on low incomes. According to the Grattan Institute governments provide over $36 billion p.a. in benefits to the predominantly wealthy through exemptions from land and capital gains tax and other concessions.
  • The government facilitates superannuation arrangements that have become a vehicle for massive tax avoidance. Thanks to the time-bombs that Peter Costello planted, many people who have low or no taxable incomes are very wealthy and own a lot of property.  According to Treasury, over $30 billion p.a. is the cost of numerous superannuation concessions.
  • Fearful of a Royal Commission, the banks, with their enormous profits and obscene executive salaries, were defended to the last by the Turnbull government. The terms of the Royal Commission were calculated to cause as little embarrassment to the banks as possible.  But even this didn’t hide the malfeasance  and greed of the banks.
  • There are incessant government campaigns against penalty rates, minimum wages and the role of trade unions.
  • As part of its class warfare, the government has skewed education funding to favour wealthy schools at the expense of disadvantaged children across the country.
  • In furtherance of its campaign to help the privileged, the government promotes a $12 billion p.a. taxpayer subsidy for private health insurance.

Yet the government with the support of News Corporation has the gall to blame those seeking fairness and social justice of engaging in class war.

They have picked up the fake story-line of John Howard who criticized his political opponents of   ‘political envy‘ in wanting to redress injustice in the community.

Both Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison loudly accuse the ALP and its supporters of waging class warfare whenever those who seek social justice have the temerity to raise their voice.

Blaming the victims is an old and tried tactic

Michael Stutchbury in the Australian Financial Review, in defending the 2016 Budget, dismissed the critics as participating in a ‘faux class struggle’.  Peter van Onselem in The Australian accused Bill Shorten of conducting an ‘ugly class war’.  Loyal-as-ever to Rupert Murdoch, Dennis Shanahan and Paul Kelly  both claimed that ‘Labor runs a class warfare campaign’.

The Herald Sun and The Australian called Bill Shorten’s proposed reform of dividend imputation  a ‘class war’ But they don’t describe Malcolm Turnbull’s tax cuts for the wealthy in the same way.

To defend their power and privilege, the wealthy revert time and time again to attacking the disadvantaged or those that support them.  The status quo which the elites represent must be defended at all costs by attacking any attempt to improve the lot of the less privileged.

This attack on those who seek social justice is a deliberate attempt to avoid the truth that Warren Buffett speaks of.   The wealthy in the US and Australia are initiating and winning the class war.

We now await the next stage in the  class war waged by the wealthy, the $65 b company tax cuts.


John Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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6 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. The ongoing class warfare .

  1. When we were in Queensland last year during the State Election campaign where callers do not go through a politically correct filter by producers [or humiliated and silenced by so called neutral presenters as is the case in Melbourne in some programs] there many interesting calls about Hanson. While she portrays herself as battler’s friend down south , callers pointed to her owning several city buildings and a cattle farm in Rockhampton which was not challenged with a denial . We also surprised by the ordinary middle of the road, intelligent people who supported her because they were so disgusted by main parties on both sides. They did not believe her policies but wanted to make a protest to send message to major parties to actually listen and represent us rather than run the same old agenda. It is a pity Xenaphon is not there to provide a genuine third voice along with Jacqui who represents the losers in the economic equation pushed on market driven policy. We desperately need leaders like Don Chipp, John Siddons , Bob Brown and those mps who forsook ministerial careers to do what they were elected to do. When people have to turn to Hanson to express their frustration , we are in a very low state of democratic health.

  2. Avatar Anthony Pun says:

    I am no political scientist but educated in the “school of hard knocks” to understand that our Democracy is definitely following the US model, not in the governance structure because constitution differences but in the way how wealth is translated to power.

    Fifty years ago, I learn from my Aussie mates that Australia is an egalitarian society and he said “You drive your Merc and I have my Holden mate and I can go anyway you can”. Fast forward, we are now talking about billionaires not millionaires.

    In our capitalistic democracy, we do not begrudge people getting wealthy but if we believe in social justice and fair distribution of wealth (without labelling those in need as dole bludgers), then the most equitable way of redistributing wealth is through taxation. With taxation, we are able finance universal health scheme, education for the people, pension scheme and other centre-link programs for the needy.

    If we do not watch it, the gap between the rich and the poor will widen and a significant proportion of our population will be the “poverty” underclass. A good look at US on how they treat their poor (no universal health, no safety net and far less welfare services) will remind us what a lucky country we are living in. In US, there are high social costs like high crime rate, high incarnation rate and politics for the rich only.

    After 3 generations, even the wealthiest family cannot guarantee that their descendants will hold the wealth. This is a reminder to the wealthy that what they do today will affect their descendants who may become poor.

    If we prefer our Democracy based on fairer distribution of wealth, equity and access to political office and a good social welfare system, then we should look to government policies that will help maintain our way of life that we currently enjoy.

    Democracy in the US leads in the free of speech but everything else about the political systems is about money. No money means no power & influence. Is this a sign of Democracy breaking down?

    Australian Democracy based on capitalism and social justice principles is a better model.

  3. Avatar paul walter says:

    It wasn’t just Hanson of course. It was half a dozen scabs including several brought in who replaced a number of far better people previously there.

    No one seems to see what goes on in our country.

  4. Avatar Marilyn Lake says:

    Well done John Menadue.
    There has been astonishingly little discussion in the mainstream media of the principle of progressive taxation, what it means, when it was introduced, on what grounds and how it was central to the ideal of a progressive commonwealth. Only depressing articles addressing readers as individual taxpayers – not as citizens – and encouraging them to calculate what their take will be. Poor fellow my country.

  5. It is interesting how the choice of words by the conservatives, can make a difference. The words “class-warfare” frighten people so they tend to vote on the “sage side”. By contrast, would the words “social justice” be used instead, people would react differently – as perceived by George Orwell in his Principles of Newspeak.

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