||Issue No. 286||21 October 2005|
Lord of the Lobster Legs
Interview: Under Fire
Politics: And the Winners Are ...
Economics: The Common Wealth
History: Walking for Justice
International: Deja Vu
Legal: The Rights Stuff
Review: That Cinderella Fella
Poetry: Is Howard Kidding?
The Locker Room
Thus Spake Sydney Uni
Vote 1 Dictator
Buying peace Of Mind
Rev Kev Speaks
Letters to the Editor
An open letter to Hugh Morgan, AC, President, Business Council of Australia.
Dear Mr Morgan,
I am writing I regards to your interview on John Faine‚s program, on 774 ABC Melbourne this morning. Please excuse my ignorance of economic theory, but I understand your argument to be as follows: The Federal Government‚s Industrial Relations agenda is necessary for the health of the Australian economy, and must be implemented straight away. And also, in order for Australia to be competitive internationally, we need to lower taxes for business, and for higher income earners as well.
I have a number of concerns with your position. The proposed Industrial Relations reforms are justified by yourself and the government, among others, on the grounds that we need to „tighten our belts‰ to ensure the long term prosperity of the economy. For decades, perhaps even since politics began, we have been told that we need to „tighten our belts‰ for this reason. The argument goes that we need to sacrifice wages and conditions, to bring about prosperity in the future (there are other forms of the argument, but they say much the same thing). It seems to me that this future has arrived. We have record economic growth, and enormous budget surpluses, yet still we are asked to tighten our belts further. And it is only some of us who are being asked to do so ˆ those of us with the least wealth to begin with. This brighter economic future, for which we are making these sacrifices, is beginning to look like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But not for some. The people!
who you represent ˆ the C.E.O.s, senior management and so on, are experiencing unprecedented levels of wealth.
This brings me to the second part of your position ˆ tax cuts for business and the wealthy. You argue that we need to do this to be internationally competitive. But to what ends? If being internationally competitive means I have to get poorer while the rich get richer, then what benefit is this to me? And what will the wealthy do with this extra money? Buy themselves a third or fourth car, while I struggle to put petrol in my twenty year old Sigma? By their children a replacement mobile phone or a trip to Europe, while I struggle to feed my children? I understand that these points that I am making are emotive, but these are the direct consequences of your proposals, and as such, you need to address these issues.
The reality of the proposed Industrial Relations reforms is that they will push a great many working people below the poverty line. And you support this, and at the same time argue for even greater tax concessions for the rich. We have had a relatively peaceful and prosperous society in recent decades, and this peace and prosperity is due in large part to the egalitarian nature of our workplace laws, and wealth distribution systems. But the seeds are now being sewn for the kinds of class divisions that have been mostly absent from Australia for the better part of fifty years. And with all due respect, you seem to be in favour of this.
The cynic in me would suggest that what is really going on, is that given the coalition‚s control of both houses of parliament, the rich and powerful have seen their chance to grab as much wealth for themselves as possible. And it falls on you in your role, to provide the justification for this.
I challenge you to show me that I'm wrong.
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