A better-informed market
Mike Seccombe draws attention to a number of unarguable realities facing Scott Morrison and the Liberal–National Coalition in their attempts to criminalise consumer advocacy (“Bruised by boycotts”, November 9-15). But in an effort to grapple with the PM’s own tortured logic, perhaps the strongest argument against his divisive rhetoric is the one that derives from the LNP’s own erstwhile ideological free market platform. That in shutting down consumer advocacy, the government effectively proposes to deprive consumers and the market of the information they depend on in order for it to function optimally. It has been spuriously asserted that “the market”, not government, is the best solution to the efficient allocation of scarce resources. It is also proposed, by diehard Neoclassical economists, that the price signals responsible for accurate allocation by the “invisible hand” require perfect information in order that those signals themselves can be treated as reliable supply and demand triggers. Consumer advocacy does not coerce or force compliance, it simply informs its target audiences, thus ensuring market players, from individuals to firms, have the best information on which to base their purchasing decisions. The prime minister yet again proposes open lawfare in another deliberate and distorting example of government intervention, just as it is attempting to do with its energy industry “big stick” legislation. Surely after all these years of neoliberal propaganda, this sends a deeply confusing and contradictory message to the wider business community in Australia, not to mention the IPA?
– Tor Larsen, Marrickville, NSW
Hope for another miracle
Will it be just another miracle if Morrison jails those Australians boycotting corporations backing himself?
– Bob Brown, Cygnet, Tas
Our vulnerable elderly neglected
Rick Morton merely touched on the surface of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety interim report, which is not surprising as it goes to three volumes (“Market assessment”, November 2-8). Morton exposes the federal government’s intention to further damage aged care by privatising the process of assessment for aged-care packages. Since Howard’s 1997 legislation on aged care there have been 17 parliamentary and expert reports on this subject, with minimal change despite repeated recognition of the problems. Despite all these reports, the current royal commission has described the system as one “of shocking neglect”. The commissioners reported that “people do not usually enter residential care willingly. They often do so with great trepidation. They fear loss of autonomy, of individuality, of control over their own lives. They fear ceasing to be a person with distinct needs and preferences, with an emotional and intellectual life and freedom to do what they want, when they want to do it.” This royal commission is far more important than the much publicised one on institutional responses to child sexual abuse because the latter was largely historical and involved small numbers – the current commission is about ongoing abuse and involves very large numbers of vulnerable individuals. The demeanour and verbal response of the Aged Care minister do not give confidence that any real change will occur unless massive media and public outrage occur. The affected people, the aged and those with dementia, have essentially no voice.
– Rodney Syme, Yandoit Hills, Vic
The aged-care shambles
Excellent article by Rick Morton on the aged-care mess. “They” have already made a bad system worse with the introduction of My Aged Care and now they want to rip the guts out of it completely by destroying Aged Care Assessment Teams.
– Terry Kelly, Fitzroy North, Vic
Holding politicians to account
How are all the politicians who led the charge in the 1980s and 1990s, the outcomes of which are detailed in Rick Morton’s article “Mental health cost of welfare” (November 9-15), to be held accountable for closing down public housing and privatising services and framing welfare recipients as dole bludgers? How are the current politicians who refuse to see the poverty and desperation created by their policies, which are now making people and our society sick, to be held accountable? The ballot box isn’t really sufficient.
– Peter Tait, O’Connor, ACT
Right policies for a better outcome
All the “tax and spend” hoopla makes little sense when the key policies of Bill Shorten are analysed (Editorial, “Everything is not okay”, November 9-15). The budget would have been in better shape had Labor won the election and more money would have been available for better health services and educational needs. The drought would have been met with a more vigorous financial response because the surplus would not have been wafer thin. Lower-income groups would have been given greater tax cuts. Distortions of the housing market would have been rectified with the grandfathering of negative gearing and people would no longer be receiving refunds if they did not pay any tax.
– Frank Carroll, Moorooka, Qld
Snuff out the light
Maybe it’s time for Labor to raise its gaze beyond the fading light on the hill and recognise that Chifley’s 1949 conference phrase may no longer be the vision for times such as these.
– Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Nov 16, 2019. Subscribe here.