archive: October 2021

27 October 2021

Katharine Murphy: “There’s not a lot of good news, so for the sake of all our sanity, let’s start with the good news. The Morrison government has adopted a mid-century target of net zero emissions by 2050. … But sadly, that’s where our good news begins and ends. Morrison’s so-called mid-century plan has very little substantive content. It really is extraordinary that we could spend the best part of a year tracking towards Tuesday’s pre-Glasgow crescendo — and land with a ‘plan’ that is actually the status quo with some new speculative graphs. … According to the government’s materials, nearly half the abatement to be undertaken between now and 2050 will be delivered by ‘global technology trends’, ‘further technology breakthroughs’ and international and domestic offsets. … The concept the prime minister unfurled in the Blue Room at Parliament House on Tuesday was a whole-of-economy transition achieved by technology magic (with a safety valve of carbon offsets in the event that tech is not quite as magical as hoped). Australia’s net zero strategy will be delivered by … wait for it … existing policy.” Laura Tingle’s icy coverage captures the mood.

26 October 2021

Michael Bradley on the Crown Casino royal commission [$]: “‘Within a very short time, the commission discovered that for years Crown Melbourne had engaged in conduct that is, in a word, disgraceful.’ So begins the 652-page report of the royal commission into Crown’s fitness to hold its Melbourne casino licence, conducted by retired judge Ray Finkelstein QC. He goes on: ‘This is a convenient shorthand for describing conduct that was variously illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative.’ And on: ‘alarming’, ‘callous’, ‘appalling’, ‘damning’, ‘distressing’ appear in the executive summary, with observations such as ‘the board fell asleep at the wheel’ and ‘many senior executives were indifferent to their ethical, moral and sometimes legal obligations’. It’s hardly surprising then that Finkelstein concluded: ‘It was inevitable that Crown Melbourne would be found unsuitable to hold its casino licence. No other finding was open.’ As Patricia Bergin had found in Sydney, Crown failed every single test of integrity, honesty, legal compliance and even the faintest shred of justification to continue holding the social licence that a casino operator surely requires. It has been exposed — again — as a criminal organisation, not a company. Obviously, then, its casino licence for Crown Melbourne will be torn up and the doors closed, to save the public from any further exposure to the stinking cancer that Crown is. Ha-ha-ha, no. Of course not. Crown will keep its casino licence, thank you very much.” Capital trumps the rule of law.

19 October 2021

Our tax system is completely screwed up: “The tax on $100,000 goes to the heart of one of the problems. If you are on a salary of this amount, you will end up paying almost $23,000 a year in personal income tax. But if you happen to be in a small business partnership or trust that made $100,000, then you (and your partner) will pay $6717 in income tax – about $10,000 less than the salaried worker. Make $100,000 selling shares in a company that you’ve held for at least 12 months and you have the same tax liability as the small business partnership. If you make $100,000 selling the family home in the nation’s currently hot property market, you won’t pay a cent on the capital gain. Then there’s the shareholder who’ll pocket a $5000 cheque from the Tax Office if the Australian company they invest in pays out $100,000 in fully franked dividends.” It’s so bad that even Saul Eslake almost sounds like a radical: “We don’t honour wealth from toil because we tax it [income] so heavily. What we honour is wealth from sport, gambling and property speculation, all of which our tax system taxes much more lightly. What has worsened is inequality in the distribution of wealth.”

Not surprising: “New data shows three-quarters of the 12,000 enforcement actions taken since 2015 were against for-profit providers.” (They make up about half of all centres.) “They also have the highest proportion of centres not meeting national quality standards, a report from the United Workers Union, which represents childcare staff, finds. The problem is especially acute in Victoria and NSW. Educators say their concerns about safety in for-profit centres often relate to staffing arrangements, with the bare minimum rostered on to meet legal mandates. … The report shows in Victoria, about nine in 10 instances of enforcement for breaches have been at for-profit providers since 2018. In NSW, 77 per cent of enforcement actions were taken against for-profit providers. Breaches include not having enough staff, inadequate supervision of children, using inappropriate discipline, failing to protect children from harm and hazards, and not delivering educational programs. … The report also examines childcare quality ratings and finds that one in six for-profit centres, more than 1200, don’t yet meet national quality standards. It found that 16 per cent of for-profit centres exceeded quality standards compared with 36 per cent of not-for-profits and 40 per cent of publicly-run centres.” You can read the full report via the UWU’s Big Steps campaign.

5 October 2021

I’m late linking to Jeff Sparrow’s excellent post because I couldn’t decide which aspect to highlight. Perhaps this: “The fight against the virus now depends on direct politics: the democratic mobilisation of the entire population. That’s the only way we might sustain popular enthusiasm for the measures required. A radical response to Covid … would rest on employees deciding for themselves whether their industries could or should operate or close down; it would entail neighbourhood groups providing mutual aid; it would refocus the entire economy on people’s basic needs. Obviously, that all sounds fanciful, in a context in which community groups and unions have never been weaker. But it’s far more fanciful to imagine that an entirely marginal Left could somehow compel the state to act on its behalf. … Yes, we’re in a terribly weak condition. But that makes articulating, as best we can, our own, independent positions even more important. The response by the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism to the attack on the CFMEU provides a good example. Using the hashtag, #DontScabGetTheJab, the group is encouraging workers to circulate pics in which they display the slogan ‘pro-vax, pro-union, anti-fascist’. Ok, it’s small beer: everyone knows that social media won’t, in and of itself, change the world. Conceptually, though, there’s an important difference between neatly-coiffured politicians belittling vaccine-hesitant communities as ignorant morons and ordinary workers presenting the fight against Covid as an expression of social solidarity by which we might keep each other safe.”

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