The Guardian July 2, 2003

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Letters to the Editor:

Some proposals regarding a People's Budget

"A people's budget" (Guardian, 11-6-03) proposes a wide range of 
policies that can provide the basis for discussions with people and 
organisations willing to join forces with the CPA to work for the election 
of a People's Government.

There will be many who won't agree that these policies "are realistic". For 
example, take the cost of providing a free university education at between 
$40,000 and $150,000 per student. In 2002, 170,000 students gained entry to 
university. If we add the estimated 17,000 who failed to gain entry (and 
not count those who are studying at private universities) the cost of 
getting all of these students through university would fall somewhere 
between $7 billion and $28 billion.

A newly elected People's Government would have difficulty finding this sort 
of money in addition to financing primary and secondary education, TAFE, 
health, housing and social welfare, not to mention the huge amounts of 
investment needed to create jobs.

A policy of free education from cradle to grave could only be adopted and 
gradually implemented by a People's Government after it has been in power 
for some time and the sources of income are not restricted to taxation, 
whether it is income tax, corporate tax or the GST.

True, the CPA is proposing the return to public ownership of enterprises 
once owned by the government. This radical proposal is not realistic in 
present-day political conditions and can only be achieved by a People's 
Government that would agree to adopt this CPA policy.

The mere assertion that the policies "are realistic" will not be sufficient 
to persuade people and their organisations to join forces to fight for a 
People's Government which would then implement them.

At present people are not rallying in great numbers to join or support the 
CPA. They do not consider the CPA to be an effective instrument of change 
and prefer the Greens or to be independent.

The points in the CPA draft budget, that are its specific contribution to 
the struggle for change and that can rally the working people of Australia 
to support it, are the general principle that "the public sector is central 
to any budget that is going to tackle economic development and job 
creation" and the call for a national investment policy.

The CPA needs to do some work in this area, work out where the money can 
come from right now, and how it could be invested effectively to create 

A National Development Fund could be established with funds coming from the 
profits of public income-producing enterprises still in the hands of the 
government, superannuation funds and increased company tax.

These funds could then be invested in areas that would not only create jobs 
but would also strengthen the Australian economy. Investment as also all 
so-called government "help" to industry should be in the form of equity and 
not in the form of hand-outs.

This means that the public sector could consist of joint enterprises. If 
the Chinese can do it successfully, there is no reason why we should not be 
able to cope with the economic and political implications of such a step.

Which brings up another important point. The CPA proposes that a People's 
Government would "encourage the participation of people in their own 
government by creating community and neighbourhood committees".

This proposal should be extended and brought forward. There should also be 
action committees in factories and workplaces and they should be 
established immediately by the alliance formed to work together to elect a 
People's Government.

And a final point. I object to a People's Government subsidising the rich 
to get a free education, particularly as the resources in the public 
schools severely hampers students coming from families on low incomes in 
their endeavours to matriculate.

I propose a people's budget should adopt a scheme charging fees. Students 
would be means-tested. The funds gained from those able to pay would then 
be used to provide scholarships for the needy.

Bob Saltis
Adelaide, SA
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