Mirrors and smoke at Abbott’s budget party

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Good take Alan. Particularly being more transparent on financials.

If Labor has set a trap for Abbott, it must surely lie in funding for his direct action policy, and if it does, it's well hidden.

However I want to make one point, and that is prior to the introduction of the carbon tax, power usage was on the decline, source governments own website. So why was the tax introduced, a revenue raiser to pay for labor's extravagances? This decline was due to direct action policies, so it does work, and we know that the Coalition does not harbour the same extravagance that Labor does. I don't think I would be too concerned about funding a direct action policy.

The only concern I have is this "Paid Parental Leave" policy, I wish he would ditch it. Why are we paying people to have babies, we never did before. I think it is time we went back to parents making a decision on a career or family, not having both. Following the PPL, we have subsidies for child care, didn't exist in my day, or for my kids. These days there are far too many so called professionals telling us what is best for our kids, and young parents are falling for their rhetoric, then put pressure on governments to finance these grandiose ideas. It's probably why we have these problems we have today. Kids just don't really know their parents anymore because parents only see them during short periods in the morning and night, letting their kids spend more time with strangers. Kids are the greatest assets parents can have, treat them as such. Got that off my chest.

Apart from that, and if anything, Abbott has made it even harder for a Labor victory.

Amnesia or dementia, Colin.

You said "...subsidies for child care, didn't exist in my day, or for my kids...".

Can't remember Child Endowment payments? Perhaps that was because they went to the mothers, decade after decade.

What happens to women doesn't count in your universe, does it?

You have self-identified as a grumpy, mistaken, old man.

Alan, you are a man who has been around the traps, for many years. You have the economic acumen and language skills, to describe the pieces of a puzzle.

When it comes to modern journalism, there appears to be less language skills and more subjective economic understanding.

We all, know that the role of a journalist, is to explain, "how long is a piece of string", yet politicians have, usurped this role. They are now the journalists and the journalists are now the politicians.

The people just want to be amused, facebook proves that trite stimulation is the accepted form of communication. Who cares, if the USA has trillions of dollars of debt, no, people just want a ripping good yarn, like "the world, will end on this particular day, because the Mayans predicted the event". That was great for the sale of books, related to Mayan culture and no! it was not Amazon books, that started the rumour.

It's fascinating how you can convince, more than half the population, that the "string is actually, longer than first predicted, despite the vicious rumours, stating otherwise".

Tony, is a man, with a ball of string in his pocket. He has just told us, that he is prepared to cut as many pieces of string, as we want. Just imagine that Alan, that will hit facebook and everyone will be able to say, " I told you, that I knew how long a piece of string was". But only Tony knows the price, of that ball of string. Looks like journos and politicians are doing a role reversal.

Why not just get rid of the silly thing which is another inheritance from our colonial past comparable with cats, foxes, rabbits, deer and, of course Monarchy.

Most of these, and our own brilliant introduction, cane toads, we are probably stuck with - albeit rabbits could be reduced in number if they became fashionable in poncey restaurants, alongside venison to reduce deer numbers. That would conform with the socialist principle of "making the rich pay". Cats could be limited by registration and compulsory de-sexing (put that in the budget as a bipartisan measure) and foxes poisoned. The relevant budget would be fondly remembered forever as "The Pussy Budget"

But the budget - that dreadful annual ritual - just get rid of it. Surely we could move over to online, real time economic monitoring by now, after all the ASX demands it. Many services could be operated short term, and might operate better that way - for example a six month window to get the nation's teeth fixed.

Does anyone believe in the budget anyway? It always begins with waffle about how nice the incumbent government is, how well intentioned, albeit a little disappointed (the desire to be stroked and pitied). Then come the excuses as to why they buggered it up last year (the "we're only human" touch) - followed by a lesson in economic geography (where we are, and how we arrived at a new starting point, knowing it for the first time)

The long term policies are completely ridiculous. No economic policy lasts ten years through changes of government. Talking about "long term economic policy" is only another excuse for doing nothing now, that reminds me of childhood ("of course you can have an ice cream dear, but not right now")

Getting rid of the budget would also get rid of the ritual of nice pre-election budgets followed by really nasty post election ones - where a new government blames the previous one for everything, does a bit of asset harvesting and rewarding for its patrons, and gets the worst essential stuff out of the way, in the hope that by the next election the people will have forgotten and forgiven.

Give it all up, the excuses, postponements, pity pleading, the Nostradamus act, and the locking up of the nation's journalists. If something is worth doing or reforming, do it today, not at this annual Parliamentary High Mass. The congregation no longer believes, the clergy look really bored and interject their boredom as catcalls, and the Great Economic Father of us all really isn't listening - or so easily appeased.

Dear Phil, until you wrote this missive, I thought you were just a Labour party hack; now I realize you were none of the sort. You come across as a completely uninformed person with a huge chip on his shoulder who has got nothing better to do in his life than write waffle. Like I have told you before, get out in the sunshine a bit more; the sky is not falling Phil. Lighten up mate.

Very funny Peter, but not a single argument to demonstrate Phil's delusions but plenty do demonstrate your rusted on right wing credential. poor fellow my country!

Dear Dante, no I am not a rusted on right winger at all; one of my posts yesterday raised concerns about whether Hockey and Robb were up to the task in front of them. Fair to say I am a passionate Ozzie deeply concerned about the fiscal mess Labour has once again gotten this country into. Remember the old saying "Labour's great until they run out of spending other peoples' money". Never a more true word spoken at the moment.

I agree with Dante you come across as a rusted on Coalition supporter. As such maybe you can answer my question. I have been scratching my head and wracking my brain trying to identify one major thing that they have done in 40 years that as helped me the ordinary joe in any way whatsoever. Be so kind as to answer me so I can see the light?

"I have been ....trying to identify one major thing that they [the Coalition] have done in 40 years that has helped me..."

It's a shame when people can't neutralise in order to acknowledge when one side does it well. Both have positives as well as negatives.

We're not Greece or Italy. You should be thankful for that. It only took this mob of incompetents 6 years to get to 20% of GDP of Debt. Imagine if they had 40. Only a public servant about to loose there “job” would come up with an ignorant comment like that.

You did not answer my question. The Coalition had 30 years and still left Hawke and Keating a Gross debt and not a surplus Budget in any of those years. The first budget surplus this nation had in 30 years was in 1986/87 a Labor Government showed them how. As for being a Public Servant no I am not. As for ignorant know I actually read and know my history which is more than you have demonstrated.

Privatise the entire government

We can only agree that Abbott ignored the purpose of his Budget reply speech. I was shaking my head at the audacity while watching. It matters not and the look on the PM's face while Abbott was talking tells it all:

He looked like a prime minister.

The "real Julia" was fully on display last night; she could barely contain her venom and hatred as Abbott made her and Wayne squirm in their seats as he told them a few home truths, for all of Australia to listen to. Abbott is growing to be statesmanlike, Gillard continues to conduct herself as a bogan.

faces were scrunched like cat behinds

Abbott and statesmanship in a single sentence? Now that's funny!!

Meow, Dante, meow..... lol :o)

Notice how Dante misconstrued my sentence; I said Abbott was "growing" into the role. At least Dante has not taken offence with using Gillard and bogan in the same sentence.

Alan. Mirrors and smoke mantra does no justice to the eloquent presentation which consisted, in the main, a recital of Labor's woes - and there were many.

Apart from financial restoration and clearing the glorious mess he stands to inherit should he win office. The stand out proposal to disband Canberra's duplication of services which in reality are States and Territory responsibilities. A case in point is the abolition of the mining tax.

I agree with Peter Hansen's view of Phil Clarke. He obviously is unemployed or working for McTernan's Centre for spin. Either way he has too much time on his hands to be writing such rubbish as he obviously is a bit like the Government? He should have a look at Gottleibsons' article today where he explains the reason for the fall in the Australia dollar. the rats are jumping ship as they can see a nasty smell just around the corner and we are about to get it full blast. Of all today's Spectators he is the only one not showing negativity against the content of Abbotts speech. They wear their colours like the venom showing on Gillard's face.

Poor old Phil, they don't realise Phil, that you just love a Machiavellian plot. Throw in a little drama, a little circular rhetoric, a little bit of political diatribe, "Hubble bubble, toil and trouble", King Lear would be proud. Trouble is, I think you have gone to the wrong web page.

I would not say it was a "shuffle" but a careful and conservative release. Also I am impressed at how much detail Tony Abbott has given at this early stage. The Opposition simply DONT KNOW the real depth of the largest budget deficit Australia has ever had, so they need to wait unitil they control the portfolios from the position of Government. How disgusting to hear Minister Penny Wong criticizing the slower planned ramp up of employer Superannuation contributions by saying that workers will lose up to $30,000 in interest due to this Opposition Plan. $30,000 over a working lifetime is NOTHING. This Government has cost every worker many times this amount in the taxes, cut backs and austerity measures needed because of the incompetent spending of the past four years. Minister Wong - the great mate of Minister Garrett who destroyed an entire industry - you should hang your head in shame at your false analogy. The Australian public are far more astute than this and we cannot wait to vote you out and turn this great country's fortunes around.

Fantastically put Alan. Well done.

When the cameras panned to Julia Gillard's face during Abbott's speech it was apparent that his words were hitting home.Hard to say whether it was the look of a leader who realised that she had comprehensively failed or as Peter Hansen described it the look of somebody consumed by venom and rage.Definitely not the look of a leader confident of being in control of the situation.Abbott's speech started a bit nervously but his confidence grew and he got his message across to viewers.

When the cameras panned to Julia Gillard's face during Abbott's speech it was apparent that his words were hitting home.Hard to say whether it was the look of a leader who realised that she had comprehensively failed or as Peter Hansen described it the look of somebody consumed by venom and rage.Definitely not the look of a leader confident of being in control of the situation.Abbott's speech started a bit nervously but his confidence grew and he got his message across to viewers.

Wow - just reading the Commentary explains why Democracy is such a sad (given that there is not much other option) and highly expensive failure. Could Don Argus' "willing young economist" please give us an estimate of the cost of introducing such items as the Carbon Tax or even the preliminary financing scuffles of Gonski, and then cancelling them? Probably the savings could have financed the Disability legislation on which everyone agreed? Along these lines we would become a self financing, politician free and independent nation? What a revolutionary thought ... and clearly Alan Kohler is the man to put it on wheels!

What the piece on the "willing young economist" highlights is that the carbon tax should NEVER have been implemented.

Margaret, oh c'mon Phil. we know it's you.

What better way to Bolster your argument?

“We will reduce emissions with targeted incentives, ..." doesn't necessarily mean that Abbott will retain his direct action policy. Scrapping his and hers would seem fair.

Whilst I have been a long time viewer of your Spectator comments and generally see them as objective. I find that Mr. Kohler tends to lean to the left with his comments. I think this lets down his objectivity and disappoints. In Alan's view Abbott cant break through whilst Swan seems to get off the hook too often. I hope things improve.

Alan does not lean to the left in his comment but Alan like many of us hopefully believes that the Super that feeds the market loop is the best way to go.

The difference is that Super on its own is not enough given the timing, many like myself were already 40 or 50 years old when Paul Keating Implemented the Super.

It is not possible to have a retirement system that is not combined with a national age pension given this timing, however I believe that on each side of the house and in the public service we have tried hard to make the system work, given also that we are a migrant nation taking the train in motion.

Well try reading Robert instead he should be more than enough right wing even for you.

Tony Abbott missed a golden opportunity to snooker the Gillard Government by saying: 'We will go along with scrapping of the Baby Bonus and also maintain the existing Paid Parental Leave scheme.' He would then have been seen as also remediating some of John Howard's follies re middle class welfare instead of worsening that scenario with his stubborn insistence on his own overly generous PPL scheme.

Alan good summary...
"As for the substance of the Budget Reply speech – there was some of that too. The Coalition will keep the NDIS but will ditch the Gonski school reforms, and it will repeal the carbon tax (which we knew already, oh how we knew), but keep the tax cuts that go with it (which we didn’t know) – funding that by delaying the increase in compulsory super by two years, dropping the low income super contribution, reducing the public service by 12,000 and discontinuing the supplementary allowance for people on benefits."...
But Tony Abbott also reaffirmed to one third of interested voters that the coalition would not change Pension payments. Essential for those concerned!

Come on fellers, Phil is a retiree who spends his spare time in the RSL with his mates. What he was before he retired, I am not sure. He writings portray the dramatics you would expect from a journalist, more than likely like the shock jocks he criticises. He also like to print that long winded expose, usually about nothing, you would expect from a solicitor or accountant. So take your pick.

Laurie, if you are standing on the right hand side, of someone, then they will always be to the left! :)

It's disaapointing to see Alan Kohler's left out one of the most important parts of Don Argus' speech yesterday.
Don Argus said yesterday the $1.6 TRILLION in household debt ( more than half the $3 TRILLION in debt Don Argus is critical of in Australia ) is draining the life out of the Australian economy and will see an extended period of low growth in this country if something is not done about it that could last 30 years !
Therefore all this relentless jubilant froth and bubble for the last 5 years by the Liberal Party and this country's so called expert right wing economic media commentator's about how Tony Abbott and his team are going to save this country's economy like the economic Knight's of the Round Table wil turn out to be absolute bull#hit IF Tony Abbott can't reduce the huge amount of household mortgage debt /household debt this country now has.
The media in this country should be condemned for such an appalling analysis and cover up over the last 5 years of how the Howard government,the Rudd government and Australia's biggest banks encouraged this huge amount of debt which is currently giving the banks such fat profit's and making life for every other small and large business in the country absolute hell.

@Colin Barry, I would have thought those of the Right would be alert to the demographic problem of national populations, particularly in Europe, eventually being subsumed by immigrant populations. It may take quite a few decades, but the science is quite clear.

I am not sure what your are driving at John. I haven't written anything here about the immigration have I?

My mate Phil, the carbon tax and Abbott's reply. That's all I can see. I sorry John enlighten me.

There were no "traps" in this budget for Tony Abbott or the Liberals. It is simply a responsible budget that recognised the processes of rebalancing the books needed to start now and could only be done by addressing both revenue and expenditure items.

I don't understand many of the views on this site. An economy growing at 3%, with low unemployment (5.5%), low inflation (2.5%), low interest rates (2.75%), an equity market up by 20 to 25% over the last 12 months and a dollar that looks like it is starting to behave seems a pretty good place to be. Why all the doom and gloom?

Michael, the economy is doing great. Its fiscal spending that is the problem. You need to realise, that Cyprus was in good shape 3 years ago, that Ireland had the highest growth rate 7 years ago and that European countries were almost debt-free 8 years ago.

Before making statements, that look like trite comments.

Interesting points Ken, however neither Germany and specially France were / are debt free.
France Govt Tax Receipts are at incredible 50% of GDP, Giscards D'Estaing and Chancellor Schmidt were the last ones having a real Debt Free Govt, they were also the last economists in charge and sadly it was 32 years ago voters quick them out, they did not want economists to be in charge!!!

As the late Pdt Mitterand put it,
"who care about the economy, after me people will only find Accountants, Economists they could not care less about"
... it was to be prophetical, and gee!, did he punch a hole in the coffers, France still has not recovered from it, 25 years later.

gee!, did he punch a hole in the coffers


Me thinks Tony turned the MIRROR around so we could see the SMOKE comming out of Julias and Waynes ears.
Ken, bubble bubble, toil and trouble, I think was MacBeth.

Phil, please don't tell us your background or what you do. I enjoy reading everyone else's feedback and thoughts on your articles. Almost feel like we'll lose some "mystery" if we find out.

It was interesting looking at the faces during Abbott’s speech last night. There seemed to be funny cheesy grins on both sides, translated as head nodding on the opposition side and head shaking on the government side. I thought the speech was largely rhetorical with few firm policies or dollar figures.

Whether Abbott and the Coalition have the answers is unknown, in my view. I smiled when he was comparing economic performance indicators during the previous Coalition government’s time with those of the Labor government since 2007, completely ignoring the GFC. During the last three full financial years of the Howard government, Commonwealth general government revenue rose $61.5 billion. During the first three years under Labor, it rose $6.4 billion (ABS 5512.0). Bit of a difference.

It’s true that deficits have gone quite high (too high) in recent years. But they have already been reduced significantly. Can the Coalition do any better than what Labor might do or might have done in the next few years? Perhaps not. In Queensland, the Newman Government’s deficit for 2012-13 is heading for about $11 billion, larger than any of the previous state Labor government’s deficits. Its Commission of Audit basically said to sell off assets: buildings, ports, electricity, etc. and don’t increase taxes much or reduce expenditure much. But selling off assets, or trying to, is what got the previous Labor government into so much trouble.

US and UK deficits are much higher than Australia’s on a per capita basis. US debt as a percentage of GDP rose under Bush but has risen faster under Obama. Interestingly, it rose steadily under Reagan and fell steadily under Clinton. In the UK, the deficit skyrocketed under Labour (which had the GFC) and has remained high under the conservatives. The deficit rose considerably in the 1990s under the conservatives but was brought back into surplus by Labour.

Can Abbott do it? It will depend much more on external factors, largely the world economy, than anything he and his colleagues might do.

Chrispy 52 - I think we really have to go beyond "ruling off" on dates and governments. The slow grind of debt, spending and policy of former governments winds through to the current at various speeds and in various forms. And I'm left slightly unsure as to exactly what your question "Can Abbott do it?" means, but I presume you rhetorically ask whether Abbott [and his government] can do better than Gillard or Rudd [and their government(s)]. Well I don't know...and nor does anyone but social cohesion and good communication will help.

Michael lastName, one really needs to look at the debit side of the equation to get the whole picture.

First we have three massive not properly estimated projects (NBN, NDIS & Gonski) to finance, mostly through borrowing. In addition, an accumulation of six deficits and an array of debts reported to amount to $400 Billion, which need to be serviced and repaid. Thus, if not disciplined with settling the outstanding compounded liability, it will take many years and starve development Capex.

Don Argus is taking a full blooded swipe at Australia's biggest banks for allowing the creation of over $1.6 TRILLION in household/mortgage/household debt thats what he's doing.
These greedy ,ruthless and outrageously selfish banks are bleeding every other sector of the economy dry in order to line their pockets with the fat profits from interest on over $1.6TRILLION in household mortgage debt and household debt every year.
In the meantime how is cutting an impotent Mining Tax thats making $200 million a year and a Carbon Tax which is adding 10% a year on electricity cost's already being reimbursed for most people going to make a shred of difference to household running costs ? Colin Barnett for example had already raised electricity prices in W.A. 62% before this years state election and has raised electricity prices another 4% in the last 2 weeks.
Cutting the Carbon Tax may encourage industry and help create jobs,but it can't stop state government's raising electricity prices whenever they see fit.

Andrew your comments are so sensationalist that no one will take them seriously.

My bank never charges a return on their money greater than the return I make. But I have to think and work hard to achieve that and if I trip up yes my life's work is at risk. That’s the deal - but without the banks I couldn't do anything.

If people don't like what banks then get the laws changed. And some law around banks and insolvency/bankruptcy should be reviewed.

Colin Barnett presides over a booming and expanding state where opportunities abound - the growth from which has allowed Rudd + Gillard + Swan to hide behind otherwise poor numbers.

In addition to the carbon tax electricity prices in WA increased due to increased costs of generating/transporting electricity through the network, increased global demand for generation fuels including natural gas, and increased demand on the electricity network itself.

In WA 2011- 2012 prices were lower than the cost of supplying electricity – difference covered by the government being $367M for the FY.

Colin Barnett presides over a booming and expanding state where opportunities abound - the growth from which has allowed Rudd + Gillard + Swan to hide behind otherwise poor numbers.

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Colin Barnett presides over a booming and expanding state where opportunities abound - the growth from which has allowed Rudd

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