Three weeks to go and the biggest story electionwise for me wasn’t the 10-year Labor budget plan, it was Turnbull’s pork barrel strategy.
Turnbull’s $1.7 billion pork barrel strategy
Phillip Coorey in the AFR has reported that the LNP are carpet bombing marginal seats with small vote-buying grants. We’ve had 58 “micro-announcements” in Coalition seats for projects like revamped football club change rooms, new netball courts, fixing mobile phone black spots. Some $1.3 billion has been used to sandbag LNP marginal seats. Funds have also been allocated to nine Labor seats and Denison, held by independent Andrew Wilke.
It sees the budget come to surplus at the same time as the LNP – in five year’s time, just outside the four-year budget period, the same time as the Government.
Bernard Keane pointed out that the LNP government has once again kicked the can down the road, but that doesn’t stop them from criticising Labor for doing the same thing. Labor’s argument is that growth and budget surpluses can be achieved While maintaining a decent, fair society.
Greg Jericho sees it as a battle between the old way and the new way of going for growth.
- The Liberal Party’s policy is more driven via the fairly old style approach of cutting company tax to hopefully increase the pie.
The ALP’s path is in some ways a newer approach but one now recommended by both the OECD and the IMF of growth achieved with a major focus on equality.
Ben Eltham in reporting on a speech by Andrew Leigh, says “you could argue that Labor is doubling-down on inequality, making it a major theme of economic policy across its platform.”
Leigh has in his sights the concentration of market power by large companies, some foreign owned.
The LNP’s entire budget strategy is based on the company tax cuts and other toxic cuts being passed by a compliant senate, which looks increasingly unlikely.
The Conversation did a fact check on Shorten’s statement that under the Coalition government, $100 billion has been added to Australia’s national debt.
It’s true, but Australia’s debt though large by Australian standards is small by international standards.
He also says the LNP have tripled the deficit. That’s probably true too.
The f-word goes off
Bill Shorten started it by suggesting childcare was mainly women’s business. The net result is that feminist ranks have been swollen by the inclusion of Malcolm Turnbull and a number of other male politicians, including George Brandis. But you have to be accepted by the tribe to wear the appellation and your deeds have to reflect your words. Eva Cox takes a look.
Labor’s childcare policy
Labor is stumping up about $3 billion to enhance childcare support.
The LNP has a similar sized policy, but rather different. However it is linked to “zombie cuts” in family welfare, which have been stuck in the senate.
Labor will scrap the “ministerial slush fund” now called “Catatyst” and restore $105 million to the funds to the Arts Council. Labor will add a further $20m a year for four years from 2017, which is less than the $300 million ripped out by the LNP.
There will be $60 million extra to the ABC to make Australian drama. I believe drama like Jack Irish,Rake and Janet King costs about $2 million per episode.
Labor will only commit to considering any proposals or recommendations to adjust the territorial copyright regime “with caution”. This is about the parallel importation of books. At present the local industry makes money on Harry Potter and invests the profits in emerging Australian authors. I understand the only country that has tried parallel importing is New Zealand, where the policy has decimated their publishing industry. Their authors now look to Sydney and Melbourne to get started. In future we may all be looking to New York and London.
Mitch Fifield talking to Patricia Karvelas sounded as though they are going to go for it, but Karvelas was trying to give him an escape route rather than go for the jugular. I worry about her.
In debate with Mark Dreyfus, Fifield said that what the arts really needed was a strong economy with lots of rich people who would then patronise the arts. That would take us back to the eighteenth century. Read all about it in Crikey, if you have a sub.
Or go to Ben Eltham at The Guardian, who advises Mitch not to turn up at a debate without an arts policy.
Here’s Labor’s policy.
A decent society must have equal access to justice. Several times I’ve heard commentary that legal aid has been sent over a cliff by Coalition cuts. Justice is only available to the rich or perhaps to the very poor, since that’s how far legal aid will stretch. Labor is seeking to repair the damage.
Bill had a debate with himself at the Broncos’ League Club and lost. All we heard was how he wasn’t going to take the GST off tampons. A pity because Laura Tingle says he “fielded a range of questions on policies that haven’t featured much in the election campaign to date.”
He’s going to debate Malcolm on Facebook, and it will only matter if he makes a boo boo. He should give it a miss.
- Vote Compass is a tool developed by political scientists for exploring how your views align with those of the candidates.
It’s an ‘opt in’ survey, and as such is unscientific in terms of what it says about voters in general.
Mental health services in jeopardy
Every year 12,000 people die from suicide and medical illnesses related to mental illness. I make that 32.8 per day. An estimated $200 billion is lost wellbeing each from mental illness.
The Government is redirecting funds for the Early Psychosis Youth Service (EPYS) centres, currently run by the youth mental health organisation Headspace, “to the Primary Health Networks (PHNs) for redistribution to a broader range of youth mental health programs, following a review by the National Mental Health Commission.”
I think there six EPYS centres and 31 PHNs. Effectively the specialist expertise built up will be lost and it will be like water into the sand.
McGorry says the National Mental Health Commission recommended building on the EPYS centres, but the Department of health put together a Mental Health Reference group to give them the recommendations they wanted to hear.
Not sure what Labor is doing.
Malcolm Farr called it “log cabin-itis”, after the American practice of politicians spruiking their humble beginnings.
It was a political act, and an appeal to the emotions.
There was much agitation today about Labor backflips in making their budget balance. This article in the ABC has the story. It has new savings measures at just over $3.6 billion over four years, and total savings of $8.9 billion. Confused?
Then it uses a ScoMo quote as a heading as though it was a fact, which it isn’t.
This was the bit I didn’t like:
- It has dropped its opposition to the Coalition’s cuts to the research and development tax incentive, and said it would back the freeze on higher education grants.
If you go to Patricia Karvelas’s interview with Chris Bowen, you have “new and old” savings of $3.6 billion and it’s over a decade.
I don’t think Chris Bowen is confused. He told her that it wouldn’t mean $100,000 degrees, and it won’t mean waving through “zombie cuts”.
The AFR does a bit better:
The new saves over four years amount to $1.476 billion. In budget expenditure of over $1.6 trillion, that’s vanishingly small.