By JR on Tuesday, May 09, 2017
Aussie politicians can learn a lot from Macron
Robert Gottliebsen is mostly right below and it is indeed a relief to have an economic realist in charge of France.
But the main point of the whole election was attitude to the EU. Marine Le Pen wanted France out of it. And that attracted so many votes that Macron hopped on the bandwagon. He too vowed to reform the EU and France's relationship with it. In other words, LePen shifted the whole Overton window rightwards.
The EUSSR is now under attack from all sides. Britain is leaving, Italians loathe it. Greeks groan under its restrictions and Germany has a new nationalist movement -- AFD -- that is getting a slice of the vote similar to what LePen got. To survive, the EU will have to have its wings heavily clipped. The torrent of regulations it issues will probably be scrapped, at least
Coalition and ALP politicians in Australia could learn a lot from the victory of Emmanuel Macron in France. And if the rest of Europe learns, the EU might have a chance to regain momentum.
It’s the French equivalent of Donald Trump’s draining the swamp.
If we strip away the political rhetoric involved in debating the far right, we have a set of policies from Macron that would transform Australia. Of course, as in Australia, announcing policies in France is only the first step. Bringing them into action is much harder and, in the case of France, Macron has to assemble a political party to win a Parliamentary election to make his revolution work. But he has momentum.
So let’s go through some of the Macron policies that would either transform Australia or where there is clear relevance down under.
* Make budget savings of €60 billion ($A90 billion). Cut the number of public servants by 120,000 — through natural wastage, but excluding hospitals. That’s a huge fall in the public service but like Australia, France has a bloated public service with enormous waste and duplication. Remember: the French people voted for this. They understand the waste in their equivalent of Canberra. France will stick to the EU deficit limit of 3% of GDP.
* Boost people’s purchasing power by cutting their social security contributions. This is worth about €500 ($750) annually for someone on a monthly net salary of €2,200 ($A3,300).
In Australia, the equivalent is that superannuation contributions would be cut back. Unless superannuation can be used to provide a home deposit, it is becoming less and less relevant to young Australians.
* Lower corporation tax from 33.3% to 25%. Australia’s corporate tax debate is made more complex by franking. But the American action is spreading.
* Maintain retirement age at 62, but unify pension rules to reduce complexity. I suspect that there will be a hidden incentive to work longer, which we are mandating.
* Half of food provided in school and work canteens must locally produced or organic. Imagine what a boost that would deliver to our agricultural industry because the pattern would spread to supermarkets.
* Allow businesses flexibility on the 35-hour working week — but extra hours worked will be free of social security deductions. The same policy introduced into Australia would see much more flexibility in shift allowances and penalty rates. But because there was no super deducted, pay rates might not be reduced.
* Make fluency in French the main qualification for obtaining French nationality.
* At the age of 18, French teenagers will get a “Cultural Pass” worth €500 to spend on cultural pursuits such as the cinema, theatre, books. What a fascinating idea.
* Ban children’s use of mobile phones at school. A great idea.
* France aims at becoming the world leader in developing green technologies. France already has a huge nuclear industry.
* One million poorly insulated French homes must be renovated. Macron can learn from Australia. Don’t allow governments anywhere near the change and get the right technical people involved.
* Create a 5,000-strong force of EU border guards. Protecting borders was an issue that could not be ignored. Both Australian parties understand this.
* MPs must not work as consultants, nor employ family members.
* Cut the total number of parliamentary deputies and senators by about one-third. Another wonderful idea for Canberra.
* Reform the EU by giving the Eurozone a separate budget, finance minister and parliament. Macron is trying to also transform the EU which has its own monumental waste.
* In Brexit negotiations, insist that EU Single Market rules apply fully to all trade partners. That’s being tough on the UK.
To get these sort of policies required a new party. Currently the same applies in Australia. The party does not have to be extreme right or left.
Alternatively, one of our existing parties may wake up.