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.
Congratulations, we’ve passed Tax Freedom Day. We’re no longer working for the government and have started working for ourselves.
It has taken 102 days for Australians to pay off the annual tax burden. In this period, ending on 13 April, the average Australian has sacrificed $19,200 to pay for government services at all levels — federal, state and local.
But that isn’t enough. Despite taking 28% of the income created by every Australian, this level of taxation does not cover rising government expenditure. Across Australia, governments collectively ran deficits of $43 billion last year and are set to run deficits of $49 billion this year.
Governments are effectively borrowing to finance day-to-day operations. With these deficits we can look forward to working even longer in future years to pay off taxes.
Since 2011, Tax Freedom Day has grown steadily later. This year, it falls one day later than it did in 2016. Present forecasts indicate little relief for taxpayers in the coming years, with Tax Freedom Day set to be later every year.
This is a growing tax burden, particularly driven by bracket creep in personal income tax which is adding 0.3% of GDP to the tax burden each and every year — and this figure is cumulative. Bracket creep is the ultimate stealth tax, a tax increase that would be stridently opposed by every political party if it had to be legislated. But because it happens automatically, protests are muted or non-existent.
Stamp duty levied by state governments is also a growing burden: revenue from this tax across Australia has blown out by 67% over the four years from 2011–12 to 2015–16. And this tax is the most inefficient major tax in Australia.
Governments need to respond to this by arresting spending growth to alleviate the taxation pressure on all Australians.
‘Women of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia’ provoked controversy recently by giving the go-ahead for Muslim men to strike their wives — but only in a symbolic way, they insisted. It must be done in a “managed” way with a short stick, a scrap of fabric, or a coiled scarf.
In the course of a panel discussion, two women agreed that discipline was “a beautiful blessing” and sometimes necessary to “promote tranquility” in the family home. A husband is entitled to discipline a wife, the women said, if she has been disobedient or acted in an immoral way.
Prominent Australian Muslims, including Waleed Aly, condemned the video, as did Muslim MP, Ed Husic, who stated that any form of striking — “either between husband or wife or anywhere” — was “not acceptable.” The Prophet, they all said, condemned violence.
Australian Muslims are in a tight spot when it comes to the rights of women. Sheik Shady Alsuleiman, a leading Muslim, has asserted the right of a husband to demand sex from his wife. But Yassmin Abdel-Magid, says domestic violence is unacceptable. Which, of course, it is.
Muslim leaders prevaricate whenever Islam rubs up against Western rights, values and laws. Some claim the Qu’ran says one thing, while others deny it and declare that it says another. Multiculturalist policies have inhibited us from judging other cultures. But not all cultures are equal.
This is the social price we are paying for striving to stamp out racism and discrimination. Promoting ‘diversity’ has long trumped affirming the primacy of our national culture. Now we are remembering that every Australian, regardless of race or creed, has full protection under the law.
Diffidence in the face of the illegal and the unacceptable leads not to liberty, but to tyranny.
London’s most recent terror incident spun the media and politicians alike into overdrive, labelling it an act designed ‘to silence our democracy’.
In reality the perpetrator was a troubled individual who had virtually no capacity to destroy one of the world’s oldest governments.
Pertinently, the rhetoric surrounding the recent disarmament of Basque separatist group ETA also served as a prescient reminder that the credence we decide to give to these groups is far more powerful than any weapons they possess.
For decades the aura given to ETA has enabled it to hold Basque society hostage.
ETA’s brutal methods, small but symbolic attacks — and the strong language from Spanish critics — give the group a level of political capital that far outweighs its actual ability to effect change.
As ETA disarmed, the Spanish Prime Minister unfortunately continued to give them credibility by focussing on their ongoing potential to function as a político-militar, rather than praising their decision to hand over weapons caches.
Spain’s treatment of the Basque conflict sends an important message to Europe and indeed the rest of the world — by continuing to build the prominence of terror groups through the media and aggressive political rhetoric, we become a tool of their campaigns.
Organisations such as ETA and the Islamic State thrive on mythological perpetuations of their capabilities that far supersede their actual capacity.
Such myths enabled ETA to assert decades of pseudo control over Basque society and also convinced Brits that a confused individual posed a genuine threat to their democracy.
If we continue to reinforce these attitudes around the globe, we bolster the ambitions of the very terror groups we strive to quell.
It is essential to not perpetuate the fear terrorism thrives on, and to ensure that we do not hold our own society hostage by giving extremists a reputation they do not deserve.