NOT MY POLICY PROBLEM: Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten
NOT MY POLICY PROBLEM: Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten Andrew Taylor

Populist Labor lazy on policy making

YOU know, what I have concluded from Bill Shorten's time as Opposition Leader is that Labor has taken the lazy approach to policy making in order to gain popularity.

They seem drunk on the expectation that all these favourable opinion polls are going to translate in a thumping victory at the next election.

And all without actually doing much actual policy work.

Perhaps it's a fear that their ideas might be revealed as being not very well thought out.

Perhaps they don't want to shoot themselves in the foot.

Labor has shown glimpses of wanting to engage in policy debate but only from the viewpoint of pushing their mock class war.

It is a mock war because it's difficult to take attacks on the alleged wealthy and privileged seriously from a bunch who are themselves on six-figure salaries (and then of course, there are the perks).

Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with people acquiring wealth, as long as they've worked hard to achieve it, haven't trodden on others to get it and understand that they really shouldn't be avoiding paying their fair share of taxes.

This week, we've seen Labor call for an increase in the minimum wage.

Economically, this is a sound action. It comes at a time where it has become increasingly evident that wage stagnation is going to cause us some real economic growth problems.

And then, they made that other announcement.

The prospect of the Commonwealth Treasury saving $5billion that could (and it must be stressed that the word is "could") otherwise be spent on boosting the health and education budgets does have the facade of attractiveness.

Especially at a time when the current Government's spending freeze on university funding will have as yet unknown repercussions - like for instance, where does that now leave the chance of the Sunshine Coast Uni's expansion to the Gympie TAFE facility?

But the ugly side of Labor's announcement comes with the ALP's current obsession with the us and them game. It's negative and divisive.

And who exactly are the us and the them?

In this case, Labor seems to reckon senior Australians are a bunch of tax rorters.

You know this group.

They are most likely the people who gave birth to your parents.

These people are probably the ones who paid their taxes all their working lives at rates higher than what we currently pay. And they may or may not have been able to squirrel away nest eggs to support them in their sunset years without having to burden the rest of us with their upkeep.

So the targeting by Labor of in excess of some 200,000 of these senior voters as some sort of privileged group in this short-sighted class warfare strategy seems to be just teetering on the edge of political suicide.

The benefit derived from refunding tax credits on their share investments isn't an area where Shorten and crew should be focussing their attacks.

The actual benefit being derived doesn't make our seniors unduly better off.

The annual credit might go towards paying a power bill or escalating rates bill and that's it.

And, certainly, if one is receiving a balance of imputation credits back as a tax refund, you're not actually earning mega bucks, despite what Bill Shorten's discourse has surmised.

Causing fear and worry among our nannas and granddads just isn't a wise strategy.

Targeting this group as some wildly well-off group is plain ridiculous.

If this is the kind of economic policy making we can expect from a Shorten government, then pity help us all.

The polls clearly show that the Government needs to pull up their collective boot straps and put more effort into attacking Labor policies like this.

Labor's strategy is sounding more and more populist and we would be all best served not to fall for it as easily as some did with last campaign's "Mediscare" fiasco.

So be warned, folks. The politics of envy could be coming to a backyard near you.