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  • Jul, 2012

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    A Matter of Priorities

    My favorite philosopher, sometimes, is a US bank robber. A guy named Willie Sutton who, when asked why he robbed banks, replied, “That’s where the money is”. Which comes to mind when we think about the Queeg of Queensland’s refusal to come up with money for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

    There is no shortage of money. Period. We don’t need to be cutting government spending because money is cheaper than it’s ever been or worrying about obsessing about very small deficits, when the choice is whether we fund the NDIS or a whole host of other projects.

    But, what really brings this into sharp relief is reading about the housing options available to a few:

    Mining magnate Gina Rinehart has reportedly spent $S57 million ($43.8 million) on two units, off the plan, in the Seven Palms Sentosa Cove condominium project in Singapore.

    A company linked to Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting purchased a unit on the third floor of the four-storey complex for $S23.3 million as well as a top-floor unit for close to $S33.9 million, according to Singapore’s Business Times newspaper.

    There is plenty of money, certainly, if the richest among the people pay a fairer share of taxes. While we have heard a lot about a mythical inability to pay to make sure people with disabilities are afforded fair treatment (we are in a country where a child is expected to wait two years to get a wheelchair), we have not heard — but certainly we’d be happy to publish — the Queeg of Queensland’s plea to the richest among us to pay higher personal taxes, or a fair resources tax, and perhaps forgo, uh, optional housing choices so that children who need wheelchairs get them quickly.

    To channel Willie Sutton, if you want to know where to go to find money so children can have wheelchairs, we’re happy to provide the addresses of a few people who are kicking back in Singapore.


  • Jul, 2012

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    Queensland’s Queeg

    Paranoia. Delusions of grandeur. Taking steps that endanger his people. Ladies and Gentlemen, may we introduce the Captain Queeg of Queensland, Campbell Newman.

    Captain Queeg, you may remember, was the fictional character in The Caine Mutiny. He appears to be effectively no-nonsense until, quite quickly, his underlings understand that he is quite mad, or at least, so infatuated with his own power that he endangers his crew.

    Which brings us to The Queeg of Queensland. Elected in a landslide, “Queeg” Newman successfully created a facade of the effective leader who would return the state to ship-shape status. Really? Let’s just take a look at the legal challenge to the the mineral resources rent tax, which The Queeg of Queensland has jumped on, and you start to see the Queensland Queeg more clearly.

    On the one hand, you have The Queeg of Queensland whinging about the lack of money and the need to cut services and government workers’ jobs (you can see some of the cuts here). Yet, on the other hand, he’s willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars– at the very least– of taxpayers’ money pursuing what is a politically motivated legal challenge to protect the interests of the robber baron billionaires.

    And, on its own, it makes no sense because there is no economic argument against the tax, and the opposition to it is simple about the pure greed of Gina and the gang, led, in this case, by Andrew Forrest. As we pointed out just recently:

    At least 25 countries increased taxes and royalties on their mining industries, or announced intentions to do so. These include all the major mining nations – Canada, the USA, South Africa, Indonesia, Chile, Brazil, Colombia and even China and India.

    These taxes and royalties are often far higher than in Australia – in Colombia they can reach 81% of coal mining profit, while in the oil and gas sector it is well known that Norway taxes almost all the profit of the North Sea oil industry – but what remains is still enough to keep the investors coming.

    So, this idea that the mining tax is a competitive disadvantage for mining companies here is just pure lies and false information. It only disadvantages the Robber Baron mining company owners who don’t give a crap about the people of the country and only care about their own bank accounts. It’s greed, pure and simple.

    Wayne Swan has it right:

    Mr Swan accused Mr Newman, now Premier, of wasting taxpayer money to give billionaires a tax cut.

    ”Campbell Newman says he hasn’t got any money, therefore he’s got to sack thousands of workers in Queensland. But he’s got enough money to fund an expensive High Court challenge which will be futile and which would ultimately deliver a tax cut to the likes of Clive Palmer.”

    Ah, yes, we can’t not have the Empty Suit, leader of the federal Coalition, chime in on this one:

    Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the states are entitled to challenge the MRRT, which the Coalition would repeal, and that it unfairly targeted some states.

    “There is no doubt that the mining tax is bad for the Australian states,” Mr Abbott said in Perth on Monday.

    “There is no doubt that the mining tax particularly targets the resource-rich states, and if the states in question wish to challenge in court, that’s a perfectly reasonable thing.”

    Silver lining: The fictional Queeg ends up being sidelined to a secondary assignment and passed over promotion. Essentially, his bizarre behaviors gets him voted off the island, in today’s TV talk. We can only hope Queeg Queensland suffers the same fate.

  • Jan, 2011

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    Floods – Leadership

    Q. Thinking about the recent floods across Australia, how would you rate each of the following for providing leadership in dealing with the floods?

    Total good Total poor Very good Good Average Poor Very poor Don’t know
    Prime Minister Julia Gillard 42% 23% 15% 27% 28% 10% 13% 7%
    Opposition leader Tony Abbott 19% 32% 4% 15% 36% 19% 13% 13%
    Queensland Premier Anna Bligh 77% 6% 52% 25% 11% 3% 3% 6%
    Queensland Premier Anna Bligh (Qld) 71% 9% 48% 23% 17% 2% 7% 3%
    Brisbane Mayor Campbell Newman 61% 4% 28% 33% 16% 2% 2% 19%
    Brisbane Mayor Campbell Newman (Qld) 75% 7% 46% 29% 14% 2% 5% 4%
    Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu 34% 8% 8% 26% 26% 4% 4% 32%
    Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu (Victoria) 47% 12% 10% 37% 27% 6% 6% 14%
    NSW Premier Kristina Keneally 21% 23% 4% 17% 28% 11% 12% 29%
    NSW Premier Kristina Keneally (NSW) 13% 40% 4% 9% 30% 18% 22% 18%

    Nationally, 42% think the Prime Minister Julia Gillard provided good leadership and 23% poor – while the Opposition leader Tony Abbott was rated good by 19% and poor by 32%. In Queensland Julia Gillard rated 42% good/26% poor.

    Nationally the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh was rated 77% good/6% poor and in Queensland 71% good/9% poor. The Mayor of Brisbane Campbell Newman was rated a little lower nationally (61%/4%) but slightly higher in Queensland (75%/7%).

    In Victoria, the Premier Ted Bailieu was rated 47% good/12% poor and in NSW, Premier Kristina Keneally was rated 13% good/40% poor

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