The Greens partyâ€™s extreme policies continue to go largely unscrutinised by the media in this election despite published opinion polls indicating that they will achieve as much as 15% of the vote nation-wide including winning the inner-city seats of Melbourne and even Sydney and Grayndler, on the back of Liberal preferences.
The Greens partyâ€™s soaring vote â€“ especially in the Senate â€“ could give them much more than symbolic wins, it will give them a balance of power or a legislative veto that the extreme left party has never had, indeed no extreme left party has have ever had in the history of this country.
WOLF IN SHEEPâ€™S CLOTHING
The Greens party method of operation is to cloak extreme-left policies that have been long since dropped by even most Socialist Left ALP members, usually because of a recognition they are electoral poison, under the blanket of protecting the environment which continues to be a rightly popular cause.
One of the extreme leftâ€™s ancient enthusiasms has been taxing death or more particularly taxing the estates of people whoâ€™ve just died.
Fulfilling their extreme left mission, in their current Economics policy dated March 2010, the Greens party propose an estate tax. It is buried in the fine-print of the policy documents which are rarely brought to public attention. In this case, VEXNEWS understands the policy was generated out of Greens party leader Senator Bob Brownâ€™s office after being approved by what passes for a Greens party policy process.
The balance of power that the Greens party aims for could well be used as leverage to implement radical policies of this kind.
Thatâ€™s exactly what theyâ€™re telling voters in seats like Melbourne, according to those in the seat whoâ€™ve been accosted by Greens party campaigners, who say theyâ€™ll pressure Labor to adopt their policies, on climate change et al. Naturally enough they donâ€™t talk about their plans to impose a death tax very often but itâ€™s right there in their economic policy.
Death taxes were once levied in Australia by the states until the Queensland Nats did one of their occasionally inspired acts and abolished it in 1977, enticing oldies from the south to retire in the sun and avoid probate tax as it was called. As a result, by 1984, all federal and state death taxes in Australia were abolished. [For more than youâ€™d ever want to know about the history of our tax system click here.]
Taxing vulnerable and often frail old people â€“ whoâ€™ve worked hard all their lives, paid taxes and saved what was left and paid taxes on that and invested and paid yet more taxes and hoped to leave a legacy to their kids or grandkids and/or maybe some to charity or whoever â€“ is now almost universally in Australian politics as politically stupid and bad policy too.
If you tax death then you also have to tax gifts to stop people dissipating their estates before they die.
SLUGGING THE ELDERLY
In jurisdictions where there are estate taxes, they seem to raise much less money than intended but still cause incredible disruption and angst for people when they should winding down, not stressing about everything theyâ€™ve worked for being sold up in an Australian Tax Office auction. Some economists (one an ALP candidate in this election) have argued that people even delay dying for favourable tax outcomes. Yes, really.
The Greens policy says its proposed death tax would exempt â€œfamilyâ€ farms, small business worth less than $5 million and the family home. They donâ€™t specify a rate, but in the United States their estate tax rate is 55 cents in the dollar.
So potentially under the Greens party policy, precious family heirlooms or jewellery or much-loved family beach shack or painting that had been in the family for generations would all be vulnerable to seizure, sale and the government taking half the proceeds. As a refugee, your grandmother smuggled her grandmotherâ€™s priceless engagement ring out of occupied Europe in World War II to Australia. Too bad, the Greens want their 55%, thanks.
AN ATTACK ON AUSTRALIAN PROSPERITY
Great Australian family businesses built from scratch like Murdochâ€™s News Corporation, Lindsay Foxâ€™s Linfox, Lowyâ€™s Westfield, the late great Richard Prattâ€™s Visy could become majority owned by the state or most likely would be carved up and liquidated under the Greens death tax plan.
Itâ€™s a policy that would do Hugo Chavez proud.
As ever, the shrewd would do everything they could to avoid it, the honest would just do as theyâ€™d done all their lives and pay the death tax, as legislated.
Itâ€™s a controversial policy, not without superficial appeal to some when we consider consider playboys like Stevie Lew, the son of billionaire Sol Lew, who dumped his wife shortly after she had a baby, and continues to tool around Melbourne in flash convertibles and with Daddyâ€™s black Amex.
But the truth is that tearing apart the great Australian businesses that have been built up after World War II would create tremendous instability in Australia and undermine much of the incentive these great business creators had in the first place. They wanted to leave a legacy of achievement for their kids. Not wealth, achievement. In the case of Westfield, Visy and Linfox, the founderâ€™s kids are working on the business and donâ€™t drive flash cars they’ havenâ€™t earned.
It would not serve Australiaâ€™s interest to destroy all that in the name of ideological zeal.
LABOR HAS INDEED MOVED FORWARD WHILE THE GREENS LOOK BACK IN ANGER
These debates occasionally arise in the moderate left party, the ALP.
But mostly sensible people are in the majority there and can stop most crazy schemes.
Never mind the labels of Left and Right, today pragmatic people dominate both Laborâ€™s Right and Left factions, probably for the first time in Australian history. There are exceptions, as we occasionally enjoy chronicling, but they arenâ€™t as many or as powerful as they used to be. Labor is probably as representative of the Labor supporters voting for it as it has ever been, for which they endure vitriol of the academic ultra-left and some Fairfax journalists who crave an obscure, irrelevant, radical, unpopular and unrepresentative Labour party of the kind that prevailed in Thatcherâ€™s Britain. Certainly it made good copy.
But Laborâ€™s leadership â€“ Left and Right â€“ wouldÂ be horrified at the idea of waiting for the Lowys, the Pratts or Murdochs to die and then confiscate half of what theyâ€™d built.
Attacking capital costs jobs. Thatâ€™s why a massive, sudden tax increase on the mining industry made many in Labor very nervous. They want to be â€“ and they ought to be encouraged to be â€“ ensuring the conditions are right for job creation. Thatâ€™s been the great and valuable insight made by social democrats within Labor: the best kind of welfare is the best-paying job and the strongest possible safety net for everyone can only be created by a government drawing from the strongest possible economy.
Even Laborâ€™s Left seem to get it. Most of them anyway. Tanner, Ferguson, Gillard, even our old target Kim Carr seem to understand it quite well. This is to be celebrated.
A death tax would be bad for Australia, simply, it encourages consumption among the wealthy and punishes thrift and investment. It is a cause of great delight and revenue for lawyers and accountants paid to minimise it. Would we rather successful people in this country spend up lavishly on imported luxuries and smart-alec tax lawyers or keep reinvesting in their businesses, creating jobs and opportunity for Australia?
HALF-BAKED HASH COOKIES
The Greens party have not â€“ as ever â€“ carefully considered their policy. Like illicit drug use, it felt good so they just went and did it, casually disregarding the adverse consequences.
Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s so important that the policy of this extreme-left and very well-cloaked party are examined carefully and brought to public attention.
They need to be accountable. With 15% of the vote, they will inevitably eventually be in a position to get some of the agenda implemented using the leverage of a balance of power in the Senate or even â€“ horrifyingly â€“ in the House of Representatives where our national government is formed.
There are good people within the Greens party. Give us a week and weâ€™ll try to think of one. But seriously, they are playing by different rules.
If Gillard announces a dumb policy, then we hear all about it. Tom Bentleyâ€™s Citizensâ€™ Assembly, for example. If Abbott makes a mess in policy terms as he has with an incredibly confusing set of proposals that would both increase company taxes on our best Australian companies and then later decrease them with a continued differential rate, then it gets plenty of adverse attention.
The Greens party propose the most outrageous policies and they rarely get called on it.
Their brand attracts people who worry about the environment. And many people legitimately fear for the planet.
With decisions by made the Liberals and Labor, the community has won many big fights, drastically reducing pollution (as the dolphins in the Maribyrnong River and Sydney Harbour demonstrate), protecting built heritage and forests and biodiversity, it is right and good that Liberals and Labor people continue to embrace the cause of environmental protection.
Doing so gives them much more credibility when challenging the excesses of environmentalist extremists who say carbon emission caused climate change could prompt Doomsday while proposing solutions that would merely export jobs to those places not willing to embrace carbon taxes. And much more credibility when they challenge enviro extremists on issues like their stubborn ideological opposition to nuclear energy which emits zero carbon.
The Greens party is not an environmental party. It is a party of the far-left that wants to punish private school students, ban our incredibly popular world-class zoos from importing animals and even wants to tax death.
Their policies are extreme. They survive little scrutiny or analysis.
We sense the Greens party balloon has inflated to its fullest point. And as ever, we are delighted to be the prick.