These 12 steps to economic recovery via people-driven growth first appeared in the Australian Sensible Centrist newsletter…
1. Rebuild Australian sovereignty by winding back the extremes of globalisation and re-establishing self-reliance in core areas such as essential health, defence, fuel, technical and strategic communications facilities; skilling our own people rather than importing expertise; integrating defence and civil infrastructure to include natural disaster prevention and response, infectious diseases prevention and response, and climate change mitigation and adaption; reforming the ABC (broadcasting) so it fulfills its nation-building charter; scrapping external arrangements that are not in our national interest, including the $90bn French submarines contract.
2. End crony capitalism – break up concentrations of market power in the Big Four Banks, Big Three Utilities, Big Two Retailers and NewsCorp; remove restrictive licencing that prevents market competition; redirect investment into productive businesses by shifting negative gearing from property to innovation.
3. Rebuild small businesses – create local recovery networks and support agencies in each federal electorate for small business revival; scrap business taxes for small firms (land, payroll and energy taxes); transfer responsibility for super collection to the tax office; reduce licencing fees to cost-recovery only; eliminate fees for ASIC searches.
4. Suspend immigration until infrastructure and services catch up with our population; train our own people for skills shortages; return schools and universities to the education of Australians; build an export culture in industry instead of reliance on immigration to boost domestic demand.
5. Unleash $132bn stimulus annually by making super (compulsory superannuation) voluntary – it’s our money after-all. Twenty-five per cent of super account holders choosing to opt-out and withdraw $20,000 per year from their accounts will contribute an annual stimulus of $132.5bn to the economy. Much of this expenditure would in turn earn GST and tax revenue.
6. Introduce a 15 per cent people’s corporate tax rate for firms with more than 50 per cent employee ownership and share in governance, and firms where more than 20 per cent of employees are people with disabilities and severe mental illnesses, people over the age of 60 years, and others who have experienced long-term exclusion from the labour market.
7. Build a Norway-style Sovereign Wealth Fund – all tax revenues flowing from mining operations in Australia should be quarantined from ordinary recurrent expenditures of government and invested, with half the income directed to education/research and development in regional and rural Australia.
8. Build a vocational education/training system on the Swiss model with 70 per cent of 16-19 year olds learning and working in a VET system in which 70 per cent of learning takes place on-the-job, under private sector direction, with employers paying a minimum wage to VET students of $740.60 pw before tax.
9. Renovate the Federation by shifting health to the Commonwealth and education to the states; breaking-up the bigger states into smaller jurisdictions (North Qld, Central Qld, New England, Riverina, Pilbara and Kimberley et al); merging state and local government functions in smaller state jurisdictions; remaking local government as a lean non-service delivery instrument of local representation.
10. Ban foreign ownership of land and residential property; limit foreign ownership of existing Australian businesses to 49 per cent; permit foreign investment only where Australian capital is unavailable.
11. Mutualise privatised infrastructure in utilities, transport, insurance, agriculture, health care and social services; end the outsourcing of service delivery to external contractors and insource to associations of consumers and communities; de-corporatise community organisations.
12. Cap CEO salaries at 44 times the lowest pay in the company as a condition of licencing, based on the Israeli model; cap public sector salaries at the current pay level of the Prime Minister ($549,000) including departmental heads, university vice-chancellors, and police chiefs; link the pay of politicians and public servants to upwards and downwards movement in the median Australian income.
To achieve these changes and drive economic growth, we will need strong community organisation and a renewed ethic of self-help and mutual support. Without it, the recovery agenda of governments will favour vested interests; consumers, families and small businesses will be overlooked; and the voices of ordinary people will remain weak and ignored by governments.