by Alan Thornhill
Tony Abbott is undermining his appeal for voters’ trust by refusing to say what his policies will cost.
And the Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, is still blustering on this topic.
He was asked, in an interview on Channel 10 last night, when those costings would be published.
The presenter was blunt on the subject, asking: “Can you tell us exactly when you’re going to give us your costings for everything, how you’re going to pay for the promises, and is it going to be in enough time for everyone to weigh it up properly before the election?
Mr Hockey started well, with a one word reply.
But the candour did not last.
“You’ll see in the next few days, not many days,” Mr Hockey said.
The interviewer persisted and Mr Hockey mounted his standard defence.
“Well, hang on,” he said.
“We’ve announced $17 billion of savings.
“ It’s like a scene out of Life of Brian, what did the Romans ever do for us.
“We’ve already announced we’re cutting the refugee intake from 20,000 to 13,750, and that saves $1.3 billion.”
Small slices of the truth, perhaps, but nothing more.
A leading economist, Saul Eslake, says there’s a $30 billion shortfall in the Coalition’s accounts.
Kevin Rudd says Mr Hockey and another leading Liberal, Andrew Robb, have admitted it’s $70 billion.
Tony Abbott describes that figure as “a fantasy.”
The Opposition Leader also declared, in his campaign speech on Sunday, that he is basing his appeal for votes on the “deficit of trust” that has developed under Labor.
But appealing for voters’ trust, while concealing vital figures, is saying one thing and doing another.
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
Australians have become increasingly uneasy, over recent months, as more and more asylum seekers drowned, when their frail boats capsized off our northern shores.
One of the toughest men in Australian public life the mining chief, Mitch Hooke, spoke for millions last week, when he declared, passionately, in a television interview, that he is among them.
Even so, Kevin Rudd’s announcement last Friday that no one who came to Australia that way, without a visa, would ever be allowed to settle in this country, came as a shock.
Especially, as they were to be transferred to Papua New Guinea instead.
The reaction has been both sharp and predictable, with pro-refugee demonstrations over the weekend, in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane.
One demonstrator in Sydney, carried a banner with a brutally simple message, declaring “Let them in, you bastards.”
Tony Abbott supported the policy, but said that Papua New Guinea could walk away from its deal with Mr Rudd, at any time.
He also accused the Prime Minister of misleading the public on the content of that deal.
The government then launched an advertising campaign, both in Australia and overseas, explaining its new – and admittedly “hardline” –
It also offered rewards of up to $200,000, for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of people smugglers.
The Prime Minister’s new policy might stop the boats, but at what cost?
That has yet to be seen.
Certainly, diverting refugees, bound for Australia, to PNG instead, is not necessarily a good look.
Mr Rudd’s talk of seeking – still unspecified – changes to the UN Refugee Convention, won’t be winning hearts and minds overseas, either.
That convention was a response to the displacement of millions of people in World War II and the refusal of many nations to take in Jewish people fleeing the Holocaust.
Australia ratified it in 1954.
Is the world in such a terrible state now, that this Convention needs to be invoked again?
The boat people certainly thought so.
That’s why so many have been prepared to risk not only their own lives – but those of their children as well – on the all too often Cruel Sea.
Mr Rudd insists that he is not stopping genuine refugees from seeking asylum in Australia.
Indeed he says his government is preparing to take up to the 27,000 each year, as recommended by the Houston Panel.
That would be a big rise on the 15,800 applications for asylum Australia had last year.
In the same time, though, the US had 83,400, Germany 64,500 and France 54,900.
by Alan Thornhill
A new poll puts Kevin Rudd in a strong position to win the now imminent Federal elections.
It is the first to do so.
The poll, by Roy Morgan Research, is the second this organisation has conducted, since Mr Rudd was restored to Labor leadership last Wednesday.
The first was a snap poll.
Tonight’s count reflects another swing to the Labor party and puts its tally – on a two party preferred basis – at 51.5 per cent – against 48.5 per cent for the Liberal-National party Coalition led by Tony Abbott.
Mr Abbott admitted, before the poll was published, that he expected the contest to “tighten” before the upcoming election.
In a statement accompanying the publication of its research, the Roy Morgan organisation said: “If a Federal Election were held today the result would be a close ALP win.”
Gary Morgan said: “Rudd’s return as leader and the immediate improvement in the ALP’s support clearly puts the pressure on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, to explain the Coalition’s policies better and put a case for why he should be elected at the coming Federal Election.
“Particularly important will be the Coalition’s Industrial Relations policies and also the Coalition’s plans for getting the Australian economy moving again – both issues referred to by Rudd in his pre-ballot speech.
“The question is will Rudd call an August election and rely on his honeymoon or take longer so as to outline his ‘new’ policies which tackle a ‘failing’ economy – massive real unemployment and under-employment and falling business confidence and consumer confidence – so far ignored by both the Federal Government and the Opposition,” Mr Morgan said.
Electors were asked: “If an election for the House of Representatives were held today — which party would receive your first preference?
The multi-mode Morgan Poll on Federal voting intention was conducted over the last few days via Face-to-Face, Internet and SMS interviewing, June 28-30, 2013 with an Australia-wide cross-section of 3,438 Australian electors aged 18 or more.
Only 1.5 per cent of those surveyed did not name a party.
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.
by Alan Thornhill
John Keynes had some useful advice for Australians, as they prepare to vote in the Federal elections on September 14.
“Practical men,” he said, “ who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”
As Keynes, himself, has now joined the “invisible choir” of “defunct economists,” it is now up to us, to work out what those thoughts might mean for us now.
Keynes came up with a revolutionary idea, during the Great Depression.
He argued that governments should spend more, to keep economies going, when others, for whatever reason, stop spending.
That, apparently simple, idea has divided politicians and economists ever since.
That’s still happening, both in Australia and overseas.
The Nobel Prize winning US economist, Paul Krugman, an unreconstructed Keynsian, has been calling other economists, who advocate austerity in post crisis times, “deficit scolds.”
He argues, with some force, that we should not believe that “a fairy” will make everything right, if only we get spending back into balance.
But other US economists, including Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, say Krugman has been “spectacularly uncivil.”
There are some faint echoes, in all this, aren’t there?
Especially if we count Wayne Swan as a Keynsian.
That seems fair enough, as he has been stimulating the Australian economy since the Global Economic crisis struck, back in 2008.
Tony Abbott, though, is attracted by austerity.
He sees budget surpluses – however distant – as compelling milestones on the proper path to prosperity.
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is, perhaps, the world’s most conspicuous champion of austerity.
So – for want of a better word – we might class Mr Abbott as a slave of “Angelanomics,” even though Ms Merkel is neither an economist nor, thankfully, defunct.
So how does all this work out, in the real world?
To differing degrees, both the Obama administration in the United States, and the Rudd/Gillard government in Australia, have been stimulating their respective economies, since the global crisis struck, in 2008.
With some success, too.
The US stock market, now, is hovering around record heights.
And Australia’s unemployment rate – at 5.6 per cent – is the envy of the developed world, even though spectacular adjustments, like Ford’s announced closure, from late 2016, are making many people nervous.
What of Angelanomics?
It might also be spectacularly uncivil to blame Ms Merkel for the present plights of Greece, Ireland and Spain.
But austerity has been advocated, at different times, as a remedy for all three.
The unemployment in Greece, at last count, stood at 27 per cent. Spain’s was even higher, at 27.2 per cent, while Ireland’s unemployment rate was 13.7 per cent.
by Alan Thornhill
Is your business ready to take advantage of high speed broadband?
A new report, ordered by the Australian Industry Group, reveals that many are not.
Confidence levels, in the small business sector, are particularly low.
The report “Ready or Not? Technology investment and productivity in Australian Business” makes that clear.
It is based on a survey of nearly 350 CEOs and discussion groups with business leaders around the country.
The report found that: “”While Australia is making a significant and important public investment in high-speed broadband, less than half of businesses are confident they can take advantage of it.
“Small to medium enterprises are the least confident, with 40 per cent of medium-sized companies and 47 per cent of small companies expressing confidence compared with 70 per cent of larger companies.
“Also disturbing is the finding that business investment in new technologies is expected to decrease in 2013 due to an uncertain economic outlook and rising cost pressures.
“ Only 22 per cent of all companies surveyed are looking to invest in new technologies in 2013.
“ This is a ten percentage point drop compared with 2012.
“Around a quarter of businesses (26 per cent) expect to reduce expenditure on new technologies.
“This is a fifteen percentage point rise compared with 2012.”
by Alan Thornhill
Broadcasts of live betting odds are to be banned on Australian television and radio.
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced the ban today.
And commercial television stations declared, shortly afterwards, that they would comply.
Ms Gillard said: “The public have had enough of odds and betting promotions being shoved down their throats while listening to and watching sport.”
She added: “Younger Australians, in particular, should continue to talk about which is the best football team, best netball team, or best rugby team, not which team is at the shortest odds to win a game.”
• All promotion of betting odds on broadcast media will be prohibited during live sports matches. This includes by gambling companies and commentators.
• All generic gambling broadcast advertisements will be banned during play. Advertisements of this sort would only be allowed before or after a game; or during a scheduled break in play, such as quarter-time and half-time.
• Banner adverts, sponsorship logos, and other broadcast promotions must not appear during play.
• When crossed to, representatives of gambling companies must not be at or around the venue. They also must not appear with the commentary team at any time and must be clearly identified as a gambling representative.
• The Government will monitor the intensity of generic gambling advertisements within the allowed periods. If it is found to go beyond reasonable levels, the Government will impose a total advertising ban.
Television stations accepted the government’s decision.
”These are unprecedented restrictions for broadcasters but we accept the government has acted in response to community concern,” Free TV CEO Julie Flynn said.
”We recognise that these are difficult issues and we will submit a revised code within the next two weeks in line with the Prime Minister’s announcement.”
Tony Abbott said the government had accepted the Opposition’s initiative, on this matter.
It had signaled, some weeks ago, that it would take similar action, if elected on September 14.
But not everyone is pleased.
The Greens – and Nick Xenophon – said the government had not gone far enough.
The South Australian independent asked why the government hadn’t gone further ”rather than stopping a third of the way.”
And the Greens spokesperson on gambling Senator Richard Di Natale, said said the ban would do nothing to end the bizarre loophole that allows gambling ads to be shown during children’s viewing times.
Weathercoast by Alan Thornhill
A novel on the murder of seven young Anglican Christian Brothers in the Solomon Islands.
Available now on the iTunes store.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
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