• Hannah Phillips

Bill Shorten Outlines Labor’s Manifesto


Bill Shorten is a brave man, he told a conference, sponsored by the Melbourne Institute, that all the data collected by its economists from a twenty year study of eleven thousand Australian households was wrong and that Australia’s biggest problem was growing inequality.


Despite the fact that the Institute’s Professor Roger Wilkins told the conference that the measure of inequality was unchanged over the last ten years and relative poverty had declined by 10%, the Opposition Leader knew that to be untrue because he had spoken to people who were doing it tough.

In his speech Mr Shorten said: “Across our nation – hope, faith in the generational contract is retreating because inequality is on the march. Workers’ share of income is at its lowest level in half a century. Too many people are working harder for less. Less money in their pay packet, less security in their job.”

The Opposition Leader’s first solution to this problem is to increase the power of the unions.

“The unions know that the current system is letting workers down. People are underpaid, under-represented and in many cases frightened to complain,” he said.

Mr Shorten sees capitalist institutions as the enemy.

“Our fellow citizens see the contrast. The most profitable banks in the world ripping people off. An energy rich country with rapidly escalating energy prices and housing prices locking out a generation that cannot rely on rich parents.”

Mr Shorten believes that inequality is a real, not an abstract, problem.

It is manifest in the uncertainty of young people, people going for years without a pay rise, women getting less pay than men, people in their fifties and sixties unable to get a job, and families only just able to pay their rent.

He is an evangelist offering to cast out sin.

“Inequality kills hope. It feeds the sense, that resentment, that the deck is stacked against ordinary people, that the fix is in and the deal is done. That it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

It’s doubtful that many Australians believe this.

They know that wages are stagnant because the private sector is not investing enough money even though interest rates are low.

They also know that energy is expensive because the energy system lacks co-ordinated management.

Because the economy is uncertain people want more public services and they see debt and deficit as someone else’s problem.

Mr Shorten’s solution is to eliminate what he describes as a two tier tax system.

He describes this eloquently as an economy class tax system for working people and a business class tax system for the wealthy.

He clearly thinks that Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan’s claim that the PAYG taxpayers currently evade $66 billion annually in legitimate taxes is a lie.

They are being maltreated while the top 10% of income earners, who pay 30%, of all taxes are getting away with theft from the workers.

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