But a National Disability Insurance Scheme could provide the vital ‘policy circuit breaker’ needed so desperately by Labor. We will return to this issue later.
Also notable (again as I’ve reflected elsewhere) is Garnaut’s argument that pensioners ought not be ‘overcompensated’ because of previous improvements to pensions. Garnaut had also argued that compensation to be phased out only for incomes “well north” of $80,000/year. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/early-carbon-compensation-plan-under-garnaut-review/story-fn59niix-1226066805423
If reform is not implemented here in the context of carbon tax overcompensation, then it needs to be achieved separately; But progressive Labor figures on a cross-factional basis, and the Greens - need to demand reform one way or another during the current term of Labor government. Ultimately carbon tax overcompensation may prove the easiest path to reform regardless.
Based on previous modelling for a CPRS (carbon pollution reduction scheme – ie: via emissions trading), it has been argued that a carbon tax at $30/tonne would cost families $863.20/year. http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/ipad/pms-carbon-tax-to-cost-households-1660-a-week-treasury-figures-show/story-fn6bqpju-1226032314762
It’s difficult to extrapolate a figure for single income earners from this, but it would be reasonable to assume the costs could be easily absorbed by individuals on $80,000/year. (as well, the rate is unlikely to be $30/tonne) Therefore, in order to maximise the scope for overcompensation for low-middle income groups – including pensioners and the vast majority of workers (that is – the vast majority of voters as well) compensation could begin to be ‘phased out’ at around $70,000/year (or maybe somewhat higher), dissipating entirely at $80,000/year. (ie: for those who could reasonably be described as occupying that range from 'upper middle class' to 'wealthy')
Finally, compensation might best be provided in the form of regular cash supplements (also indexed) – as otherwise tax cuts could be ‘taken for granted’ and forgotten. With regular cash payments there would be a constant reminder of compensation provisions.
The government needs a ‘circuit breaker’ and needs it now. Labor needs to break the cycle of fearful speculation now - with an agenda of constructive and visionary reform with which to inspire and engage the electorate. The National Broadband Network (NBN) helped Labor ‘across the line’ last time; but the government needs new initiatives, as well as substantial progress on the NBN.
A National Disability Insurance Scheme has long been touted as an option by rising Labor parliamentarian Bill Shorten.
- maximise employment opportunities for the disabled, with comprehensive support services and any necessary equipment
- provide similar support to assist in providing education opportunities
- “provide funding for home modifications and specialised equipment and support to ensure people are able to live as independently as possible in their own homes”
- provide support for family and carers
- provide “early intervention and support” for children with disabilities
Specifically as a consequence of a NDIS, in current terms carers and disability pensioners should also receive a rise in their pensions of at least $25/week; indexed on top of existing pension formulae.
While a NDIS could disrupt the cycle of fearful speculation about a carbon tax, it would also comprise a landmark reform – a genuine record of achievement for Gillard Labor.
Finally, the government could move onto the front foot regarding the ‘equal pay’ campaign being driven by the Australian Services Union – to provide effective pay parity for workers (mainly women) in the community services sector.
Because it is mainly women who are employed in the sector, this issue has been raised as one of effective gender discrimination. But not-for-profit organisations providing aged care and other services (as well as in the public sector) will need support from the government in adapting to any improved regime of pay and conditions. Hence for these – and other vital reforms – the government needs to aim during this term for a sustainable expansion of social expenditure in the vicinity of 1.5% of
Generous superannuation concessions for the wealthy could also be wound back.