It’s been an eventful couple of weeks on the campaign trail in Warringah.  You’d have to have been living under a rock to not be aware of the newest entrant to the contest, Zali Steggall who has decided to run as an independent candidate.  I welcome Ms Steggall’s decision to stand for public office as giving the people in Warringah more choice can only be a good thing for democracy.

Ms Steggall and I have many shared concerns including the need for urgent action on climate change, energy policies that accelerate our adoption of renewable energy, better health and aged care, more inclusive social policies and restoring decency in national politics.

There are two important points of difference between Ms Steggall and I as candidates:  

  1.  I am part of a Labor team which has a comprehensive and costed plan of action to address these issues.

As a Labor candidate for Warringah, I can represent the views of our community within the next Labor government, should Labor be successful at the election. I would join a capable, stable and experienced Labor team with the capacity and capability to implement legislation on issues like climate action, energy policy, increasing funding for public education, public health and environmental protection.  Unless the election delivers a hung parliament, Ms Steggall, or any independent member for that matter, will be sidelined and have little influence on how these issues are addressed.

  1.  I am part of a Labor team that understands that to create a better society, we need a prosperous economy that works for everyone.

A genuine, socially progressive candidate would not reject sensible changes to inequitable tax arrangements. Tax arrangements that benefit the most wealthy in society while public schools and hospitals remain under-funded and government debt has ballooned to over half a trillion dollars under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments.  Ms Steggall’s opposition to fair budget repair will restrict Australia’s ability to improve our community, our environment and our nation overall.

In regard to the hot-topic of Labor’s proposal to limit cash rebates for unused franking credits, it’s worthwhile to keep in mind the following analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office:

    • Only 8% of Australians receive franking credits they cannot use to offset taxable income.
    • 90% of all cash rebates for unused franking credits are to SMSFs despite SMSFs accounting for less than 10% of all superannuation members in Australia.
    • 50% of the unused franking credit cash handouts go to the wealthiest 10% SMSF funds, which have balances in excess of $2.4 million
    • A total of 107,460 people are members of the top 10% of SMSF funds, accounting for just 0.8% of Australia’s 13.94M taxpayers.
    • These people receive an average cash hand-out of $12,656 per person each year from unused franking credits.
  • For ordinary Australians, entitlement to a partial age pension cuts-out at $564,500 in assets for single people and $848,000 in assets for couples.

This loophole allows the most affluent Australians to receive billions of dollars in taxpayer handouts each and every single year, while ordinary Australians, with less than half of their assets, receive no income support at all.

Aside from the obvious inequity of this loophole, the overall cost to taxpayers of subsidising the income of wealthy SMSF retirees is unsustainable for the Federal budget. The cost to the budget has grown to nearly $6 billion per annum as some people changed their financial arrangements to take advantage of it. This is more than the entire Federal government expenditure on public schools.

Australia remains the only country in the world to offer cash rebates on unused franking credits. There is a good reason other governments around the world have not introduced this benefit – it makes no economic sense.

At a time where the Federal government deficit is at record levels of over half a trillion dollars, more than doubling under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments, we need to undertake budget repair while delivering the services in areas such as health and education our society needs and wants.

Labor will correct this inequity, by removing cash rebates for unused franking credits in cases, unless the recipient is on a means-tested government pension.

So at the coming election, the people of Warringah have a clear choice. A choice between:

    • Mr Abbott, who rejects the need for any equitable social, environmental or economic reform;
    • Ms Steggall who cares about equitable social and environmental reforms, but rejects the sensible, equitable economic reform necessary to repair the budget and deliver her desired social and environmental outcomes; and
  • Me, your representative within a Labor government that is committed to sensible, equitable and necessary economic, social and environmental reform.

Public Meet and Greets

The last fortnight I’ve continued getting out and about the electorate, meeting people at bus stops, ferry wharves and shopping centres.  I’ve had hundreds of warm conversations over the last two weeks.  When I ask people what’s on their mind in regard to politics, the most common answer has been “stability”.

What I think people to mean by “stability” is stability of leadership, stability of focus on the public interest, stability of priorities, stability of good process, stability of empathetic values and stability of the required effort to bring about the required change.

In the coming weeks, we’re continuing with our public meet and greets. These will be happening across the electorate. The schedule for the next two weeks includes:

Wed 6th of Feb: Balmoral Beach run with Dr Andrew Leigh – Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Small Business – 7am near the Boathouse cafe

Thurs 7th of Feb: Seaforth Shops on Sydney Rd – Seaforth 7:30am to 9am

Fri 8th of Feb: Sydney Rd & Manly Rd Bus stop – Manly 7:30am to 9am

Sat 9th of Feb: Freshwater Shops 8:30am to 12pm

Tues 12th Feb: Hayes St Ferry Wharf – Neutral Bay 7:30am to 9am

Sat 16th of Feb: Stockland Centre – Balgowlah 9:00am to 4 pm

I need as many people as possible to help me with these regular events. Even one hour of your time will make a difference. If are interested and joining me and other members of the Let’s Do Better team one morning, please get in touch with me or our volunteer coordinator, Natasha via natasha@warringahlabor.org

Calling all voters!

We have commenced an ongoing phone-banking effort and held our first training session for volunteers last week. The photo below was taken of the team who came along for our first session.  We still need as many people as possible to help make phone calls to voters in Warringah to let them know about our campaign and identify the issues that are of concern to them.  We’re looking for people who can dedicate about two hours a week to make calls. Please get in touch with me if you would like to help. Many hands make light work!

Donations

As the competition for the seat of Warringah intensifies, we will need to spend more on social media advertising and printing material to share with people in the electorate.  If you have not already done so, please consider making a small regular contribution to our campaign each week between now and election day. Even a small weekly donation of $5 will make a big difference in helping raise the profile of our campaign.  To make a regular donation please visit www.letsdobetter.com.au/donate

That’s all for now.  If you’d like more regular updates, please follow me on Twitter or like our Facebook page or Instagram feed.

Let’s do better!

Dean