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Labor's resonant line can hardly be heard over the Coalition's own goals

UNDER THE FLAG

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The fairness test

Labor thinks it's on a winner - devoting Monday's question time to portraying the budget as unfair and asserting that Tony Abbott is responsible.

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It was one of the more memorable lines from last year's election campaign.

Unsurprisingly, it emanated not from the mouth of a politician, but from a man named Ian, who wore his best leather jacket and an aura of common sense.

Ian, a forklift driver, was interrogating then opposition leader Tony Abbott during an election debate at the Rooty Hill RSL.

His subject was Abbott's proposed paid parental leave scheme, which would give women who earned up to $150,000 a year their full salary for six months while they cared for their babies.

''I just think,'' Ian said politely, ''the fork-lift driver in Mount Druitt shouldn't be paying his taxes so a pretty little lady lawyer on the north shore earning $180,000 a year can have a kid.''

In that moment, Ian achieved what political spin doctors term ''cut through''.

His eloquent juxtaposition - between the Mosman ferry-riding, high heel-clacking, corporate gentlewoman-solicitor, and the humble fork-lift driver who spends his days lifting, both literally and in a metaphorical tax burden sense - was inspired.

Since then, the Labor Party has largely co-opted Ian's imagery to use in attacks on the Coalition's paid parental leave scheme, which has the peculiar status of being Abbott's most beloved policy and also the one he seems in no hurry at all to legislate.

But lately, the opposition has barely had to play the pretty little lady lawyer card.

The burden of criticising the scheme has been carried entirely by the Coalition itself.

On Monday, another Ian, this time Liberal senator Ian Macdonald, said his ''inclination'' was to vote against the scheme.

Other Coalition senators against the policy are John ''Wacca'' Williams, Barry O'Sullivan and Ron Boswell.

(Although it should be noted the latter's commitment to evidence-based policy has been under a cloud since he told a 2011 Senate hearing on global warming: ''Being someone who has spent his life in boats … I haven't seen any sea level change.'')

During Monday's question time, Labor got on board with Boswell and his anti-paid parental leave scheme pals.

''Can the Prime Minister explain why he and the Treasurer think it's fair to cut support from pensioners on around $20,000 a year while at the same time giving $50,000 a year to wealthy Australians to have a baby?'' shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen asked.

''I'm very proud that we are responsible for what will be a watershed, economic and social policy advance,'' Abbott responded.

''We took it to the 2010 election, we took it to the 2013 election and we will deliver it.''

Government members slumped their shoulders behind him, unsure whether that was a promise or a threat.

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25 comments

  • When any worker pays taxes, it is with full recognition that they are contributing to the safety net, so that if or when their own turn comes they will also be provided for. To expect the average hard doer to fund rich chicks' babies is a bit beyond the pale, even if it does satisfy the Catholic church.

    Commenter
    adam
    Location
    yarrawonga
    Date and time
    June 17, 2014, 7:14AM
    • Spot on Adam. The safety net is precisely what we as a society should be proud to fund - not tax deductions & dodges or middle class welfare for the wealthy.
      The game is up - everybody is now starting to understand the biggest "leaners" in our society are not those at the bottom end, but those avoiding paying their fair share of tax on earnings or paying an accountant to find ways around minimising their tax share.
      How is it possible that Hockey fails to acknowledge Costellos gift to over 65's with healthy super funds that are able to not only avoid paying any tax but can also get the pension?
      The funding of private enterprise (private schools, health funds etc) is just more "leaning" by those who make choices to go private but expect everyone else to help pay. My partner and I are both produts of private schooling and we have both independently always had private health insurance - they were our choices and no other taxpayer should have to fund our choice. Privately educating our kids is our choice - the government has no business sticking their hands in other taxpayers pockets to fund our choices. Bad investment should be our risk alone - not be able to be written off by other taxpayers. Expensive cars we drive should be paid for by us, not other taxpayers.
      By defending the indefensible, Abbott, Hockey et al are kicking own goals all over the place.
      This budget is so offensive - they need to start again or give the public the chance to vote on what their REAL agenda always was but they were never honest enough to admit.
      Double Dissolution NOW - we are owed it.

      Commenter
      Caroline
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 9:52AM
    • Maybe they should scrap the PPL for the Public Service. Why should they receive such a huge benefit when somebody working for a small employer gets nothing? And what has the Catholic Church got to do with it? Nothing except it gives the nasty left an opportunity to try and kick Abbott. I am sure that if labor were introducing this under Shorten there would be no talk of the Catholic church, but that is the bigotry of the left.

      Commenter
      Pragmatic prince
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 9:52AM
    • +1 Not much point in paying tax otherwise, seeing that everything is becoming privatised on a user-pays basis. Unless of course you enjoy seeing your money wasted on paying for the lucrative and luxurious lifestyles and retirements of our politicians and subsidising their private sector mates. The "Commonwealth" is dead, now replaced by "Elite-wealth".

      Commenter
      PaxUs
      Location
      Austerelia
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 10:56AM
    • Prag.Prince,

      Why is Tony Abbott so shy about being seen in the same room as George Pell ? Who is calling the shots - George Pell, Murdoch or the IPA - or all of the above ? Is it really bigotry to notice that the neoconservative agenda of the LNP totally encompasses the DLP agenda of the 50s ?

      Commenter
      adam
      Location
      yarrawonga
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 11:35AM
    • PP
      Everyone's entitled to join a Union and negotiate their working terms and conditions as the Public Service Unions had the foresight to do years ago. Of course there have always been many who won't have a bar of Unions and not surprisingly they're the very same ones who whinge and whine most about the working conditions of others and their own.

      Commenter
      rext
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 12:32PM
    • Why is Tony Abbott so shy about being seen in the same room as George Pell ? Probably because people like you would accuse him of being stuck in the 1950's following the DLP agenda. If this is the level of argument that you have then you've got nothing. I'm sure in another post you will claim Abbott is from the extreme right.

      Progressives are unable to argue rationally and will use whatever argument that will kick Abbott. Puerile.

      Commenter
      Pragmatic prince
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 1:02PM
    • @pragmatic prince - "Progressives are unable to argue rationally and will use whatever argument that will kick Abbott. Puerile."

      hi pragmatic prince - while I don't wish to get personal or abusive, as one who has often suffered the lash of your tongue for supposed poverty of debating skills, may I suggest that if you are going to throw stones, you might do well to replace your glass walls with bricks.

      Commenter
      Ross
      Location
      MALLABULA
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 3:10PM
  • What is there to say!

    Commenter
    Toshack
    Location
    Larobe Valley
    Date and time
    June 17, 2014, 7:20AM
    • I'm pleased that after 70 years the conservatives would finally like to contribute a "social policy advance" to Australia. This is more of an anti social advance though and will burn them so badly they'll give "social policy advance " up as an idea once and for all and leave such things to the Labor Party where they have always belonged.

      Commenter
      rext
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 8:02AM

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