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May 18, 2004

post-budget blues

I haven't really been following the screeds of commentary on the Costello budget. However, it does appear that this account still holds.
Alan Moir

Australians say thankyou for the tax cuts and the family payments. They will help us out for the past price increases and forwhen interest rate rises start to bite on the mortgage repayments. Then they act as citizens and ask: where is the money for the much needed improvement in health and education services?

Their judgement is: the money is in the kitty. It is time to spend. So why was it not spent on where it was needed most, and for the good of the nation?

The ALP people are starting to rub their hands. Their step is lighter. Their hearts are singing, and they are smiling as autumn slides into winter. They have a bounce in their comportment. They smile and say quietly amongst themselves, "it's looking good for August 7."

The euphoria should be tempered. The policy debate is not being engaged in any serious way. It is all short-term thinking about how to present the best possible package to win over the electorate. The focus of the party strategists is on short-term outcomes not serious reform that addresses long-term policy issues: environment; infrastructure renewal; a better tax system and aged care.

An opportunity squandered, you could say. What was delivered was a strategy based on an an easy ticket to power with a few weeks of campaigning centred on a quick budget bounce in the key marginal seats in outer Brisbane and western Sydney.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 18, 2004 09:49 AM

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I heard on the radio this morning that the federal govt's unfunded superannuation liability will reach $97 billion dollars in three years.

I am not an economist but that sort of figure, together with the aging population, makes me think the govt should be putting the surplus (can a govt ever really have a surplus?) away for the future.

Also according to this economist the govt will get a nice windfall from the current oil and petrol prices. Those prices will also fuel inflation, lower consumer spending etc. Spikes like this, he said, are usually followed by recessions.

Posted by: Ron at May 18, 2004 12:16 PM

Bad economic news just around the corner? Maybe. Its different account to all the talk about the budget's economic impact being 'a stimulus to the economy' and acting to increase workforce participation and labour productivity.

The decks have been cleared for an election.

What matters is retaining power. This report in the Sydney Morning Herald indicates a rosier picture:

"Liberal Party private polling on the budget in marginal seats is better for the Coalition than the general level of support revealed in published national polls such as yesterday's Newspoll, Liberal sources said."

Those marginal seats are what matters. "The Coalition is performing relatively better in the key marginals it needs to hold to retain government".

So we should expect more policies that provide better health and education services specifically targeted to those marginal seats.

Is there a swing to the ALP in SA: in the key Adelaide marginals of Hindmarsh, Makin and Adelaide that are held by the Coalition. A swing might well be on with only Trish Worth in Adelaide hanging on.

Howard has probably lost Hindmarsh with the retirement of the popular Chris Gallus.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 19, 2004 12:31 PM

And now Makin's MP Trish Draper is caught up in a travel rort scandal involving her toyboy.

I would be very surprised if she can hold on to her seat now.

What is it with Makin MP's? Some of the stories about Peter Duncan were even more lurid.

Posted by: Adelaide Pundit at May 20, 2004 10:37 AM

I would like to know how she managed to get the suppression order against 'This Day Tonight' from the court.

Interesting comparing the defense of Draper by Howard and Costello to when gay Democrat Senator Greig wanted the parliamentary spouse entitlements for his longterm partner. Bloody hypocrites.

Posted by: Ron at May 20, 2004 11:10 AM

But wait! There is more!

The plot thickens...

Posted by: Adelaide Pundit at May 20, 2004 02:41 PM

Don't forget Barker.

It is safe Liberal territory at the moment.But what if the local state National MP---Karlene Maywald Member for Chaffey---- decides to run?

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 20, 2004 07:50 PM

AS it has sbeen portrayed it the media the Trish Draper case is a "perks and privileges" of public office issue. If it is it would not play well in the electorate for an MP who presents herself as moral conservative opposed to promiscuous sexuality.

The Minister, Senator Abetz, is willing to allow leniency and flexibility, even where the rules are unambiguous.

The rules state that "de facto" nominees must live together to qualify for travel entitlements. From news reports it appears that Trish Draper and her lover did not live together.

Despite this, Senator Abetz says it's ok given the nature of modern domestic relationships etc. etc. Strange judgement when he too is on the hard moral right.

Are the rules being bent to recognize that you can have a long-term relationship but not live together? For instance, can you take a family member on an overseas trip?

I presume that Trish Draper, the MP for the marginal set of Makin, was in a long-term relationship.

Two questions. Who spilled the beans to Today Tonight? And if everything is above board, then why take out an injunction to stop Today Tonight running the story? The politics of an injunction indiates that you something to hide.

More on this at Crikey. Rober Corr has some good posts on this here and here. The latter points out that the injunction was to prevent the publication of material that might prejudice an ongoing criminal
proceeding iinvolving Draper's boyfriend. In its report Channel Seven referred to Mr Sands as a murder suspect.

Robert says that an injunction on these grounds
is entirely justifiable. He goes on to add that:

"...it would have been possible to grant an injunction about that specific information, leaving Channel Seven free to discuss the other issues surrounding Trish Draper's entitlements."

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 20, 2004 07:58 PM

Maywald is certainly a good chance to win Barker, but that will really impact more on the Coalition's internal politics, rather then the long-term decline of the Howard government, which is what the Draper affair really illustrates.

Has anyone else being drawing some wry amusement from a fellow called Abetz being involved in this matter?

Childish, sure, but when you cover federal politics, you gotta get what laughs you can, I reckon.

Posted by: Adelaide Pundit at May 20, 2004 11:17 PM

Let us not forget the Labour marginals in SA: eg., Kingston held by David Cox. This is the only marginal seat held by Labor in South Australia and Cox won it by a 0.5 per cent swing. Or was it 1.5%?

Almost all the workers from Mitsubishi's Lonsdale engine plant workers live in Mr Cox's seat.

A possible win for the Coalition? Campaigning in Adelaide this week, Treasurer Peter Costello said that South Australia's marginal seats could prove an election decider.

'In South Australian marginal seats, I think, the future of the election will be determined,' he said.

So a generous handout from the Howard Government is announced straight after Mitsubishi announced the closure of the Londsale engine plant.

On the other hand, mabybe the whole budget targeting of middle Australia in the outer marginal seats in big cities is flawed. What if most of the marginal seats are not in the far outer suburbs but in regional Australia--- those areas in and around the big provincial centres?

This is Rod Cameron's argument. He mentions Terrigal, Grafton, Forster, Tuncurry, Queanbeyan, Townsville, Bundaberg, Lakes Entrance, the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

He adds that it is in those sorts of centres "where the election is going to be won and lost. And it's in these places where there are proportionately fewer $52,000-a-year income earners, the group the budget mostly ignores, just as there are in the middle distance suburbs of the capital cities."

Does that mean Howard will spend the $2 billion he left in the budget kitty on this $40,000 income group?

"So what does this mean? I think it means the critical target group for the election is going to be the $40,000 to $50,000 earners, with or without children; and second, generation X voters, who basically have been ignored, or at least those who aren't about to have a baby soon.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 22, 2004 11:18 AM

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