Big kev is back and he is back in a big way.
Yesterday’s declaration of kev's next election winning platform is guaranteed to bring on the laughs. 100%
Here is, the next self declared saviour of social democracy, announcing that Australia needs to return to the productivity levels of the 90s. That we need to pull our socks up and work that bit extra.
Big kev has said its all up to us, only we the workers can save the economy. We need to achieve the 2% annual productivity gains that were delivered under the Hawke, Keating and Howard tripartite.
Well smack me over the back of the head, am I missing something or isn’t it true that these productivity gains were the result of one of the most liberalising eras in Australian history? These productivity gains were the direct result of microeconomic reform, of privatisation and corporatisation, of tax reform of labour market reform ... reform as in liberalisation ... reform as in the freeing up of markets. It was the 80s and 90s that saw Australia transform itself from a social democracy into a liberal democracy, and it was this transformation that gave us the wealth we have now.
Obviously this simple observation is totally lost on big kev. Or is big kev now going to change colours ... is he no longer going to be the pinkly tinged social democrat of his dreams? I doubt it, I’d say he just hasn’t twigged that the 90s productivity growth is solely attributable to stuff that he doesn’t want to and is not ever prepared to do.
Let's have a look at his run on microecomic reform to date;
- Removal of work choices ... the very first roll back of a liberal reform in the last 30 years
- Re-union-ification (I know there’s no such a word) of the workforce. This year, for the first time in a decade or so we were subject to the labour phenomenon of Christmas strikes ... thank you santa
- Promotion of protectionist policies ... see recent decision in relation to Australian publishing and anti dumping laws
- Selective handouts to industry ... here go and make me a green car, oh you were already making one ... well you might as well take the cash anyway!
- Reintroduction of progressive taxation and payments ... see the robin hood delusion wayne swan is currently suffering under
- Reintroduction of the welfare orientated approach ... see response to housing affordability crisis ... ie more public housing
The list just goes on and on. While I have to admit big kev is very hard to pin down on anything the one thing we can say with any certainty is that he is NOT a microeconomic reformer.
Do you think for a second that big kev may seek to address our current issues in the provision of health services by decentralising health planning, privatising assets, empowering consumers to make their own choice ... I DOUBT IT
Do you think for a second that big kev may want to reform the tax base by removing exemptions from GST, moving the focus away from income based taxation or instituting flat rate income taxes, abolishing distortions such as negative gearing, abolishing company tax, distributing mineral royalties through positive tax returns, getting rid of absurdities such as payroll tax and stamp duties.... I DOUBT IT
Do you think for a second big kev will want to reform the labour market by abolishing the minimum wage, promoting individual workplace agreements, abolishing unfair dismissal ... I DOUBT IT
Do you think big kev has the stomach to tackle issues associated with the provision of basic services such as water and sewerage (can you honestly see any privatisation in these areas). Do you honestly think big kev has an agenda of reducing government service provision. If we need money lets sell the ABC, that would free up approximately a billion a year in budgetary funds and would also provide government with some ready cash to retire the mountain of debt it now has.... I DOUBT IT.
Do you think for a second that big kev will want to address housing affordability by removing constraints on land supply, abolishing hidden taxes such as developer charges, abolishing stamp duties, removing heritage overlays ... I DOUBT IT
That’s not to say that Mr Abbot has the necessary where-with-all either.
Undoubtedly big kev's form of reform is going to be regulate ... interfere ... coerce ... spend money. None of which is going to have a positive impact on productivity.
The hilarious thing is that he is going to ask us to deliver productivity growth similar to that associated with the advent of market based reforms by .... wait for it ... wait for it .... wait for it .... doing exactly the type of things those original reforms were aimed at addressing.