Attack of the Self Licking Ice Cream

Pollie Waffle, our underground political reporter, writes exclusively for WoogsWorld. Aren’t we lucky to have her? But hopefully not for much linger as the worlds longest campaign continues…..

Well what an uninspiring week in Australian politics. I am vacillating between furious anger and eye rolling boredom every few hours during this campaign. You may recall my first despatch to you “Hands up if you don’t know who to vote for?”. Well ain’t that still the truth. This election is like one great big self-licking ice cream. It has no other purpose than to sustain itself and the two major parties, all to our detriment as voters. 

I was one of about three people who actually watched Channel 7’s debacle that was the leader’s debate earlier in the week. I’ll assume, dear readers, you didn’t watch it and hope for your sake that’s true. The two blokes (because as if a woman!) just sat there trying to remember to smile instead of smirk and provided absolutely nothing that served to enlighten or swing voters. Scomo just attacked, which he is very good at and warned of the perils of a Labor Government. Shorten just looked like he was trying to remember what his advisers had told him to say though had a few moments at the end when the lights went on and he did ok. Channel 7’s bungling of the whole thing did provide some comedic relief. 

The debate is symbolic of this whole wretched campaign. Both major parties just minimising risk and trying not to offend the voters. Cost of living for most Australians remains the single most pressing issue in our day to day lives. Climate change is to my mind is the most important, but if you can’t pay your electricity bill, school fees or the mortgage/rent, well it does become secondary in terms of what is most pressing. A lot of people are doing it very very tough in Australia and it is simply not good enough in a country with our wealth. 

The one policy that has me really angry is negative gearing. The Coalition champion it and Labor do too. The bullshit Labor policy of scrapping negative gearing is one of the great lies of this campaign. It’s grandfathered. And won’t make a lick of difference to the people (you know who you are, baby boomers) who have planned their investment and retirement strategies around buying up property because of our monstrously generous negative gearing tax breaks which are the most generous in the developed world.

I was looking for an apartment or small terrace to live in last year and every single property I looked at was purchased as an investment property by people over the age of about 60 at auction. The rest of us are left renting and hoping the market will drop. These were two to three-bedroom properties well over the million-dollar mark. Properties quite well-off families and single income households could just afford as homes and had no shot at because of investors who can pay more because of the tax breaks. As the price drops, the situation becomes even worse. 

Q&A discussed this issue this week and a bloke in the audience made the point that negative gearing is the only way his son would be able to buy a property. I get that too. I also have a lot of friends who own houses they can’t afford and are considering moving to smaller places to negatively gear their properties. I understand why but that isn’t sustainable for our economy over the longer term. We need a housing market that is accessible to people without a myriad of investment and tax tricks and breaks. 

So, how’s this as a policy. We keep negative gearing, but from 1 January 2020, you can have one negatively geared property per household (as defined by the ATO). Anything above and beyond one property, no tax breaks. And then we phase it out by 2025. Each year it’s a bit less, so we can all get used to it. But by 2025, no more negative gearing. It is the only way we are going to achieve fair housing affordability over the longer term. Abolishing negative gearing but grandfathering it is a bullshit policy that only helps those who’ve been part of creating the issue we now face. Of course, politicians don’t want to see the back of it, have you seen how many properties many of them own? Not to mention the big political donors. I’m not blaming the investors who’ve made hay of glorious tax break, good on them. But times up. 

No political party can honestly talk about managing the economy and cost of living pressures without really addressing issues like negative gearing. Don’t get me started on the need for superannuation reform. (Hangs head in fit of depression)

OK, now I’ve got that rant over, to the polls. We are still in a tighter race than anyone thought we would be in at this point. My gut tells me Labor is widening the gap again and I will not be surprised to see a modest bump for Shorten in the next poll. A wise friend told me this week the Coalition will lose this election in Victoria, and that seems about right. 

The really interesting races I’m watching are the independent women against the Coalition. Zali Steggal is on a knife edge with Tony Abbott – if Get Up! can shut up! and stop doing really dodgy things near Zali, she has a real chance. The irony in all this is that she should actually be the Liberal candidate in Warringah, not Tones, who should have gone away quietly after he was rolled as PM. For my money, I think Phelps will just win Wentworth again. But it’s going to be close and will depend on her ground game in the last two weeks. 

I’m out of space – Mrs Woog will make me edit if I write any more, but oh so much to discuss. 

Until next week, 

 Love Pollie