Adam Bandt, Green With Envy

bandtHot on the heels of International Women’s Day, Adam Bandt has announced that Gina Rinehart is a one-woman threat to Australian egalitarianism. The Australian taxpayer-funded ABC AM program gave Bandt a largely uninterrupted platform from which to announce:

“I’m sick of billionaires telling us that the only way we can make ends meet in the country is if ordinary people pay more and people like Gina Rinehart herself pay less.”

Hmmm. I can’t remember anyone actually saying that, least of all Rinehart. Australia’s most verbose ‘billionaire’, Clive Palmer, says he’s all in favour of abolishing the carbon tax, but he abstained from voting on this in the House, so perhaps he’s still making up his mind. And Hancock Prospecting will be paying the carbon tax, so Bandt shouldn’t be too worried about missing out on those precious revenues that help to make up his current parliamentary base salary of $195, 130.

Bandt says:

“The government’s revenue is decreasing and it’s threatening our ability to fund the services Australians expect. We’ve got two choices: we can either say people like Gina Rinehart ought to pay a fairer share, or we can start cutting back on health and on schools.”

Two problems here.

1) Revenues soared under the Rudd/Gillard governments, but they spent it all and wasted much of it.

2) Both health and schools are STATE government responsibilities, not those of the Federal government.

Bandt continues:

“Revenue that the government brings in has been in decline for a number of years. If Australia generated as much revenue to go to the government to fund all those essential services as it did under John Howard, the budget would be some $20 billion a year better off. Now that funds a lot of those services. The tax take has been in decline. We’ve seen from the likes of Gina Rinehart an assault on having a proper mining tax, bearing in mind that these minerals in the ground are owned by all Australians, and we only get to dig them up and sell them off once.”

Two more problems here.

1) is the same problem. Revenues didn’t fall under Rudd or Gillard. They increased, but so did expenditure, far outstripping the revenues raised.

2) The mining tax was introduced and passed through parliament. It also failed to raise any revenue.

This had everything to do with the fact that Kevin Rudd was sacked by his own caucus and a more compliant Julia Gillard put in his place to negotiate a humiliating compromise with the big mining companies. If caucus had had the courage of their convictions, they’d have faced down the mining companies, but the fact is that they didn’t have any courage at all.

Bandt again:

“Australia, comparatively, is now taxing at a relatively low rate, certainly lower than what it used to. And even if we just increased tax back to where it was under John Howard – hardly a radical move – we would be in a much better position to afford healthcare that people deserve and to afford schools and the other kind of social spending that Gina Rinehart wants to take the axe to.”

Excuse me? Anyone can go and look at Australia’s income tax rates since 1983-4 on a handy ATO website.

  • In 2000-01, the Howard government LOWERED tax rates from 20c, 34c, 43c, and 47c in the dollar to 17c, 30c, 42c and 47c in the dollar.
  • In 2005-6, they LOWERED them again to 15c, 30c, 42c and 47c.
  • In 2006-7, just before Rudd was elected, tax rates were LOWERED again, this time to 15c, 30c, 40c and 45c in the dollar.

The Howard government consistently lowered tax rates for those most vulnerable in our society – those in the lowest taxable income bracket.

The Rudd-Gillard governments also lowered tax rates, but only in one category – higher income earners, or those paying 40c, went down to 38c. Then, in 2012-13, in a last-minute rush for cash, tax rates went up to 19c, 32.5c, 37c and 45c, although the initial threshold for income tax was almost doubled.

And once again, schools and healthcare are State government business, not Federal. Adam Bandt is an intelligent man and I am sure he knows this, but of course saying ‘defence’ or ‘Centrelink benefits’ – both federally funded – doesn’t have quite the same emotive ring on the ABC.

Then Bandt gets personal:

“Around the world, there are some people who are incredibly wealthy who see it as part of their social duty to lift people out of poverty and to give a bit back to our society. Gina Rinehart certainly doesn’t fall into that category.”

Gina Rinehart does support charities. It’s just she doesn’t choose to advertise the fact. So the only time we find out about it is when things go wrong, as they did in Cambodia in 2012-13.

I am sure Bandt is equally generous and equally private about his charitable donations. With a starting salary of close to $200,000, he is well-placed to be one of those incredibly wealthy people who can improve society. (200 grand looks like quite a lot of money to some of us).

“But there’s a broader issue here than just about the individual — it’s about in Australia, what do we consider to be a fair share for billionaires who make their money out of the minerals that we all own digging them up and selling them off overseas, which we only get to do once, what’s a fair share for those people to pay?”

Ho hum, Mr Bandt. Didn’t we do all of this class warfare thing back in 2012? We already know the answer. ‘We’ – meaning people like Adam Bandt – think that Rinehart should be taxed at a mere 120%, while the jackbooted fascists of the Abbott Right think that she should instead be paid handsome subsidies to operate at all. (Oh hang on, that’s the Australian car industry I’m thinking of. Or was it Qantas?)

Bandt is a desperate man. He knows the Green brand is ideologically bankrupt. They are a spent force; they wander like unhappy ghosts — the kind that don’t know they’re dead yet — across Australia’s political landscape, desperately seeking relevance, air time and viral YouTube status. They know that they can live now only in our political imaginations, like fairies that will die if no one believes in them. It’s just a shame that adults don’t believe in fairies.

Philippa Martyr blogs at Transverse City. If she were to make a list of all the other things she doesn’t believe in, we’d be here all night.



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