Paid parental leave

Tony Abbott has announced his proposed paid parental leave scheme, to be partially paid for by a levy on the 3000 largest businesses in the country. While paid parental leave is a good thing, I have a few problems with the proposed scheme.

  • It seems overly generous – providing up to $75,000 for a woman earning $150,000.
  • It is regressive, in giving the biggest benefit to high income earners who need the money the least, less benefit for low income earners, and no benefit at all for women who choose to stay out of the workforce to raise their children, the women who are often the ones working in the local school canteens for no remuneration at all.
  • It seems rather nonsensical for Tony Abbott to be espousing the benefits of a 1.5% cut in the company tax rate on the second day of the campaign, and then to be putting back a 1.5% tax on companies 11 days later.

Groundhog day

“Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out there today.”

I wake up today and find that Labor is pledging $500m towards propping up the car industry. Hang on. Didn’t Labor pledge $200m at the start of the campaign? Oh, yes they did. Perhaps this is groundhog day?

No. Apparently this is another extra $500m, bringing the total to $700m with vague promises of even more to come. Yikes! For that amount of money you could just about buy every adult in Australia a decent bike, and then recoup the $700m in years to come from reduced health care costs as the general level of fitness in the population increased, and the air quality improved.

The answer is ‘a pineapple’

Because I was at church last night I didn’t  get to watch the leaders’ debate live. I’ve just watched half of it now, and frankly I don’t have the will to watch it to the end. There was one patently obvious characteristic of both leaders exposed – they both have a chronic inability to answer the actual question posed to them! The questions asked by the panel journalists were good questions, deserving of answers, of which very little was forthcoming.

They may have well answered every question with “its a pineapple” – for that answer has as much relevance to the questions asked, as the answers that Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott gave.

There is some doubt as to whether there will be any more leaders’ debates this campaign – based on last night it will be no loss if there are no more.

Bridges and Broadband

broadbandplanThe federal Labor party have announced funding of $52 million (half the the cost) towards duplicating the Tourle St bridge to make the crossing 4 lanes in total.  The crazy thing is that when the new double lane bridge was being built a few years ago by the state Labor government, an extra $15 million would have gotten us a 4 lane crossing from the start. Now the cost of those two extra lanes is $104 million!

This cogently illustrates a principle of infrastructure development – doing it on the cheap is always more expensive in the long run.

So when it comes to a major infrastructure development such as national broadband, the Coalition’s plan of using Fibre To The Node (FTTN) then the existing copper network to the home, is a classic example of cheapskate infrastructure development. Yes it will be delivered faster than Labor’s Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) plan, and it will be cheaper in the short term – but, FTTN is a solution that will last 5-10 years, whereas FTTP will be good for 50-100 years.  In 10 years time when the demand for bandwidth has outstripped the capacity of the FTTN network, Tony Abbott’s cheapskate plan is going to look rather foolish.

Godwin’s Law and the Daily Telegraph

Godwin’s Law is an ancient (by internet time) law that states that in any online discussion that goes on long enough, someone will eventually make reference to Hitler and/or the Nazis, and furthermore that the person who makes the reference is deemed to have lost the argument.

It seems that Godwin’s Law applies to non-internet space as well, and with the front page of the Daily Telegraph today, as much as I’d like to say that the Daily Telegraph has lost, in fact the real losers are the Australian public who get served up such shoddy stuff parading as journalism.

Company tax

So Tony Abbott wants to cut the company tax rate by 1.5%. I’m not across this issue enough to know whether this is a good, bad or indifferent thing, although I note that even in the business community there are divided opinions on this.

What I do know is that with all the tax cutting Tony Abbott is promising (mining tax, carbon tax, company tax) its still completely opaque how this fits with his promise to cut government debt and balance the budget.