Leading article Australia

Still Laboring under delusions

6 July 2019

9:00 AM

6 July 2019

9:00 AM

Six weeks after the federal election, the resumption of parliament has forced Labor to accept the unpalatable truth that it lost. Having paraded around the country pretending to listen to voters, while offering gratuitous advice to the government about how to run the country, Mr Albanese has finally been mugged by reality — and a good thing too.

Underlining Labor’s irrelevance, the government’s $158 billion package of tax cuts sailed through the Lower House and with luck will be approved by the Senate. Regardless, since May 18, the ALP has subjected itself to the slow torture of death by a thousand tax cuts, painfully trying to accept that voters rejected its big tax-and-spend agenda. It’s been agonising just to observe.

Having previously opposed all but the tax cuts for the lowest income workers, it has now decided to support tax cuts for middle-income earners and even wants them to be fast-tracked.  But it still can’t bring itself to accept tax cuts for those it disparagingly labelled ‘the top end of town’ — although it now says that it is not because they are rich but because they won’t spend the money and stimulate the economy.

The Queensland Labor government’s about face on the Adani coal mine was another welcome development in the post-election environment but the Greens are still struggling with accepting the electorate’s verdict on what they insisted was the ‘climate change election’.

The news that former Greens leader Bob Brown is seeking to raise half a million dollars to buy land to establish a base to train activists and plan protests should be welcomed by the government.  Mr Brown’s anti-coal convoy played a pivotal role in rallying Queenslanders to reject Labor and the Greens. Although Mr Brown has only raised a paltry few thousand dollars, everything he does to promote his campaign is likely to help the government win the next election.

While alarmists are panicking about the heatwave in Europe, in Australia the skyrocketing cost of electricity has inflicted a terrible cost on the poor and the elderly. More than 130 people were admitted just to NSW emergency departments last winter with cold-related problems, including hypothermia, a 34 per cent increase compared with a decade ago. That’s because the wholesale price of power has increased by more than 150 per cent, just in the last four years. The renewables fetish has cost the country dearly and the federal government’s commitment to end subsidies can’t come soon enough.

If the price of renewables is as competitive as their backers claim, they can compete on their own merits and bring down the cost of energy without punishing the poor.

After the evident distress that the sacking of Israel Folau caused many Australians, demonstrated by their rush to contribute to his legal costs, it is reassuring that both the government and the opposition have committed to working together to protect religious freedom. The tolerance zealots have been shrill in their condemnation not just of Mr Folau but of his wife, gloating at cutting down a tall poppy, glorying in his financial losses and smearing him as a ‘homophobe.’

During the election, the Prime Minister promised to introduce a bill that would make it unlawful to discriminate against people because of their religious belief and has said that he wants to work with the opposition because he doesn’t want religion to be an issue that divides Australians.

After an ominous silence on the subject while the debate on Folau raged, this week Mr Morrison said that it was important that employers don’t impinge on employees’ private practice, private belief and private activity.  Amen to that.

Logies logic

The Logies, television’s night of nights last Sunday marked the sad decline of commercial television as it struggles to raise revenue while competing with content-rich, on-demand streaming services on the one hand and a billion-dollar national broadcaster on the other. Audiences are shrinking and along with it, advertising revenue. The success of so many programs made by the ABC was not surprising, given the generous subsidy extracted from taxpayers that insulates them from the cruel winds of competition to which everyone else in the sector is exposed. The award of the Gold Logie to ABC comedian Tom Gleeson struck a raw nerve, after his campaign relentlessly mocked the Logies. However funny it was, it seemed to some that he was kicking the rest of the sector when they were down and was able to do so, not by being funnier, but because he can count on taxpayers’ deep pockets.

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