September 18, 2004 | Graham


I’ve been waiting for the John Howard to start hitting the buttons that our research says he should. One of those is that voters feel Latham is not sufficiently experienced to be Prime Minister.
In this article from The Age Howard says that the government has no plans to decrease the rate of the GST and takes the opportunity to punch Latham.

It’s a question of spending the money wisely and I find it extraordinary that the leader of the opposition should have a federal schools policy where he’s going to spend more money in areas where the states have underfunded despite the enormous GST revenue they have.
That just shows an amateurish misunderstanding.

I made a similar point in my earlier post on education funding. I’m wondering if the Prime Minister is going to make any of the others I make. Perhaps Labor advisors should read it as well. As voters don’t know much about Latham, it leaves the way open for the government to paint the detail in.
Howard certainly needs to do some work on selling the GST. One of its benefits was that he was giving a growth tax to the states to replace a number of unfair state taxes, like stamp duty and payroll tax with limited growth. Now that we know how much growth is in the GST, you’d think the PM would be pressing harder not just for better funding of services, but reduction of some of those other taxes and pressing home the Labor equals high taxes line.
That he is not doing a good job here is illustrated by the first line from the SMH story. “Prime Minister John Howard has ruled out cutting the GST rate despite figures showing a bumper windfall of almost $12 billion over five years.” “Despite”! What is “despite” doing in that sentence? It might help to counter the line that Labor was trying to run that Howard would put the GST up, but illustrates a lack of understanding on the part of the The Age’s journalist.
Still, one should not get carried away with the growth in the GST. The take is almost certainly fuelled by our debt funded consumption binge, which is unsustainable. Higher GST this year probably means lower GST, relatively speaking, in future years.

Posted by Graham at 3:26 pm | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. Perhaps the journalist was just amazed by a politician boasting how much tax he’s extracting from the punters. Most people won’t bother connecting that to the services that the states provide. It’s too complicated to sell, especially in an election campaign.

    Comment by Alex McConnell — September 18, 2004 @ 5:17 pm

  2. Latham has more experience than Menzies did before he became PM – all Menzies did was Attorney General. Before Treasurer Costello had little experience either.
    Even Hawkie’s experience was as head of the ACTU – do the Libs think that was good experience for a PM.
    And as Latham said to kill this meme before, he does lack experience in creating the largest foreign debt in Oz history, of sending our troops to invade a country based on a lie, of dropping bulk billing rates to its lowest level of screwing public schools, and of creating $100,000 Uni degrees.

    Comment by Shaun Tinkler — September 18, 2004 @ 10:37 pm

  3. That might all be true Shaun. My point was not to argue whether experience matters, but to analyse the comments in terms of whether they fit with the polling or not. Whether it does matter or not, the public is concerned about Latham’s level of experience. They keep telling us that. Latham has some good come-back lines, but if they don’t convince electors it might be an indication that the issue is one below the concerns that they verbalise. That it is a proxy for another concern. I should also say that we found the same problems for John Brogden and Lawrence Springborg.

    Comment by Graham Young — September 19, 2004 @ 8:33 pm

  4. Excellent points…and to extend you though into a great political tactic.
    Get a journo to ask Broggers whether he agrees with John Howard that to be head of Govt you must have had ministerial experience first – the same question could be asked of Springborg qualifying whether months of being Minister of Natural Resources is enough experience.

    Comment by Shaun — September 20, 2004 @ 10:07 am

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