Lifters versus Leaners? 

70 per cent of economy yet to sign up for the ‘war’

HERALD EDITORIAL

WITH Coronavirus spreading like wildfire only 30 per cent of the economy shut down by government decree is doing the heavy lifting to reduce social interactions, slow the infection rate and reduce pressure on the health system. And what a price it has paid.

The other 70 percent has so far dodged the heavy blows to slow the spread of the pandemic in Australia. 

We believe this involuntary ‘conscription’ of so few to be unfair and socially divisive. 

So we are calling for a new and fairer model, one we are calling The Australian Parliament Model.

The heavy lifters paying the greatest price for the health benefits of all Australians are cultural industries, the arts, hospitality, real estate agencies, the gig economy, retirees, self-funded superannuants, organised sport, airlines, landlords, the welfare industry, and thousands of small and medium businesses, many now in ruins or on the brink. 

The rest, the leaners, are so far untouched in a country now divided savagely by a virus we were comprehensively unprepared for, into the haves and have-nots. 

Broadly, the haves are all arms of governments, the politicians and their top advisors, the corporate media – private and public – and much of the financial and service sectors at the Big End of Town. 

Many of these on six and seven figure salaries have yet to sacrifice a single personal dollar to defeat a non-discriminating virus, and many, like the big four willing banks and the largest food chains, are likely to ’profit’ handsomely from this ‘war’. At least in the short term. 

The federal parliament was quick to act to reduce social interaction, largely closing for the next few months. But, in stark contrast to the many private businesses now facing ruin, all federal politicians were sent home on full salary and entitlements, with their place of employment safely in hibernation. There was no threat to their mortgages. No dole queues for them. No sleepless nights worrying about their future as they lead the nation to ‘war’ sacrificing a conscripted 30 per cent of our economy as cannon fodder in this desperate fight. 

With the haves are the endless experts and commentators on full pay and conditions, urging praise for the strong government action, with constant urging to go much harder in this ‘war’. 

With this great and dangerous social divide in mind what we now advocate is a much fairer economic fight for the health and welfare of our land where each and every one of us could be cut down any day by the viral scythe. 

rolled out on-the-run to reduce the viral contagion. The first was The Footy and Bondi Beach Model in early March where the call to reduce social contact went largely unheeded by a care-free population unwilling to change its ways. Even prime minister Scott Morrison having just made an emphatic call to reduce social interaction unwisely said he was off to the footy on Sunday – later recanted – but thousands still flocked to the beach around the country.  

The second model was The Shut Down Model where the federal government in concert with the states and all in a panic, closed down all businesses and places of high social interaction with contemptible compensation. And this hit 30 per cent of the economy like a sledgehammer. 

Up to a million Australians, some of the poorest in the land, immediately hit chaotic Centrelink queues to sign up for the newly minted JobSeeker – formerly Newstart – welfare relief.

The third model in as many weeks was The Hibernation Model, courtesy of Melbourne billionaire retailer Solomon Lew. Following the announcement Mr Lew immediately closed hundreds of his stores declaring he would not pay any rent and dumped 10,000 staff onto the federal government’s Centrelink. 

The federal government was alarmed and responded with a $130 billion Jobkeeper programme, a limited wage subsidy to induce employers in hard-hit businesses to keep staff on the books for the uncertain time in the future until the virus was defeated. It was a little but probably too late for many of the businesses bearing the greatest burden especially as income tax still has to be paid on this allowance. 

And all it really does is narrow the gap a little between the haves and have-nots.

What we don’t need is inadequate welfare-style taxed subsidies to try to keep ailing and mortally wounded businesses alive with false hope into the never-never with staff kept on the books. 

What we do need is a completely new model already designed and expertly launched by the federal government called The Australian Parliament Model with full business hibernation funding until the virus subsides. 

It can be structured very easily around Australian Tax Office personal income tax and company tax receipts for fully funding affected business through the tax office where every business is directly funded and not just their hibernating employees.

This way, the haves will help pay for those businesses shut down by decree to reduce social interaction for the greater good. And what can be fairer than that? 

We just know every politician in the land would agree the system they applied to themselves is clearly the fairest in the land.

by ANDREW SMITH
Publisher and Chef Editor

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