JOHN MENADUE. It is class warfare alright

The government is hoping to let its business mates back up their trucks to the Treasury for a windfall grab of $65 billion in company tax reductions.  At the same time, the Government’s Welfare Reform Bill contains, as Ross Gittins has pointed out, seventeen measures that will adversely affect the lives of thousands of the unemployed, single parents and women and children escaping domestic violence.

 Malcolm Turnbull and his mates are winning the class war.  But to disguise their activities they blame the victims and their advocates who protest about unfair treatment.

 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 heist of reduced company taxes 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 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 won’t hide the malfeasance 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.

Class warfare is blatant in many fields.

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’.

Only this month  the Herald Sun and The Australian called Bill Shorten’s proposed reform of dividend imputation  a ‘class war’ But they did not describe Malcolm Turnbull’s company tax cut 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.

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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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