The realities of government

The Rudd government is considering placing tougher requirements on businesses to disclose the number of women they employ and blocking firms from industry assistance or bidding for goverment contracts if they fail to meet family friendly workplace standards.

– ‘Family friendly rules for business’, page 1, AFR, 15 February 2010.

“It is critical that there are mechanisms within government to push back against relentless pressures for increased regulatory burdens on business,” Mr Tanner told The Australian Financial Review.

‘Tanner vows new assault on red tape’, page 1, AFR, 15 February 2010.

Lindsay Tanner is a good guy, as Labor ministers go. But the sad reality is that given the government he is part of, and the timing of its coming to power, he as Minister for Finance and Deregulation will leave office with government finances in much worse shape than he found them, and with the regulatory burden increased rather than diminished.

26 thoughts on “The realities of government

  1. Here is a question for your readers Andrew. Which Labour Minister has been the biggest disappointmnet in government – Rudd, Tanner or Emmerson?


  2. Andrew

    Why on earth is Tanner a “good guy”? He’s an arch defender of this 70’s retreaded anti-market economics. There’s nothing good guy about him.

    And now he’s putting forward feminist crap in front to us.

    As someone said the the libs shouldn’t run a candidate, tell their supporters to vote green and therefore get Tanner out of there.


  3. I wasn’t disappointed with Rudd, Tanner or Emerson because I never expected much. Perhaps the question for left-wingers would be .. which Minister has been the biggest disappointment – Gillard, Garrett or Roxon?


  4. JC – Tanner has given more eloquent arguments for markets than you’re likely to hear from Liberal MPs.

    And the ‘feminist crap’ came from a KPMG report commissioned by Tanya Plibersek. It was just unfortunate for Tanner that the government’s messages were mixed today through conflicting AFR stories.


  5. JC – Tanner has given more eloquent arguments for markets than you’re likely to hear from Liberal MPs.

    Yea? Perhaps.

    However I can’t name one single pro-market thing this government has done of which he’s a senior member.

    If he’s an ineffective politician but a great expounder of markets perhaps he ought to go teach, as he’s clearly in wrong job.


  6. The government of which Tanner is a member tried to put a market price on carbon, but they were stopped by the Liberal Party, which prefers command-and-control, i.e. Stalinist, methods of reducing carbon emissions. Go figure.


  7. Ratpak:

    The ETS was also going to be a redistribution scheme. Tanner himself said that low income earners were going to get more than they paid in.

    Some market based system he had going there. Try again.


  8. Exactly Jeremy. I had libertarians telling me about the virtues of Emerson and what a terrific dude he was speaking to the CIS etc. What exactly has Emerson done to advance the cause of free markets since he’s been in government. Zilch. Not even a peep.

    And that acidic Tanner took great delight in seeing Henry Ergas’ firm fail.

    A I said Tanner needs to be taught a real serious lesson with the Libs refusing to run a candidate and telling the their voters in that electorate to vote Green.

    Don’t talk about your support of free markets, show us. (Jeremy)


  9. Yep JC, I’m in favour of that tactic. I would be very happy to know that Tanner had enjoyed his last laugh at the woes of small business.


  10. the ETS is just a redistribution scheme.

    Yeah just like the GST was.

    This is one of the most stupid comments made.

    If you are going to marginally increase the price of carbon you will want to compensate the poorer parts of society to ensure everyone supports the measure.

    Just like you would if you are going to implement a GST.

    We didn’t hear this stupid argument back in 1999.


  11. It’s not *just* a distribution scheme, but it *is* a distribution scheme as it is a transfer of resources from the childless and upper income earners to families, lower income earners, with payouts to polluters on the side.

    Any many people opposed the GST because it also redistributed resources.

    We can argue over whether these things are fair, efficient etc – but there are distributional decisions and consequences in these policy changes.


  12. wow Andrew so Howard’s only ‘reform’ turns out to be a redistribution scheme.

    He was a closet socialist.

    Who would have ever thunk.

    no-one but no-one in this country is going to introduce a tax that impacts the poorer parts of society greater without some sort of offset.

    A policy that is about re-distribution has little impact because the money coming in from the tax is completely given out to others.

    In this case some of the money going to companies actually stops down the track.


  13. Andrew:

    Tanner & Co originally sold the policy as mitigation scheme. When they fell over they began to reveal its other intent which was to bypass Centrelink. Tanner was in on that and as far as I’m concerned he’s done.


  14. Andrew, pray tell how would a GST have got through the Senate without the offsets.

    do you actually think that an ETS without offsets would get any senator’s backing at all?


  15. Yes, virtually every major reform has been accompanied by some compo for the ‘losers’, though as I recall the GST debate the net redistributional aspects were fairly minor (poor received larger handouts, earners recieved tax cuts).

    With the ETS however, a minority of the population – the childless and upper income earners – are being required to carry the entire burden of the reform, even though the underlying problem is everyone’s energy use.

    Personally, I am tired of endlessly financing other people’s kids, and so I have joined the anti-Rudd ETS cause.


  16. JC – It will take the 30 year Cabinet paper disclosure or undisputed memoirs to settle this one. My post said, and your link supports, that Tanner would fail in his portfolio. However I still think that by the low standards of Labor ministers (from a market perspective) he has relatively sensible personal views. Whether he has pushed them inside the government at the crucial meetings I cannot say.


  17. Tanner stands out from the rest of the Rudd government in terms of his personal conduct. Rudd and Gillard, when being interviewed, always play the game of “let’s pick a phrase of the day and repeat it in every answer we give, irrespective of what the question was”, and in the process they display their complete personal contempt for the intelligence of the Australian people. They seem to think that we are brain-washable morons. Tanner, by contrast, gives relatively straight answers to straight questions, with little or no bullshit in evidence.


  18. “Tanner, by contrast, gives relatively straight answers to straight questions, with little or no bullshit in evidence.”

    Give me a break.

    “BARRIE CASSIDY: Well just further on the national broadband network and of course this is about that in part, the commitment of $43 billion. Now that’s a huge investment. Have you done an adequate cost benefit analysis given proportionally with the size of the commitment?

    LINDSAY TANNER: Barrie cost benefit analysis of the orthodox kind are basically captives to the assumptions you feed in. So if you fed in my assumptions you’d get one result. If you fed in Henry Ergas’s assumptions you’d get a very different result because we’re dealing here with long term unknowables.”


    “The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, encouraged the public to put money into the as-yet unnamed company. “There couldn’t be a better investment,” he said. The Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner, said it would be a “great opportunity for a very strong investment” for people who had seen their savings take a “big dive” in the sharemarket. Last night the Government could not say when the bonds would be issued or what the yield would be.”

    Tanner is as shonky as the rest of them.


  19. JC@18

    Selling Medibank Private is a terrible idea, even if you believe markets work. Firstly health isn’t a great commodity to privatise in the first place. Secondly a major reason the US is socially and economically messed up is due to the private health companies. Having a government owned version hopefully provides real competition, not the colluding type seen in any number of major sectors.

    Also the federal government debt is small and manageable. It sounds a lot in terms of $B, but is relatively small in GDP.


  20. M – Is there any evidence that Medibank Private provides unusual price competition in the private health sector? The government-owned Telstra certainly didn’t in the telecommunciations sector. It’s a price-controlled industry anyway, so gouging is virtually impossible.

    My admittedly inexpert view is that the solution here is to abolish subsidies to health insurers, but to extend the subsidies to treatment in private hospitals.

    Health insurers would just deal with people who wanted optional costly extras, such as private rooms, or doctors who charge well above the scheduled fee.

    Our large private health sector gives us a much better service than the NHS gives Britain.


  21. I have no problem with getting rid of the private health insurance rebates, so long as the government also gets rid of the Medicare levy surcharge. It basically forces higher income earners to take out private health insurance even if they are fit and happy to rely on Medicare. For someone on, say, $150K pa (which is not the top marginal tax rate), it means total Medicare levies of $3,750 and it is well accepted that the bulk of health expenditure is funded outside the Medicare levy. So higher income earners are not only paying lots of PAYG tax that gets spent on health, but Medicare levies almost high enough to pay for their own US-style medical insurance. Rip-off!


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