All aboard the Tony Abbott time machine

Sunday Telegraph, 23/05/2010

Politics has a funny way of repeating itself.

Twenty-five years ago a Labor Government introduced a super profits tax on the oil and gas industry and the Liberal Party voted against it. Sound familiar?

At the time the Liberal Party said it would destroy the industry. They said companies would pack up and head overseas and jobs would be destroyed.

What happened? The industry continued to thrive. When the Howard Government was elected did they get rid of the tax they said would destroy the resource industry? No, they kept it and pocketed $16 billion in taxes. Proof it was all about politics.

Now the same political games are happening again. While phoney Tony is trying to convince us that the Resources Super Profits Tax will destroy the mining industry – one of his Shadow Ministers, Peter Dutton, is buying shares in BHP. Proof even his own side think the scare campaign is bogus.

This isn’t the only case of political déjà vu.

Eighteen years ago a Labor Government introduced superannuation for every Australian worker and the Liberal Party voted against it. At the time they said it was “little short of lunacy”. They said it would kill small business and destroy jobs.

What happened? Superannuation proved to be one of the most important economic reforms of the last century. It spawned a whole new industry that now employs 60,000 people and manages a trillion dollars in retirement funds.

It also helped get us through the global recession. When Australian companies couldn’t get access to funds overseas it was our superannuation that saved them, allowing them to raise $90 billion.

Now a new Labor Government plans to increase superannuation for more than eight million Australians. It will mean a 30 year old on an average wage will get an extra $108,000 in superannuation when they retire – and Tony Abbott has promised to vote against it.

The point is this – the Liberal Party was wrong two decades ago and they are wrong now.

I started to get worried about Tony Abbott’s economic judgement when he appointed Barnaby Joyce as his top financial adviser. I got more worried last week when his Shadow Cabinet had to step in and stop him making a multi-billion dollar announcement in his budget reply speech. Proof even his own team don’t trust his economic judgement.

Now he wants to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Why is Tony Abbott doing this? I can understand why he doesn’t support superannuation. He genuinely believes it’s a bad idea.

He said this week we can’t trust everything he says, but we can trust what he writes down. So let’s have a look. In his book Battlelines he argues that superannuation should be taxed more – and more people should rely on the pension.

It’s the same reason he wants to bring back WorkChoices. He genuinely believes it was a good idea. In Parliament last year he said it was “one of the finest achievements of the Howard Government”.

I can also understand why he is opposed to the mining tax. He knows it means millions in political donations from the big mining companies.

It’s the same reason they are opposing the increase in cigarette tax. TV ads are expensive and donations from cigarette companies help pay for them. In the last 10 years cigarette companies have donated more than $2.5 million to the Coalition.

That all makes sense. What I can’t work out is why he’s also trying to stop tax cuts for small business. These are the people Robert Menzies set up the Liberal Party to represent – the ‘forgotten people’.

There must be a glitch in the Tony Abbott Time Machine. It’s gone back to the debates of the last few decades but it can’t seem to make it back to 1942. The ‘forgotten people’ have been forgotten by phoney Tony. Menzies must be spinning in his grave.