The Guardian May 22, 2002


Editorial:

It's a class Budget

The Budget of the Howard-Costello Government is a class budget. It's 
about advancing the interests of the corporations and even some specific 
businesses. More than that, it serves the international political and 
economic objectives of the corporations and their preparations for war.

The process of reducing taxes on companies and high income earners has been 
going on for a long time and it took a giant step forward when the GST was 
introduced on July 1, 2000. The introduction of the GST was associated with 
the decision to reduce company tax from 36 cents in the dollar to 30 cents.

Not that companies pay this amount of tax anyway. By "smart" accounting 
methods and the many loopholes deliberately provided by governments in tax 
laws, big corporations are able to substantially reduce their tax payments 
or even to avoid paying tax at all.

In addition to the tax regime, governments make many direct handouts to 
businesses and give concessions in their charges for various services  
rail freight, electricity tariffs, water supply, the special provision of 
roads, subsidy payments, allowances for depreciation and R & D, part 
payment of wages for formerly unemployed workers, to name but a few.

Billions of dollars have been funneled to private insurance companies in an 
attempt to promote the private health sector and to undermine Medicare.

On the other hand, the services to wage and salary earners, which were won 
in struggle over a period of many years are being slashed.

The introduction of "user pays" and the reduction of funding to public 
education and public health services are other measures being used to boost 
private enterprise (private schools, private hospitals, private TAFE and 
the introduction of university fees) while forcing working people to pay 
for what was previously provided by governments out of tax revenue. In this 
budget the Government gives private schools nearly double the amount it 
gives state schools.

The Budget also underpins other priorities that have been decided by the 
Government as the political representative of the capitalist ruling class. 
Last year and again this year there have been increased allocations to 
military preparations. Of course, it is dressed up in fine words such as 
Peter Costello's often repeated claim that this is about "keeping Australia 
safe" and fighting "terrorism".

One does not need submarines, sophisticated warships and planes to fight 
terrorism which arises out of poverty, unemployment and oppression leaving 
no way out for millions of people. Terrorism is an economic and political 
problem  not a military one. Nor are these weapons needed to "keep 
Australia safe". No nation threatens Australia's independence or 
sovereignty.

The military preparations have other and much more dangerous objectives. 
Consider these remarks made by a Robert Cooper, an adviser to the British 
Labor Government of Tony Blair and a senior serving British diplomat:

"The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of 
double-standards ... When dealing with more old-fashioned forms of states 
outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the 
rougher methods of an earlier era  force, pre-emptive attack, deception, 
whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the 19th century 
world of 'every state for itself'."

Robert Cooper goes on: "The pre modern world is a world of failed states 

"What is needed is a new kind of imperialism ... If states wish to benefit, 
they must open themselves up to the interference of international 
organisations and foreign states..."

Cooper lists his targets. "Some areas of the former Soviet Union ... 
Afghanistan ... upcountry Burma ... all over Africa ...some parts of South 
America. No area of the world is without its dangerous cases", he says.

While the Government's outrageous policies towards disability pensioners 
and the increased price of pharmaceuticals may be defeated in the Senate 
(and that would be a good achievement), those who fail to even mention the 
main objectives of the Budget help to mislead the Australian people and 
fail to awaken them to the real dangers that the Government's overall 
policies are stoking up.
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