Just in case you were under any illusion that this government cared about poor people or working families, its top business adviser came out last night slamming the minimum wage, the NDIS, Gonski reforms and the carbon tax.
He wants to make the poorest people in this country poorer by lowering the minimum wage. In what kind of a country is it OK for rich people to get up and say that the people earning the least amount of money are, in fact, earning too much?
Make no mistake: the war on the poor has begun. The Aussie “fair go” is a lie; dead and buried.
Maurice Newman, head of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, gave a speech last night at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia function from which we gained a very good insight into what kind of advice he will be giving to Tony Abbott.
Among the policies he criticised were: the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Gonski school reforms, wages for being too high (although presumably not his), and industrial relations for being too rigid.
On the same night, Q&A hosted a panel made up entirely of business leaders: David Knox, CEO and managing director of Santos; Carol Schwartz, chairman of Our Community and Founding Chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia; John Symond, founder and chair of Aussie Home Loans; Elizabeth Proust, chair of Nestle Australia; and Graham Bradley, non-executive chair of Stockland Corporation, EnergyAustralia Holdings and HSBC Bank Australia.
The first question was about business confidence and Graham Bradley offered the opinion that the new government was doing well by consulting with the business community, which he felt would lift the confidence of business and “ordinary Australians”.
Really? Would ordinary Australians really be happy that the new government is listening to people who say that the poorest people in this nation are actually being paid too much? And that casual and shift workers should have their penalty rates taken away so that business can make more money to pay top management more (whose wages it is out of the question to ever question at all)? Really? Isn’t this what the last conservative government was kicked out for?
I couldn’t reach my remote control in time to block out Aussie Home Loans’ John Symond – a real man of the people – banging on about an “immoral tax” on business hiring.
You want to talk about “immoral taxes”, Mr Symond? How about the tax on superannuation for low and middle income earners the Coalition is about to reimpose while giving a tax break to 16,000 people with more than $2 million in super? Or the tax on tampons? Or the regressive GST? Are the taxes on business in Australia so immoral that they failed to make you a multi-millionaire?
In his stirring speech, Newman “excoriated the Labor government” for – among other things – the “class warfare particularly aimed at business”, reported the Australian Financial Review.
This is where the Labor government has also done the poor a disservice. It’s time to stop denying there is class warfare in this country. There is. The rich are waging war on the poor and they’re winning.
The widely reported Credit Suisse 2013 Global Wealth Report which found that Australia was one of the world’s richest countries – second only to Switzerland in average wealth and the richest in terms of median wealth – also found that Australia was the OECD’s eighth most unequal country.
In the last decade in Australia, the richest 10 per cent enjoyed almost 50 per cent of the growth in incomes. The richest 1 per cent had 22 per cent of the gains, The Age has reported.
Not yet as bad as the US, but we’re on our way.
Only when the battle lines of the class warfare are clearly drawn and the war cries are loud and clear, can we get down to the business of fighting poverty properly.
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*Gabrielle Jackson has been a writer for more than 15 years. Her work has appeared in the Village Voice, CNN, the Sydney Morning Herald and New Matilda. She has lived in Sydney, New York, London and Barcelona. Apart from reading and writing, her passions include politics, travel, cooking and eating. She also has a penchant for kebabs, but that’s another story. You can follow her on Twitter: @gabriellecj.