- by Anna Pha
- The Guardian
- Issue #2001
As the cost of living soars the number of working poor is on the rise and more and more families are turning to charities for basics like food, to pay electricity bills, and seek shelter. Real wages are in decline and job security is something young workers can only dream of. The public health system is in crisis. Just what world is Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in when he repeatedly boasts about our “strong economic recovery?”
Frydenberg is in the bosses’ world. A world where governments like his govern for the corporations and their record profits and attempt to extract infinite profits from the finite Earth.
What is needed is a budget that puts planet earth and its inhabitants first.
This involves planning and funding economic development and services for the people; taking the urgent and necessary measures to address climate change; and slashing military spending as a step towards peace and genuine security.
“A planned, just transition away from a carbon-based economy will provide jobs, social protection, and security to workers, as well as to those communities most affected by the transition to a sustainable economy,” the Political Resolution adopted at the CPA’s recent Congress states.
“A planned transition will ensure all climate policies are socially future-proofed. No workers or communities can be left behind in the move away from carbon culture to more sustainable forms of living.”
This task is urgent. Australian taxpayers are subsidising fossil fuel industry to the tune of $12 billion every year. This includes payments to companies where the finance sector has refused them loans. It is almost double what the Morrison government spends on renewables!
This funding should be redirected towards a just transition and planned adaptation measures to address the impacts of climate change. Governments were not prepared to tackle the recent bushfires and are now failing yet again dealing with the extensive flooding on the east coast of Australia.
Thousands of people have been left homeless from the floods not knowing if rebuilding is feasible, or if they need to relocate, let alone how. They need assistance with housing and income. Some have lost their jobs and businesses, leaving them with no means of income.
High military spending steals resources from other, more important needs like public education, hospitals, social welfare and environmental protection, and undermines sustainable development. It also contributes to an escalation of the arms race and regional insecurity.
Only the huge armaments corporations benefit from this bloated military spending with their profits doubling over the last thirteen years, despite the global economic crisis.
The CPA campaigns for security for Australia and the peoples of our region based on peaceful coexistence, friendship, co-operation, the resolution of differences by political means, respect for national sovereignty and independence, and trade based on mutual benefit.
When releasing the 2016-17 budget statement, the then Treasurer Scott Morrison announced that Australia would spend $1 trillion on the military over the next twenty years. Since then, ongoing announcements of military purchases mean that staggering amount will be well and truly surpassed.
All US bases on Australian soil must be shut down. Their presence threatens Australia’s peace and security and that of the wider world.
The savings from cuts to military spending would also provide income towards fully funded free education from early childhood education and care through to tertiary education; the public health system with an emphasis on primary care; and public housing.
It is a clear proof of the failure of capitalism to provide even the basics of life that in a rich country such as Australia more than 100,000 people are homeless on any given night, the tip of an iceberg.
Raising the incomes of Australians would serve two purposes: raise living standards and stimulate demand and hence job growth.
The government should restore the public sector workforce to the level required, end contracting out of its work, and provide tenure for public servants. Public sector wages are long overdue for a real wage rise that takes into account past freezes and price inflation.
The unemployed, carers, people with disability, apprentices, trainees should be paid a living income. Likewise, age pensioners should be paid a living wage. They have worked all their lives, paid taxes, and deserve to live their retirement in comfort and with dignity.
For the 2.3 million workers on the minimum wage, a significant, real wage rise is also long overdue. The present minimum of $772.60 per week hardly covers rent and transport let alone other necessities such as food, electricity, water, health, and education. They are being exploited to the hilt as bosses rake in record profits. They should also be paid a living wage. Workers are owed a large wage increase to compensate for decades of declining real wages and not receiving a share of productivity gains that they have produced.
Penalty rates must be restored for all workers who have lost them, along with a shorter working week on the same pay. Apprentices and trainees also need a living income as do all other income recipients.
Australia needs a wage rise! And NOW!
With the political will there is the potential to raise billions of dollars for public programs by implementing a number of tax reforms. These include:
- Closing tax loopholes and introducing a super-tax on big business
- Ending negative gearing
- Cutting out superannuation tax rorts by the rich
- Eliminating capital gains tax concession
- Abandoning legislated tax cuts for the rich
- Cut the more than $6 billion taxpayer gift to private health insurance.
Cuts to military spending and bringing an end to fossil fuel subsidies will release billions of dollars that can be directed to job creation in socially and environmentally desirable areas such as those outlined above. They would make Australia a better place to live and work, and the world safer and more secure.
Regrettably such a program is on neither the Coalition’s nor Labor’s agenda. It will require a government of a new type based on a broad progressive alliance that can only be built by united struggle on the ground.
If you agree with the policies outlined above and want to see a just and better Australia, then why not consider joining the Communist Party of Australia. Visit cpa.org.au
2022 BUDGET REVIEW IN NEXT WEEK’S ISSUE