- The Guardian
- Issue #2035
We all know what a tax is, don’t we? The government needs money, so they take a slice of your salary, or maybe a slice of the profits from anything you spend that isn’t fresh food (thanks to our GST, introduced by John Howard after promising he would never ever introduce it, and kept by subsequent governments because everyone is used to it, and it keeps the State governments off their backs, sort of).
A tax is the government taking a bit of someone’s income, but not long ago some Weasley clever clogs decided that a tax-cut you were looking forward to but didn’t get was a tax. Hence Tim Wilson’s success at the 2018 election, during which he spent a lot of time and, ironically, taxpayer dollars, depicting a Labor Party plan to timidly trim a few outrageous rorts as new taxes. This was successful inasmuch as the ALP dropped its’ idea of giving wealthy people a bit less free money, leaving Tim to be swept aside in the election after that. Happy days.
We don’t like to dwell too much on the past though. The above is background to more recent attempts to depict non-taxes as taxes. The latest is the employer lobby depicting more effective union bargaining as a tax – because paying workers a decent wage is a tax on employers who’d like to keep more of their money.
According to Peter Hartcher, a 9-Fairfax commentator who could be described as “hawkish,” Australia’s response to China has been “forceful.” Hartcher cites the AUKUS deal as part of our forcefulness, and says that this has taught China to respect us. The AUKUS submarines were originally set to arrive sometime in the 2040s. They will now show up in March next year.
No, sorry, my mistake, March next year is the date of the next announcement. When the submarines will show up is anyone’s guess, but our new Defence Minister has said that expecting to get them in eight years time would be “optimistic.” I’m ever the optimist, but I’m not optimistic enough to hold my breath on this one. I’m also not starry-eyed about the supposed deterrence effects of these nonexistent submarines.
Hartcher, like a lot of Australian commentators, writes as though there’s a naval situation room in Beijing somewhere, filled with worried-looking Chinese naval staff watching Australia on a big map with the word ‘forceful’ stuck to it. Space doesn’t permit me to explain everything that’s wrong about this worldview, but IF the Chinese were as nasty as people like Hartcher imagine and IF they are that easily impressed by nonexistent subs and unswerving subservience to the United States, we have nothing to worry about.