Green unions blockade ahead?
by Peter Switzer
Look out from mid-year this year as politics will hot up like the globe’s average temperature with the Greens set to take control of the Senate. And adding heat to the kitchen are the union bosses who are publicly sticking it to a Federal Labor minister.
My concern is that there’s a concerted campaign to underline the need for the mining tax and the Greens and the unions would like one a lot tougher than Julia Gillard’s MRRT, which she concocted before the election to replace Kevin Rudd’s mining tax, which helped sink both the stock market and the dollar.
This’s why I’m a little concerned about the comments coming out of Canberra.
Last week, Finance Minister Penny Wong, who was always seen as a weird person for the job given her left leanings, made a mining tax speech. In true politician fashion, she bagged a rival’s performance and in this case she focused on the Howard Government’s loss of more than $300 billion by not taxing miners because of the commodities boom.
Wong said “during the final term of the previous government, the Coalition government saw revenue windfalls of $334 billion …of this nine in 10 dollars disappeared in either permanent revenue or permanent increases in government expenditure”.
Softly, softly taxing
Not all of her thinking is faulty as she wants to tap into the mining success, which is hurting many parts of the economy via higher interest rates and a higher dollar, to help the many sectors struggling because of the miners’ lucky link to the explosive growth of China, India, etc.
The trick is to tap into the successful miners and not the up and comers, and not tax them so heavily that it rocks the stock market. This boom should last a long time and so softly, softly taxing makes sense, if you really need the money.
Sign of strength
But all of this talk worries me as the AWU secretary, Paul Howes, has launched a bitter campaign against Rio Tinto. Over the past week the AWU has been celebrating its 125th anniversary and it was also the scene of Julia Gillard giving it to some of her union overlords.
In fact, she gave it to the 29-year old Paul Howes, who many think is too big for his britches. However, he’s a political force in this country and his stocks will grow, I am sure.
In a joking but pointed way, the PM in her speech to the AWU get together referred to Howes’s book — Confessions of a Faceless Man. In case you forgot, he was in the team that decided Kevin Rudd had passed his use by date.
Anyway, this is what the PM said: “I think to have written this title you must have misunderstood the meaning of the word confession and misunderstood the terminology ‘faceless man’. If I can explain to you where the word confession comes from, it comes from the religious practice where one goes and acknowledges error and asks for forgiveness. It is therefore not appropriate to start any text with the words: ‘I confess, I was right'."
With one point up on Howes, she went further: “And Paul, I also mean this in the spirit of constructive criticism, but it seems to me it is perhaps hard to describe oneself as ‘faceless man’, having described oneself as a media tart.”
That made it two-zip to Julia and it showed that she was more comfortable in the bash and barge world of unions than she is with the rest of Australia. Of course, she cut her teeth with this mob and only a strong woman could survive and win, and this sign of strength could be a good sign.
Strong leader needed
I hope Gillard gives up her ‘I am really a nice, warm loving Aussie girl’ show and just becomes herself. There’s a lot of Thatcher in Gillard but she is in denial.
This country needs a strong leader and that means she takes on the unions, the Greens, business and the bleeding hearts, when she has to and she runs the country for the majority. If she doesn’t she will be kicked out at the next election.
Bob Hawke gave up a lot of his left-wing unionist attitudes when he became PM and that partly explains why he lasted so long. He also understood, unlike Penny Wong I suspect, that when you give money away to business, they invest and make profits, which are taxed and create jobs, which saves taxpayers’ money instead of bankrolling the unemployed.
Interesting political times lie ahead and only a strong leader will prevent dumb, short-sighted politicians hurting business and share prices. Now, I know this seems a little narrow, but when you impede business, profits and share prices, you hurt wage earners, consumers, wealth-building retirees and savers.
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Published on: Monday, February 21, 2011blog comments powered by Disqus