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.

Madonna's bomb blast

Peter Kurti

27 January 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

PK madonna 3Ever thought of blowing up the White House? Madonna has. Addressing the Women’s March in Washington, the star said she’d thought about doing it “an awful lot.”

Imagine if Donald Trump had said that before he was elected president. Or if our own Pauline Hanson had made a quip about bombs and parliaments in Australia.

Live feeds from Sunday’s Washington march were cut by some networks when Madonna’s rant took an expletive-laced turn for the worse. Many were angered by her threats.

Newt Gingrich thought Madonna should be arrested for her remarks. He accused her of being part of “an emerging left-wing fascism.”

“I spoke in metaphor,” Madonna pleaded in self-defence. “I’m not a violent person.” She said she was simply trying to express the outrage she felt about the election of Trump.

The so-called ‘fascist Left’ does outrage well. During the campaign, candidate Trump prevaricated about accepting the election result. He was roundly condemned by the left.

But when the result became known, it was the tribunes of outrage on the Left who rejected the result. Thousands took to American streets in violent protest at Trump’s victory.

The Women’s March in DC, a circus of identity politics, was held days after the inauguration — before many appointments to the Trump administration had even been completed.

There was no basis for such a protest other than “perceived” fear and “perceived” threats said to be felt by women whose preferred candidate had been defeated.

Madonna said she hopes to effect change “with love.” But the American people have effected change already in a fully constitutional presidential election, without bomb threats.

Outrage, violence and vandalism are all now firmly established in the arsenal of the left who claim to be motivated by passion and love, and not hatred. Protest is what they do best.

The hatred of the protesting, fascist Left is not just emerging, as Gingrich suggested. It is already with us.

NSW: Good management or just good luck?

27 January 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

LH money notes cash 1New South Wales’ stellar financial position has been well publicised, having outperformed the Commonwealth and other states in recent years. Now, Mike Baird leaves office and Gladys Berejiklian arrives, having acquired reputations as fiscal miracle workers.

However, their achievements are a result of serendipitous events as well as effective financial management — and the new team will need to steer the state’s finances through the risks that lie ahead.

New South Wales recorded a net operating surplus of $4.7 billion in 2015–16. That is, revenue was in excess of operating expenses such as employee expenses, interest on debt and depreciation of assets. While the result benefited from several years’ tighter control of operating expenses, the improvement has also come from an enormous increase in state tax revenue.

With the state’s property market soaring, the government collected over $9 billion in stamp duty. Yet the state can enjoy buoyant stamp duty revenue for only so long. With growth of stamp duty set to slow, estimates show a decline in the net operating surplus to $0.9 billion in 2019–20. The bigger risk is boom giving way to slump, and revenue falling much more than allowed for.

Net debt has been reduced from $13.2 billion in 2011–12 to close to zero. But the elimination of net debt is only temporary, thanks to proceeds from public enterprise privatisations and long-term leases. As these proceeds are reinvested in a huge infrastructure splurge over the next few years, net debt is projected to rise rapidly to over $19 billion by June 2020. The splurge may be warranted, but large, lumpy projects always carry the risk of cost over-runs. In comparison, Victoria’s debt will increase by only $2 billion over the same period to $24 billion.

New South Wales’ spectacular performance in 2015–16 has been a mix of good luck and good management — and is unlikely to be repeated. There are some serious challenges ahead as the property market inevitably cools and as large infrastructure projects are implemented.

However, provided the Berejiklian team keeps a tight rein on operating expenses, the state should be able to manage the risks…and avoid an embarrassing hole in its finances.

Lily Havers is an intern in the Economics Program at the Centre for Independent Studies

Trust is shattered

27 January 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

HT trust broken 3 1Without trust, no society can function. But in this day and age, our trust in our leaders seems to be well and truly shattered. Admittedly, with today’s media, it is practically impossible not to have a spotlight shone on you and be judged for any misadventure. But some of these spotlights are illuminating truly appalling behaviour.

Jennifer Hewett has stated the current view in society is that politicians tend to be self-serving instead of placing the interests of the country first. And instances where politicians claim outrageous expenses tend to justifiably enrage the average person.

No one would protest if you needed to travel at taxpayers’ expense in order to perform your job. However, when you claim a helicopter ride as an expense in the case where a government car is clearly more appropriate, it reinforces the idea that politicians have lost the plot.

One would think that with multiple public outcries at such expenses, politicians would have moderated their behaviour. That they haven’t — and don’t seem willing to try — is a factor in the loss of our trust.

So it’s no surprise that a recent survey by Ipsos Global revealed widespread distrust of traditional politics: More than 70 per cent of Australians believe the nation “needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful”.

graphThis hampers society as a whole because leaders need us to trust that their policies benefit society as a whole. Any behaviour that undermines this trust will cause a breakdown in society.

What does it mean for young voting adults of my generation? My gut feel is that we tend to view ‘traditional’ politicians in a distrustful and perhaps cynical light. Certainly, if we had someone we could trust to run for office, we would tend to rally behind him or her. Cue the young voters who have stopped supporting mainstream political parties in America.

Could we have a situation in Australian politics where we overwhelmingly voted for a Trump-like figure? Probably. If we don’t have politicians we can trust, we might settle for the ones who just shout the loudest.

Herman Toh is a Mannkal Scholar intern at the Centre for Independent Studies