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Laborís version of equality is punish talent

By Gary Johns - posted Monday, 7 August 2017


I had the great pleasure of attending a 60th birthday and a wedding in the past week, at which numerous young adults made speeches. They celebrated family, love and loyalty, and, yes, exuded success.

They were superb. Australia, your future is in good hands. These young adults will continue our great good fortune, despite the worst efforts of cringe-worthy government decisions.

And cringe-worthy government decisions are all around. Tony Abbott’s cringe was to impose a temporary levy on the top marginal income tax rate. This measure, to address the deficit, gave licence to those who think that government — that is, other people — have a right to your money. Abbott gave licence to class envy.

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This error, on the part of a Liberal leader, was so inexcusable as to be politically fatal. To this point, Malcolm Turnbull has made no such error. Mind you, his bank tax came close because, among other things, it gave licence to the execrable South Australian Labor government to do the same.

As to the alternative government, Shorten Labor is moving unerringly left. More cringe-worthy government decisions await.

Bill Shorten is running on inequality. For this, read class envy. The only way to satiate class envy is to tax those who have and give it to those who have not.

The consequences, however, are that talent is punished and bad decisions and behaviour are rewarded. And remember, the talented can leave Australia, others cannot. Shorten runs the risk of telling talented young Australians that it is not worth getting ahead in Australia.

Egalitarianism in Australia must be the “have a go” version, not the “screw the rich and talented” version.

My old colleague Graham Richardson supports the Shorten agenda on inequality and contrasts the circumstances of the wealthy man and the single mother living out of a car as proof of inequality. To which we are entitled to inquire: what is the relationship between the two? So far as we know, absolutely none.

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Unless the rich man was in a relationship with the poor single mother, he is no more responsible for the mother than any other ­citizen. He will, however, by dint of our highly progressive taxation system, have already contributed to her parenting payment, should she be in receipt of one, helped pay to chase support from the absent male partner, if he has failed to do so, and helped pay for numerous other forms of government ­assistance.

So, why do we throw in these illustrations inferring that the rich cause poverty? They do not.

While family is the first call for help, in Australia the rich pay the bulk of taxes, the poor receive the bulk of taxes, and charity picks up the rest: it has been so for decades.

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This article was first published in The Australian.



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About the Author

Gary Johns is a former federal member of Parliament and served as a minister in the Keating Government. Since December 2017 he has been the commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

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