On top of the latest interest rate rise and without any widespread community debate, Australia is heading towards intensifying the sufferings of the vast numbers under mortgage stress.
And to compound the suffering, the powers of the ACCC’s chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb are set to be slashed to enable large transport cartels to be established and independent truckies destroyed.
Australia is being insulated from this crisis by seven national heroes — the independents in the Senate — who are preventing the passage of the 784 page “Albanese” industrial relations legislation.
Today I return to the subject to describe the untenable position of Treasurer Jim Chalmers because the people in his electorate of Rankin in Queensland will be among the worst sufferers if any two of the independents buckle.
Chalmers should be dreading the prospect that sometime in 2024 he will have to tell his Queensland electorate the horrible truth of what is going to hit them.
He is no fool and he must be aware what could be ahead.
And the new blows are set to be so severe on a large percentage of his electorate that there will be community revolts that are likely to be so widespread and intense that it will be impossible to use interest rates to curb inflation.
That’s what happened in Argentina many years ago.
These are extreme words, but they are justified.
My job is to alert the community in advance to prevent it happening.
Rankin has affluent people in its community, but is dominated by mainstream Australians with more than 65 per cent of them voting No in the recent referendum.
Chalmers obviously knows his electorate is dominated by people who are suffering because their base income is not matching their mortgage interest payments.
But they do not want to lose their homes and, sometimes with bank help, they are bridging the gap using the gig economy and benefiting from the 25 per cent premium entitlement if they work on a casual basis rather than being full or part-time employees.
And, as they see it, thanks to Chalmers, there are plenty of jobs.
Higher interest rates are not the only looming crisis for Chalmers in Rankin.
Rankin, which includes the suburb of Logan, is a wonderful place to base small independent trucking businesses.
If Chalmers mixed with the Logan truckies, he would know their flexibility and price competitiveness often outflanks the majors who are becoming very annoyed.
But Australia benefits from independent truckies’ low costs and most truckies are doing well. The small truckies love their trucks and are among the safest operators in the country.
And they know they have the protection of Ms Cass-Gottlieb should the majors use underhand illegal tactics to beat them.
Cass-Gottlieb is their hero for taking on the might of Qantas.
But the industrial relations bill ruthlessly strips away the ACCC’s powers to protect truckies and exposes them to a body to be set with the power to destroy them.
It can force them to sell their homes because the dwellings are part of the security for the bank loan financing the truck.
If two of the seven Senate independents allow that bill to go through, Logan will be a centre of one of Australia’s biggest and longest running protests as the 50,000 truckies fight for their homes and livelihoods.
The only answer Chalmers can truthfully give them is: “it wasn’t me who did this”.
Meanwhile, once the transport regulation powers of the ACCC are shredded and Cass-Gottlieb effectively demoted, transport cartels and costs will rise sharply as will inflation and with that will come pressure to raise interest rates further.
To date, like other government members, Chalmers has been able to tell his electorate that the higher interest rates won’t last forever and the government is beginning to take actions like creating the budget surplus, reducing spending and various subsidy programs to bring about reduced inflation, which will eventually lead to lower rates.
And he his telling the truth as he sees it.
Again, if two of the independents crack and the incredible IR bill passes in its present form, then the fury of most of the voters of Rankin — not just truckies — will become white-hot.
As the bill now stands, not only will most of them not be able to work casually and therefore suffer a 25 per cent cash pay cut, large parts of the gig economy that they use to gain supplementary income from will become almost impossible to operate.
Platforms like Airtasker, which Rankin residents use to find those jobs will close or be curtailed.
New amendments will help, but will not alter the thrust of the legislation.
The government did a deal with the hotels association, which apparently gives some protection for the casual hotel workers.
But the agreement was a farce for the rest of the community’s casual workers because the tests that need to be to passed to allow someone to be allowed the privilege of working on a casual basis are simply too complex for any employer to take the risk.
Under the hotel deal, the government is to ignore the penalties for employers, but that’s a smokescreen because they can be put back at any time and made retrospective to destroy enterprises.
Casual work is out and take-home pay cuts are set to be widespread if the bill passes.
How does Chalmers explain to his electorate that the government is deliberately increasing their mortgage stress knowing it will force people out of their homes?
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is off on another trip, but Chalmers needs to hitch a ride on the next available Albanese plane and explain to him what’s actually happening Down Under.
If there are no seats on the plane, then Chalmers must simply hope that the independents continue to act in the national interest and block the bill.
Extracted in full from: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/jim-chalmers-position-untenable-in-rankin-if-ir-laws-that-slash-accc-powers-pass/news-story/d5ad3f408ea4836ed1cc530fa65d0eae