Ideas@TheCentre – The Centre for Independent Studies


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.

Make Australia great again

Rebecca Weisser

03 February 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

RR13 trade shipping ISDS 1 smallSince his inauguration, President Trump has surprised some commentators by breaking with the longstanding tradition of doing in office what he promised on the campaign trail.   While local pundits have discussed what changes to immigration mean for Australians, few have focussed on Trump’s fiscal plans — yet these could do greater damage to jobs and growth in Australia.

Trump’s pledge to cut corporate taxes from 35% to 15%, and to offer a tax holiday for corporations to repatriate profits held overseas, will make the US a much more attractive investment destination and reduce the incentive for income shifting.

This will allow companies to retain more of their profits, which they can then invest in their operations to grow their businesses.  Trump has also promised personal tax cuts, which will allow workers to retain more of their wages — effectively giving them a pay rise, and putting money in their pockets to consume, save or invest.  Trump’s tax policies will reduce government revenue but he has also pledged to drastically reduce discretionary government spending so as not to increase the deficit.

While all this will help make America great again, it will make Australia less attractive as an investment destination, and some companies based here will shift their focus to the US.  This week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talked again about the importance of company tax cuts to make Australia internationally competitive.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten also knows how important that is.  In 2010, he said Labor’s plan for cutting the company tax rate would “keep all sectors of the our economic competitive in their own global markets” and “we should never forget that we are just one option for international investors — we have to make sure we offer the most compelling value.”

In 2011, he said that cutting corporate tax “helps Australia’s private sector grow and it creates jobs right up and down the income ladder.”  Unfortunately, now that he is in Opposition, Shorten is opposed to the company tax cuts.  His priority he says, is “jobs, jobs, jobs.”  If he means it, he should support the government’s tax cuts, let business create jobs — and make Australia great again.

Moving Australia Day won’t stop protestors

Sara Hudson

03 February 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

Australia Day protestPredictably, Australia Day saw protest marches held around the country with people proclaiming ‘Invasion Day’ was nothing to celebrate.

Every year it is the same scenario. So much so, that these protest marches are as much a part of the national day as backyard BBQs and having a beer.

This year the focus was on moving the date of Australia Day. Warren Mundine suggesting moving it to January 1 — when the six British colonies united as a single nation under the Australian Constitution. While there is some merit to his argument, I doubt changing the date will make a difference to those hell-bent on protesting.

As Jacinta Price so eloquently put it in a Facebook post that went viral: “I’m pretty sure if we are pressured enough to change the date then there will be something else for the Aboriginal middle class activists and guilt ridden white fellas to be offended about.”

In New Zealand, where there is an official policy of biculturalism, there are still protests every year on Waitangi Day; a public holiday on February 6 to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

This should be a lesson for Australia — it does not matter what you do, you cannot please everyone.

The irony, for those opposed to Australia Day, is that the day provides them with an opportunity to raise awareness about some of the problems faced by Indigenous Australians, such as the shockingly high rates of domestic violence, as Josephine Cashman and Marcia Langton did at Yabun this year.

People are perfectly justified in viewing Australia Day as a day to reflect and remember what has happened to Aboriginal people since Australia was first settled, and we should not whitewash history.

At the same time, as Price pointed out, the future — and how all Australians relate to one another today — is much more important than dwelling on the past.

Great Expectations

03 February 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

house housingIn Dickens’ novel, the key characters are made more miserable due to their great expectations… unrealistic expectations.

Some of us may have similarly unrealistic expectations when it comes to housing affordability.

A recent media report focused on a couple who could have purchased, “a one bedroom shoebox apartment and lived in it for the next 50 years, but we didn’t want to do that.”

But in reality, how many of us would live for fifty years in one apartment?

Barnaby Joyce, the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia took a shot at potential young home owners for wanting to live in Sydney but being unable to afford to do so.

The previous generation wouldn’t have expected their first property to be a palatial pad sited a craft beer bottle’s throw away from the CBD. They would have worked hard, bought their first place, saved — and then upgraded.

It is time for a reality check. A possible long-term solution may be micro apartments. Where we are prepared to sacrifice some space and privacy, we could afford to be home owners. And, when we upgrade, we free up housing to be cycled back onto the market.

In Sydney, 35m² is the minimum for studio apartments according to the NSW planning department.

In Japan, where there aren’t minimum limits on apartment or housing sizes, the smallest apartment is around 9m². I am not saying that we should go right down to that size, but if the trend in the small house movement is anything to go by, it may be worth exploring.

This would free up capital for us young ‘uns to spend on fancy space-saver furniture. Or smashed avocado on toast.  Whatever takes our fancy — and meets our more realistic expectations.

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