Australian Economic Reform
In the course of last year's Australian Federal election campaign, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the conservative parties - including the ‘Liberal' and ‘National' parties - sought continuously to match each other, especially in the field of taxation. The announcement of tax cuts amounting to approximately $AUS 34 billion by the conservatives - all but matched by Labor - cast a regrettably long shadow over proceedings. To get this in perspective, the Australian economy is worth somewhere in the vicinity of $AUS 1 trillion GDP annually.
Labor's 'shadowing' of the Coalition, flattening the overall PAYG income tax scale, provides for little in the way of progressive redistribution. New ALP Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has promised to keep almost all of the Coalition's $AUS 34 billion in tax cut commitments, while deferring $AUS 3 billion for those on over $AUS 180,000/year. He has also committed Labor to 'simplifying' the PAYG tax system from four brackets to only three. http://www.smh.com.au/news/economy/rudd-outlines-tax-vision/2007/10/19/1192301012405.html
So significant were the cuts, there was little scope to expand the social wage, or promote progressive policy innovations in health, aged care, welfare, and education.
Labor's failure to differentiate itself significantly enough from the Coalition was disappointing and underwhelming. To some extent Labor ‘hemmed itself in' during the campaign, committing itself to a substantial surplus and promoting a mere
$AUS 3 billion in budget savings with which to fund its promises. Since then, the new Labor Federal government has committed to further budget cuts in order to fuel a larger surplus and ‘rein in' inflation. Again - it must be remembered that the overall economy has now climbed to a value of over $1 trillion dollars.
The following survey of options is an attempt to sketch a policy blueprint that attempts to provide a more progressive agenda for the Australian Labor government. This plan is one that seeks to meaningfully expand social expenditure and reform taxation - although Labor's commitment to holding taxes steady as a proportion of GDP is surely a stumbling block here - perhaps until after the next ALP National Conference.
For a political party to move in contravention of its mandate is in many ways undesirable, comprising a break of democratic principle. It would be a bad precedent to set - although the major parties have flagrantly broken with their mandate so many times before.
Tax cuts in
Labor's support for a ‘flattening out' of the PAYG income tax system: reducing the number of thresholds from four to three, is of particular concern. Progressives in the labour movement need now to reject this agenda - putting pressure to bear on Rudd and Treasurer, Wayne Swan - if they have anything more than a token commitment to the cause of fairness and equity.
For now Labor appears to have little stomach to expand taxation as a proportion of GDP - as an alternative to oppressive increases in interest rates. But this is not to say that arguments should not be made in favour of a radical restructuring of the overall tax system, even if only around the current tax base. Imaginably, such moves could still render the overall system notably more progressive.
Importantly, over the long term the tax base as it is could be unsustainable; with takings from company tax being artificially inflated by the resources boom from 14% in the 1990s to 25.6 per cent today. Meanwhile PAYG income tax receipts have fallen during the past five years from 52 per cent to 48 per cent. http://canberra.yourguide.com.au/news/opinion/opinion/beware-day-of-reckoning/1077376.html
Critically, though, there are strong arguments in favour of Labor rethinking its official position on the quest of tax: in particular hold tax down as a proportion of GDP:
With the ageing of the population; the explosion of welfare, pensions, health and aged care costs; and with other costs associated with increases in the cost of water, transport, housing and power, including a crisis in housing supply, mortgage stress and homelessness; a Federal Labor government could well find itself in a position of having to support tax reform beyond its mandate. Either that or implement cruel and unjust austerity.
As inflation threatens spiraling hikes in interest rates, or should the current account deficit grow out of control; it is far more equitable to rein in instability, ‘cooling down' the economy, by raising taxes for those on higher incomes and with great wealth. Such an approach is also preferable to promoting wage restraint so as to further undermine the wage share of the economy.
The alternative of relying purely on austerity and interest rates would lead to a deepening of the crisis of housing affordability: while austerity or attempts to hold down wages could lead to an explosion of exploitation, punishing those who are vulnerable and/or on lower incomes.
A 'simple' tax system is not always preferable: especially when it falls disproportionately on those with lower and average incomes. Many on above average incomes will receive a windfall according to Labor's plan, with the consequence that there will be billions less to provide programs in health, education, aged care and welfare.
To expand the overall tax base by approximately 1% of GDP - or somewhere over
$AUS 10 billion - could be seen as a modest and necessary measure in implementing vital and landmark health and welfare reform. While this would move beyond Labor's mandate, the demands of health and welfare reform, and the crises in housing affordability and supply, are crucial and immediate.
Many would prefer to wait until after the next ALP National Conference: but the responsibility of the ALP in holding true to its mandate must be balanced alongside the accompanying and overwhelming responsibility of the government to respond to
Further restructuring of the tax system could also involve removal of superannuation concessions for the very wealthy: those who Richard Denniss (in ‘Dissent Magazine') referred to as being in a position to retire on a sustainable income of Average Weekly Earnings or more. Certainly such people are in no need of such concessions. Revenue saved could provide for the needy: boosting pensions, providing tax breaks for low income earners, and expanding the social wage.
While bracket creep could be eliminated for those on lower incomes by indexing the bottom two tax scales, the process could be left in the case of those on higher incomes, with the revenue thus gained flowing through into progressive tax cuts. Proceeds from bracket creep, eliminating negative gearing and halving dividend imputation could thus be redirected. (‘dividend imputation', in Australia, is a system of tax credits for investors; ‘negative gearing' refers to a system of deductions for property investments that many see as fuelling speculation)
The tax free threshold could be raised, while full pensions (Aged Pension, Disability Support Pension, Single Parents pension, Carer's Allowance, Newstart,
Austudy) would be raised by around 5% of Average Weekly Earnings - or just under $AUS 110/fortnight. ($AUS 109.36/fortnight) In the same spirit, means tests on pensions could be further relaxed. (In
Such a move may seem radical, but in view of a cost of living which is spiraling out of control, can be well justified. Access to communications technology, including internet broadband, is also a modern equity consideration not covered by previous estimates of relative poverty. Perhaps such estimates could be revised following in depth studies on the effects of the increasing cost of living.
The Disability Support Pension, in particular, should also be expanded for those who have suffered cutbacks: this in response to counter previous austerity measures introduced by the conservatives. And, contrary to the previous conservative government's position, fairer eligibility tests ought apply to those deemed able to work between 15 and 30 hours a week. Specifically, such people ought not be shifted onto the ‘Newstart allowance'. (‘Newstart' is a pension for the unemployed involving rigorous activity testing)
Increases in the basic cost of living for ordinary Australians also underscore the need to more thoroughly regulate the lower end of the labour market. Under the previous Conservative government,
Despite a massive response against these changes, the then Labor Opposition was concerned at the prospect of a big business lobby mobilizing its resources in the run-up to the 2007 Federal election. As a consequence, the ALP (Australian Labor Party) adopted a ‘simplified' Award system - which was not as comprehensive as the previous system. Even with a Labor government, therefore, the Conservatives and the business lobby have helped shaped the parameters of the new policy.
Under Labor, therefore, some ‘
Furthermore, there remain significant infringements on the right of workers to withdraw their labour: for instance, political strike action. http://www.sa.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1434&Itemid=1
The consequence of this is that
Meanwhile, the decision of Australia's Fair Pay Commission last year - in July 2007 - to limit the increase in the minimum full time wage to $10.96 a week http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/07/05/1970508.htm is best understood as a vile attempt to rein in inflation and interest rates by undermining the basic living conditions of vulnerable and struggling Australian workers. Now, with a new Rudd Labor Government, the lowest paid are in desperate need for just conditions and pay.
It is not only the most vulnerable of workers who have suffered under the Coalition government, however. Writing in The Age (A popular Australian broadsheet), Ross Gittins noted that the wage share of the economy had fallen from 70.6 per cent of GDP in 1999-2000 to only 66% of GDP in 2007. http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/let-them-eat-cake-151-how-the-workers-pie-keeps-shrinking/2007/06/01/1180205512750.html
Such a gap is worth over and above $2000 a year. In another article, Age columnist Ken Davidson commentated that the wage share of the economy was at a 35-year low. http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/a-year-of-living-uneasily/2007/03/28/1174761560772.html?page=2
Since the government of Labor Prime Minister, Bob Hawke and the union-government ‘Accord' in the 1980s, crises in the rate of profit in Australia have been met with wage restraint. Restraint under Hawke was voluntary, while under Howard cuts in the wage share of the economy were achieved through repressive labour laws. Throughout, however, workers have suffered austerity while gaining little in return.
While Labor PM, Rudd and Treasurer, Wayne Swan are urging workers to share economic ‘pain' in order to counter inflation, people on lower incomes are in desperate need of a larger share of the economic ‘pie': in response to unsustainable increases in the cost of living.
Again - it is more equitable to counter inflation through an increase in progressive taxation: targeted directly at the conspicuous consumption of those on higher incomes.
In light of sacrifices made by workers to sustain the profitability of Australian enterprise, it is worth making the argument now for wage earner funds, ‘citizens investment funds' or perhaps ‘community development funds'.
These sort of measures, driven by principles of economic democracy and social justice, could just as well be applicable by progressive governments worldwide - not just in
Economic democracy should be extended as far as possible. Increasing worker's control through ‘wage earner funds' is a great step forward: but if the funds are managed on a community basis, rather than through trade unions - the broader category of ‘citizen's control' could deepen economic democracy even further. Such compensatory measures could see the rate of profit maintained, while nevertheless fostering stability and delivering economic justice to working Australians, and all Australian citizens..
Legislation could be adopted requiring businesses listed on the Australian Stock Exchange to issue shares every year to community-based funds valued at 7.5 per cent of the profit share of every listed enterprise. Rather than suppressing the profit share of the economy, such a move would seek to shift this share collectively into the hands of workers and ordinary citizens.
In further steps aimed at securing a democratic mixed economy, a ‘Co-operative Development Agency' (CDA) could be created by the new government. Such an organisation could provide low interest loans, while also providing support and advice to those seeking to set up co-operative enterprise. Such an initiative could be complemented by Company Tax concessions of 5% for co-operative enterprise. Measures such as this could herald the beginning of a long struggle for economic democracy.
And while it is time for across the board increases in pensions, such measures also need to combine with other measures aimed at maintaining incentive and improving labour market participation. Labor has developed a tax credits scheme which could make progress towards achieving such an outcome, while more vulnerable workers need a general lift in the minimum Award wages and conditions.
As always, education and health loom large in the public consciousness.
Recent comments by
Gillard has severely criticized members of the former Conservative government, castigating them for their failure to invest in human capital - and dire consequences for health, education and industry.
Australian PM, Kevin Rudd's much vaunted ‘education revolution', however, has so far failed to fully emerge - even though Gillard has promised a thorough review which see envisages as providing the impetus for a more ambitious agenda. Gillard envisages ‘mission-based compacts' for universities - to be implemented in 2010. http://mediacentre.dewr.gov.au/mediacentre/Gillard/Releases/AHigherEducationRevolutionCreatingaProductiveProsperousModernAustralia.htm
In the process of encouraging a deepening of the nation's skill base, all political parties ought be considering further equity measures in the process of encouraging further education.
Although Labor has promised to phase-out full-fee undergraduate positions for domestic students, such commitments need to be complemented by additional Federal funding. This is needed in order to discourage universities from making up any shortfall in revenue by replacing positions for domestic students with full-fee places for overseas students. http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/labor-fee-shakeup-brings-uni-warning/2007/11/22/1195321951579.html
Furthermore, the much-mentioned ‘Melbourne Model' (a system of fee-structure inspired by the US system, and adopted by the prestigious Melbourne University) demands the broadening of the scope of the HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme) to meet the minimum requirements of many students. Specifically, the ‘Melbourne Model' often assumes entry into a professional graduate degree or research degree. http://www.futurestudents.unimelb.edu.au/courses/melbmodel/
Funding of graduate positions through HECS under such conditions is a fundamental equity consideration. The abolition of full fee-paying positions for domestic undergraduates should be expanded to include those obtaining a first graduate qualification. The Australian Labor government should stick to its policy in this regard: the ‘razor gang' mentality, here, ought not apply.
Reference, here, to "HECS" is in relation to a system of tertiary education fees first introduced by the Australian Federal government of Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke, in the late 1980s.
Starting in 1989 as a minimal flat levy of $AUS 1800, HECS under the conservative Liberal/National Coalition developed into a multi-tiered fee structure, where fees could be deferred until after graduation. This has especially been the case under the Liberal/National government of former Prime Minister, John Howard..
Such fees, over the years, have ballooned: and the income threshold at which deferred fees must be repaid has, at times, fallen to a level that many might consider unreasonable.
The current multi-tier structure, in particular, while having the aim of relating to income potential, takes no account of the possibility that graduates might find work out of their field; or might have an interrupted work-cycle - perhaps to raise a family; or might not realize their supposed income potential - for instance, because of disability.
Nevertheless, the alternative of full fee positions in higher education, should be eschewed. HECS rates are more onerous than once was the case, but its system of fee-deferral provides opportunities for students who otherwise would be excluded. The HECS system, for this reason, must take preference, and full-fee-paying positions ought be phased out.
There is, however, scope for progressive reform of ‘HECS'.
One option in the drive for social justice and equity, here, is the introduction of a bracketed HECS repayment scale; where repayment thresholds are raised to at least Average Weekly Earnings (AWE), and brackets are introduced governing what proportion of debt is repaid in relation to total income. This is a separate bracketed repayment scale: one which relates to real income, and not just the existing tiered system which relates to the ‘income potential' of various courses. The consequence, here, would be that tertiary fee structures and repayment mechanisms would relate directly to the real financial benefit gained in the labour market as a consequence of study.
There are broader considerations, also, which relate to Australian Labor's positions on education at all levels.
Broadly considered, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has committed Labor to expand education and training, connect Australian schools with high speed broadband, and provide computers for Australian students between years 9 and 12. http://www.livenews.com.au/Articles/2007/11/14/Rudd_wont_match_PMs_spending_spree
While such initiatives are positive, however, they are modest in comparison of the scale of the crisis confronting
To begin with, public schools need more money than Rudd has allowed for: there is a desperate need to reduce student to teacher ratios, provide infrastructure, and provide better wages and conditions for teachers. Improving the lot of public sector school teachers, in particular, ought to been seen as essential in attracting and maintaining the involvement of skilled education professionals.
Labor has also committed itself to the development of a ‘national curriculum' in mathematics, history, science and English. http://www.kevin07.com.au/news/education-revolution/federal-labors-plan-for-a-national-curriculum-for-australian-schools.html
Any such program should not be conservative, but rather ought explore critical themes. A simple chronological narrative in the discipline of history, for instance, is not enough.
An ‘active/critical' curriculum ought explore history from a comprehensive range of perspectives: class, race, nationality or ethnicity (including indigenous perspectives); religious; social and political movements; and gender.
More information on ‘active/critical' education can be found in a paper on the internet at the following URL:
Additionally, an ‘active-critical' curriculum in regards to History and English, would promote critical literacy and engagement with contemporary and historical social issues
Engagement in the public sphere and with social movements would also be promoted as a means of deepening civic participation and broadening democracy.
Taking as its starting point a progressive and empowering variant of liberal pluralism, education for active citizenship would also demand engagement with the broad range of historical ideas, interests, struggles and movements that have comprised our society and nation, and societies, movements and nations worldwide.
Such a program of ‘ideological literacy' would encourage students to ‘find their voice' through such understandings, including an appreciation of the great historical political movements: from socialism and social democracy, to liberalism and conservatism.
The mutability of such movements into many-varied ‘constellations' could also be underscored: for instance, the idea of a ‘liberal socialism' or ‘liberal social democracy'. (this is but one of many imaginable combinations) The breadth of such combinations, is sometimes more complex than that provided by a simple ‘left-right' linear scale.
Finally, in regard to the question of curriculum reform: the consultation process must be extensive and broad - and must include teacher professional associations and unions.
Considering the question of Health, now: Rudd's devotion of $AUS 2 billion over four years towards rectifying the crisis of the broader health system is properly viewed as an insufficient response to a problem of dire proportions. This is complemented by Labor's plan to modestly expand aged care services, $AUS 800 million for dental care, and $AUS 600 million for elective surgery. http://www.crikey.com.au/Election-2007/20070824-Crikey-Policy-Comparison-Pt-3-Health-care-.html
Altogether, such policies may sound substantial: but again, in the context of an economy of over $AUS 1 trillion annual GDP it is plainly insufficient.
John Menadue, by comparison, writing for the Centre for Policy Development (CPD) in 2007, envisaged an expansion in public health programs, fuelled by the abolition of the Private Health Insurance rebate. Menadue views the current system as a misguided and costly example of corporate welfare whose abolition, in addition to the removal of other wasteful subsidies, could net as much as $AUS 18 billion over three years. Menadue views this potential windfall as being critical to the expansion of programs in such fields as mental health and indigenous health, primary care, prevention and dental care. http://cpd.org.au/article/obstacles-to-health-reform
The crisis of confidence in Australia's public health system, however, is not so easily addressed, and many on lower incomes might feel compelled to take out private health insurance for fear of their well being; perhaps even their very lives. (nb: The rebate, introduced by the prior Liberal-National Conservative government, provides subsidies for private health insurance - but penalizes any whose use of the private system is interrupted - for instance, relying on the public system in youth. Many see this system - which has been retained by Labor - as entrenching a two-tiered health system)
Here, means testing of the Private Health Insurance Rebate would prove a more popular measure than its immediate and outright abolition.
It is also an effective means of moderating expenditure without resort to inequitable austerity. To leave the system as it is, however, would comprise a subsidy of the wealthy by those least able to afford.
A Federal Government commitment of $AUS 18 billion or more over three years would be guaranteed of making significant and lasting inroads into the waiting lists crisis, supplying vital funding, services and infrastructure. Ideally, Medicare should be expanded to include dental services, ambulance services, home nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, podiatry, chiropractic, hearing aids, glasses, contact lenses and prostheses.
The time for such a landmark commitment to public health is long overdue, and the Federal government needs to move now beyond opportunism and policy convergence. Rather than ‘tinkering around the edges' with piecemeal and incremental change, such ‘root and branch' reform would imprint itself deeply in the public's consciousness: beyond the immediate reach of conservative sabotage.
Additional funding for such reform (beyond what might be saved by means testing the Private Health Insurance Rebate, and eliminating Medicare Levy tax breaks for higher income earners) could be drawn from a variety of sources.
Already, as previously noted, Labor Finance Shadow Minister, Lindsay Tanner, has outlined over $AUS 3 billion in savings that might be made across a broad spectrum of areas. This is nowhere near enough in itself, but it can be seen as a starting point.
A less adventuresome approach to foreign affairs might also justify significant cuts in Defence expenditure.
Furthermore, the proposed emissions trading scheme could also be reformed so as to raise $AUS 5 billion a year: one means of raising revenue without technically raising tax.
And as suggested earlier: if there was really a dire need to ‘cool down' the economy, this would be better served by raising taxes on the wealthy, not through callous austerity.
Altogether, it could be reasonably estimated that over $AUS 15 billion in additional revenue and savings might be allowed for without increasing tax as a proportion of GDP. Allowing for a 1% increase in the tax base as a proportion of GDP, this could rise beyond $AUS 25 billion. A decent surplus could be realistically imagined while at the same time providing for progressive expansion of welfare programs and the social wage.
There are many other policy areas which also demand immediate attention.
There is a regrettable lack of in depth research into the extent of crises wracking
Labor's proposal for a fibre-optic broadband network is also deserving of scrutiny. As the proposal stands, it appears little short of a recipe for a private part-monopoly.
In many instances there are still firm arguments for natural public monopoly in areas of essential infrastructure: communications, roads, water, utilities.
Instead of repeating past mistakes, political parties across the spectrum would be well advised to break free of stale neo-liberal ideology. It is not too late for Rudd to commit to a fully public fibre-optic broadband network: funded along with other essential infrastructure projects by diverting capital from the ‘Future Fund'. (the ‘Future Fund' is a fund, established by the former Conservative government to fund long term costs to government as a consequence of the ageing population - especially ‘superannuation': the system of worker's saving mandated and requiring employer contributions - with the aim of funding retirement and boosting investment)
Investment in public education infrastructure is one area in dire need of attention. Such moves are anything but fiscally irresponsible: comprising as they do an investment in overall productivity and growth, as well as in the skills base of the nation.
Briefly, the housing affordability crisis demands a greater investment than the $AUS 500 million earmarked by Kevin Rudd for Labor's ‘Housing Affordability fund'. http://www.alp.org.au/media/0707/msloo300.php
Now, as never before, public housing, infrastructure development and urban consolidation need to factor into the ‘political radar' of all parties. While a ‘first home buyers grant' could feed into a housing bubble and further appreciation of property prices (as has occurred under the prior Liberal/National conservative government) , an increase in supply led by the public sector could lead to a much-needed correction in the market.
While some would stand to lose from a relative reduction in property prices, we need to consider those for whom home ownership or even rental affordability have become an ‘impossible dream'. The conservative Australian parties, in their recent election campaign suggested a willingness to invest over $AUS 4 billion in public housing over the next 10 years. The plan envisaged the provision of as much as 37,000 new public housing units. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22547841-2702,00.html
Given the conservatives' prior commitments, it is not unreasonable to suppose Labor ought double such proposals to $8 billion: funded through public borrowings, and implemented as soon as is possible. (say, over no more than three years - as a matter of urgency - rather than ten) Increasing housing supply, with the aim of driving down property prices, should be an urgent item on Labor's agenda: absolutely essential for desperate Australian families who cannot afford the ‘great Australian dream' of home ownership. Indeed, such reform should be seen as been of even more critical importance in the face of spiraling interest rate hikes - which are hurting vulnerable Australian families badly.
Importantly, such schemes need to be combined with plans for urban consolidation around regional ‘hubs', including the provision of transport infrastructure.
Finally, as suggested earlier, all political parties need to plan now for the prospect of an ageing population, with the associated drop in labour market participation and government revenue, and increase in pensions, health and aged care costs.
All aged Australians ought to be able to receive quality care. Nurse to patient ratios need to be managed and improved, while nursing home and hostel environs ought properly provide for privacy and quality of life. Ideally, all nursing homes and hostels ought include gardens, single rooms, quality meals, the opportunity for outings, activities and access to communication technology - private phones, computer and internet access and so on.
Ultimately, such an investment must involve either an increase in the ‘user pays' component, or otherwise a lift in progressive taxation. Rather than ‘sorting us out in our twilight years' on the basis of ability to pay, the tax base needs now to be expanded in anticipation of future needs.
Policy convergence and opportunism provide no way forward in the face of those challenges confronting our nation. This is evident in the policy weakness Labor showed in many fields during the recent 2007 Federal election campaign.
To begin with, there's the matter of supporting the retention of the
Within the Australian Labor Party, the Left is often effectively contained by internal decision-making processes - to the point where there is little in the way of a voice to promote the kind of reform and agendas outlined in this paper. The current system suffocates debate and silences critical voices within the party.
The ALP, as is, tends to follow the relative centre rather than meaningfully contest its interpretation or lead debate. In response, Australian political networks like ‘Now We the People' or ‘GetUp!' could lead debate in a way that some Parliamentary Labor Party figures will not do - for fear of compromising their ambitions.
Furthermore: were such networks (for instance, the approximately 200,000 strong ‘GetUp!) - to overtly mobilize their members into party-political activism and membership - Australian civil society could be powerfully re-invigorated - with an explosion of membership in the ALP and minor progressive parties of the Left.
To go further, elements of the Left might also try and follow the example of Germany, Holland, Sweden, and similar countries, where mainstream social democratic parties face competition on their ‘left flank'. Here, the term ‘mainstream' is relative: the relative centre in
A party which was more avowedly committed to Left, democratic socialist, and left social democratic tradition: could well mobilize whole layers of new membership and electoral support which would otherwise be excluded or marginalized. Together with the Greens, such a party could exert policy leverage on Labor, while leading a debate that would otherwise be silenced.
Meanwhile, progressive activists who remained in the ALP could work to ensure a culture of co-operation between the political forces that, in the Australian context, would form what Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci, would call a ‘counter hegemonic historic bloc.'
The right mix of radicalism, and at other times restraint; delivered by a relatively mass party, with a cadre core: could provide the best recipe for success. In alliance with progressive and sympathetic voices within Labor, such developments would hopefully shift the relative centre of Australian politics: to the point where left social democracy and liberal democratic socialism could move into the mainstream of debate and public opinion.
As Kevin Rudd emerges to head the new Labor government, progressive voices need to rise to the occasion now.. We need to demand tax reform, social wage expansion, reform of welfare, a commitment to a democratic mixed economy - including a public fibre optic network, and economic democracy.
It is to be hoped that this contribution will in some way inform a vital and much-needed debate.