In the only interviews worth watching in this federal election, Kerry O’Brien’s interviews on the 7:30 Report are the only examples of engagement with the real issues and details of policies. Whilst the politicians in question keep repeating the same slogans and ideas, the point scoring is fairly easy to monitor, and Rudd is steamrolling a very irritable John Howard. (And has anyone noticed how Howard’s teeth seem to be causing him problems? He’s beginning to sound like he has dentures that are ill-fitting or falling out.)
But importantly, the release of the Government’s current tax policy going forward may appear good for low-income families, but with WorkChoices delivering harder times than ever for the same families it’s hard to see any overall benefit. The quality of life is reducing for Australian working families, and no tax break can make up for that. It will be cold comfort knowing that you’re only liable for 15% income tax when your income is so low that you *qualify* for that tax rate.
This has always troubled me about taxation policy: no-one seems to be focusing on *building* wealth in the community. The only way you can build wealth is in investing in the fundamentals that create it – training, infrastructure and business incentives. And of these three, where Australia suffers the most is in telecommunications infrastructure. Oh we have one the highest penetration rates for plain old telephony services per capita in the world. We just don’t have affordable and accessible broadband infrastructure to operate effectively as world competitors in business.
In my opinion, the future of Australia isn’t about making poor families feel worse about themselves by qualifying for a tax break which was caused by unfair (or at least exploitative) workplace agreements. It’s about *giving us the tools to grow*. Now I’m not even certain that Labor’s policies are doing that. But right now in the election campaign, they seem a damn sight better than the efforts of Howard and Costello.