08 November 2006

Sweeping proposals to restructure government

Inspired by this, the following will illustrate the sheer folly of me going anywhere near the levers of government at any level. I would:

  • Raise the taxfree threshhold for income tax to average weekly earnings for women and use that as a basis for sweeping reassessments of work and welfare. Include imputed income like fare discounts into low-income earners' wages and factor this in to welfare decisions, to remove disincentives to work.

  • Remove all Jeanette Howard subsidies rorts - middle-class women capable of working should wear the financial penalty of not doing so. In fact, remove Jeanette Howard from the public purse - unlike every other Prime Minister's wife back to those two nervy little mice who were married to Curtin and Chifley, this woman doesn't earn her keep with Good Causes and should pay her way when she makes herself available for the Lurk Of The Week. There'd be 30 or 40 abused kids, or countless literacy programs in the pillbox-hat budget of that useless appendage. You just know that in ten years some palace/Yarralumla hack will leak that nobody at the head-of-government level could stand her.

  • Increase but cap the Defence budget - currently Defence has no disincentive to tackle the featherbedding that protracted all-out war works out of Defence, so a cap will turn the minds of leadership to this end. All those uniformed timeserver nuf-nufs who are protected from the consequences of selling weapons to bikie gangs/sexual harrassment/acquisition rorts should be punted straight onto welfare rolls. There should be a closer interface between defence and police in recognition of the fact that the nature of threats facing the country has changed. Private airports should be responsible for security, with any breaches actionable against the airport owner.

  • Tax breaks for research & investment and IP protection, as well as infrastructure (including telco). Health and education go to the states, but not to the point where they have no incentive to work on interoperability. Give the CSIRO a role in facilitating information exchange among universities.

  • All tax breaks to farmers not open to other small businesses to end immediately. All those alpaca/guava/olive oil/[insert this year's rorts here] farms in the NSW Southern Highlands and Daylesford areas become available to actual farmers who can give up their hardscrabble properties to the desert, and/or the descendents of the Aborigines who grand-granddaddy first forced off the selection. Charge water at the rate of return for inputs and watch the cotton and rice farmers give it up. Stop all subsidies to low-margin exports.

  • Any airline regulation that can be found to advantage Qantas over its competitors should be axed immediately.

  • Any tax whose collection is outweighed by the costs of its collection should be scrapped. I'm with the libertarians on this one, just go without.

  • If a public-service process can be automated it should be. It's the best hope Australia has at becoming an IT power - not radical innovation but using existing systems well, without putting people into draining, pointless jobs.

  • End all government schemes telling Aborigines how to live their lives, e.g. the geniuses who go out to red clay soil and try to train local people in turning it into cattle country. We've done that shit for a hundred years, quit while you're behind I say. In the same vein, all schemes involving sports stars lecturing school kids about obesity should end immediately.

  • Abolish all metropolitan local government, with one LGA per city and all regional areas centred on a major centre. Devolve all planning and public transport to these organisations - but not schools or hospitals as the ACT shows regional governments are too small to be cost-effective. The ACT should cede its big-ticket items to NSW and take to its true role as Canberra-Queanbeyan City Council. Do whatever has to be done to enable South Australia, WA & NT to merge, and Tasmania to merge with Victoria.

  • Common currency, commercial and financial regulation, job market, defence/policing arrangements and airline regulation across Australia, New Zealand, East Timor and other South Pacific Forum member-countries. Sink illegal fishing and whaling vessels.

  • Restructure ASIC so that it can get success fees out of companies that try to box clever with Trade Practices law. Any smart, hardworking lawyer/accountant who goes to work there should have the chance to be as rich as Graeme Samuel.

  • All smokers to indemnify Medicare against smoking-related illness.

  • Prison terms for any public servant, including legislators, who give public money to religious organisations. They've got plenty of dough and they only use it to play legalistic silly-buggers with various victims of institutionalisation.

  • I have no opinions on flat taxes, school vouchers or public housing. Yet.


  1. Us smokers already pay for our cancer treatments through the nose in taxes on tobacco products. It's the ultimate in pre-paid health care.

    Ditto drinkers who bust their livers.

  2. Crap! Taxes on 'baccy are a drop in the bucket for cancer treatment, and this gap will only increase (and so it should - voluntary taxation is the best kind). Moderate drinkers pay for liver-busting heavy drinkers, and grog taxes likewise are a, ah, drop in the bucket.