Monday, July 09, 2012

Labor is wrong. It is the Greens who are mainstream


Gillard was on about this last year. Remember this crap:

“The Greens will never embrace Labor’s delight at sharing the values of everyday Australians, in our cities, suburbs, towns and bush, who day after day do the right thing, leading purposeful and dignified lives, driven by love of family and nation.”

Here's what I wrote at the time:

My sources were the searchable Essential Report and the Greens' own policies.


Never has it been more important to understand the Greens. Never has a prime minister had less of a clue.

From July the Greens will decide which bills become law and which don’t. The prime minister says they "will never embrace Labor’s delight at sharing the values of every day Australians, in our cities, suburbs, towns and bush, who day after day do the right thing, leading purposeful and dignified lives, driven by love of family and nation”. Maybe, but that’s not what they will be called on to do.

They will be asked to vote on tax bills, on corporate regulation and on all manner of measures relating to economic management.

There are clues as to how they will vote, and if we are to believe her, the prime minister has missed every one.

Gillard thinks the Greens don’t get economics. They “wrongly reject the moral imperative to a strong economy,” she told the Whitlam Institute.

Her sidekick Anthony Albanese says they “tend to be a grab-bag of issues, tend not to have a coherent policy that adds up”.

Her resources minister Martin Ferguson says they want to “sit under the tree and weave baskets with no jobs”.

It's a forgivable impression until you examine what their supporters actually think...



...Asked to rate issues in order of importance in an Essential Media poll in January more Greens rated economic management number one than rated protecting the environment number one.The gap was closer amongst Greens voters than other voters, but the point is there was a difference - Greens put the economy number one.

Polled in November about a specific issue - regulation of the banks, Greens voters were on every measure more closer to economic orthodoxy than Labor voters.

Asked if banks should be restricted to lifting rates only in line with Reserve Bank, 87 per cent of Labor voters said yes. Even amongst Coalition voters 82 per cent said yes. But amongst Greens voters the result was 73 per cent, suggesting they are more likely to have studied economics.

Asked if bank fees should be kept to the cost of providing the service, 93 per cent of Labor and also 93 per cent of Coalition voters agreed. Only 90 per cent of Greens voters thought so.

Asked about a cap on bank salaries 88 per cent of Labor voters were for it. Coalition voters were far less keen at 83 per cent. In the middle, less in favour of hobbling the market than Labor voters although more so than Coalition voters, were the Greens at 86 per cent.

The views of Greens supporters are not outside the mainstream, except that they are likely to be more in touch with orthodox economics than the mainstream.

Greens voters are far more likely than either Labor or the Coalition to support higher taxes on mining profits, a view in line with the International Monetary Fund, the Henry Review and the Australian Treasury.

They are less likely than the majors to be fussed about a return to a budget surplus by exactly 2012-13 (as are orthodox economists although interestingly slightly keener than labor voters on spending cuts in the budget to come.

They are more likely than Labor voters to act against self interest. Only 17 per cent of Labor voters would accept a tax on products purchased online form overseas. A higher 19 per cent of Greens voters would.

And they know more.

An astonishing 10 per cent of Labor voters and 12 per cent of Coalition votes are deluded enough to think half our migration intake is boat people. Only 6 per cent of Greens voters think so.

They are accepting of the mainstream scientific position on climate change - that it is happening and caused by human activity; far more accepting than supporters of either Labor or the Coalition.

And they believe market mechanisms rather than regulations are the best way to get emissions down.

Their tax policies echo those of the Henry Tax Review. Tax breaks for high income earners would go, fringe benefits tax concessions that encourage the needless driving of cars would be scrapped and capital gains would no longer be tax-preferred over other returns from saving.

All income received in whatever form would be taxed at the standard rate and the scales would be rejigged to remove the high effective rates faced by Australians trying to get off welfare.

Henry would do this by flattening the scales and making the first $25,000 earned tax-free.

The Greens aren’t so sure about that, but neither are Labor of the Coalition. The point is that on nearly every area where the Greens diverge from Henry, the Coalition and Labor do too.

On most of the areas where then Coalition and Labor are reluctant to embrace Henry the Greens are keen to.

The big parties won’t touch the Private Health Insurance Rebate. The Greens would kill it, as would Henry.

The big parties aren’t attracted to a death duty. The Henry Review is, and the Greens would bring it in with a threshold of $5 million and an exemption for the family home, farm and small business.

The big parties are grudging about making the mammoth superannuation tax concessions more progressive. Henry isn’t, and the Greens would do it, after a “full review”.

This isn’t an argument in favour of the Greens policies, although as it happens I find them attractive. It is an argument that they fit within the economic mainstream. They are coherent, readily available on the web, and far more than a grab-bag from a “party of protest” that sits “under the tree and weave baskets with no jobs”.

If the Greens have got it wrong on economics, then so too have the economics text books they seem to have read and so too has Ken Henry.

Their real position is important because it is their real position that will determine what gets passed into law in the two to three years ahead, not the misleading dumbed-down characterisations of a prime minister and ministers who should know better.




UPDATE: The latest Essential Report does indeed show Greens supporters out of touch with mainstream Australia on something - asylum seekers. But even here Greens supporters are not as much out of touch as might be imagined. 35 per cent believe the Labor has been too tough on asylum seekers, a surprising 30 per cent believe Labor has not been tough enough.


RECOMMENDED READING:

How can parties that supported things such as carbon trading now oppose them? - NewYorker



Related Posts

. Start your engines. The Newstart inquiry is Go!

. Leigh on the Coalition's hatred of Treasury

. Memo to Julia: You don't have a carbon consensus


16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice article Peter. I agree with you that the Greens are a mainstream party.

However your article does seem to mostly illustrate that Greens' voters have mainstream views.

Are you able to write an article demonstrating that the Greens' policies are mainstream? That is what really matters.

Peter Martin said...

I had quite a lot about the Greens policies, although mainly their economic policies. All their polices are here.

"Their tax policies echo those of the Henry Tax Review. Tax breaks for high income earners would go, fringe benefits tax concessions that encourage the needless driving of cars would be scrapped and capital gains would no longer be tax-preferred over other returns from saving. All income received in whatever form would be taxed at the standard rate and the scales would be rejigged to remove the high effective rates faced by Australians trying to get off welfare. Henry would do this by flattening the scales and making the first $25,000 earned tax-free. The Greens aren’t so sure about that, but neither are Labor of the Coalition. The point is that on nearly every area where the Greens diverge from Henry, the Coalition and Labor do too. On most of the areas where then Coalition and Labor are reluctant to embrace Henry the Greens are keen to.

The big parties won’t touch the Private Health Insurance Rebate. The Greens would kill it, as would Henry. The big parties aren’t attracted to a death duty. The Henry Review is, and the Greens would bring it in with a threshold of $5 million and an exemption for the family home, farm and small business. The big parties are grudging about making the mammoth superannuation tax concessions more progressive. Henry isn’t, and the Greens would do it, after a “full review”.

If the Greens have got it wrong on economics, then so too have the economics text books they seem to have read and so too has Ken Henry."


Roger Wegener said...

Great post Peter.

Anonymous said...

About time someone took the time to actually read the policies and start to dispell all this old party bulldust. Hopefully it is widely read.

Marek said...

Some good stuff, but a bit of pie in the sky stuff as well

For example : what's the deal with the greens supporting the abolition of the IMF, World Bank and WTO?

And how do they propose to establish mechanisms to prevent the debt crisis from recurring, such as introducing the potential for penalties for surplus as well as debtor nation? and what mechanisms are they talking about?

ratee said...

Labor are simply playing the Murdoch tune in the hope of peeling off some Greens support. Simplistic messages from (ALL) our politicians are not targeting analysis, they are targeting pre-conceptions, or targeted at creating perceptions.
Reasoned analysis is what you do and it's of limited readership.

ratee said...

limited readership - unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

So basically, you are advocating, that people should be taxed when they die? So anyone who has worked hard all their lives, and choose to pass this to his or her children, will be passing on a tax burden to their children? What the hell is wrong with you and The Greens?!?

Luke said...

FFS, read the policy anonymous.

The inherited estate will be taxed on anything ABOVE $5 million. The primary residence, the farm, the small business will not included in this assessment.

http://greens.org.au/policies/sustainable-economy/economics

''23. introduce an estate tax with full provisions to protect the family farm, the family home and small business with a threshold of $5 million as indexed from the year 2010.''

It's about levelling the playing field. If you inherit more than $5 million dollars and can't do anything useful for your future with it then you are useless.

The idea behind it is to prevent the sort of aristocracy class that permeated western culture for the last millenia.

csning said...

It's also efficient. Which do you think has worse incentive effects, taxes on earned income or taxes on unearned income?

Anonymous said...

I read the policy. I disagree with the policy. I do not see why people, who have ALREADY been taxed significantly in building up wealth, should have their children taxed upon death. So this will force people to effectively liquidate assets to try and pay taxes to the government, so the government can go and waste it. The idea behind it is jealousy and class warfare, not to prevent aristocracy.

Thank God The Greens will never be in power.

Unknown said...

Being in touch with ignorant Australians who are readily led by the nose by the shock jocks and hacks of Murdoch, Singleton, Packer and corporate dominated media boards has got to be a shameful thing.

The Greens represent thoughtful and progressive views on a great many issues. They grasp nettles that are too thorny for the 'mainstream' parties to touch and get the nation past reflexive centrist 'tweedle dum / tweedle dee' policy making.

Proud of you for writing this, Peter.

Labor should grow up and limit media monopolists rather than resort to bagging those who are unpopular but right.

columbus said...

What is wrong with class warfare? There would have been no Arab Spring without it. No civil rights movement, no mining tax, no end to feudalism in Europe, no French Revolution, no American Revolution, no abolition of slavery, no Protestant Reformation. In fact without it there would be no Westminster system of parliament and probably no democracy. You are accepting of allot of LNP spin and BS by assuming that class warfare is a negative. It suits their narrative and is historically naive.

Anonymous said...

This whole debate here on estate taxes is completely academic.

The Greens have recently decided to drop the policy.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/brown-welcomes-demise-of-death-tax/story-fn9hm1gu-1226420591962

Keep up to date!

Peter Martin said...

Glad you did.

Lawrie said...

Starting by bumping the perpendicular pronoun down a line or two ... I agree with Columbus - nothing wrong with a bit of righteous class warfare, except of course somebody will get hurt/angry/...
For me the thrashing about by the ALP in the direction of the Greens this week brings a couple of things to front-of-mind: (i) this is usually what they do to themselves after an electoral loss - are they just limbering up before the apocalypse?; and (ii) for decades "the Coalition" has been shorthand for the LNP coalition, but in future 'coalitions' may include LNP and ALP/G - the ALP realises this, and is struggling to cope with the idea of massive change that it represents. I for one look forward to more of the latter and less of the former.

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