How the Coalition gave up on the national interest
Whether you sit on the left or right side of the political spectrum, it is important the Australian public are aware of the coalition’s current agenda. It is an agenda which puts at risk everything this country has worked hard to achieve, including financial prosperity and security. It is an agenda which is self interested and is not in the best interests of this country.
The job of any opposition is to hold the government of the day to account and to stand up to legislation it believes is not in the best interest of the Australian people.
This is a job the Labor Party did extremely well towards the end of Howard’s reign as Prime Minister. However, since that fateful day on 24 November 2007, the Coalition has done nothing to help this country or hold the government to account.
Last month the Liberal Party sent a dangerous message to the Rudd Government through an opinion piece written by Tony Abbott in The Australian newspaper. The article bluntly conceded that the Coalition would not win government if an early election was called and declared that they were not prepared to give the Rudd Government a double dissolution trigger.
This instantly set alarm bells off in my head. It essentially gives the government a green light to introduce whatever legislation it likes because it knows the coalition is a cowardly marshmallow that won’t oppose anything.
“So what?”, I hear some people say. Why would you bother fighting a battle you cannot possibly win?
The answer is plain and challenging opposing legislation it could lead to some very shonky law-making which only benefits those within the Labor Party.
This week Parliament resumes with the senate scheduled to vote on a number of controversial bills, in particular, the government’s emissions trading scheme. This is the most important decision facing our Parliament since federation. If passed, the scheme will have a dramatic effect on our economy and will result in the loss of thousands of Australian jobs. The scheme will also cause a massive hike in electricity prices, with costs set to rise by more than 40 percent.
In pushing forward its climate change agenda, the government has clearly failed to consider the impact this scheme will have on peoples’ livelihoods.
Irrespective of whether carbon dioxide emissions are really the leading cause of global warming or not, it is critical that the government does not compromise the health of the Australian economy for a scheme that will have no benefit to the environment.
Even the most extreme climate change advocates would agree that the government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme will be useless if the rest of the world do not also agree to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. It is important to remember that every four months, from now until 2020, China will continue to build a new coal fired power station which has the same capacity as Australia’s entire coal fired power sector.
However, the Rudd government’s emissions trading scheme is not the only bad piece of legislation which it plans to ram though the senate in the coming six months. There are also the changes to the private health insurance rebate which the government now wants to means test.
So great is the pig headedness of the government that it has decided to slap working families in the face. The changes are simply unfair because they look only at household or individual income and do not take into account how many children there are in the household. This policy is inconsistent with the means-testing provisions set out in the Family Tax Benefit Part A, Child Care Benefit and Youth Allowance parental income test where the maximum income thresholds increase for each additional child.
Under the government’s proposal, a couple with no children on $149,000 will be eligible for the full rebate, while a family of 5 with a household income of $150,000 would have their rebate reduced. This makes no sense and puts even more pressure on already struggling families. Given the opposition is too scared to do anything for fear it could spark an early double dissolution election, it is left up to the minor parties, such as Family First, to try to block the bill or to at least negotiate more sensible reforms. Sadly, however, the cross benchers are powerless on their own and need the support of a strong coalition to achieve this in the Senate.
One of the other bills scheduled to be reintroduced into the senate this week is the infamous alcopops tax. This is a blatant tax grab designed to line the pockets of the Rudd government and fails hopelessly to address the issue of Australia’s binge drinking culture. Last week it was revealed that the tax on alcopops had done nothing to curb alcohol consumption and that people had simply switched from alcopops to sprits or beer. Last time this legislation was introduced into the senate it was defeated by Family First and the coalition.
However, this time the coalition has signalled that it will pass the tax because it doesn’t want to give the Rudd Government a double dissolution trigger. This type of behaviour by the opposition is disgraceful and shows that they are only interested in saving their own bacon instead of doing what is right for the Australian people.
I am afraid to say that if the coalition continues to operate according to their own interests and without regard for the Australian people we could see some very poor policy being rammed through parliament over the next six months. I can only hope that the Liberal Party decide to finally grow a spine and stand up for what is right so that we can achieve the best outcomes for this great country.
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