Griffiths / That’s it, the one shot at wealth?

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THE Liberals keep saying and doing things that are extremely alarming to anyone not in the very wealthiest strata of society.

John Griffiths.
John Griffiths.
Joe Hockey’s strange musings on the lives of the poor are not that far behind us, nor is the sage advice from the Coalition that Australians doing it tough should sell down their share portfolios.
Then in February, Treasurer Scott Morrison opined to 2GB on the subject of negative gearing that “for most middle-income people it is the one chance they’ve got to build some wealth”.
That’s it? That’s our one chance? We’re having an ideas boom, there’s never been a more exciting time to be Australian and the only chance we’ve got to build some wealth is leverage tax concessions and enter the late stages of a property bubble?
It’s a grim picture the Treasurer painted without meaning to.
Then, last week, Malcolm Turnbull suggested that the best way for young people to get into the property market was for their parents to shell out.
“Don’t be born poor” may be wise advice, but it’s tricky to follow.
We used to live in a society where, if someone worked hard, they could build a decent life on their own terms.
When exactly we decided that wasn’t important and who made that decision are questions a lot of people would like the answers to.
Negative gearing as it currently exists is a huge taxpayer subsidy to allow the already financially comfortable to price first home buyers out of the market and back into renting from those who’ve outbid them.
Not to worry though, if your innovative startup has failed to take off at least we have decent minimum wages right? The chance to work weekends and make some extra money with penalty rates?
Well, in last week’s Budget we got the PATH internships plan, whereby the government is going to spend $750 million paying the unemployed a paltry $4 an hour to work 25 hours a week for the nation’s businesses. They hope to inject 120,000 of these free (to the business) labourers into the economy.
Even the most principled business person who likes paying their staff good wages is going to struggle to resist this temptation.
$1000 to take on an intern who will work 25 hours a week for free?
The truly sneaky will be setting up labour hire companies that do nothing but farm interns out to other businesses, manage the intern churn, provide the free labour and even kick back a hiring fee.
If you think I’m being fanciful, just cast your eyes to the rorts of taxpayers and students going on in the private college system.
Unpaid and low-paid long-term internships have been a growing blight on society for some time.
It’s one thing for a bright young thing with parents who can support them to work for a summer in a high-power office. That’s no model for the whole of society.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have parents who can support them and we used to have a country where we could get ahead by getting stuck in.

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