Importantly – the monopoly mass media in this country (largely controlled by Rinehart, Murdoch etc) exploited the internal conflict to destabilise the ALP. But now that Rudd has returned he is enjoying a ‘honeymoon’ courtesy of previous ‘oxygen’ he was provided by that very media establishment… But will the media continue to ‘give Labor a fair go’ now? Some are talking of Rudd reforming the compromise mining tax we ended up with – But what chance of this with Rinehart dominating the traditionally (and still relatively) liberal Fairfax media assets?
IN the final analysis, though, Gillard deserves credit for pursuing education reform, implementing disability insurance, promoting a better deal for low paid workers (mainly women) in the community services sector and elsewhere, and improving diplomatic relations with China. Though there were bad policies too: Sole Parent Pensions reduced; Disability Pension eligibility narrowed etc… Recognition of all this is part of the answer for future healing in the ALP – for the same reason that the former Labor leaderships’ past attempts to ‘airbrush’ the Rudd governmentt’s prior achievements only escalated and deepened the internal conflict… And in any case Gillard DESERVES recognition for her policy achievements under the most difficult circumstances of minority government…
Referring to the Superannuation Industry, Ken Davidson wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald in 2012:
“Specifically, the superannuation industry has its eye on existing water, road, rail and port assets, which are largely monopolies with assured income streams. To reveal what is at stake, assume that, as state monopolies, these assets earn 5 per cent on capital for the government and would be expected to earn 10 per cent on capital for private investors… This means that the assets worth $100 billion on the government's books, would only be worth $50 billion to the private operators if the prices for the services remained the same. The government might get $100 billion for the assets if it allowed the new owners to double prices for the services.” (Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/its-about-time-super-funds-stepped-up-20120729-235y4.html#ixzz2YFLdAnnr )
It is too late to substantially alter Labor’s 12% superannuation promise, and too difficult to sell Davidson’s complex message to the electorate on the eve of the election. Especially when Labor has been selling this policy unequivocally for so long, and many of our supporters are convinced it is ‘free money’.
But the government has options in creating a more egalitarian system.
Again this should involve cutting superannuation concessions for the wealthy and the upper middle class – which could bring in well over $10 billion. (I have no modeling beyond Richard Denniss’s figures ** – but extrapolating from that a minimum of $15 billion seems credible for 2014) And using some of those proceeds, in addition to paying for an early reversion to an Emissions Trading Scheme, and an increased Clean Energy fund - it must also mean further restructuring of the tax mix. Further, it should also involve easing of means tests for some partial self-funded retirees. And what is more, this could involve another real increase in the Aged Pension, and improvements in social wage benefits for pensioners of all kinds. This should include improved cost-of-living subsidies (energy, water), and free or discounted access to the NBN and public transport. Finally, here, the funds released by superannuation concession reform could be ploughed into infrastructure and completely bypass pressures for privatisation.
Concluding, though, the most industrially strong unions could attempt to hold onto their share (ie: the labour share) of the economic pie – even in the context of increasing superannuation contributions from employers - but also in the hope that this could occur in the context of a squeeze on profits, rather than a squeeze on consumers. Whether or not this happens also depends on how profitable and how competitive the economic sectors in question are. Competitve sectors with lower profit margins would have little room to move.
The election is far from over; and neither are Labor’s policy options exhausted even at this late point in the electoral cycle. Let us hope Rudd Labor governs and reforms in the interest of justice and equity for most of what remains of 2013 – and that the consequence is another reforming Labor government.