Wren's week: Negative gearing and conservative political action

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Josh Frydenberg discussing negative gearing on the Today Show (Screenshot via YouTube)

In John Wren's new weekly column, he takes a look at Labor's negative gearing policy, a new conservative group and the upcoming Victorian state election.

Wren's Week


Wow, what a week!

It started with the Minister for Israel and part-time Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, peddling lies about Labor’s negative gearing policy. Clearly, the Government is in panic mode about it — it is a direct assault on the tax minimisation strategies of their donors. And remember, less tax minimised is less money available to be donated to the party. Frydenberg explicitly neglected to mention the reason those using negative gearing largely have low taxable incomes is because they use negative gearing to shrink their taxable incomes. Frydenberg then erroneously stated Labor’s policy would crash housing prices, which, of course, is a good thing if you are a desperate first home buyer. When it was pointed out house prices have already dropped under his government, he laughingly claimed that the fall “was managed”. I must give credit to Josh for thinking on his feet for that one. In his spare time, Josh also “manages” car crashes and shark attacks.

The very next day, temporary PM Scott Morrison weighed into the Victorian State election with one of his daily brain-farts. He claimed roads, rail, public transport and schools couldn’t cope with the population growth, so he will be cutting migration. Anyone who follows Australian politics knows that a “cut to migration” is a dog-whistle to racists and bigots meaning less Muslim migrants. Scotty’s lack of thinking on this was readily apparent; if infrastructure wasn’t coping it was because after over five years of Liberal Government, there has been little if any investment in infrastructure. Scotty pilloried himself on his own words. Cutting migration would also cut demand for housing, which would, of course, crash housing prices — the very thing Frydenberg warned Australia about the day before. Fortunately, of course, Josh will be able to “manage” the ensuing economic collapse. Not to mention that six months earlier, Morrison himself as Treasurer warned about the negative impact to the economy of cutting migration. I’d call them Muppets, but that’s insulting to Muppets. (I’d also be too scared to call them “f*cking Muppets” in case I copped a fine.)

In Victoria, it has emerged that the Liberals have preferenced a deregistered psychologist and gay conversion therapist above Labor and Greens candidates. This pretty much says everything about Liberal Party values. Apparently, they think it’s acceptable to torture people until they lie about their sexuality. Presumably their real fear must be that if gay conversion therapy actually worked, then so too must straight conversion therapy. Although a gay contact of mine did tell me that any man will turn gay after six pints. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

While we are on the topic of Liberal Party values, it was also reported that three Liberal Party State MPs in Queensland were threatened with expulsion from the party for using their consciences in a declared conscience vote on abortion. Clearly having a conscience in the Liberal Party is a major negative.

We also saw the launch of the latest conservative action group, supposedly the conservative alternative to GetUp. Founded by four old, white conservative males, its very name harks back to the 1980s “Advance Australia”, which, unsurprisingly, was also a slogan of the White Australia movement decades before that. I have no doubt that it’s doomed to fail like those that have gone before it.

Why will Advance Australia fail you ask? Well, progressive politics always looks to the future, to make Australia and our world a better place. That concept attracts idealists, youth and those who fight specific causes. They will donate their time and money to their passions. For evidence, one only needs to look at the legions of young (and not so young) GetUp volunteers.

Conservative politics, however, looks to the past and at best tries to retard progress (hence the word “conservative”). It attracts an older, less energetic, less passionate following who often hanker for a past that never really was. They will donate money (at first), but they will rarely put feet on the ground, not without their walking frames anyway and although money helps, it’s feet on the ground that influence opinions.

Lastly, it’s the Victoria State election this Saturday. We Victorians are weathering the onslaught of a sustained scare campaign by Lobster Boy and his motley crew of misanthropes. Apparently, under Labor, crime is out of control, terrorists are everywhere, traffic is a disaster, unions are holding us to ransom and our cost of living is out of control. To counter our cost of living expenses we have been promised up to $100 off our water bills. Yahoo! I guess it’s like Abbott’s $550 power bill saving. I haven’t seen any policy from them other than “we aren’t Labor so vote for us”. The betting companies are backing Labor; Sportsbet has Labor as the firm favourite.

Watch out also for Fiona Patten’s Reason Party (formerly the Sex Party), they could do well in inner suburban seats.

You can follow John Wren on Twitter @JohnWren1950.

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