First, the following disclaimer: hypocrisy doesn’t make you wrong (as I’ve mentioned before). I cannot therefore accuse Tony Abbott of necessarily having the wrong idea about Gillard’s flood levy, but I can say that the man is a weasely hypocrite:
- Abbott himself tried (during the last election campaign) to draw a ludicrous distinction between a tax and a “temporary levy”.
- Abbott’s own “temporary levy” to fund his parental leave scheme would have raised more money than the Gillard’s flood levy ($2.7 billion originally compared to $1.8 billion), and so presumably had a larger impact on the economy.
- Despite the Coalition cynicism over the “temporary” nature of the flood levy, Gillard has at least flagged an end date (12 months), while Abbott’s proposed “temporary” parental leave levy was actually open-ended.
The issue has briefly crossed political boundaries. It would be very, very easy for Colin Barnett to oppose the levy, considering WA’s innate conservatism and Abbott’s determined opposition, but instead he supports it, and on top of that also accepts the notion of reduced federal infrastructure spending. Meanwhile, Kristina Keneally wants special treatment for Sydney, which I think is little more than a parochial sense of entitlement, brought on perhaps by the looming inevitability of electoral annihilation. If we’re going to subject Sydneysiders to different income thresholds than exist elsewhere, then as a matter of consistency and fairness we should have a model that determines separate thresholds for every region in the country based on the cost of living. However, that starts to look a bit complicated (and presumably expensive to administer).
Things are not so complicated for Tony Abbott, for whom the mission is to find problems rather than solutions.