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Thursday, 3 July 2014

An open letter to Andrew Laming - - The Australian Independent Media Network

An open letter to Andrew Laming - - The Australian Independent Media Network

An open letter to Andrew Laming

Following Kaye Lee’s article, “To my local member
where she provided an exposé of the number of questionable statements
by Lucy Wicks (Federal Member for Robertson), AIMN reader Bill Mavropoulos
finds that much of Andrew Laming’s (Federal Member for Bowman) recent
statements on a range of issues also need to be further examined. Bill
writes as follows:

Dear Mr Laming,

I write to you regarding your recent video presentation on the
guardian website published on 26 June 2014. The presentation attempts to
explain the Coalition government’s most recent Federal Budget. To avoid
doubt the URL for this presentation is as follows:

This seems to be an attempt to counter Anthony Albanese’s video published 14 May 2014 as follows:

The number of misleading statements, omissions and inaccuracies
littered throughout your presentation was startling. I felt that it was
incumbent on someone from the Australian public to deal with the more
glaringly omissions, misleading statements and falsehoods.

Saving $550 from the Carbon Tax and Mining Tax repeal

When the Carbon Tax was introduced, it had a number of tax
concessions attached to it that negated its economic effect on the
majority of the Australian population.

Furthermore, Labor’s official policy was to move from a fixed price
on Carbon to a floating Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from 1 July 2014.
The cost of this scheme on an average household if it is removed from
that date is actually estimated at $134 annually compared to this policy
(see the ABC Fact Check here). The current law is there because you refuse to have a sensible policy to combat climate change.

The statement in your presentation is a blatant misrepresentation of
the difference between the Coalition’s policy and that of the previous

In your presentation you mention that the Mining Tax will contribute
to this $550 saving per household. This is not just misleading and
deceptive, it is a blatant lie. In fact consequential amendments that
are buried at the back of the MRRT repeal law will remove the schoolkids
bonus, small business tax concessions and concessions for
superannuation for low income taxpayers.

This means that, taking these measures together, the net effect of
removing these measures will leave an average household worse off rather
than better off (as you assert). This takes into consideration the
large majority of mining companies are foreign owned. Thus repealing the
Mining Tax puts money back in Gina and Co’s pockets (because they get
out of paying this tax) by taking it out of ordinary Australian’s
pockets, by removing these tax concessions aimed at poor and middle

This part of your presentation was personally the most offensive.

$50 Billion infrastructure investment

This investment was outlined and explained by Anthony Albanese in his
video (linked above). Albanese explained clearly in his well-made and
factually correct presentation the make-up of all previously proposed
infrastructure spending by Labor. He then went on to explain how the
Coalition removed and reallocated large amounts of rail infrastructure
to fund big ticket road projects that look good during an election
campaign but don’t actually address systemic problems in transport

Transport infrastructure accessibility disproportionately impacts
younger and lower income families who generally live further away from
large metropolitan centers. The rail infrastructure is less adequately
developed the further out from these centers you go. Households in this
position are reliant on only one mode of transport. This does two

  1. Makes these people reliant on motor vehicles that are subject to
    increasing cost pressures from the increase in fuel excise you are
    imposing, increased registration costs that the States have been forced
    to impose because of cuts you have made to their funding and general
    increased costs of fuel and maintenance, and
  2. Devalues the property prices of homes in these areas in comparison
    to areas that are closer to an urban center and also have more than one
    mode of transport accessible.

What this does Andrew, is create a significant social risk in these
places. The measure entrenches inequality by effectively creating
ghettos with little or no social mobility because these people will pay a
disproportionate amount on transport cost while being subject to a
reduced increase in the value of their main asset, their home.

Loan for Apprentices was originally just government grant

The loan to apprentices you mentioned actually replaces a cut of a
tool grant of $5,500. The Budget itself anticipates savings of $914.6
million from cutting the tool grant measure. However, despite the
measure being linked to the $20,000 loan scheme you did not mention it
in your presentation.

This $20,000 loan scheme you spruiked is estimated by that same
Budget to cost $439 million. This means the net economic loss to
Apprentices from these measures is in the order of $457.6 million.

That you had the gall to smile and tell apprentices they will be
better off in your presentation while ripping close to half a billion
dollars away from them is frankly appalling.

Hospital Funding indexation

The claim that hospital funding is boosted by certain percentages
over the next four years again is not the full story Andrew. It does not
outline the fact that due to changes to funding arrangements the
government in its Budget estimates it will save $1.8 Billion of funding
from Public hospitals in terms of how the increases are calculated. (Let
alone the other cuts to health that are not mentioned)

In short you do not outline that although hospital funding will still
go up, it will not go up by as much as originally slated due to a cut
to the rates of funding originally envisaged.

Education Funding

The Coalition is increasing education funding by partially adopting
the Labor Party’s Gonski funding model. However you say nothing about
the Coalition government’s refusal to fund this model fully beyond the
forward estimate period.

Further to this, due to changes to indexation and deregulation the
costs of obtaining a higher education degree will actually skyrocket.
This is coupled with changes to the allocation of the funding that
essentially stymie the benefits flowing from Gonski entirely.

$7 Co-Payment and Medical Research Future Fund

The statement that this measure supports the Healthcare system in
your presentation is ludicrous. Firstly, introduction of the co-payment
will clearly necessitate additional administrative costs borne by
doctors that will ultimately need to be passed on to patients. In the
shorter term this means increased health care costs for the same or
worse level of service.

Further to this any savings generated by Health measures in the
Budget are to be allocated to a dedicated medical research fund not into
the Medicare system that pays for these health services. Therefore in
the medium term the Healthcare system is being deprived of the benefits
of this additional funding to alleviate the difference between revenue
collected for health and the relevant expenditure.

In the long term, investment in the specialised Medical Research Fund
has been criticised by experts. The nature of research and development
is very complex. Often completely different areas of research result in
the creation of medical applications. These other areas of research are
being cut by your budget (think CSIRO). The money collected may
therefore not be used as effectively as it otherwise would have been by
say, allocating it to a broader range of research activities through
established funding mechanisms.

This ‘oversight’ is perhaps as a direct result of the Coalition not
having a Science Minister who understands that by creating silos of
funding for research you may actually be undermining the long term
sustainability of the system.

Full income replacement – Having a child

The statement that the full income of a parent will be replaced when
they have a child is outrageously incorrect. I do however love the
comment you made along the lines of ‘everyone is happy’ because their
full wage gets replaced. Note that; the latest statement in relation to
this policy is that the maximum payment to a parent over six months will
be capped at $50,000.

Furthermore, this payment is not asset or income tested and so
because it replaces income up to this cap it acts to effectively
redistributes economic benefit from lower income earners to higher
income earners.

I believe from watching this part of your video that you either have a
dangerous lack of understanding in relation to how this measure works
or are trying to deliberately mislead the public.

Pensions indexed, no changes till after next election

This statement was perhaps the most blatantly misleading one of your
entire video. Firstly, from 1 July pension supplements are being
removed, this is a well-documented fact. Also, due to the long term
nature of receiving pension benefits it is cold comfort that the age and
indexation decreases will start in a few years rather than now. This is
clearly political as you are banking on people forgetting these changes
are in the system by the time the next election rolls around.

The fact that you are legislating changes now to decrease the rate of
indexation of pensions and raising the pension age to 70 is not
mentioned in any detail at all.

This measure will reduce the absolute dollar value of a pension that
citizens will receive when compared to the current arrangements. The
fact that indexation effects will compound year on year is another nasty
fact you have overlooked.

ABC – Savings can be found without effecting programing

This statement is unhinged and completely contrary to reality. Mark
Scott the head of the ABC himself has stated that programs will be cut
and staff will be laid off in direct contradiction of your assertion.

Please see his comments ‘here’. Saying something doesn’t make it true Andrew, especially when based on absolutely no evidence.


Please be mindful that the video contained a number of other
unsubstantiated, misleading, false and generally ludicrous assertions.
It was impossible to address them all in this letter without it running
to several more pages.

I note that in response to my protests regarding this Budget Andrew
you felt the need to message me on Facebook to say, and I quote:

“Sincerely glad you don’t live in my community”.

This gave me a bit more insight into your mind. It is clear you don’t
see me or people like me as, an ordinary Australians, or as being part
of the community you are elected to represent. I am unsure whether this
is due to the level of our income, our ethnicity or simply the fact that
you live in a particular part of Queensland and I live in Victoria.

What this suggests about you Andrew, as a parliamentarian, can best be summarised by my response to you via email as follows:

“I [sic] thought your suggestion that I am not part of
“your community” was hurtful and suggests that you are not an elected
representative of Australia (my community)”.

Andrew Laming show more respect for the Australian public. I warned
you on Facebook that should you attempt to mislead the Australian public
regarding the Budget again that I would hold you to account, admittedly
in more colourful language than used in this letter. Consider this me
fulfilling my promises; at least one of us does that.


Vasilios (Bill) Mavropoulos

Tax Specialist

You might also like to read:

Under the shade of a Barcaldine gum tree

An Open Letter to Bill Shorten

Letter to all Coalition MPs

An Open Letter to Frances Abbott

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