Sunday, February 01, 2015

Sunday Snippets - Queensland elections, Greece and taxpayer funded charity benefits

Based solely on the pattern of polls, my best guess for the Queensland elections was that the LNP would be returned with a small majority, with Premier Newman losing his seat. I also commented that it would be a fascinating election.

The size of the swing against the Liberal National Party Government took everybody including me and indeed the pollsters by surprise. It was a rout, with a Labor Party government the most likely outcome. Michelle Grattan's simple assessment  was "The rout in Queensland is shocking news for Tony Abbott. It will terrify federal backbenchers and further destabilise his leadership."  That thread runs through most of the commentary. She concludes:
After Queensland it has become impossible to predict where things will go federally, including who will lead the federal Liberals to the next election, and what the likely result of that election will be.
Again, that seems to be the overall assessment. As I write, the swirls within the Liberal Party do suggest an end game in progress. Mr Abbott's greatest protection may well be the Nationals because they are saying to the Liberals that it's not just their business.

In An economic meander - Greece, debt and economic adjustment in a QE world I spoke election victory of Greece's far-left Syriza party. Now the political game has begun as Syriza attempts to deliver in the face of EU opposition.

Now in all this, I hadn't realised that the new Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (right in photo) was dual Greek-Australian citizen who lectured in economics at Sydney University.

In a piece in Catallaxy Files, Subsidised meals and weddings: shut.this.down, .Judith Sloan argued against the exemptions from FBT (Fringe Benefits Tax) awarded to charities.

One doesn't have to accept her more colourful arguments to know that this is a distortion. In simple terms, if Government is going to transfer more functions to the charity sector, then a subsidy of this type distorts the competitive equation between charities, for profits and Government agency service delivery.

It's not the only distortion. The shift from Government to not for profit social housing delivery is based in part on combination of tax benefits such as GST rebates and the selective application of rent assistance paid for by the Commonwealth. I am a supporter of community housing. but I think that the current system including the shift to community housing is unsustainable because of its distorted commercial and policy underpinnings.

Well, I am out of time and have barely touched the things that I wanted to write about.

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