Abbott nixes bail outs

February 2nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

Abbott pinned his free-market colours to the mast at an important speech at Davos earlier this month – the premier annual gathering of the world’s economic and business elite.

The former Roman Catholic seminarian urged attendees to become “missionaries for freer trade” and fight protectionism whenever and wherever it may raise its ugly head.

Free trade was a well-trodden path to wealth creation, he explained. “Over time, everyone benefits because, in a global economy, countries end up focusing on what they do best. A more global economy with stronger cross-border investment eventually helps everyone because it generates more wealth and ultimately creates more jobs.”

This is very true.

And, as it turns out, Australia is not very good at canning fruit.

Putting his words into action, Abbott last week successfully stared down a three hour bid in cabinet by Nationals colleagues to secure a $25 million taxpayer handout for the embattled fruit cannery, SPC Ardmona.

Free trade and the rigours of globalisation are perhaps the primary reason why SPC’s factory – which must pay far higher wages than in competitor countries – is unprofitable. That, and it seems Australians don’t much fancy tinned fruit any more.

SPC’s cannery in Shepparton employs about 3,000 workers, but it has been operating at a loss of more than $400 million in recent years, according to local Liberal member Sharman Stone.

It’s only natural to worry about the loss of Australian jobs.

But a job in an unprofitable company is a job already lost.

The same applies to jobs that only exist due to subsidies, such as “Green jobs”.

The only way to create jobs is through the efforts of profitable companies.

As Abbott told Davos attendees: “You can’t have strong communities without strong economies to sustain them and you can’t have strong economies without profitable private businesses.”

“After all, government doesn’t create wealth; people do, when they run profitable businesses.”

Some on the left rail against profit, but how many jobs would we have without profitable businesses?

 

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More female Ministers in Afghanistan

September 17th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

That is the headlines in Australia, after Tony Abbott announced a 19 person Cabinet with just one female Minister in it. Afghanistan has three! NZ by comparison has six.

This to me shows the importance of making sure you have some diversity with your candidates, and this needs to start in opposition. It is too late once you are in Government as generally new MPs won’t become Ministers immediately.

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Under new management

September 8th, 2013 at 6:24 am by David Farrar

Tony Abbott declared last night that Australia is now under new management and open for business. The Coalition have won with one of the largest margins in recent times – yet no a total bloodbath.

The latest ABC projection is Coalition 89 (+10), Labor 51 (-10), Greens 1 (nc), Independents 2 (-2). That is just below the 1996 result for Howard where they got 94 seats.

By state it was like this:

  • ACT – Labor 2 (nc)
  • NSW – Libs 21 (+5), Nats 7 (+3), Labor 18 (-6), Independents 0 (-2)
  • NT – Country Libs 1 (nc), Labor 1 (nc)
  • Queensland – LNP 21 (nc), Labor 7 (-1), Palmer 1 (+1), Katter 1 (+1)
  • South Australia Libs 6 (+1), Lab 5 (-1)
  • Tasmania Libs 3 (+3), Labor 1 (-3), Ind 1 (nc)
  • Victoria Libs 15 (+3), Nats 2 (nc), Labor 19 (-3), Greens 1 (nc)
  • WA – Libs 12 (+1), Nats 0 (-1), Labor 3 (nc)

Still a dozen seats in play so these may change.

The primary vote has been Coalition 45.3% (+1.6%), Labor 33.8% (-4.1%), Greens 8.4% (-3.3%), Palmer United 5.6% (+5.6%), Family First 1.3% (-0.9%), Katter 1.0% (+0.7%).

Kevin Rudd’s concession speech was terrible. Long, rambling, resembling a victory speech, all about him and disgracefully not once did he mention Julia Gillard. He talked as if he had been Prime Minister for the last three years. He retained his seat but announced he will not contest the Labor Party leadership. More than one person quipped how they had heard him say that before! But finally it looks like he is gone. I’d say Bill Shorten is the likely new leader, but time will tell.

Time will also tell how Tony Abbott will do. A prediction that one day Abbott will be PM in 2007 would have seen you laughed out of the room. He has run a disciplined campaign and team over the last four or so years. However it was very much a rejection of Labor than an endorsement of Abbott. They have a large enough majority that I’d expect they’ll serve at least two terms.

The tight preferencing between minor parties appears to have delivered them a lot of Senate seats, so that will be a major challenge for the Abbott Government.

Also Clive Palmer has got elected to the House. He appears to be stark raving mad, so that also adds an unpredictable factor.

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Rudd cheats twice

August 12th, 2013 at 6:59 am by David Farrar

Things are not going well for Kevin Rudd. First of all it seems he cheated in the election debate last night. The debate rules said the leaders could have a pen and paper only – and no other documentation or props. Yet Rudd had detailed notes on various topics which he referred to.

The rule may be silly, but if you agree to them you stick to them. It is cheating if one side is using notes, and the other is not.

The more significant cheating is Labor’s using taxpayer funds for their election campaign. The Government is spending millions of taxpayer dollars promoting their new boat people policy. The constitutional caretaker conventions clearly state that during an election campaign, and advertising of controversial policies must cease.

The Finance Department told the relevant Government Departments to halt the advertising campaign, but Ministers intervened and  over-ruled the Finance Department. The head of the DPMC has said he is powerless to do anything as “the Department does not have the power to enforce the observance of the conventions

Taxpayers are funding this $30 million campaign, during the election period. It is outrageous but typical of left parties who view taxpayer money as their own. We have own own experience with Labour’s pledge cards.

Meanwhile Tony Abbott took part in a 14 km road race – as a guide to a blind triathlete! I like most think it was a pretty cynical election stunt – but to be fair he has acted as a guide for blind runners before.

The real good news of the last week is that Abbott has declared he will not wear his budgie smugglers during the election campaign!

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Virtual town halls

May 31st, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

In what is believed to be a national first, Mr Abbott and Lindsay candidate Fiona Scott sat in Liberal Party headquarters in Canberra and held an hour-long forum run by the party for the crucial electorate, held by Labor Minister David Bradbury, some 300 kilometres away.

The move allows Mr Abbott to further sidestep curlier questions by the mainstream media and Canberra press gallery and talk directly to voters in an extension of the talkback radio format favoured by former prime minister John Howard.

The Liberal Party robo-called listed phone numbers for homes in Lindsay on Wednesday night , attracting 20,000 registrations to be automatically called back for the event, according to Mr Abbott’s office.

Mid-way through the discussion, moderator and former television journalist John Gatfield said there were 8000 people on the line listening to questions from callers, who pushed a number if they wanted to ask a question.

8,000 homes participating from just the one electorate. That is a huge success.  And the idea of being able to just ask a question direct from your living room, by pushing a number is enticing.

While the process was run by the Liberals and some of the questions were simply asking Mr Abbott’s basic positions on issues such as disability care, some voters did press Mr Abbott on his claims, including how he could repeal the carbon tax if he did not have control of the senate.

Another caller asked why he didn’t talk about the effect of the war in Afghanistan in battling asylum seekers.

Issues discussed included everything from potholes in roads and transport to local asbestos problems with the National Broadband Network.

It will only work if you have a politician that can think on their feet.

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The “right wing agenda”

May 23rd, 2013 at 7:12 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran exposes at Red Alert the right wing agenda. It seems to be:

  1. Tony Abbott spoke at the 70th anniversary of the Institute of Public Affairs
  2. Tony Abbott is advised by Crosby Textor
  3. The NZ National Party is also advised by Crosby Textor
  4. Hence the NZ National Party plans to implement the policy agenda of the institute of Public Affairs

Clare goes on to list some of the policies that may find their way into National’s policy agenda here, which she disagrees with. They include:

  • Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
  • Introduce a special economic zone for northern Australia
  • Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
  • Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
  • Cease funding the Australia Network
  • Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
  • Privatise the CSIRO and the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
  • Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
  • Privatise Australia Post, Medibank and SBS
  • Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  • Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
  • Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

I’m pretty sure we won’t see any of the above implemented in New Zealand. Well, we could try to implement them but Australia may not take too kindly to us passing laws on their behalf.

There is one policy Clare agrees with:

Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database

That’s good to see, as I’ve been pushing this for some time. I would have thought Clare also supports:

Rule out government-supported or mandated internet censorship

As it happens I think many (not all) of the IPA’s policies are very laudable and sensible. Ones I especially like are:

  • Means-test Medicare
  • Abolish the Baby Bonus
  • Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
  • Repeal the alcopops tax
  • Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
  • Introduce a single rate of income tax
  • Return income taxing powers to the states
  • Cut company tax to 25 per cent
  • Cease subsidising the car industry
  • Privatise Australia Post, Medibank and SBS
  • Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  • Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
  • Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
  • Repeal the mining tax
  • Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
  • Means test tertiary student loans
  • Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
  • Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
  • Rule out government-supported or mandated internet censorship
  • End public funding to political parties
  • Introduce voluntary voting
  • Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a % of GDP
  • Legislate a balanced budget amendment which limits the size of budget deficits and the period the government can be in deficit
  • Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
  • Remove all tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
  • Deregulate the parallel importation of books
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The trans-Tasman relationship

March 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Seated across from each other in a New York restaurant they made for an unlikely couple.

On one side of the table was John Howard, one of Australia’s most successful prime ministers; darling of the political Right, bogeyman of the Left after taking the role as America’s deputy sheriff in the Pacific, and becoming the villain in the Tampa affair.

His lunch companion was Helen Clark, the socially liberal former New Zealand prime minister, a flag-flying Iraq war opponent, standard bearer for the Left-wing social democratic movement – and the woman who even now, four years on from losing the election, can spark visceral dislike among many on the Right.

Mates? Of course, says Howard, after they caught up recently for a chinwag in New York.

“We don’t just exchange Christmas cards.”

It reflects well on both Howard and Clark that they worked well together, despite being from different sides of the political spectrum.

 But historic and geographical ties have not always been enough to put the relationship on a friendly footing. Before Howard and Clark it was Lange and Hawke, Muldoon and Fraser. Tension, backstabbing, and suspicion reigned.

Fraser was an idiot, and Muldoon a bully. Hawke thought Lange was a flake, and he was right. There was also Bolger and Keating – Keating was just simply untrustworthy.

Gillard and Key, again polar opposites politically, have forged even stronger bonds than Clark and Howard.

Key says getting the personal dynamics in the relationship right is “critical”. With Gillard, it helps that their partners get on as well.

Once all the official business was out of the way during their two-day summit in Queenstown last month, Key and Gillard escaped to the exclusive Millbrook resort for dinner with partners Bronagh and Tim. They did the same in Melbourne last year.

“We have a no officials, casual dinner, have a drink together,” Key said.

A good relationship between leaders is no guarantee of success, but it is almost a precursor.

The big unknown is a possible Tony Abbott government – though he and Key have already struck up a good relationship, and speak to each other regularly.

Howard, meanwhile, is confident Abbot can only be good for New Zealand.

“He’s got a good start. His wife is a New Zealander.”

Heh, that may be useful.

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Australian Politics

October 12th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Last time I was in Canberra, was the day Kevin Rudd got rolled. Sadly it doesn’t look like either Gillard or Abbott will get rolled while I’m here, but the day before I got here the Speaker of the House resigned. The final straw was court documents revealing texts such as:

 “Brough is a cunt,” Mr Slipper said in a text on October 10 last year. Soon after, he said: ”Funny how we say that a person is a cunt when many guys like cunts.”

About five minutes later Mr Slipper began what the Opposition has called “‘vile anatomical references”. Referring to women’s private parts, he said: ”They look like mussell (sic) removed from its shell. Look at a bottle of mussel meat. Salty Cunts in brine.”

Personally I love mussels and scallops :-)

Anyway not the worse thing ever said, but in the context of this being to a young male staffer he kept hitting on, it was inevitable he went.

Slipper won a motion of no confidence against him by one vote, but as Labor were defending him the House, the independent MPs had gone to him and told him he must resign. He did. This meant that Labor looked like they were defending the indefensible.

Gillard used the debate to launch a ferocious attack on Tony Abbott as a sexist and misogynist. The attack has become a viral hit internationally, but let me tell you that actually in Australia I’m not sure it went down so well. The newspapers are full of stories casting scorn on it, It certainly appealed hugely to Labor’s own supporters but for many it was seen as playing the victim card.

Abbott did not help things by using the phrase “Government dying of shame” which was unwise considering what Alan Jones said about Gillard’s father. But it has also just come out that a comedian at a Labor/union fundraiser made very disgusting remarks about Abbott’s female chief of staff Peta Credlin. Gillard had left when it was made, but several Ministers remained. It rather undermines their attempts to make Abbott look sexist – rather it just shows how personally denigrating Australian politics is – in all parties.

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Happy beefgiving

July 10th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A funny advertisement for beef, featuring well giant balloons that look like Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.

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Labor own goal

January 28th, 2012 at 10:46 am by David Farrar

The SMH reports:

An Australian Prime Ministerial staffer has been linked to yesterday’s ugly protest incident in Canberra, forcing his resignation and acutely embarrassing PM Julia Gillard.

In an early evening statement, the Prime Minister dismissed as ‘false’ claims that one of her staff had spoken to people at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy prior to yesterday’s angry protest that temporarily trapped her and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

But Ms Gillard acknowledges that a member of her media unit ‘did call another individual yesterday and disclose the presence of the Opposition Leader at the Lobby restaurant. This information was subsequently passed on to a member of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.’ …

He is Tony Hodges, one of four press secretaries working in Julia Gillard’s media unit.

The link is deeply embarrassing for the Prime Minister and leaves her shouldering some of the blame for an incident where many had pinned responsibility on Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.

This is typical Australian Labor tactics.  The press secretary would have leaked the info, hoping it would lead to anti-Abbott protests.

Instead it led to his own boss having to be dragged out by Police. And now they can’t blame anyone else for it.

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Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

September 28th, 2011 at 9:06 am by David Farrar

The Australian reports:

“I’m a very happy little vegemite being Prime Minister … being Foreign Minister of Australia,” he told ABC Central West today while on his way to Condobolin, west of Orange, to open a rotary-funded indigenous studies centre.

One can forgive Kevin for the slip-up, as regaining the top job must be at the top of his thoughts most of the time.

Recent polls have shown he would do much better against the Coalition than Julia Gillard. However she is genuinely liked by many of his colleagues and Rudd is not, so the decision is not as easy as it might otherwise be. But this latest poll is a shocker for Gillard:

Ms Gillard is now neck and neck with Mr Abbott as preferred prime minister among female voters, 39 per cent to 37 per cent, compared to 52 per cent to 33 per cent at the last election.

Abbott has always been considered a total turn-off for female voters. If he is only 2% behind amongst women, then his biggest weakness has been overcome.

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Gillard calling the election

July 17th, 2010 at 12:08 pm by David Farrar

Julia Gillard has gone to the Australian Governor-General to dissolve Parliament and call the election.

The date is now thought to be 21 August, so it will e a short sharp campaign, trying to pit it as a leadership choice between Gillard and Abbott.

The election will be for all 150 MPs and 38 out of 76 senators.

I rate Gillard as the favourite to win, but campaigns generally can and do matter, and we’ll see what happens. The Coalition needs to win 11 seats.

Her fix to the boat people issues is coming a bit unravelled, and it is also becoming clear the compromise with the miners was in fact a $7.5 billion backdown.

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Parental Leave in Australia

March 11th, 2010 at 10:14 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Abbott has come up with a plan to tax big business – those earning more than A$5 million ($6.25 million) a year – to pay for a surprisingly generous compulsory leave scheme.

Under his proposal primary carers would be paid at their full rate of take-home pay up to a maximum income of A$150,000 a year ($187.5 million) for 26 weeks. Abbott estimates the scheme will cost about A$2.7 billion a year.

A rather desperate election bribe. First of all, taxing large businesses to pay for the entire costs is blatantly unfair. If it is deemed desirable to have paid maternity leave, then it should be funded by all taxpayers.

Secondly it is massive welfare for the rich. If you were on $40,000 you will get $20,000 maternity leave. If you were on $150,000 you will get $75,000.

Rudd’s scheme, due to be launched next January, pales by comparison. This scheme will pay the minimum wage of about A$544 a week to the primary carer for a maximum 18 weeks’ leave after the birth of a child.

It will cost an estimated A$260 million a year, paid out of consolidated revenue.

Rudd’s scheme seems far more sensible to me.

Not a good sign for Australia, if both parties are getting into a bidding war of spending money they don’t have.

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Caption Contest

February 1st, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on the right. Photo from Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Captions below please.

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Abbott new Liberal Leader

December 1st, 2009 at 12:25 pm by David Farrar

A massive upset in Australia. Not so much that Malcolm Turnbll got roleld as Liberal Leader, but that his successor is Tony Abbott.

news.com.au reports:

TONY Abbott has rolled Malcolm Turnbull to take over the Liberal leadership in a spill forced by deep divisions on the Opposition’s climate change policy.

Mr Abbott, Mr Turnbull and Joe Hockey contested a three-way spill at a special partyroom meeting in Parliament this morning.  Mr Abbott won by a single vote, 42-41.

Mr Hockey – who had been expected to win in a landslide – was eliminated in the first round of voting.  That sent Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull into a head-to-head vote for the leadership.

But those deep divisions remain.  Yesterday Mr Hockey was demanding a free vote to decide Coalition policy on climate change early next year, if he were to agree to take on the leadership.

That angered right-wing Liberal powerbrokers and prompted Mr Abbott to stay in the race for the top job.  Turns out that was a good call.

A very good call. But the real winner is Kevin Rudd who will easily win re-election now I would say.

The vote to have a contest was 48 to 34. Then the first round ballot was Abbott 35, Turnbull 26 and Hockey 23. Turnbull almost got wiped out on the first ballot. Abbott picked up seven votes from Hockey and Turnbull picked up 15, for a final result of 42-41.

Abbott is a brawler, but hard to see him attracting widespread support to become PM.

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