Welcome to Australia 2.0. Where the government will give you everything you want in exchange for everything you have. Ok. That’s only half true. The government will take everything you have and give you what it wants from what is left.
This brings to mind the 1939 observation of Albert Nock :
like all predatory or parasitic institutions, (Government’s) first instinct is that of self-preservation. All its enterprises are directed first towards preserving its own life, and second, towards increasing its own power and enlarging the scope of its own activity.
Labor or Coalition. There is no longer a fundamental difference. The direction is the same, it is only the speed that varies.
John Roskam wrote a great, but sadly too accurate piece in the AFR today:
In essence, Labor and the Coalition accept an ever-increasing role for the government in the economy and in people’s lives. While Labor is proposing the part-nationalisation of the salaries of childcare workers, the Coalition wants to part-nationalise lending for residential property.
Significantly, at this election neither Labor or the Coalition are suggesting there’s any area of public or private activity in which there should be less government intervention. Similarly, the idea the role and responsibililities of federal, state and local government should be clearly delineated has gone out the window. All politics might be local, but when federal politicians start promising the replacement of cricket pitches on local council sports grounds its time to ask whether the concept of federalism needs to be reconceived.
Taking their lead from New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, who recently said
(there is) plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands.
both major parties will make sure to take from the wrong and give to the right. You can see it in the language. They fund schools and hospitals and roads. To hell with students, parents, patients and citizens.
In his wonderfully eloquent obituary to Bob Hawke, Troy Bramston wrote:
The economic reforms were groundbreaking: the float of the dollar, deregulating the financial system, slashing tariffs, introducing universal superannuation, overhauling the tax system with big reductions in company and personal tax rates, and privatising assets. These changes laid the basis for three decades of economic growth. The budget was structurally repaired, and spending cut in real terms, which produced four surpluses — the first since the 1950s. An Accord with unions moderated wage claims in return for social wage benefits.
This is election has highlighted the new normal in Australia. And it is not pretty. In this new normal, reform is not about privatisation but nationalisation. It is not about tax cuts but tax hikes. It is not about spending cuts but spending rises. The definition of reform has taken a new meaning.
If Bill Shorten wants to be the heir apparent to Hawke and Chris Bowen wants to be the heir apparent to Keating, they need to first read some history, because they are currently on track to be their heirs to Gough Whitlam and Jim Cairns.
But that’s ok. Scott Morrison is not really the heir apparent to John Howard but more accurately to Graham Richardson … whatever it takes. Whatever it takes.
Elections used to be about change. Whomever wins tomorrow, there will be no change, there will be the same at different speeds.