I can handle things. I’m smart.
Not like everybody says. Like dumb. I’m smart.
And I want respect.
Just when you thought a Coalition Government could not select a worse, more vacuous Treasurer than Joe Hockey, the Hon Josh Frydenberg steps up to the mic.
In a speech to the Business Council of Australia, Treasurer Fredo says:
Corporate Australia must help lift flagging productivity, and hence wages, by investing in growing businesses, not share buybacks and special dividends.
Could it be that business is returning capital because it has no better investment options? You know, because of things like world record energy prices, high corporate tax rates, exponentially increasing regulations and a hostile business environment. If only business had the luxury of “investing” in South Australian submarines, NBNs and Great Barrier Reef Foundations and to fund such investments through force.
Who would have thought that Treasurer Fredo could under-do Treasurer Hockey. Yes. That Joe Hockey, whose first budget was such an emergency that it started with tax cuts and expenditure reductions and finished with tax increases and expenditure increases. The exact opposite of what was intended. That very same Joe Hockey whose failures were rewarded with an Ambassadorship to the US, yet again demonstrating that the Peter Principle in Politics knows no bounds.
But according to Treasurer Fredo:
… the government is doing all that is practicable in terms of policy settings to enable productivity and his message to business is to “back yourself and use your balance sheet to invest and grow”.
… share buybacks and capital returns are becoming increasingly prominent and the default option for corporates but is a buyback always the best option for the future growth of the company and therefore the economy?”
For the Treasurer of a Government which seems to have a plan for everything, including most likely a central plan, could it be argued that trying to tell private businesses how to spend and invest their capital is tantamount to trying to socialise the means of production?
Good thing the Government is so well run and governed that it is doing all that is practicable in terms of policy settings to enable productivity. Everything except reducing taxes, reducing regulation, getting out of the way and making the investment environment hospitable. Oh and jacking up “cost recovery fees” on business (taxes by another name), requiring banks to jack up their regulatory holdings of capital (necessitating dividend cuts and more capital raisings) and regulating for banks to make it difficult to lends?
Treasurer Fredo also said:
Productivity is a national task requiring a national conversation.
That’s right. There will be lots of productivity conversations to go with anti-productivity regulatory measures.