Monday, January 27, 2014

Big business is drafting Abbott's horror budget

Vanguard February 2014 p. 1
Bill F.

The federal budget is due to be released by Treasurer Joe Hockey in May this year. It promises to be a blueprint for savage austerity measures and increased attacks on the livelihood of the working people.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his motley crew have out-sourced the job of drawing up targets for harsh austerity cuts and anti-worker legislation to their mates in the Business Council of Australia (BCA).

The BCA should more properly be known as the “Big Business” Council of Australia, since it is comprised of the 100 biggest companies in this country, many of them foreign corporate monopolies or companies with large foreign share-holdings. It represents the most powerful and influential core of monopoly capitalism in Australia.

No surprise therefore, that Abbott has appointed Tony Shepherd, straight from his role as president of the “Big Business” Council, to head up his Commission of Audit which will examine all government spending and services and suggest/order where the axes will fall and what will be out-sourced or privatised. “All items are on the table” said Shepherd when asked about extending the rate and scope of the Goods and Services Tax.

Just to be sure that no detail is missed and no section of the working people escapes unharmed, the Executive Officer for the Commission of Audit will be Peter Crone, Chief Economist for the “Big Business” Council.

In addition to the Commission of Audit, the Productivity Commission has been tasked with a whole series of reviews into such things as pension rates and benefits, grants and concessions, taxes, industrial laws and union governance, child care, the motor vehicle industry as well as existing legislation that protects the natural environment and preserves national parks and conservation areas.

On the chopping block

Government spokespeople and public service bureaucrats have already leaked a few selective items, partly because they cannot contain their joy at the opportunity to belt the working class into submission, but also to test the water and work out how far they can go before all hell breaks loose.

Also on their list…

Postage stamps and rates and delivery frequency – as a prelude to full privatisation of Australia Post

Privatisation of Medibank Private

Privatisation of SBS

$6 “co-payment” to visit the doctor – and then get rid of bulk-billing altogether

National education curriculum and education funding

Parasite health funds

Just two days before Christmas, the government announced increases in the premiums for the private health funds ranging from 6-8%, almost triple the official level of inflation.  Over the past 15 years, average private health fund premiums have risen by 130%, while average prices have gone up by less than 50%.

For example, Medibank Private which posted $232.7 million profit last financial year, easily topping the $126.6 million it made in the previous year, has been granted a 6.5% lift in customer premiums.

Talk about fattening the cow for market! Now it’s fattening the cow for privatisation! That can only mean further increases down the track, while public health services are being run down and starved for funds.

Open slather for big business

While hacking into anything that benefits the people, the government has been smoothing the way for the corporate monopolies and big business to boost their profit-making. Hand-outs to the mining industry amount to $4.5 billion a year according to the Australia Institute, and pay for the roads, fuel, ports and railways that cart away our mineral wealth.

Not only are the carbon tax and mining tax going, going, gone, but so too are many regulations and limitations on foreign investments and environmental approvals, sneeringly referred to as “red tape” and “green tape”.

Perks such as ‘profit shifting’ to off-shore tax havens and negative gearing on investment properties will continue for the rich and better-off, but there will be no such relief for ordinary workers.

No choice but struggle

Waiting for a Labor government is no good. Working people will have to make a stand. They will have to find ways to get conversations going in their workplaces and communities, to get people organised to protest and to put demands on the government and the big business bosses. Demands not just to “back off” but to “get out of our way”. In fact, all hell should break loose!

No comments:

Post a Comment