Four times in today’s Question Time Julia Gillard was asked to guarantee she would deliver a surplus this financial year. Four times she failed to give a categorical answer.
Phillip Coorey suggests, in softer language, the Government is already preparing the spin for another broken promise:
Since the government promised to return to surplus in 2012-13, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has vowed at each budget and midyear budget update to cuts again if necessary to ensure that goal is reached.Last week, for the first time, he declined to make the commitment and since, both he and the Finance Minister, Penny Wong, when pressed, have used a new form of words which no longer prioritises a surplus and is code for deficit: ‘’We will put in place the appropriate budget policies to support jobs and growth in the Australian economy.’’This development also counters the theory that there will be an early election because the government will need to go to the polls before the true state of the budget is exposed at the end of the financial year.By massaging the deficit message now, the government leaves open its preferred option of running the full term. When an election is called for this time next year, the public would not be expecting a surplus and, presumably, be comfortable with the reasons why.
Labor just cannot manage money, and will rack up yet another deficit, even in a mining boom:
JULIA Gillard has ducked committing the government to returning the budget to surplus this financial year.Under repeated questioning from the Coalition in parliamentary question time the Prime Minister would not confirm that Labor would deliver a $1.1 billion surplus in 2012-13.Asked directly by Tony Abbott if the recent impact of asylum boat arrivals would see the projected surplus squandered Ms Gillard referred him to the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook.
Remember when Gillard had no trouble at all promising a surplus this year?
JULIA GILLARD: Well the better economic plan for the future is about bringing the budget to surplus in 2013. We’ll do that.... I’m going to get the budget to surplus.... I’ll get the budget back to surplus in 2013.JOURNALIST: If you don’t make a, get the Budget back in to surplus in 2012-2013, this is a question to both of you, the cameras are on – will you resign?PM: (laughs) The Budget is coming back to surplus, no ifs no buts it will happen.Moderator David Speers: I think, Prime Minister, that Peter is seeking some sort of guarantee if you don’t get the budget back into surplus in three years, what happens? Do you sack the Treasurer, do you take personal responsibility?Julia Gillard: It’s happening, David. Failure is not an option.Speers: If it doesn’t? If it doesn’t?Gillard: Well, failure is not an option here and we won’t fail.That Mr Abbott couldn’t tell you when the Budget would come back to surplus. Well I can: the Budget will be back in surplus in 20113 if I’m re-elected, if my Government is re-elected on Saturday....the Budget’s coming back to surplus. There’s no credible analysis on our economic plan that it won’t come back to surplus.PM: The budget will be back in surplus in 2013 as promisedThe Government is returning the budget to surplus in 2012–13, on time and as promised, with surpluses growing over the forward estimates.JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: What we’ve done instead is swum strongly against the tide and delivered a budget surplus.“The budget will return to surplus,” Ms Gillard told reporters...
She really has trouble delivering on a promise, doesn’t she?
Judith Sloan wades through the government press releases that are the true reason for the release yesterday of the vacuous White Paper on Asia:
1. Australia in the Asian Century White Paper: Australia’s roadmap for navigating the Asian century2. The Asian Century – an Australian opportunity3. Lifting prosperity in the Asian century4. Boosting innovation in the Asian century5. Australia’s infrastructure in the Asian century6. NBN to facilitate closer ties with Asia7. Deregulation to drive Australia towards Asian century success8. Small business to profit in the Asian century9. A resilient and sustainable Australia in the Asian century10. White Paper sets course for Asia studies11. Australian universities to be world’s best in the Asian century12. Public sector leadership in the Asian century13. Attracting skilled migrants, tourists and students to Australia in the Asian century14. Regional Australia to drive stronger links with Asia15. Asian century grants scheme to fund business development16. Australia to pursue free trade area of the Asia Pacific17. Australia to devote more trade and investment resources to Asia18. Agriculture key to Australia’s role in the Asian century19. Defence and security in the Asian century20. Building relationships with our regional partners21. Cultural diplomacy a vital underpinning for Asian century
What a farce.
Here, meanwhile is the Singapore Straits Times’ take today on Australia’s allegedly deeper relationship with Asia:
Singapore will need to find alternative sources of korban livestock, in addition to maintaining standards imposed by the Australian authorities, said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday…Korban involves the slaughter of sheep on Hari Raya Haji to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s obedience to God. The meat is then given to needy families…Separately, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote on his Facebook page yesterday that Singaporeans should be prepared for the possibility of Australia banning live exports completely…“I know Australian animal welfare groups are pressing strongly to ban live exports completely, as New Zealand has done. We should be prepared for this possibility, and work out alternative arrangements in future,” he wrote.
I’m also struck by this new appointment:
CRAIG Emerson will be appointed to a new ministry of “Asian Century policy” as part of an “ambitious” plan of regional engagement ...
How can we be so sure or one-tracked? Is this a snub to other parts of the world?:
South Africa’s Minister for mining, the Honourable Minister Susan Shabangu likened the boom potential to a new dawn; ‘that Africa now sits at the dawn of an African Century”.
Is it giving up too quickly on our greatest ally and trading partner?
It is too early to call the end of the American Century. The United States is still the world’s only viable superpower as well as the largest and most successful economy on earth.
Kevin Rudd keeps stirring, but Julia Gillard isn’t biting:
Kevin Rudd has called on Labor MPs associated with the June 2010 leadership change to be honest about what happened, as he stands by his own version of events, in which he argues he was stunned by the move to Julia Gillard…He also stood by the version he gave Ms McKew, in which he says he was betrayed Ms Gillard and Mr Swan.“I don’t make statements lightly and this was a traumatic period for the country, for the Labor Party and for a whole bunch of people who are deeply associated with those events,” he told Channel 9.“It’s important that everybody associated with those events, is just honest about what happened so that the party and the government can move on to the big policy challenges of the future.”
This is a higher Labor vote than I expected or Labor deserves, and will frighten the Coalition:
According to the latest Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Australian over the weekend, Labor’s primary vote rose from 33 per cent to 36 per cent over the past three weeks, while the Coalition’s support fell from 45 per cent to 41 per cent. The Greens remained unchanged on 10 per cent.Based on preference flows at the last election, Labor and the Coalition are locked at 50-50.
Yet more reason to wonder about Newspoll’s erratic and often very optimistic results this year. Essential Research has Labor falling to 46 per cent to the Coalition’s 54.
I’ve said it before - that with the ups will also come the downs, since we don’t get a skerrick of support from the TV media, are boycotted by Labor and the Greens, and must also concede a 10 year head start. But this week’s figures are still pleasing, especially when you consider the motorcycling Grand Prix meant Brisbane viewers got the morning show half an hour earlier than usual, and the encore was cancelled in Melbourne and Sydney.
So thanks very much for your support.
I might also add this, given how Joe Hockey was given a mocking, badgering interview on the now shamelessly partisan Insiders that would have won the Liberals not a single vote. Why do Liberals go on Insiders when Labor frontbenchers refuse to go on The Bolt Report? Why awardInsiders the credibility the Labor Party is trying to deny the conservative alternative? Why not declare that until Labor fronts for my show, the Liberals will not front for Insiders? It really is time the Liberals developed a far more confident and aggressive media strategy to neuter their critics and create an alternative cultural space.
For those who missed yesterday’s show because of the programming changes, here it is:
Kevin Rudd’s camp believes the Gillard Government is deceiving voters about the nation’s finances to cover up its bungling:
Put simply, the Rudd camp believes the bungled renegotiation with the miners after Rudd was dumped as leader is the reason for the mining tax falling short, not the recent plunge in commodity prices…A senior figure in the Rudd camp notes that in the budget of May 2010, delivered six weeks before Rudd was knifed, the promise to return to surplus in 2012-13 was first made.The forecast $1 billion surplus depended in large part on the Resources Super Profits Tax, the original incarnation of the mining tax, actually raising the revenue it had been forecast to make and funding the promises for which its proceeds had been budgeted.Rudd fell in the midst of that furious and well-funded onslaught from the miners. Gillard and Swan hurriedly renegotiated the tax.... The miners minimised their liability by negotiating a raft of deductions against their mining tax liability, such as present and future royalties and the market value of their operations.The Rudd supporter argues commodity prices are still historically high and the deductions were the real reason for the revenue shortfall.Swan, he argues, should have ditched the surplus promise last year when it became apparent the mining tax would not raise the money needed to fund budgeted measures. He described it as an ‘’essential dishonesty’’ to ‘’kill the tax and keep the surplus’’.
Gillard is a hater. Most people in politics have strong views; it can be a bit rough, and annoyance and animosity are always lurking. But letting the slights become the issue, letting anger become hatred that consumes, means you have lost a focus on why you are there.
WHAT a surprise. It turns out boat people can be turned back, after all.
Fourteen suspected asylum seekers who hijacked a boat two weeks ago off Sri Lanka have been intercepted by our navy and flown back from Cocos Island to Colombo.
NO wonder Ted Baillieu is dying in the polls. Two years after taking office, he’s still a man with no story.
Quick: think of three good things he has done.
Can’t? Well, it’s not that he hasn’t done good, even if Newspoll shows the Coalition down to just 45 per cent against Labor’s 55, after preferences.
It’s just that you’d never know it.
Is it because he’s shy and won’t speak up?
A mutual friend had me meet Baillieu a few years ago; he was concerned I’d been too hard on the man without having met him.
Greg Sheridan on the Prime Minister’s banal Asia paper, rewritten in part to find another excuse for wasting $37 billion on her NBN white elephant:
No Australian government since that of Billy McMahon has done less to increase the level of Asian engagement it inherited when coming to office than the Gillard government…Much of the paper itself, and many of Julia Gillard’s statements regarding it, are banal recitations of the obvious. By golly, Asia will have a big middle class by 2025 and that middle class will have a lot of money to spend. We hope they spend it in Australia.But beyond these windy cliches and vague generalisations, we are entitled to ask of this government: where’s the beef, Jack? The answer is, there is no beef…The white paper, and the Prime Minister herself, make much of the need for Asian education, and specifically for Asian languages.Yet the Gillard government has overseen a catastrophic decline in Indonesian language study at school and university… Altogether a truly dismal 6 per cent of Year 12 students study an Asian language in Australia, and a vast number of these are ethnic Asian students studying their homeland tongue.The Rudd and Gillard governments have progressively cut funding for Asian languages. And what is the white paper solution? The magic fool’s gold of the National Broadband Network, for God’s sake.When Gillard was asked at her press conference why there was no funding for Asian language studies in the paper, she replied that there wouldn’t need to be actual teachers at actual schools. Australian kids will get access to Asian languages through the NBN. If that is the case, why should we bother to have English, history or maths teachers at schools either?
The vacuity of the paper is summed up by this line:
Business leaders baulk at the sloganeering:
BUSINESS figures have warned that expecting one-third of board members of top 200 listed companies to have “deep experience in and knowledge of Asia” is superficial and could be difficult to achieve.HSBC Australia chairman Graham Bradley said that at face value, the target—a key plank of Julia Gillard’s Asia white paper—was “a superficial objective”.“What matters is a deep appreciation of any market that you seriously want to do business in,” he said.
A case of campaign vandalism is under investigation Friday in Alta Loma.
Someone keyed the word “Obama” into two cars and slashed seats in another outside a residence that had Mitt Romney campaign signs.
CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Rob Schmitt spoke to Ken Slown, owner of one of the keyed vehicles.
Slown actually supports President Obama!He explained to Schmitt that he and his wife — both currently unemployed — are staying with her parents and it’s her parents who support Romney.
Shameless. Obama supporters actually got children to sing a bunch of vicious smears and apocalyptic scares:
Imagine an America
Where strip mines are fun and free
Where gays can be fixed
And sick people just die
And oil fills the seaWe don’t have to pay for freeways!
Our schools are good enough
Give us endless wars
On foreign shores
And lots of Chinese stuffWe’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And we’re kinda blaming you
We haven’t killed all the polar bears
But it’s not for lack of trying
Big Bird is sacked
The Earth is cracked
And the atmosphere is frying...
Jon Stewart tells a Left-leaning demographic about a scandal they may not have read much in their preferred newspapers:
The New York Post sums up, focusing on the failure to send aid to US staff calling for help from their besieged Benghazi consulate:
Myriad are the failures of the Obama administration, but none is more tragic, or more frightening, or more foreboding of catastrophe than the appalling mishandling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi.
The Age reports more evidence that the “slush fund” the Prime Minister helped her then boyfriend set up in 1992 was dodgy:
Ms Gillard - then a salaried partner at law firm Slater & Gordon - gave extensive legal support to the establishment in Perth of the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association from which more than $400,000 was stolen by her then boyfriend.
She told a media conference in August that she understood the association’s purpose was to gather money from payroll deductions and other fund-raising events ‘’where it would be transparent to people that the money was going to support their re-election campaign’’…But the man who was the West Australian branch accountant of the AWU at the time says the union already had an election fund and there was no precedent to establish such a formal legal entity as the Workplace Reform Association for such a purpose…‘’Once Bruce took over we had set up an election fund for officials and everyone was contributing $30 a week,’’ he said…Ms Gillard has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. She says she had no knowledge of the operations of the association after it was formed…The Age revealed two weeks ago that the association was only registered after Ms Gillard - who failed to advise senior partners about the work or open a formal file - vouched for its legitimacy to the WA Corporate Affairs Commission.
But the registration documents prepared on Ms Gillard’s advice described the association’s objectives as promoting workplace training and safety and made no reference to money-raising - prohibited for such bodies under the then WA Associations Incorporation Act.
Time police took up the invitation of Ralph Blewitt, whose name was used by Wilson to set up the slush fund, to tell all in exchange for immunity from prosecution for what he says was the “fraud” in which he was involved.