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Tax Cuts & Rises in Electricity Prices

The Turnbull government has succeeded in obtaining a welcome reduction in personal income taxes. But the estimated reduction in total tax levels is less than might be imagined from the media exchanges. This is important because, as stated in Budget Paper No.1 for 2018-19, “it is important that the personal income tax system does not act as a disincentive for those taking on additional work or seeking advancement”. Also that the “cap on the overall tax burden… “is consistent with the long term average of 23.9 per cent of GDP” which the government has set.

Turnbull’s Questionable Energy Policy

The debate on energy policy between the Coalition and Labor has seen both up to now adopting the same policy of reducing emissions of CO2 but with Labor supporting a much larger reduction. But we now we see an open split within the Coalition, with Abbott warning that a number may cross the floor and vote against the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). In Abbott on NEG he argues that the Turnbull government has conducted a “fundamental failure of process” that has been “stifling the proper debate that we should be able to have inside our party room”. He argues that the government has spent an “enormous amount of time” negotiating with the crossbench, but warned the backbench was being ignored. “I reckon the government needs to spend a bit more time talking to the backbench. “Yes, the crossbench in the Senate is important. Don’t forget the backbench, because you are only in government because you’ve got a backbench that’s prepared to support your legislation”.

Interpreting the Summit

As might be expected with a meeting which lacked definitive agreements, the media (and other commentarists) containmuch speculation today about what has happened and what might now happen. The general reaction seems to be that, while NK has agreed in principle to denuke, that is no different to what his father and grandfather did and it is unlikely that much will be achieved on that side. On the Trump side there are expressions of concern that too much has been conceded unnecessarily.

More on Assessing Summit, ANU Further Exposed

In yesterday’s Commentary I suggested that the immediate media responses to the Summit missed two important points – Kim is no long in a closed shell and Trump has not been given adequate praise for bringing him out. The media has improved today but remains too equivocal about the prospects because very little agreed substance has emerged so far. We are left, therefore, with judgements about whether Kim and Trump will do what they say they will –and to what extent. The most readable assessment has been made by Cameron Stewart, who is posted in the US by The Australian and is well-equipped to assess Trump and other US leaders: nobody is equipped to assess Kim, of course. I am using Stewart’s article to draw attention to the main points of concern below (see Stewart on Summit).

Summit, Debate on West Continues

The media response to the Summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un has been to welcome it but express reservations because there is little of substance to date. According to The Australian, “the intentions are clear but the details are missing”; Greg Sheridan asked whether the summiteers “laboured mightily to bring forth a mouse”; and The Age asked whether it is “a game changer”. But while these are legitimate questions, as are some of the other comments (see North Korea Must not be Allowed to Deceive Again and Trump, Kim Exchange Praise at Singapore Summit), they miss the two most important points.

ANU Disease Spreads; G7 Win for Trump

The refusal of the ANU to accept a course on Western Civilisation has “inspired” support from other academics. By contrast with the Vice Chancellor at the ANU, the VC at Sydney, Michael Spence revealed on June 5 he was considering entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Ramsay Centre to collaborate on a funded course and scholarship program. Dr Spence described the course as “really interesting” and “very, very far from the kind of thing you might imagine”. “It is all primary texts: there is certainly nothing like Harold Bloom in the curriculum,” he said, referring to the prolific but polarising US literary critic.(According to Wikepedia, Bloom has inter alia surveyed the major literary works of Europe and the Americas since the 14th century, focusing on 26 works he considered representative of the Western canon, which is] the body of books, music, and art that is widely accepted –but subject to dispute- as the most important and influential in shaping Western culture).

ANU Programs, Abbott’s Priorities, Turnbull Wrong Again on CC, Iran Problem, Summit

My Commentary of 5 June suggested that the ANU should explain if programs funded by Arab money are free from attempts to persuade students of the benefits in the Koran. It appears that so far there has been no such explanation and Vice-Chancellor Schmidt has refused to interview The Australian’s rep (see ANU’s Program on Arab/Islamic Studies). However, according to The Australian report, the ANU’s Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies “has been at the forefront of contentious discussions around Middle Eastern politics and society with minimal backlash from its ­academics” and has received “sizeable donations from the United Arab Emirates and the governments of Iran and Turkey, frequently publishes ­articles supportive of a Palestine state and Iran, hosts lectures on ‘deconstructing the extremist narrative’ and ‘Islamophobia in post-communist Europe’, and has featured guest speakers who are critical of US policy”.