Leaks show government moving to pull help from workers and small business

By Ben Wilson

There is a push form the government to end support for for people who have suffered loss of wages and struggling small business, as soon as possible. Leaks filtering out suggest there has been behind closed doors discussion with big business organisations about this.

It has drawn a quick response from economists, unions and the community sector, who say that this risks a devastating human cost and could wreck the Australian economy.

Over a million lost their jobs last month and many of them are not going to find a new job, at least in the short run. Some will be out of work for the longer term. Many more have been depending on JobKeeper payments to get by.

Cutting this too soon will throw millions to the wolves. Small businesses already near the precipice will shut their doors, because they can no longer afford to operate, and the economy was not in a strong position to begin with.

Lines of unemployed during the lock down

Regardless of this, the covert and overt push, led by the Business Council of Australia, the associated Institute of Public Affairs think tank, and the Murdoch media empire is in full swing. They want JobKeeper stopped and the increased unemployment payments, now called JobSeeker, cut back to where they were before, while at the same time demanding generous handouts to big business.

The Coalition parties and Morrison government has a close relationship with this group, has been in discussion with it, and the word is, going their way. In fact, this is the big reason why the protective measures are being eased.

Scott Morrison provided a strong indication on the intention to move in this direction at his 12 May press conference. he said “The answer is not spending more or spending forever. The answer is that Australian businesses…will re-employ, will restart and engage…Theirs are the shoulders that Australians will stand on.”

But he is constrained for now, by division in the governments ranks and firm opposition form Labor, the Greens, and independents. The Prime Minister was therfore, a little constrained at the press conference.

Nevertheless, this does not change the direction. Whichever way it is looked at, to go down this road is to is let down Australians and an act of economic vandalism.

The biggest corporations and wealthiest Australians have the resources to weather the difficulties much better than anyone else. Subsidising them, should not be the priority.

Sectional interest, or should we call it greed, is presiding over the interests of Australian society. There can be no denying that many ordinary Australians are hurting and need some help to pull through.

This is not just a humanitarian issue. Economic recovery depends on the millions of individuals engaging as both the creators of our wealth and consumers. Throwing them to the dogs will prevent this.

Unfortunately, and especially the top end, there has developed a business habit of depending on gaining at the expense of others, growth through extending monopoly control, and benefiting from generous government handouts.

Living at the expense of others is shown by the rise in the proportion of national income going to this small group. The rise in monopoly is revealed by the shift in share ownership, exposing concentration into fewer hands and the number of smaller businesses going out of existence. Government handouts have been growing, as what is available for others is cut back.

This is the regime that the government and its backers want to preserve and extend to a new level. They don’t care who gets hurt or the longer term impact on the economy, so long as they get a bigger slice of the pie. This is their bottom line.

A key demand of the top end is for the government to go ahead with a major company tax cut, and personal tax cuts for those on the highest incomes. Many of them already pay little or no tax at all. They enjoy tax loopholes that are not available to all.

Their problem is that the exposure of the tax avoidance industry in recent times has created social pressure, to crack down on it. Lowering the tax rate would help legitimise tax avoidance and put the cost on the rest of society through lost tax revenues.

Unions are beginning a campaign to push in the opposite direction, founded on demands for ongoing protection through s livable income for all, and a major commitment to stimulus projects, which will provide many more jobs and build the economy. It is called Rebuild Our Economy

Welfare organisations are calling for the temporary doubling of unemployment benefits to be made permanent and extended to all receiving Centrelink payments.

GetUp is running an online petition for ‘No Cuts to JobSeeker and JobKeeper.’

The dividing line is about how the government’s finances are going to be split. Are they going to be devoted to protecting the top end or to protecting everyone else? It can’t go both ways.

Both unions and the community sector have been calling for action to curb the tax avoidance industry and for a new set of priorities in the government budget.

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