Ideas@TheCentre – The Centre for Independent Studies

Ideas@TheCentre

Ideas@TheCentre brings you ammunition for conversations around the table.  3 short articles from CIS researchers emailed every Friday on the issues of the week.

Improving aged care doesn’t justify tax

Robert Carling

05 March 2021 | Ideas@TheCentre

The report of the Royal Commission into aged care released this week has already been widely accepted to have made a case that many more billions of dollars need to be spent. Debate has quickly moved on to where those billions would come from, with personal income tax the prime candidate.

None of this is surprising. In making recommendations that involve vastly more public expenditure, this commission has acted in the tradition of royal commissions into any failure of public policy. And it is not unusual for income tax to be the first port of call for more taxpayer money.

But increased funding should not be the starting point. The government first needs to examine the commission’s recommendations, decide which are most worth pursuing and ensure that existing levels of public expenditure on aged care are put to most effective use before adding more.

If, as is likely, more funding is needed, there should not be a presumption that this will come from personal income tax. Imposing a levy on personal taxable income is just dressing up an income tax increase as if calling it a ‘levy’ makes it something else.

A 1% levy for aged care is indistinguishable — in its effects on disposable income and incentives — from a one percentage point increase in all marginal rates of personal income tax. The same is true of the Medicare levy, which renders the true marginal rate faced by the largest number of taxpayers 34.5%, not the 32.5% politicians like to claim.

Reducing personal income tax has been a centrepiece of the current government’s platform, and they have economic logic on their side. Imposing an aged care levy would be a clear reversal of this strategy, which is legislated to be fully implemented in 2024-25. A 1% levy would negate more than one-third of the full tax cut.

The Royal Commission has no special contribution to make on the matter of financing its recommendations. Its terms of reference did not even specifically invite recommendations on funding. This is a matter for government, which should dismiss any notion of increasing income tax and examine other options including larger user contributions.

If I Ran the Woke Zoo

Monica Wilkie

05 March 2021 | Ideas@TheCentre

Cancel culture has ensured any transgression — no matter how big, small or imaginary — is punishable by firing and social ostracisation, without any hope of repentance.

The business that exists to preserve Dr Seuss’ legacy will now no longer publish six of the beloved author’s works “because of racist and insensitive imagery” that “portray people in ways that’s are hurtful and wrong.”  The titles are: If I Ran the Zoo, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, McElligot’s PoolOn Beyond Zebra!Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer.

Dr Seuss Enterprises took this decision after last year raking in an estimated $42.3 million from the deceased author’s works. One should wonder if they will donate the money from the sales of the ‘harmful’ books.

A large, rich company self-cancelling is one thing, but the spectre of cancel culture is widening, and looking for more scalps.

The American Bachelor — which has been on the air for a quarter of a century — recently suffered cancel culture fever.

One of the contestants was cancelled after accusations of racism; the host was cancelled for urging grace and forgiveness; and the Bachelor himself issued an apology for not condemning the incident enough.

The crime being that the contestant, Rachel, went to an Antebellum party dressed in old-fashioned attire. And Rachel was also the winner — meaning the Bachelor sacrificed his girlfriend to avoid a swarming cancel mob.

This may appear trivial, even amusing, but this event cost people their jobs, relationships, reputations, and likely, future job opportunities — over a photo.

It is ridiculous to make individuals or companies sacrifice their opportunities or achievements because of newly invented, and ever-changing moral codes.

Like most moral panics, those caught up in a cancel mob, do not stop to think about the consequences.

Cancellations sow division and mistrust. Recent polling of Americans has shown, under Biden, Americans are more distrustful and fearful about each other, and more divided than they were under Trump.

To borrow from one of Dr Seuss’s classics enthused about ‘The Places You’ll Go!’.

But if the woke insist on cancelling everyone they do not like, the place we end up will be very dark indeed.

Don’t abandon rule of law

Peter Kurti

05 March 2021 | Ideas@TheCentre

Just as the dawn of post-covid recovery begins to break, Scott Morrison’s government has been engulfed by a 30-year old rape scandal based on allegations made about Attorney-General Christian Porter in 2019 by a now-deceased woman.

The scandal comes on the heels of another 1980s rape allegation, this time relating to a Labor frontbencher. After investigating that matter, the Australian Federal Police did not press charges

The politics of these scandals will, inevitably, play out in time. But at this stage, they raise important questions about our commitment to upholding key principles of Australia’s criminal justice system.

Rape is a serious and horrific crime. In recent years, courts have gone to very great lengths to make it easier for women to give evidence and to have their identities protected in the pursuit of justice.

And this is as it should be. Yet procedural processes are now improved for rape victims, it is important that they do not undermine essential protections afforded the accused.

The death in 2020 of the woman who made the allegation against Porter makes it impossible for police to test her testimony. Indeed, the police have declared the case “now closed”.

A key factor is that the alleged offence took place in 1988, when both Porter and the woman were still at school, so no forensic evidence survives.

And then there is the capstone of our criminal justice system: the presumption that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty.

But all parliamentarians need to remember that the tragedy of rape will not be eased by a wholesale abandonment of the principles of justice.

As a number of commentators have noted this week, witch hunts played out in the press and trials conducted on social media do nothing to preserve and uphold those principles.

Scott Morrison was right to stand firm both in support both of his minister and of the operation of our justice system. Once the rule of law is subverted, the rights of each one of us are threatened.