ScoMo’s $1080 tax back could be better spent

LET'S call it what it is - blatant vote-grubbing from politicians in rabid pursuit of the "sound economic managers" tag.

Scott Morrison's latest rendition of a cross-eyed Robin Hood who takes from everybody just to give it back in shiny wrapping paper has achieved its desired goal.

Millions of Australians with a mortgage repayment, car rego or drug habit are rightfully excited to get their hands on $1080 of not-so-free money to spend as they will.

All three in my case.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is looking pretty good right now — but is a cash payment really the right move for Australia? PICTURE: AAP IMAGE/LUKAS COCH
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is looking pretty good right now — but is a cash payment really the right move for Australia? PICTURE: AAP IMAGE/LUKAS COCH

Forget it was our money in the first place, given to our overlords under threat of imprisonment so, in their magnanimous wisdom, they could fund the infrastructure we so desperately needed.

This is cash money, a rigged jackpot on the pokies, Black Caviar with an undetectable cocaine injection in her flanks, a pair of x-ray glasses watching a spool of scratchies slowly unravel at the newsagency.

You would have to be mad not to get a little bit ruffled over it.

But what about that infrastructure?

Looks like another decade without meaningful upgrades to the Kuranda Range. BRENDAN RADKE
Looks like another decade without meaningful upgrades to the Kuranda Range. BRENDAN RADKE

Far North Queensland has no shortage of major projects begging for investment that will doubtless pass through another term of government without getting off the ground.

It is not worth rattling them all off here, but one piece of infrastructure sticks out like a sore thumb.

The Kuranda Range.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads says it would cost $750 million to deliver any major upgrade.

Roy Lavis, who oversaw the giant CEC Group construction company before it was gouged out of existence by a panic-stricken Commonwealth Bank after the global financial crisis, reckons he could do it for $350 million.

Nullinga Dam — talked about ad nauseam but never acted upon. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
Nullinga Dam — talked about ad nauseam but never acted upon. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Either way, it is a whopping slab of money and no government wants to fund it despite the fact it has hit absolute capacity.

Far North Queensland's enormous potential for agricultural and tourism growth is being squeezed out of existence by a stunted road that was either fully or partially shut down 130 times in the past year.

The Federal Government is proudly spruiking $158 billion in tax cuts over the next decade, but in the short-term more than 10 million Australians will receive a payment of up to $1080 when they lodge their tax returns.

We cannot even get a measly $13.3 million from the Federal Government for its share of a tripartite investment in the proposed Cairns Gallery Precinct. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
We cannot even get a measly $13.3 million from the Federal Government for its share of a tripartite investment in the proposed Cairns Gallery Precinct. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

That means billions upon billions of dollars could have been spent on long-term, transformational projects rather than a one-off sugar hit to temporarily buttress a lagging economy.

I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Bob Katter.

The Kennedy MP voted in favour of the legislation but yesterday argued the government should be "building its way out of recession" rather than spending its way out with tax breaks.

Mr Katter said the RBA cutting interest rates back to record lows was no longer the key to stimulating a stagnant economy.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is riding high on the wave. PICTURE: KYM SMITH
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is riding high on the wave. PICTURE: KYM SMITH

"They are using monetary policy and it just doesn't work," he said.

"It's the old, free marketeers at it again. They were horrific failures in the 1800s and it is failing now."

Dams are the key, he reckons.

Mr Katter pointed the long-dead legendary economist John Maynard Keynes who famously said: "The government should pay people to dig holes in the ground and then fill them up."

His point was that during a recession the important thing was that the government intervened to give people jobs.

Kennedy MP Bob Katter has a point worth heeding. PICTURE: KYM SMITH
Kennedy MP Bob Katter has a point worth heeding. PICTURE: KYM SMITH

"But I am sure Keynes would agree that it makes infinitely better sense to dig the hole, fill it with water and then spread it out on the ground to grow grass," Mr Katter said.

Spot on.

This cashback tax cut is a nice thing.

It will be handy having an extra $1080 to keep the wolves at bay, and hopefully it will stimulate the economy out of a tight spot in the short-term.

John Maynard “Pay Them To Dig Holes” Keynes. PICTURE: PLANET NEWS ARCHIVE/SPPL/GETTY IMAGES
John Maynard “Pay Them To Dig Holes” Keynes. PICTURE: PLANET NEWS ARCHIVE/SPPL/GETTY IMAGES

But why give back money already committed in people's personal budgets when so many job-creating projects with real lasting social and economic benefits are being ignored?

It wins votes but it does not make sense.

Looking forward to buying a grand's worth of beer next month, though.



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