On the subject of...

Budget

23
May
2017

Budget Deficiencies Neglected in Media, Trump in Saudi Arabia

In recent Commentaries I have referred to a number of deficiencies in the Budget which have either not been referred to in the main media, including even in The Australian, or have only been given limited attention. Despite this even The Australian has not published four letters I submitted on what I believe are serious analytical deficiencies, and the AFR often couldn’t decide whether to have a letters page. The Age almost automatically refuses to publish anyone deemed to be right of centre.
19
May
2017

Budget Doubts Enhanced, Threats to Trump

Both main sides continue to debate the second budget of the Turnbull government, with the most interesting development being the view expressed by Albanese that Labor should welcome the Coalition’s budget measures! But there is no indication from most Commentators that initial views have changed and that an improvement in the Coalition’s polling is likely to occur. In fact, doubts about the achievement of estimated budget outcomes have increased following the publication of a much lower growth in wages than assumed in the 2017-18 Budget estimates (1.9% cf 2.5%), a further fall in consumer confidence (the sixth successive occasion when pessimists have outweighed optimists), and a warning from credit agency S&P that while it kept Australia’s credit rating at AAA it also warned that it is at risk of a downside over the next two years. The improvement in the latest employment survey may help if it is sustained. But doubts continue about the survey’s reliability.
16
May
2017

Nonsense Claims that More Revenue Needed

Yesterday’s Commentary referred to three things which stood out from the post Budget polling – Labor remains 6 percentage points ahead, the very low net satisfaction ratios of both leaders suggest that voters want a change of leaders, and only 19% feel better off after the budget. Today we learn that, in “selling the budget” yesterday, Turnbull claimed that Newspoll showed there is majority support for the levy on the banks and the increase in the Medicare levy. He also claimed that, because the Senate has blocked spending cuts, “we obviously need to raise more revenue” (see Turnbull Defends Budget). This is absolute balderdash.
15
May
2017

Polling Result for Budget

There are three things which stand out from today’s polling: Both Newspoll and the Fairfax/Ipso poll show Labor the same distance ahead of the Coalition with Labor holding a lead of 6 percentage points on a TPP basis (53/47) in each poll; Neither leader has a favourable net satisfaction ratio in Newspoll, with Turnbull on 33/53 and Shorten on a 32/54 satisfied to dissatisfied ratios; The total who feel worse off after the budget (45%) is less than after the 2014 budget under Abbott (69%) in Newspoll. But more feel worse off than after each of the last three years of Labor’s budgets. Note that only 19% feel better off and 36% are uncommitted after this year’s budget. The age group which feels worst off after this year’s budget is the 35-49ers, with over 50s feeling least worse off ;
12
May
2017

Why Coalition Presented Labor Budget, Why Trump Sacked Comey

In his budget reply Shorten rightly claimed that the Turnbull government did not present a Labor budget: he said this because his presentation in fact took the Turnbull budget further down the socialist road (see attached Shorten’s Budget Reply). Although no estimates were given of Shorten’s Labor budget, there can be no doubt that it would mean higher spending and taxes. Those taxes would moreover be concentrated on alleged “high” income groups and would extend to emissions of CO2. In a sense, Turnbull provided Shorten with an opportunity to take a step further.
10
May
2017

Commonwealth Budget

It is difficult to find much in the way of compliments for the 2017-18 estimated budget presented by the Turnbull government, or for the budget projections (not estimates) for the following three years. It appears, rather, to involve the abandonment of the policy of “smaller government”, but without saying so. Indeed it is difficult to say what the Liberal Party under Turnbull now stands for. Various remarks made in public by Turnbull and Scott Morrison left something to be desired in regard to the functioning of the economy, particularly in regard to justifying (sic) the levy on major banks, and presenting an encouraging message. Several commentators have suggested that the rationale is to adopt policies similar to those pursued by Labor in the hope that this will improve the Coalition’s polling. Shorten has rejected this and will doubtless have more to say about it in his reply on Thursday evening (but he will likely retain the deficit levy on higher income groups, which the Coalition says it will abolish as promised ).
8
Apr
2017

Turnbull’s Polling & Policies

The lead up to the Budget (on Tues 9 May) is normally pretty quiet except for advance leaks by the government on what we might expect – or not. So far the main possibility being foreshadowed is action to reduce housing “affordability”, which sounds like a worrying move by a government which should be reducing expenditure. But as it happens, some other issues have emerged since Parliament had the break after two weeks in Canberra.
27
Sep
2016

Ken Henry on Budget Problem, Aleppo Highlights US Failures Under Obama, Ban Muslim Migrants?

The Weekend Australian ran as the lead report an interview by Paul Kelly with former Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry, who is now Chairman of the National Bank. Henry said that more needs to be done to reduce the budget deficit instead of talking about it (see Ken Henry on Budget Deficit). This provided an opportunity to point out that the “times have changed” since Henry was the TS and advised Rudd to go for broke: indeed the advice to Rudd was, at best, highly questionable if not wrong (see my letter below). The Australian is to be congratulated for continuing its helpful advocacy today partly through publishing a swag of supporting letters and partly by having its Canberra Bureau Chief, Phillip Hudson, pen a separate article (see Everyone to blame for our budget spiral of hopelessness). Hudson points out that one of the problems is that “ Neither Labor or the Coalition, on their current trajectory, ­promise a surplus before the next election. Morrison hopes for one in 2020-21. Labor went to the last election with a plan that would leave the budget $16bn worse off over the next four years before making everything tickety-boo within a decade. These scenarios are based on Australia continuing on its growth path of the past 25 years. What happens if something goes wrong?”
18
Sep
2016

Budget (?) “Wins”, Immigration Policy

Although we had a long election campaign during which Parliament was not sitting, it now has another “break” until 10 October during which Turnbull and two other ministers (including Immigration Minister Dutton) will travel to the US. In this coming week Turnbull is scheduled to attend what his press release describes as “the biggest summit on the international calendar” - the UN General Assembly Leaders’ Week, which will include “summits on refugees and migration” hosted by Ban Ki-moon and a smaller one arranged by Obama. But, while discussions at UN General Assemblies rarely produce meaningful policies for use back home, the risk is that Turnbull may relax our refugees policy and, as Abbott did, agree to take more refugees. Given the tightening of border controls by European countries, and increasing concern about terrorists being amongst asylum seekers, Australia’s existing policy would seem justifiable.
6
Sep
2016

Turnbull & G20, Iran Threat, Andrews Poll Down; Obama’s Dr on Hilary

While Turnbull himself could not be blamed for the absence of three ministers and other Coalition MPs at the end of Thursday’s Reps session, he must have failed to emphasise to the whips and others the importance of attending the first session after an election result which he had publicised as providing a majority. The absence of 10 Coalition MPs allowed Labor (which had obviously planned to take advantage of any absences) to indicate that this is another example of Turnbull of mis-management. And this theme has been taken up in the media too, including one suggestion that Turnbull lacks a “wingman” to support him in Parliament. Perhaps the failure to sack the Chief Whip, Pyne, illustrates the problem.
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