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Wren's Week: Liberal tax cuts and the Folau hypocrisy

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The Liberal Party are now faced with having to deliver on their tax cuts promise (Screenshot via YouTube)

John Wren takes a look at the status of promised tax cuts and the hypocrisy surrounding Israel Folau's free speech.

Wren’s Week

27/6/19

ANOTHER WEEK of nothing from the do-nothing Government. Apparently, Scott Morrison was on holiday with his family in Fiji. He took his children out of school for the trip. Yes, the same man who railed against all the schoolkids who took a day off to protest his Government’s inaction on addressing climate change. It’s also illegal in NSW to take one’s children out of school to go on holiday. So, in one fell swoop, Morrison has demonstrated his own hypocrisy and that like all Liberal Party MPs, the law doesn’t seem to apply to them. That’s a true leader, right there.

It was rumoured he’d booked the holiday for after the election, thinking he was going to lose and that he’d have some time on his hands. Just another landmine that Morrison planted and then stood on.

In the absence of anything material from the Government to report on, the media has been focusing on Labor as usual. It’s really quite pathetic. Most MPs including Albo are still in the process of setting up their offices, appointing staff and so on. Trying to claim Labor is in turmoil is ridiculous.

Speaking of landmines, the Government really only had one policy leading up to the election — their across-the-board tax cuts. This was another promise they made not expecting to actually have to deliver them. Now they find themselves in the position of having to deliver them and their promised surplus. They can’t have both. Labor will pass the tax cuts for low/middle income people, but not the uncosted high-income tax cuts that phase in years from now. What Labor has been saying is that those who need the cuts will get them now.

The reality is that the Liberals now don’t want the cuts to pass. They simply can’t afford them. By refusing to negotiate, they get to blame Labor for no one getting a tax cut. If Labor gave in, they would find it very difficult to wind back the high-income tax cuts when they win the Government. You can hear the cries now — “but you voted for them!”

So, at the heart of this matter is not the Liberals’ concern for the flatlining economy that they’ve created, nor the concerns for those who have had no wage increases and their penalty rates cut still further. It’s politics as usual, the numpties are more preoccupied with wedging Labor than actually governing. This is what you voted for, Australia.

Israel Folau was also front and centre of every news bulletin in the country. It’s a bizarre story, one that’s blown out of all proportion with massive amounts of misinformation associated with it.

Folau simply breached his employment contract which had some specific terms and conditions around social media posts. He had done it before last year and received a final formal warning for it, so Folau can’t claim he didn’t know. Rugby Australia had no choice but to terminate him in the process.

The conservative media – led by the usual culprits Alan Jones, the Australian Christian Lobby and others – claimed that Rugby Australia was breaching Folau’s free speech by terminating his contract, worth $1 million per year. They claim Folau was on his own time and, as such, he should be permitted to post whatever he likes. They claim Folau is being persecuted because he is a Christian, allegedly.

Let’s unpack these claims.

First off, there is no legislated right to free speech in Australia. That’s an American legal concept. Nobody is saying Folau can’t practice his faith, he just can’t publicly promote aspects of it that breach his employer’s diversity and inclusivity policies. One would think this is pretty simple to grasp. AFL player and fellow Pentecostal Gary Ablett Jr reposted Folau’s original tweet then removed it quickly once it was pointed out it breached the AFL’s clauses. If Gary can understand it, why can’t Israel?

Secondly, Folau doesn’t actually have “personal time”. A significant part of his role is being a role model for Rugby Australia, being a magnet for sponsors and a reason for people to play and be involved in the sport. As such, anything he does in public reflects on Rugby Australia, its brand and reputation. There is a reason Folau’s contract was so expensive. It’s compensation for having to behave 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Therefore, the post was made on Rugby Australia’s time, not his own.

The issue won’t go away. Folau is taking his case to the Fair Work Commission. It will supposedly cost $300K to prosecute. Folau, perhaps wisely, decided he wouldn’t spend his own money on a case he is unlikely to win for the reasons above, so he set up a crowdfunding site on GoFundeMe.com.

Folau has a $7 million property portfolio and drives a Lamborghini, so he's not short of a quid. This was rightly seen as rank hypocrisy, particularly when it was pointed out he was seeking $3 million (tenfold the amount needed). Further, there was a clause that said that money did not have to even be spent on his legal fees. He could have bought a second Lambo with the money. He raised $700K before GoFundMe chose to close the account, as his cause breached their terms and conditions. Do you see a pattern here? They refunded the donated money in its entirety.

Unsurprisingly the next day, the ACL announced it would host the fundraising page. At last count, it’s over $2 million. You know what they say about fools and their money.

An interesting aspect of this is the concept of “free speech”. Even in the American concept, all it means is that one cannot be gaoled, fined or punished by the Government for something one says. This is distinct from defamation, which is a civil action of one party versus another. Freedom of speech does not imply freedom from other consequences. What many pundits seem to think is that it means one can say whatever one likes without consequence. This is simply untrue, as Folau has found out. There were most definitely consequences.

The whole issue reeks of hypocrisy. If in the extremely unlikely situation Folau wins his case, it will also mean that Muslim extremists will have the same right to openly promote Sharia and denigrate women. All without consequence, of course. In fact, anyone who calls them out on it will be accused of restricting that individual’s free speech.

Of course, while this was happening, in America, conservative Christians were openly campaigning for The TV show Good Omens to be removed from the air because it offended them. Apparently, free speech only goes one way.

And I’ll finish this week off with Morrison heading to the G20 meeting in Japan where, no doubt, Trump will demand Australia commit militarily to an impending assault on Iran. Before he left, Morrison stated he would be strongly making Australia’s case in the U.S.–China trade war. It will be like being flogged with wet lettuce. Watch Morrison avidly commit Australian troops as well. Such a war will be the perfect diversion from his Government’s ongoing destruction of our economy.

You can sign the petition to have John Wren reinstated on Twitter here.

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