In this column last Monday, we exposed as arrant fallacyKevin Rudd’scontention ina letter to this newspaperpublished the previous Friday that “it was never envisaged that the NBN generate a commercial rate of return”.
The former Prime Ministerthen wrote again, on Friday, lashing our “ideological diatribe” while validating its thrust: that yes, his government had promised to repay the Australian people’s “investment” in the NBN fully, and with interest. “In 2009, the government referred to the NBN as a commercial entity in order to differentiate it from being a normal item of budgetary expenditure” even if “a 7 per cent projected rate would not have been one which a regular commercial entity would have accepted for an enterprise of this nature”. So, the faithful contrary to what he’d claimed a week earlier; as in, exactly what was said in our ideological diatribe. For our part, we deeply apologise for being unimpeachably correct.
What’s more, the Nambour narcissist quibbled that “the capacity of the NBN to generate even that rate of return was then undermined” by Malcolm Turnbull curtailing the project from Rudd’s fibre-to-the-premises to build fibre-to-the-node, “significantly increasing the complexity and cost.” Right, so Rudd offered us FTTN for $4.7 billion in 2007 then promised us FTTP in 2009 for $43 billion (which the Communications Departmentfound in 2014would’ve really cost between $59 billion and $73 billion), but now argues FTTN cost more. How do you reason with such a person? As the Australian Public Service discovered the hard way, you can’t.
Even with Rudd’s sole occupancy of Brutopia/Fantasia now established, you will not doubt his residency after reading his latest essay, “The Complacent Country“.
He blusters of the Superannuation Guarantee Levee [sic], presumably a dam system so sophisticated the town planners of Townsville didn’t know it existed.
He lists as an achievement of the Labor governments (two of which he led) betweenJohn Howard‘s andTony Abbott‘s as “Australian membership of the G20,” andeven reckoned“we helped create” the G20. TreasurerPeter Costelloattended thefirst G20 meeting of finance ministers in 1999andhosted it in 2006in Melbournealongside Reserve Bank governorGlenn Stevens.
He parrots the ABC’sEmma Alberici, maintaining that “according to the US Congressional Budget Office, Australia has one of the lowest levels of effective business taxation in the OECD,” a finding drawn from 2012 input data, before Australia passed the Diverted Profits Tax and the Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law, and before Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States all reduced their corporate tax rates. Thelatest OECD data(input from 2017) released shows Australia’s effective marginal company tax rate is the third highest in its entire sample of 74 sovereign tax jurisdictions, lower only than Chile and Costa Rica.
Rudd alleges that “absolute inequality in Australia, as measured by the nation’s ‘Gini co-efficient’ is rising.” This is also complete bullshit. If by ‘absolute inequality’ Rudd is talking about equivalised household net worth, the Gini co-efficient (whereby 0 is perfect equality and 1 is heinous inequality) has gone from 0.603 in FY10 to 0.606 when he lost power in FY14 to 0.601 in FY16. Or if he’s measuring personal income, the rise in equality has been dramatic, from 0.336 in FY08 (when Rudd was elected), to 0.333 in FY14 to 0.323 in FY16. These data are all the latest made available by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Wealth inequality hasbarely movedsince Rudd took office; indeed, over the past three years, both wealth and income inequality have fallen.
Is it any wonder that someone who cannot even proselytise his own achievements with the accuracy expected of an HSC exam paper thought that rolling out metronomic announceables was the same as running a country? Kevin is no intellectual; he’s barely a sophomore with a serious face.
And no volume of constructive feedback – not defeat in the Caucus, nor the ballot box, and not the polite clapping of Labor’s national conference – can pierce Rudd’s lucid dream. Which would be fine if he’d retire there alone rather than attempt, oblivious to the futility, to drag us all there with him.