In writing about the risible campaign for taxing online consumption, it’s perhaps fair to note that Gerry Harvey has been loudly proclaiming that it wasn’t all idea, but he’s been copping all the flak. Poor petal. I guess there’s a downside to being a media tart.
What I want to focus on, though, is not Harvey and the merits and demerits of the Big Retail campaign.
I think it’s potentially a significant moment in Australian politics – for two reasons:
(a) The retailers’ playbook has a lot of similarity with other very prominent rent-seeking campaigns – the ad campaign, for instance, rings all the same bells as that of the mining industry against the RSPT. Nationalism, jobs, bizarre threats about off-shoring. However, in this instance, it looks like the Gillard government isn’t going to roll over and come to a measly compromise. Maybe, just maybe, that might have some implications for the quality of policy more generally.
(b) The bizarro world of billionaires and major corporates pressing for a new tax should put to rest the idea that there’s any great sincerity in the “small government” rhetoric anti-competitive elites love to embrace – when it suits.
Elsewhere: Bernard Keane on business campaigns against teh intertubes and bashing up their own customers.