The ALP’s daily election announcement, “Bill’s Media Releases”, would be better termed “Labor’s Media Release Bills”.
We got off to a slow start in the 60 day election campaign with announcements in the million dollar range of baubles like assisting the “world famous” Rockhampton beef show and “feasibility studies” into enlarging a dam.
But already baked into Labor’s pie was $29 billion in Gonski education spending that mean-spirited Malcolm is apparently going to stint on. Added to this is another $430 million that is to be poured down the education sinkhole for teaching scholarships, additional earmarked Aboriginal funding and for regional classrooms (to match the school halls oversupplied under the Ruddster).
And we are cranking things up daily with program spending for family violence, and to teach kids about water safety.
Today we got $59 million for a Manufacturing transition boost. We are told we have a problem due to the closure of motor manufacturing, which the ALP blames on Abbott/Turnbull because they abandoned some of the selective funding that was a legacy of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd excesses. Actually, jobs being lost in the motor vehicle industry stem from the workplace relations which the ALP’s union funders foisted on the sector together with Judge Mordy Bromberg’s determination (eventually and belatedly overturned by the Full Federal Court) not to allow ordinary workers to vote to modify the job-destroying conditions their union masters were insisting upon.
The Manufacturing transition boost’s focus is on Victoria and South Australia where state government schemes have already been announced but other states are invited to join. The plan includes:
- funding for South Australian firms to gain contracts with the subsidised submarine program (inappropriate because agitators scare us from procuring the nuclear vessels we really need)
- funding for “strategic” development, “business models”, “marketing strategies”, “management skills”
Labor reckons that the funding will prevent the loss of 200,000 jobs in manufacturing. Not a bad outlay if it worked, as it involves less than $300 per job saved. This is all the more so when, according to PC estimates, the industry previously received government funding of $393 million a year plus tariff assistance (albeit declining) of $507 million.
The program will not, of course, work. Even in principle it is based on wise politicians and bureaucrats knowing better than businesses how to operate and, in practice, funding allocation will inevitably be political. All these programs do is create, at the expense of genuine production, jobs for consultants and quangos positions for political placemen. The sums raised in the financing of the programs more than offset any benefits of the spending, while also distracting businesses from seeking out new markets and new means of supplying them while they focus on the paperburden that is require to get the grants on offer.
Would it not be wonderful for a political party to say, “We have spent too much money and we are going to abolish all industry assistance and associated public service support, cut existing social spending across the board by 10 per cent, deregulate housing, water and farming and we’ll see how much tax relief this provides.”
Unfortunately it is not going to happen soon. Tax revolts of previous eras meant the payers overthrew big spending governments. Now the payers who actually create the wealth are in a minority and the recipients of favours, courtesy of government taxes and regulations, are in the majority. The bidding process is limited only by how much political parties can soak productive activities without, in the process, actually turning off the tap.