I recently received a letter from Australian Capital Territory Senator Zed Seselja and his ‘Liberal Team’. The letter has a blue stripe across the top with the Liberal Party logo and the phrases: A stronger economy. A secure future. This just when the economy is ‘softening’ and when the future is anything but secure for millions because of climate change. Given the header, it is unsurprising the letter was filled with lies.
Seselja starts off with “If Labor wins the election, the boats will start again”. I am sure that Seselja knows the boats haven’t stopped. What has stopped is the flow of information about them. However, occasionally, word gets out and this shows that the common refrain that the Coalition ‘stopped the boats’ is simply a lie2. The boats certainly have decreased in frequency. However, the number of people seeking asylum in Australia is at record levels. How can this be? It is because, since the government started making the lives of boat arrivals an abject misery, seemingly in perpetuity, people now come by plane3. How are they going to stop those?
Next Seselja states: “You can also expect your rent to go up and/or the value of your home to be slashed” and “Labor’s $43 billion housing tax will mean Canberrans could pay $3,000 more in rent per year while the value of family homes could plummet by approximately $65,000”. How, he arrives at these figures, he doesn’t say. The Labor Party policy to which he refers is the changes to negative gearing. In this they intend to limit negative gearing to new build housing from January 1, 2020, and to halve the capital gains tax discount (from 50% to 25%) for all assets purchased after that date. This will not affect investments made prior to January 1, 20204. The Parliamentary Budget office estimates this Labor policy would save the government $32 billion over 10 years. New South Wales Treasury modelling predicts that Labor’s changes to negative gearing would cause a 0.8% to 1.3% (i.e. ~$200 million) decline in stamp duty revenue for that state in the three years to 2022-2023. They also predict housing turnover would fall, but these figures indicate that house prices would fall marginally at most; perhaps by about 1% over three years. Keep in mind that house prices have already fallen more than 10% in the last year or so. These negative gearing changes could increase rents, but only if they reduced the supply of new housing, which would be small5. Having seen all this, I suspect I now know from which orifice Seselja has obtained his figures. Maybe he is frantically trying to help his coalition colleagues, such as Karen Andrews, who has 9 negatively geared properties, and David Gillespie, who has 17 negatively geared properties.
Then Zed gets onto electricity: “And if you think electricity bills are high, just wait…Labor’s new Carbon taxes and 50% renewables target will mean you pay more for far less reliable electricity”. The Labor Party have announced plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030, and ensure 50% of the nation’s electricity comes from renewables by 20306. Seselja must be doing it tough with his huge household electricity bill in the Australian Capital Territory, as it has a renewable target of 100% by 2020. It is currently at about 78%. Zed would have noticed the huge increase in his household electricity bill, which went up a massive 2% over 2017-20187 [insert sarcasm emoji]. But wait; the Australian Energy Market Commission seems to think that the flood of renewable energy projects is likely to drive DOWN household electricity bills8. So where does Zed get his figures? Probably from the same orifice.
Finally, in his letter, Zed states that: “Even seniors aren’t safe from Labor’s greedy tax grab”, Of course Seselja labels the changes to franking credits refunds as “Bill Shorten’s Retiree tax” and says “it will punish those who have worked hard to save for their retirement”. He further states that an average retired couple would ‘lose’ $4,500 per annum. He uses the bogus “$37,000 taxable income” lie. You can have up to $1.6 million in superannuation and pay no tax. The ABC-RMIT fact-checked the shifty Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert when he maintained that “any changes will overwhelmingly hit low- and middle-income earners, with 84% of the individuals impacted on taxable incomes of less than $37,000”. They found that it was ‘misleading’. Most people would call this a lie9. As they said “taxable income does NOT include the largest source of income for many retirees: superannuation” and “taxable income often has little to do with wealth”. They found that when superannuation withdrawals are pared out of income data for retirees, almost half of the wealthiest 10% of Australians over 65, have incomes of less than the $18,200 tax free threshold10. So, as well as getting dividends from their shareholdings, under the current system they would also get an annual cheque from the government. These franking credit refunds are costing the budget $5.9 billion per annum10.
Seselja comes from the religious nutter wing of the Liberal Party and, like his hero Tony Abbott, has a record of being ‘economical with the truth’. For instance, he stated that he would vote ‘no’ in the same sex marriage plebiscite, but if the nation voted in favour of it, then he would also vote ‘yes’ in the free vote in parliament11. The nation voted very strongly for same sex marriage. So what did Zed do? He absented himself from parliament12. At the time of the plebiscite, when he stated he would vote ‘no’ he said he believed that Christians could be persecuted because of their views on marriage. There is a very easy way to prevent this happening: stop telling people they aren’t worthy of having the rights you enjoy11. As I have said elsewhere, when you have been in a privileged position for so long, equality looks like persecution13.
Seselja also supported Dutton in the leadership spill that removed Turnbull14 and was one of the early mutineers15. In addition, he voted for the ‘It’s OK to be white’ motion put up by Pauline Hanson, and originating from white supremacist organisations. It was only later that the government realised they had cocked up and voted against it16. Seselja was also one of the Monkey Pod boys, who supported Abbott in an apparent longing for the days of the Abbott PMship17. Seselja also was against the exclusion zone around the clinic providing abortions in Canberra. Religious nutters had been harassing women entering the clinic, and Seselja conflated this with religious freedom and free speech. It makes you wonder if he would be so forgiving if a group of Pastafarians*18 demonstrated outside his church. One suspects he would not, as free speech is only for conservatives. Finally, his ultraconservative religious nature and his support for Abbott suggests that he is also a climate change denier.
As is currently stated often around Canberra in recent days, it is time to ‘Dump Zed’19.
*Pastafarians: The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and adherents to that religion are pastafarians18.