Friday, October 7, 2011

Tax forum commentary slams unions

The most profound insight from this weeks tax forum was the quip from Ken Henry that he could have written the script before it started. Apart from his eponymous recent tax review, Henry has a long background in this field and was in Keating's tent back at the 1985 tax summit when Hawke rolled the GST after the business lobby decided to join the unions against the proposal. It took a further 15 years and several elections for the GST to be implemented.

Harry Clarke was a participant at the tax forum this week and has taken aim at the union movement with some very sharp commments:

Generally I found the trade union representatives at this meeting were among the least interesting of the various groups who attended. I couldn’t work out if they were intrinsically stupid or just outlining a preconceived union viewpoint in bad faith -certainly they were not engaging with those who showed their views were wrong. A number of other attendees of various political persuasions made the same observation.  I recalled with sadness the reasons I abandoned Labor in the mid- 1970s. These unionists embodied a kind of  bullying stupidity that must constrain the Labor Party and Australian politics.
There are many interesting posts on Clarke's blog and he is among those I appreciate for an ability to cross ideological lines on any specific issue. Clarke is obviously as equally frustrated as Loose Change with the current standard of public debate:  
My negative comments on the unions are part of a general issue of the role of uninformed public discussion in complex debates on public policy.  Of course some weight must be given to public discussions for strategic reasons but perhaps there is the need to provide information to the various groups before discussion occurs.

The current market economy recidivism has taken us back several decades to previous debates based on populist ignorance. Cairns is suffering from this more than anywhere as recent local parochialism has demonstrated with demands from the parrot cage commentariat and its leaders for the discount Superbutcher to be run out of town and lambasting the evils of 'southern meat'! Southern meat should be dealt with like a witch and burned at the stake ...... which is what Kitchenslut calls a barbecue if Superbutcher can come back to supply the meat :-) 

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