by Alan Thornhill
The Federal government’s broadband model is poorly planned and unlikely to be completed on time, NBN Co analysis finds
by Alan Thornhill
President Obama urged reluctant Republicans today to lift America’s debt ceiling, days before the deadline for a potentially catastrophic default.
In his weekly address to the nation, Mr Obama started by noting that the Republican’s refusal to pass his budget had already brought much of America’s government to a standstill.
“Our government is closed for the first time in 17 years,” the President said.
And he warned that things could quickly get much worse.
“A political party is risking default for the first time since the 1700s.
“This is not normal.
“That’s why we have to put a stop to it.
“Not only because it’s dangerous, but because it saps everyone’s faith in our extraordinary system of self-government.
“And that hurts us all,” Mr Obama said.
America will not be able to pay its bills, if its debt ceiling is not raised by Thursday, October 17.
This could stop even the modest global recovery which has been slowly gathering strength since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 set off the global economic crisis.
The IMF has warned that a default by the US would tip the global financial system into turmoil and economists have declared that it could set off a new Depression.
President Obama was speaking after his talks with Republican leaders broke down, without pointing to an agreement which might end the US budget crisis, or allow America’s debt cap to be lifted.
Efforts to sort out these affairs then moved to the US Senate, once again without producing an immediate result.
A Republican Representative John Carter of Texas accused Mr. Obama as “acting like a royal president.”
“He’s still ‘my way or the highway,’ ” Mr Carter said.
However American voters appear, plainly, to be blaming the Republicans for the twin blockages, now in the nation’s political system.
An opinion poll, published late last week, showed US voter support for the Republicans plunging to its lowest level ever.
by Alan Thornhill
Tony Abbott said first term governments are best served by Cabinets with extensive ministerial experience, as he announced his proposed new ministry today.
The Prime Minister-elect said fifteen members of the incoming Cabinet have previous ministerial experience.
And the four members of Cabinet without ministerial experience had made significant contributions to the Shadow Ministry, he added.
He said, too, that the simplification of ministerial and departmental titles reflects my determination to run a “back to basics” government.
“The Australian people expect a government that is upfront, speaks plainly and does the essentials well,” Mr Abbott said.
He said Julie Bishop would be Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Eric Abetz would be Minister for Employment
George Brandis would be Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts and Vice President of the Executive Council.
As Treasurer, the Hon Joe Hockey would lead the Government’s work to restore the Budget position and grow a stronger economy.
Senator Mathias Cormann would be Minister for Finance.
Senator Arthur Sinodinos will be Assistant Treasurer.
Barnaby Joyce MP will be the Minister for Agriculture.
Christopher Pyne will be Minister for Education and Leader of the House.
Ian Macfarlane will be Minister for Industry.
Kevin Andrews MP is to be Minister for Social Services.
Malcolm Turnbull will be Minister for Communications.
Peter Dutton will be Minister for Health and Minister for Sport.
“Small business employs almost one in two Australians and its stand-alone presence in Cabinet acknowledges its role in job creation,”
Mr Abbott said.
He said Bruce Billson would drive the Government’s small business agenda.
Andrew Robb will serve as Minister for Trade and Investment.
David Johnston will be Minister for Defence.
Senator Michael Ronaldson will be the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Special Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC.
Greg Hunt is to be Minister for the Environment.
Scott Morrison MP will be Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.
Mr Abbott said that, as promised, the administration of indigenous affairs will move into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion will be Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
“Recognising the value of deregulation to improving Australia’s productivity, responsibility for driving the Government’s deregulation agenda will shift to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet,” he added.
“…Bronwyn Bishop MP, with my support, is nominating for the role of Speaker,” Mr Abbott said.
Warren Entsch has agreed to chair a new Joint Parliamentary Committee on Northern Australia, he added.
by Alan Thornhill
Kevin Rudd said tonight that if Australians want broadband better schools and hospitals and a clean energy future they should vote for the government.
He warned that the Coalition would cut spending in all of these areas.
The Prime Minister noted that the Coalition had said that it would not cut – and would in fact increase – its spending on education and health.
However the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbot, had also said that he would welcome a Commission of Audit, that would investigate all programs.
Mr Rudd said there would be “massive cuts” under a Coalition government
In an interview on the ABC’s 7.30 report, Mr Rudd also said that, despite the release of Coalition costings earlier in the day, “the entire nation is still comprehensively in the dark on where those cuts will be.”
“I think if you look carefully at the statement today, it is very plain that we have no comprehensive list at all of their massive cuts to jobs, schools and hospitals,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr Rudd said the government had committed $10 billion to its better schools program, which would continue until 2019.
But the Opposition had committed “a bare $2 billion” to the plan.
“That is effectively an $8 billion cut in education, Mr Rudd said.
“That is a fact.”
Scrapping the Schoolkids’ Bonus, as the opposition is planning to do, is also an education cut, the Prime Minister said.
Invited to say what Labor would do, if it was returned on Saturday, Mr Rudd declared: “”Our plan is to build the economy and the future by diversifying and by not having all our eggs in the one basket.”
Mr Rudd said: “if you want broadband in the future, better schools and hospitals in future and clean energy, you should vote for the government.”
He declared, too, that if voters had any doubts about Mr Abbott, they should not vote for him.
by Alan Thornhill
Tony Abbott says only the Coalition will deliver the infrastructure Australia needs.
In a statement released today, the Opposition Leader said: “ Only the Coalition can be trusted to deliver the nationally significant infrastructure that our cities and our regional areas need.”
He said the projects a Coalition government would deliver would include:-
• $6.7 billion to fix the Bruce Highway
• $5.6 billion to complete the duplication of the Pacific Highway from Newcastle to the Queensland border
• $1.5 billion to get Melbourne’s East West Link underway
• $1.5 billion for Sydney’s WestConnex
• $1 billion for the Gateway Motorway upgrade in Brisbane
• $615 million to build the Swan Valley Bypass
• $686 million to finish the Perth Gateway without a mining tax
• $500 million for the upgrade of Adelaide’s North-South Road Corridor
• $405 million for the F3 to M2 missing link
• $400 million to upgrade the Midland Highway in Tasmania and
• $300 million for the Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail freight line.
Mr Abbott said vital infrastructure projects, like these, would be underway within 12 months of the election.
“I want Australians to spend less time in traffic gridlock on our roads and more time with their families,” Mr Abbott said.
“ I want small business men and women to have more time building their livelihoods and less time stuck in traffic jams,” he added.
by Alan Thornhill
Kevin Rudd launched his campaign today, promising a tax break for small business, help for apprentices and new local participation rules for foreign companies that win big contracts.
Speaking before an enthusiastic audience in Brisbane, the Prime Minister also said those who believe he will lose next Saturday’s election should “never ever, ever underestimate the fighting spirit of the Australian Labor party.”
He warned voters, too, to think how the $70 billion worth of cuts, that he said an Abbott government would make, would affect “your jobs, your schools and your hospitals.”
Referring to the cuts the Queensland Liberal Premier, Campbell Newman has already made, Mr Rudd said: “With Mr Newman you got the entrée.
“With Tony Abbott you get the main course.”
He made three new commitments.
* A $6,000 grant, to help graduating apprentices get their first set of tools.
* A $10,000 tax break to help small businesses get the new capital equipment they need to grow and
* New rules that would require foreign companies, which win big contracts in Australia, to source some of their requirements from local suppliers.
He vowed, also, that he would revive Australia’s Technical and Further Education, or TAFE systems, which he said conservative State governments had neglected.
Mr Rudd said, that if necessary, he would launch a network of Federally funded TAFES, from July 1 next year.
He said these would match the polytechnics of France and Germany.
Mr Rudd also said a re-elected Labor government would, for the first time, link Australia’s employment and training services.
So the unemployed would get either a return to work plan, or a plan that would help them get the further education or training they would need to help them get a job.”
Mr Rudd said Labor had created almost 1 million jobs, with low inflation, since it came to office.
“We have increased the Superannuation Guarantee from 9 to 12 per cent.
“We have introduced the largest pension increases in Australian history.”
And Mr Rudd said Labor had retained a Triple A credit rating, with all three ratings agencies, while it did all this.
by Alan Thornhill
A statement, issued by the Labor party, says there will be an election on September 7.
The statement was issued in the name of the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.
It read: “It’s on.
“A few moments ago I saw the Governor-General and asked that she dissolve this parliament and call the Federal Election for September 7.
“Australians now face a choice. And the choice couldn’t be starker.
I have a positive vision about the country we can be. In this election I’ll be talking with Australians across the county about better schools for our kids, investing so we can create good jobs, and about how the NBN can help keep our economy strong.
“Tony Abbott has a different approach. He’ll bang on with the same negativity that we’re all sick of. He’s only got three word slogans because he doesn’t have the ticker to debate his real agenda.
“Right now the only thing standing between Australia and an Abbott-led government is you, me, and as many Australians as we can rally to fight for the kind of nation we all want to live in.
“We’ve got one hell of a fight on our hands. Abbott and a few millionaires will out-spend us. But if we join together we can even the playing field. Chip in $5 to get us off to a strong start.”
by Alan Thornhill
Perhaps wisely, Tony Abbott refused today to comment on what he called “the ups and downs of opinion polls.”
But he must have been tempted. At that point, the latest poll showed the Coalition up, at 57 per cent, and Labor trailing on just 43 per cent, on a two party preferred basis.
Fairfax papers, which published that poll, attributed Labor’s fall, from 46 per cent the previous week, to male voters turning away from the party, after Julia Gillard’s contentious remarks last week on abortion and pale blue ties.
However the Morgan poll, published later in the day, had a different story to tell.
It showed L-NP support down 2.5 per cent in a week, to 53.5 per cent, and Labor’s up, by the same amount, to 46.5 per cent, also on a two party preferred basis.
Either way, if figures like these were replicated in the September 14 elections, Mr Abbott would become Australia’s next Prime Minister.
However, the commentary accompanying the Morgan poll was interesting.
It was headed: “Female support rises strongly for the government, after Howard Sattler’s interview with the Prime Minister.”
In that – widely condemned – interview the – subsequently sacked – West Australian shock – jock, had asked Ms Gillard if her partner, Tim Mathieson, is gay.
The Fairfax poll, though, concluded that the Prime Minister, had gained no ground with women, at all, by attempting to make both abortion – and misogyny – election issues.
Take your pick.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
Friday December 13
The Dow Jones index falls 105 points to 15,739.
The $A drops to US 89.39US cents shortly after 8am, Sydney time
The Senate rises for the year, without passing government bills to abolish the carbon tax
Car industry workers’ plight to be high on the agenda, when the Prime Minister meets State premiers today
Australia’s unemployment rate rises slightly to 5.8 per cent in November 2013 (seasonally adjusted):ABS
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