Miranda Devine – Tuesday, May 10, 11 (11:26 pm)
WAYNE Swan seems always to be in a state of high dudgeon, and never more so than on Budget day.
Tim Blair – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (10:59 am)
Reviewing Osama bin Laden’s “sensational murder”, Dissident Voice contributor Linh Dinh restores to life one of this site’s favourite beasts:
In a photograph, Bush is shown in an Army jacket, his hands holding a tray with a picture-perfect turkey, garlanded by grapes. He is surrounded by American troops, most of whom are not looking at him. This is meant to convey that the photo was spontaneous, casual, and not posed. It is authentic.
In another photograph, Obama is shown in the Situation Room of the White House, surrounded by his top security advisors. They are watching something. Of the thirteen faces, none is looking at the camera. Again, this is to convey that the photo was natural and spontaneous …
As we all know, Bush served up a plastic turkey, so the turkey propaganda photo was itself a turkey, but a much bigger turkey is the Situation Room image.
Yes! The plastic turkey of legend flies again, seven years, three months and four days after it was first hatched. I’ve tried to kill it, the New York Times has tried to kill it, but this bird is set to outlive the entire internet. Already, the plastic turkey has survived 705 days longer than the combined prime ministerships of Gough Whitlam and Kevin Rudd.
It is the eternal turkey.
(Via Alan R.M. Jones)
Tim Blair – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (05:35 am)
A memorable Budget 2011 piece from Joe Hildebrand:
Bossley Park father George Hanna’s ceiling caught fire in 2009 after insulation was installed too close to the hot light fittings.
It has since been repaired and his house is now insulated but he still wonders why the Government was giving away free insulation to people like him instead of putting resources into areas of the community that really need it.
“I wish they had put that into somewhere else,” he said.
No doubt. Miranda Devine adds a cutthroat reality check:
One of the big differences between Swan and his Liberal predecessor is Labor’s runaway spending, which has previously outstripped revenue growth. In the four years of Labor Government, spending has soared by almost 40 per cent.
Like all chippy people, the Treasurer is good at laying blame elsewhere, claiming past Budget blowouts were the fault of the global financial crisis, the high dollar and a series of natural disasters.
So when the dollar hits $US1.70 in a few years, and there’s still a deficit, Wayne’s set with a ready excuse. Planning ahead. Smart move. A dumb move – at least in Labor terms – would be for the average Australian to aspire, as Simon Benson points out:
Far from being tough love, to use a well-worn Keatingism, the Budget will probably be viewed by economists as more like being flogged with a wet lettuce.
That is, unless you are an aspirational family living in western Sydney and making $150,000 a year.
For these apparently new rich, who are in fact not rich at all, it will be like being knocked down by Muhammad Ali in his prime.
Anyone who thinks a family earning $150,000 a year in Sydney, let alone western Sydney, is wealthy can only come from another state – or another planet.
Over on those other planets, the cheerleaders are surprisingly hushed:
So the government is pressed into finding fair dinkum savings of $22 billion if it is to reach its continued promise to return the budget to surplus in 2012-13. Indeed, cutting spending was its only option if this commendable deadline is to be met.
Dennis Shanahan concludes:
Wayne Swan has finally delivered the budget he has always dreamed about – almost.
It’s a highly political document timed to bear economic fruit in an election year, predicated on an even bigger mining boom than that of the Howard government years and as close to his socialist heart as possible.
I’m not sure that Swan is a socialist, but surely only a socialist could turn a resources boom into a national debt.
Tim Blair – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (05:31 am)
Illawarra becomes the first geographical region to oppose Labor’s carbon dioxide impost:
A carbon tax would destroy Illawarra’s steel industry for no environmental gain, a member of a newly formed protest group said yesterday.
The convener of Illawarra Against Carbon Tax, Paul Matters, says he believes the Labor Party’s proposed tax would do nothing but send the steel industry offshore, where there would be few environmental restrictions.
The steel-making soul of southern NSW joins Hafda’s Butchery, Labor senator Doug Cameron’s working people, Rio Tinto, Alcoa, dairy farmers, barley growers, insurance companies, local councils, state governments, CFOs, food and grocery producers, miners, union members, Gerry Harvey, G&S Engineering, Sam Gadaleta, BHP, Queensland Labor members, the Noosa Chamber of Commerce, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Northern Territory parliament, Santos, the Australian Taxi Industry Association, Alumina Limited, an industrial group representing Amcor, Bluescope Steel, Boral, CSR, Sucrogen, Sugar Australia, Rheem, Vicpole and Dexion, Incitec and the Taxi Council of Queensland in Australia’s ever-expanding carbon pride movement. With fewer allies, the opposition deploys its forces:
Greg Combet has begun clearing the decks for the introduction of the carbon tax, announcing key funding allocations for the climate change bureaucracy …
In allocations announced yesterday, more than $20m was provided to improve reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by large companies.
Tim Blair – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (05:13 am)
It’s a global warming showdown:
By failing to take action against global warming, the federal government has violated its legal obligation to protect the atmosphere as a resource that belongs to everyone, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court last week.
Five of the plaintiffs are teenagers, who have a “profound interest in ensuring our climate remains stable enough to ensure their right to a livable future,” according to the suit filed May 4, which names a number of federal officials — from Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, to Robert Gates of the Defense Department — as defendants.
The President, however, isn’t named. Probably because of raaaacism. Look who’s helping the kids:
The suit cites climate calculations, and is supported by NASA climate scientist James Hansen, who has a history of speaking out forcefully on the hazards of human-caused global warming. Hansen told LiveScience he had been interested in going to court over the topic in recent years.
(Via Mystery Meat)
Tim Blair – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (05:00 am)
Shine on, South Carolina:
Fed up with the federal government’s ban of the traditional incandescent light bulb, state representatives in South Carolina are pushing for the state to produce and use incandescents solely for its state.
The Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act, which unanimously passed South Carolina’s Senate panel, would allow South Carolina manufacturers to continue to sell incandescent bulbs so long as they have “Made in South Carolina” on them and are sold only within the state.
(Via illumination activist and bulb freedomist Liz K.)
Tim Blair – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (04:55 am)
Aled John attends a creepy job interview at Wikileaks HQ:
Sitting there with Assange, it strikes me how small and disorganised the operation seems. Fewer than 10 people work there full-time and my role would consist largely of trawling through media reports about WikiLeaks and Assange. Do I want to spend my day monitoring public sentiment for and against this former hacker? Not really.
I suggest that Assange’s profile and ego, compounded by his notorious court case, have overshadowed the work they do. He spoke of a desire to become recognised as a viable media publishing brand, bitterness that, not since the initial releases, have the British press taken on its stories for front page splashes and anger at its portrayal by the BBC. I suggest that people would be less suspicious if WikiLeaks revealed its workings and exemplified the transparency for which it calls. This was not an idea to which they warmed.
For all the initial excitement, I leave bewildered and deflated. Realising the vanity that had driven me to think of becoming involved in WikiLeaks, I resolve not to pursue it.
Nor are too many others pursuing anything connected with Wikileaks. Biggest non-issue of the decade.
Tim Blair – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (04:12 am)
The paranoid anti-war left keeps standing up, and Christopher Hitchens keeps knocking them down.
Tim Blair – Tuesday, May 10, 11 (11:50 am)
Youthful commentary on a recent news event:
Several notable contributions: from six-year-old Morgan, as she hears that Osama bin Laden killed thousands; Shannon, 10, responding to her twin sister Megan ("Why would you feel bad? One of the worst people in the world is dead!"); and extraordinarily articulate William (10) and Darius (11).
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (09:25 am)
Not quarrelling with it necessarily, but just asking: by what criteria did the ABC judge the Julia Gillard’s people-swap with Malaysia to be a “loser” in its Budget reaction?
•The environment: No details of carbon tax, but more expected in the budget update in coming months.
•Sick: Tougher criteria to get onto the disability support pension.
•Defence: $1.1 billion not spent on new equipment being handed back to the government and civilian staff cut by 1,000.
•Families: Family Tax Benefit will be cut off when children turn 21 instead of 24, saving $29.2 million over four years; income tests for Family Tax Benefits, baby bonus, paid parental leave maintained.
•Company car owners: Cuts to the fringe benefits tax concessions for salary-sacrificed cars will save $950 million.
•Public Service: Increased efficiencies to save $1.1 billion.
•Asylum seekers: $292 million for an asylum-seeker swap program with Malaysia to stop the flood of boats.
(Thanks to reader The Doc.)
Reader zbcustom notes that the list published by the ABC was prepared by AAP.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (06:59 am)
If even US lawmakers need to see the pictures to be sure, what of the millions of America’s enemies?
THE CIA will show photographs of Osama bin Laden’s body to select US lawmakers, though they must travel to the agency’s headquarters to see the images.
This picture? The one the White House says it found in its Abbottbad raid of bin Laden watching his own videos?
Actually, a local tells the BBC, it’s of the owner of the house where bin Laden lived:
“His name is Akhbar Han, he owns the house they said was Osama’s house, I know him very well.”
(Thanks to reader Coconut.)
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (06:46 am)
Big surprise from this Government:
THE Federal Government’s set-top box for pensioners scheme is already encountering problems in regional Victoria, prompting accusations it is a waste of taxpayer money.
Some pensioners who have received the digital boxes are claiming they do not work, while technicians are reporting that many boxes have not been installed correctly.
The $308 million set-top box scheme is now being compared to Labor’s bungled roof insulation scheme and the Building the Education Revolution program that has been widely criticised as a waste of taxpayer funds.
Ballarat TV technician Frank Schaefer said he had received more than 20 calls from pensioners for boxes that were either not working or had been installed incorrectly…
“This is daylight robbery,” he said of the $400 of taxpayer money it costs for a digital box.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (06:22 am)
A terrible crime, but this was a very young and stupid man from a country which has failed to teach enough about consequences - so I’m very glad of this decision:
The family of Bali Nine drug mule Scott Rush have vowed to continue fighting to free their son after he was spared execution by the Indonesian Supreme Court yesterday.
The Supreme Court voted two to one in favour of a life sentence.
It is understood the Supreme Court granted the appeal on the basis that Rush, 25, had shown remorse for his actions, while also citing his age at the time as a mitigating factor.
The court also considered the fact that Rush was not a ringleader in the group, and only a courier.
Every little helps:
It seemed to work for model Michelle Leslie:
Michelle Leslie has defended her decision to ditch Islamic dress for singlet tops amid accusations she wore Muslim clothes at her trial to seek a favourable outcome from the Indonesian courts.
The Australian model is expected to arrive home on Tuesday after serving three months in Bali’s Kerobokan prison for possessing two ecstasy tablets.
Leslie, who says she has converted to Islam, wore Islamic head covering during parts of her trial, but after her release on Saturday boarded a flight to Singapore in a singlet top which exposed her neck, shoulders and stomach.
Her clothing sparked anger from Australian Muslims, who accused her of using Islam to trick the Indonesian courts into being lenient.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (06:12 am)
This Budget rests on a huge, HUGE assumption.
The China boom.
It forecasts the economy will grow strongly next year and in 2012-13, and then level back to solid growth after that.
More importantly, it forecasts that our “terms of trade”—essentially, the prices we get for our exports—will ease only slightly from their current extraordinary never-before-seen levels.
Jobs are forecast to grow at a solid pace without interruption through the four years.
All of this adds up to booming tax revenues....
Let it be very clear. This is a Budget that’s built on the China boom and the politics of envy—targeting high-income earners, now defined as anyone earning more than $80,000....
It’s hard to all-but impossible seeing this Budget last the distance.
The real question is: Which goes first? The Budget, Julia as Prime Minister, or the Government at the next election?
THIS is a patchwork budget to suit a patchwork economy. It is neither overtly tough nor generous.
Its guiding stars are the restoration of the budget surplus, championing the work ethic and sensitivity to political damage outside punishing high-income earners.
For a post-election budget, it is short on character. The budget is riddled with contradictions that mirror the contradictions of an unprecedented resources boom that generates winners and losers....
The budget deficit, an embarrassment for such a boom, is forecast at $49.4 billion for the year just ending and at $22.6bn for 2011-12. The totality of Labor’s decisions in this budget are a net saving of only $5.2bn over the next four years, mocking any notion of a tough post-election budget.
HOW do we explain it? Unemployment is less than 5 per cent. Banks and mining companies are reporting record profits, even if High Street is hurting. The global financial crisis ended here long ago. Soaring export prices have made Australia richer than ever.
Yet our federal budget is sick. This year’s deficit will be almost as big as last year’s… The Liberals want us to think it’s because Labor is too weak to cut spending. Sorry, guys, but this budget cuts spending quite a lot.
It’s a highly political document timed to bear economic fruit in an election year, predicated on an even bigger mining boom than that of the Howard government years and as close to his socialist heart as possible.
But by not cutting deeply enough into government spending and having only limited money to give away, the Gillard government runs the risk of failing to win approval for economic management or social justice, once again a victim of mixed messages and poor political execution.
Apparently everyone must work in the Asian century, from the affluent stay-at-home wives of Double Bay and Toorak to single teenage mothers in depressed economic regions.
We are all to be conscripted into the engine room of the 21st century economy; whether we like it or not is immaterial.
For the vast bulk of voters, a budget is, I suspect, just one more event in a ceaseless cavalcade of events and pseudo-events. Many will see it as being important, for sure. But enough to turn around perceptions of a government that seems to be just one stumble away from another crisis? Not likely.
Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan have done something audacious and unexpected. The weakest federal government since the 1940s has produced one of the more spartan and responsible budgets of recent times.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (06:05 am)
The ABC’s opinion website, The Drum, has predictably used taxpayers’ money to publish a great sludge of far-Left propaganda. Gavin Atkins surveys the damage:
Take, for example, the death of Osama bin Laden. Since his death, Drum readers have been provided with pretty much the same opinion every day from a total of nine writers: it was an extrajudiciary killing; the US was working outside the rule of law; celebrations of his death were disgraceful.
One of these writers, Greg Barns, went so far as to appear on The Drum’s television show to express doubt that bin Laden was responsible for 9/11.
Two contributors were eventually published wishing good riddance to bad rubbish, enough for the ABC to claim it has provided a diversity of perspectives, and publish another brace of tales from the hand-wringers.
But it is ridiculous to assert, as the ABC’s chief executive Mark Scott did following the launch of the ABC’s editorial policies in 2006, that this fulfils an expectation that “audiences must not be able to reasonably conclude that the ABC has taken an editorial stand on matters of contention and public debate”.
The real measure of bias at The Drum is not the range of opinion, it’s the frequency. Until the end of last month, 98 writers had been published eight or more times at The Drum, producing a total of 1880 articles. Only eight of these contributors (one in 12) would pass muster as being on the right of the political spectrum: Glenn Milne, David Barnett, Chris Berg, Kevin Donnelly, Tom Switzer, John Hewson, Niki Savva and Sinclair Davidson.
Of these, Milne is first and foremost a journalist rather than an opinion writer, Hewson rarely expresses any conservative viewpoint, and others are specialists in areas such as education or economics rather than political issues of the day.
This means, for example, that of all the writers who are given a regular platform on the ABC website, I could find only four articles that were in some way supportive of Israel and none in favour of the war in Afghanistan.
By comparison, there are dozens of anti-Israel and anti-Afghan war pieces on the taxpayer-funded website, most of them accusatory and damning. For example, there are at least nine anti-Israel articles by Antony Loewenstein alone, 12 anti-Afghanistan war rants by Kellie Tranter, and many more from Labor Party speechwriter Bob Ellis scattered among his 110 contributions.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (05:55 am)
Julia Gillard is so desperate that she reveals deals before they are signed - which leaves her as exposed as she sure is now.
First, there’s her one-for-five boat people swap with Malaysia::
When asked by Mr Abbott if Malaysia, rather than Australia, would determine who was transferred to Kuala Lumpur under the terms of the deal, Ms Gillard replied: “That statement is completely untrue.”
However, sources familiar with the negotiations have said while the government is publicly pushing an uncompromising line on who would be subject to transfer - largely to deter would-be asylum-seekers and people-smugglers - some sort of filtering system is likely to apply that would see vulnerable asylum-seekers either exempted from the swap or provided with additional care while in Malaysia.
The Prime Minister’s comments followed remarks by the Malaysian high commissioner, Salman Ahmad, indicating that Malaysia would exercise discretion over who was transferred as part of the deal.
Why this matters is that the deterrent works best only if everyone getting on a boat for Australia knows for sure they’ll be turned around and sent to Malaysia, even if they’ve brought their children.
There are concerns that the Gillard government may have mishandled the negotiations with PNG and Malaysia, because both countries are in a strong bargaining position now that the Gillard government has publicly committed itself to striking a deal.
No kidding. And just as well, in a way, that Gillard had a Malaysian deal to talk about, because her PNG proposal - to reopen Manus Island as a detention centre - has promptly got stuck:
While there is no strong opposition in PNG to the Australian proposal, the manner in which Canberra approached Port Moresby was widely perceived as too low-level, and presumptuous....
It is believed PNG is seeking more detail about the Prime Minister’s weekend remark that the PNG base would start as an assessment centre, but it would be one step towards creating a regional processing centre.
The PNG cabinet met on Monday, but its agenda was so crammed that the asylum-seekers proposal, first discussed on Friday, was unable to be considered.
Gillard sure beaten down in the haggling:
THE federal government was forced to accept increasingly unequal terms from Malaysia in negotiating its refugee swap.
Two months ago Australia was discussing a two-for-one exchange, an official familiar with the talks said.
Had she negotiated with Nauru, she’d have not needed to take any in exchange.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (05:42 am)
THE Gillard Government’s first Budget reads like a fairy tale about people who forgot how to save or even work.
Let’s start with the wildest thing about it: that despite the world now paying us the highest prices in 140 years for what we grow and dig from the ground, the deficit has blown out to $50 billion.
That’s incredible, given the mining industry is on the biggest investment splurge we’ve ever seen—$76 billion just next year alone.
Never mind, cries Labor. In two years we’ll be back in the black.
Anyway, said Treasurer Wayne Swan last night, “since the last update, tax receipts are down $16 billion in the first two years (of this Budget)” and that explains “all the increase in the deficit”.
That is a mighty familiar figure, that $16 billion. It’s exactly what Prime Minister Julia Gillard blew on her Building the Education Revolution—a rorted and bloated scheme to build school halls even in places that didn’t need them.
How little $16 billion seemed when Labor had it to spend. How enormous now that it’s lost.
No wonder Swan now trumpets the virtues of saving, and yesterday beat his chest about having “saved” $22 billion to ensure the Budget was in surplus by 2012-13 (still leaving us with a $150 billion debt, all from Labor’s three years in office).
Let’s not ask what we’ve got to show for that colossal spending spree. Just ask if the Government truly has become prudent at last.
Uh oh. Look at Swan’s list of “savings”. The very first item is, in fact, a tax—a $1.7 billion flood levy. Another “saving” is nearly $1 billion for a tax on company cars.
To call a tax a “saving” is to lie.
Andrew Bolt – Wednesday, May 11, 11 (12:12 am)
The University of Alabama at Huntsville, using NOAA satellites to measure the world’s temperature, updates its records for April.
Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, May 10, 11 (12:35 pm)
Goodness. Is the Prime Minister really so cross with me as to follow the Twitter account ”BoltIsAC..."?
I guess that means she won’t come on my next show, either.
Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, May 10, 11 (11:35 am)
The Gillard Government’s promise of free set-top boxes to pensioners is utter madness.
Nothing better illustrates all this Government’s worst faults - its craven populism, its instinctive Big Government response to a non-problem, its utter failure to think things through, its reckless use of taxpayers’ money.
Here’s the nub of the problem: the Government is spending $400 a time to give each person on age and disability pensions a set-top box for their television, when a set-top box actually costs as little as $30. In fact, the Government could give each pensioner a whole new television with in-built tuner for about half that money. Just check the from Dick Smith ad above. For a free TV, a pensioner should be happy to pay for any installation costs themselves,.
(There is an even simpler, healthier and fairer solution, one every free market advocate should support, which I’ll get to at the end.)
Let’s now go through this methodically.
The Government will be gradually switching off the analogue television signal, which means that anyone who hasn’t heeded years of warning and bought a $30 set-top box or a new TV with in-built tuner won’t be able to get the digital signal.
You and I might think it’s up to people to provide television for themselves, just as they bought their TV sets themselves.
But the Government is terrified of angry pensioners suddenly with blank sets, and so it now announces that it’s free set-top boxes for all, plus free installation at between $350 and $400 a pop, at a total cost of $309 million.
Here’s how Centrelink advertises this you-beaut scheme to its “clients”:
This scheme helps eligible households to receive digital TV signals. The package is free of charge, with a maximum of one per couple (including if you move house or change residence) and will be installed by a qualified government contractor. It includes:
A high definition set top box
Installation of the set top box
Instructions on how to use it
Any necessary upgrades to cabling and antenna systems
People living at the same address but are not in a couple-like relationship may also be eligible for separate assistance packages where they meet other eligibility criteria.
Who is eligible for the Household Assistance Scheme?
You may be eligible for help if:
you live in a household where you or your partner is receiving the maximum rate of one of the following payments:
Disability Support Pension
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Service Pension, or
Department of Veterans Affairs Income Support Supplement
Already you will wonder:
- Why must taxpayers keep pensioners in the television cocoon to which some are accustomed?
- Doesn’t this effectively punish the pensioners who took the initiative to make the swtich to digital themselves, using their own money?
- Doesn’t this effectively punish older or working Australians who made an extra effort not to be dependent on others for a pension, and who pay all their TV costs themselves?
- Doesn’t this effectively reward TV addicts above pensioners who chose not to have a television at all, and to read books instead, say?
- How much opportunity is there to rort this system in the pink-batts way? What will the cost of administering all this be?
- Why not simply hand over free TV’s with in-built tuners at half the cost and be done with it?
Well, to that last question we can guess the answer. Handing out free set-top boxes doesn’t sound like handing electronic goodies to people on pensions. But handing out free televisions would seem an unforgiveable indulgence, even if it were much cheaper. So the expensive solution is politically the safest.
What the Government should have done:
But here is the best and fairest fix of all - one that seems never to have occurred to this grotesquely incompetent government. If we really must help pensioners switch to digital, why not simply give all of them $50 as compensation, to be spent exactly as they wish?
They don’t want TV? Then spend it on the garden. They can get their children to do the installation for free? Then we’ve all saved something. Already made the switch? Then we haven’t punished the prudent.
Why must the Government do all the nannying for them? That way lies cost overruns, rorting, bungling and political embarrassment.
(Thanks to reader Matthew, Victoria 3220, Maurie and Anne.)
Andrew Bolt – Tuesday, May 10, 11 (10:24 am)
It’s just taxpayers’ money:
TAXPAYERS have paid $80,000 for consultants and meetings for a Gillard government policy to compensate fishers for the creation of new marine national parks - yet Labor has stuck with a proposal almost identical to one John Howard put forward in 2004.
A comparison of the two policies by The Age reveals the only significant differences are the title, the font, the indentation and a new paragraph inserted in section two.
(Thanks to reader Prronto.)