The Hawke myth

Having lived through the Hawke PM era myself (1983-1991), and quite liking him and his govt, I can still never understand the way press gallery journalists write adoringly about the Hawke years and how much he ‘reformed’ things etc. 

He really didn’t do that much. 

He didn’t really change wealth distribution, tax the rich more (with one important exception below); or alter any great power balance in society.    

(I can hear people objecting already to this, so lets work through some of the main arguments that Hawke changed a lot of things):


Not really the big shift people thought it was. At the end of the day, its government saying if you keep your savings and then live off them (with an allowed stream in retirement) we’ll tax you less.  Its really still wage earners money, but being locked away from them.

its also turned into (not really Hawke’s fault) a huge gravy train for the rich, and for rich advisers feeding off the money.

I used to think there was some great policy purpose to it, but really the only good it does is stop people blowing their money as they retire, then going on the pension (or at least thinking about doing this). 

It also creates a huge amount of administrative bloat and waste, notably for people who get a one off job etc.


This is probably the single biggest ‘Hawke changed things’ point. Yes it was important, but likely coming anyway, as it has done to virtually every wealthy country except the USA. 

There was a state system of hospitals etc in Australia, but it still had many gaps.

But again, it was coming anyway, and wasn’t really introduced over the protests of any great pressure group (though the doctors union whinged a bit).

And it should have covered dental, but didn’t.

The Accord etc

I never got this:

  • We’ll ask for lower wage rises
  • Business will make more money
  • ?? living standards will rise

I suppose there was a benefit here in less chaos from strikes, inflation etc, but it was way overblown.

Capital Gains Tax

This was the big one.  Introducing a tax on capital gains on assets bought after 1985.  Stupidly, this tax was halved by John Howard in 1999.    This was the one thing I think Hawke really changed.   They had a go at reforming negative gearing (1985) but caved to a property industry whinge campaign in 1987.


So there we have it. A cautious government, a cut in wages. A temporary cut in unemployment, but it all came roaring back in the early 90s recession anyway, (and went far higher and stayed there).

Not a lot of taking on vested interests and forcing change.

So why do all these press gallery journalists (Troy Bramston, Paul Kelly etc etc) love to witter on about the Hawke government and how good it was, ‘reform’ etc etc ?: 

Because it didn’t change much, and it certainly didn’t affect their proprietors interest (in fact their proprietor was grossly appeased with specific laws passed at his command in 1986).

By writing about Hawke etc they can pretend to themselves that they’re all ‘progressive’.  Just like the way they champion unlimited immigration, and kid themselves they’re being all ‘liberal’ when in fact they are cheering on wage cuts and a massive transfer of wealth upwards.

Of course, if anyone really tries to reform things (like getting the miners to actually pay tax on what they dig up), then the press gallery immediately close ranks and start giving unlimited publicity to industry scare campaigns.

But happy to have my mind changed in the comments! (if there are any of course).


Stealing now legal in Victorian public service

Thou shalt not steal, unless you steal 14 million dollars as an IT manager for the Victorian government, then nothing will happen and the weak-as-water IBAC ‘corruption commission’ wont even bother to name you (in case you have hurt feelings).

I suppose, after allowing someone to steal 14m, IBAC will launch a new round of worthless public sector staff ‘education’ and ‘training’ initiatives; whats the point when there’s no penalty for theft and they don’t even bother charging people?

The corruption, nepotism and waste in Victoria’s closed shop public sector is beyond belief. Its more than time for a total cleanout. It is just insulting for taxpayers to be forced to pay for a little club of mates and relatives where thieving is now legal (and has been for some time).


The real issue

If you read the Age or fairfax, particularly their ‘only published because they pay’ subscribers, then all the problems of the world are caused by ‘neoliberalism’ etc etc. If they dont start out blaming this, pretty much every comment thread quickly devolves into how the free market is all a conspiracy to make the rich richer and the poor poorer etc.

If you read the Heraldsun, then its all ‘socialist dan’s’ fault, (and climate change is all rubbish as well).

Thats it. Pick a side. Very frustrating, and wrong. And keeps the real problems going.

The ‘sides’ in our economy are not either a rampaging free market or a state controlled economy. The division is between the well connected rorters and the rest of us.

A perfect example: the Pharmacy Guild. Since 1990, they have had a policy of restricting areas pharmacies can services, euphemistically call the ‘community pharmacy location rules’ (competition prevention rules, more like). This means they can block new entrants who want to set up within 1.5km of an existing pharmacy. This has been a massive goldmine for the existing pharmacy holders, so that most of them no longer have to work, they can just employ their $25 an hour casuals to slave away for them. They are laughing and enjoying the monopoly. This is what was behind the pharmacy guild making an approach to the One Nation Party, to protect their lurk.

These type of arrangements are repeated virtually everywhere else in the economy. A protected elite, using government to tilt the rules in their favor.

And that story sums up the real division in Australia. Its not between ‘business’ and the ‘worker’. its between the insiders, like the Pharmacy Guild, who’ve managed to get a government rort for their members that makes them billions for nothing, and the rest of us. The miners, (who dig minerals out of the ground, pay 5% (if they feel like it) and wont even have a proper bidding scheme for the rights) and the rest of us. Get the picture? Its the people who’ve rigged the free market lording it over everyone else.

Thats what we should be focused on. We all have a common issue, if we put away our labels, of squaring up to the monopolies and rorts that put all our costs up.

But sadly, apart from what is usually way-off-base criticism of bankers, it all gets drawn back to either blaming the ‘neoliberial’ LNP (as if they are anyway) or ‘socialist Dan’ (very odd socialists whose privatized stuff that would make Jeff blush). When the real crooks, the ones that have rigged the business system for their monopoly, are laughing.

Try it yourself. So blaming one side or another, and look at who actually benefits from govt decisions. .Transurban, the Pharmacy Guild ; and who’s really shelling out the donations. The Age readers and Herald Sun commenters might discover a common enemy hiding in plain sight. Its a real game of mates, as the book says.


Victoria was a failed state well before the virus.

The Andrews government in Victoria is a monumental con. Far to the right of Jeff Kennett, they have privatized the port (a monopoly asset, of course); and the titles office (also a monopoly). Roads have been outsourced (literally) to Transurban with vast private royalty flows five times the cost of just building them ourselves. And dont get me started on how they import hundreds of thousands of migrants, grab 40k off them upfront in stamp duty (at the most), then dump them in new outer suburbs and leave the 300k each migrant needs in lifetime infrastructure for future generations to pay.

All the while doing this, they’ve skillfully saturated the media and gullible journalists (ie, all of them) with chinwobbling social justice messaging and virtue signalling, making Victoria out to be a caring, sharing, politically correct nirvana, while all the while, in the real world, privatizing everything in sight. It’s quite an achievement.

The state was going into heavy deficit well before the virus. This is a combination of (a) wasteful public spending (armies of useless government bureaucrats) (b) idiotic privatization deals (ie getting private providers to build roads and hospitals and either paying inflated access charges locked in for forty years or just bailing them out if they go broke (thus paying for the same asset three times) (c) bloated spending on ‘consultancies’ (hiring useless big four accounting firms to tell you the time and get you to spend more on their services) and (d) running a population ponzi, where you get migrants coming in (who ultimately cost 300k plus in infrastructure each), grab 40k or so off them in stamp duty, and dump them in outer suburb seats while building nothing and letting future taxpayers pay for it.

It really is amazing. The virus, in a way, is the best thing to happen to the Andrews government, as it will enable them to (momentarily) cover up the stupendous waste of simultaneously flogging everything off, paying for it three times over in the most inefficient way possible, importing people in an upfront scam and STILL going broke.

As always, the media are to blame. I well remember just as the Andrews govt. flogged off the Land Titles office, (selling something that had worked well for 160+ years), they distracted the press gallery with a simultaneous ‘announcement’ of a mythical outer rail loop for Melbourne. At the time, I thought the media couldn’t be so stupid to fall for such an obvious trick, but fall they did; all the media pundits and letterwriters started pontificating and chattering about a magical rail line that will never be built, while the irreversible land title privatization sailed through with virtually no comment. Oh well.

When the accounts are really done on the Andrews govt., nobody will believe the waste, but by then, all the ministers and their ‘advisers’ will be well into retirement on their lucrative super payouts and pensions.


Nanny State

Quick question: why do people who complain about the ‘Nanny State’ always want the state to pay for their nannies?


The press gallery has decided: any criticism of immigration is racist!

Australia’s press gallery are full of it. They virtually never discuss policies, and spend their lives being obsessed with trivia and made up nonsense (gay marriage, the republic) that nobody else in Australia or the real world has ever given a stuff about either way.

The press gallery actively HATE any discussion of policies, as this takes attention away from themselves, their ‘contacts’; and their little world of pointless personality based gossip; which (when all is stripped away) is the only thing they have to offer.

However, there is one issue the press gallery,as a group, do write about about, and unite upon. Immigration. By unquestioningly cheering on limitless numbers, the press gallery can delude themselves they are progressives while in fact overseeing a vast transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich (the latter group including, coincidentally of course, all of their proprietors and advertisers). And if anyone complains about it, well, there’s always the ‘R’ card….

Here are two predictable pieces by press gallery members. Remember, before the internet, stuff like this would just be published without any pushback (unless another hack disagreed with them, which never happens with immigration):

Both are in the standard press gallery tradition of pretending to be all wise and progressive by slavishly praising immigration, when in fact the consequence of it mean a screwed middle and lower class, on lower wages, worse infrastructure and locked out of the housing market, while all the benefits accrue to (purely coincidentally of course) their rich proprietors and advertisers.

Both pieces have the usual condescension toward ordinary people- they are all stupid, and possibly racist, they can’t possibly understand the complexities of immigration, we’re all benefiting from it really (well press gallery journalists and their proprietors are, not so much everyone else) etc etc blah blah.

If you get a chance, read Bramston’s bio, its hilarious how he values himself based on all the interviews with star politicians he’s conducted- note its not about the policies- but, as always with the press gallery, its about the personalities.

In fact, maybe, ironically migrants COULD be brought in to replace press gallery journalists? This might finally change a few press gallery minds. The migrants require the following skills:

  • Be completely innumerate (in particular they must not understand the concept ‘per capita’)
  • think as a group
  • be immune to facts and issues
  • focus solely on gossip (and their proprietor’s interests)

Actually, just kidding. Nobody’s that dumb!