Saturday salon 24/5

voltaire_230

An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

Cap super, says Richard Denniss

Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson says the superannuation system is being used as a wealth creation vehicle for the rich.

Paul Drum from Certified Practising Accountants Australia says there is nothing wrong with wealth creation as such. If you want to provide income for the future you need to create a pile of wealth. (By my calculations, for example, if you don’t buy a house and need to pay $400 per week in rent, then you’ll need capital of at least $416,000 with growth capacity at least equivalent to the CPI. Of course if you buy an equivalent dwelling it will cost you more than $416,000 in most places around the country.)

Drum says we need to look at equity aspects, but doesn’t elaborate.

Richard Denniss of the Australia Institute says we’ve created an intergenerational wealth transfer system rather than a retirement incomes system:

So if we want to create a system that helps the majority of Australians have slightly higher incomes when they retire, that’s fine, we can talk about that.

But the idea that superannuation is used as a tax minimisation vehicle of very high income earners to pay far less tax than we’ve deemed fair, and then in turn to pass tens of millions of dollars onto their children, this isn’t the retirement income scheme, this is a intergenerational wealth transfer scheme.

The Treasurer himself said that in 2050 the proportion of people getting a pension or part pension will be about the same as now – roughly 80%. As a retirement incomes system super is a failure.

Tax concessions for super are about to pass total expenditure on pensions and in a few years will exceed the GST. Something needs to be done.

Part of the problem here is that superannuation assets are not included in the will and are not sold up when a superannuant dies. The benefits simply flow on to the next of kin. Directly held shares, on the other hand, must be sold, triggering capital gains tax.

When one spouse dies the benefits go to the other. Also, if I’m right the other spouse could cash out the super, tax free.

Family trusts provide similar intergenerational tax free wealth transfer.

Richard Denniss says cap super, to limit the call on the public coffers.

That is one change among others that is certainly needed, but what should the limit be?

When super was an issue with the Gillard government in 2013, we were told that a pile of $1 million would provide a ‘comfortable’ retirement income of $50,000 for a couple who owned a house.

In calculating income from super the rule of thumb is that you can draw an income of 5% of capital, so $2 million could produce an income of $100,000 per annum. That’s about 50% above average household income. More than enough, I should think!

Do it, please, Labor, when you get the chance and ignore the cries of class warfare. The LNP are more likely to be concerned about those who ‘waste’ their super on trips away, then rely fully on the pension.

Dark matter – forget it!

Milgrom_Mordechai

For a change of pace, this is about the universe and everything.

Supposedly dark matter makes up 80% of the universe, yet no-one has ever seen even a little bit of it.

The time has come to give up on the idea altogether, according to Mordehai Milgrom in an interview with Marcus Chown for the New Scientist (paywalled, but Google him and you’ll find plenty).

Dark matter was inferred to explain the movement of stars in a galaxy. Stars at ever greater distance from the centre should move more slowly because there is less gravity, according to Newtonian physics. But that doesn’t happen. The reason hypothesised is that each galaxy is embedded in a ‘halo’ of dark matter which enhances gravity at the outer regions.

Problem is, there is no consistency. Each galaxy needs its own arbitrary quantum of dark matter distributed in a unique way to explain what actually happens.

Moreover there is no predictive power in the theory.

Among other things, it predicts that we should see many more dwarf galaxies orbiting our Milky Way than we actually do.

I wonder if he means stars.

Milgrom has been on the case for quite a while and in 1981 came up with his alternative modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) concept. He says:

The meagre data we had then could be explained if at a critical acceleration – a mere hundred billionth of a g – gravity switched from a type that weakens in line with the familiar Newtonian law to a type that falls off more slowly, following a different law. That alternative law is MOND.

He published three papers on his theory which were met with silence.

He says dark matter is the hypothesis of least daring. Just tip in some gravitating stuff that gives out no light. MOND appalled people because it tampered with the basic laws of physics. To be taken seriously it needed to be made compatible with Einstein’s principles of relativity.

This had to wait for one Jacob Benkenstein in 2004. He came up with a theory known as TeVeS (tensor-vector-scalar).

TeVeS describes gravity with three fields and made MOND compatible with Einstein’s relativity. After it was introduced, people started to take MOND more seriously.

Is MOND more elegant than dark matter?

It is certainly far more economical. For every galaxy, dark matter theorists must fit a made-to-measure amount and distribution of dark matter. So, if we understand 10 galaxies, we still don’t understand an 11th. Dark matter explains only after the fact. MOND predicts things ahead of time. This is key.

Also:

A single MOND formula perfectly describes every spiral galaxy, even though the birth of each one is chaotic, complex and unique. It is hard to see how the dark matter model can explain this.

Literally hundreds of MOND predictions have been vindicated and some 700 papers on the theory have been published in the last few years.

So if you hear about dark matter, unless the story is that the stuff has finally been found, take it with a grain of salt. It’s an old idea that doesn’t work very well. If you hear about MOND, then listen carefully, we could be getting closer to a theory of the universe and everything.

Just for fun here’s Andromeda Galaxy:

andromeda-galaxy-space-hd-wallpaper-500

To GST or not to GST

Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have been seen as herding the states and territories towards increasing the GST, rightly or wrongly. I suspect rightly.

Richard Denniss in the AFR says Forget GST, hit the rorts on super.

The Commonwealth government will collect $363 billion in taxes this year, with state and local governments collecting a further $83 billion in taxation. The GST accounts for around $51 billion, or 11 per cent, of total revenue. Increasing the GST to 12 per cent would collect an additional $10 billion or so. In an economy with a nominal GDP of $1521 billion and a population of more than 22 million it is, quite simply, small change.

If raising the GST is “the solution” then ‘the problem can’t be very big, which, of course, is exactly what the World Bank, the IMF, the OECD and the rest of the world have been trying to tell us. Australia is a low tax, low-debt country.

The pension is costing about $40 billion each year and is growing at 6% pa, only 1% faster than nominal GDP. Superannuation concessions, by contrast, cost about $35 billion, of which $13 billion flows to the richest 5%, and are growing at 12% pa.

Economists tend to favour taxing consumption, because it is efficient and less distorting than many other taxes. They tend to downplay the fact that it is regressive, once again selectively hitting those who can afford it least. They wave that argument away, saying that the needy can be compensated by increased transfer payments. Whether such payments would hit the mark is highly questionable. Moreover the better off in the community tend to see such payments as undeserving.

Denniss identifies other “rorts” such as the 50% capital gains concession, and the exemption of the family home, which can store massive value for the rich.

An alternative to increasing the rate is to increase the coverage. The list of exempt goods and services is actually quite large. I’ve copied it here for convenience:

  • medical and other health services, hospital services, residential or community care and medical aids;
  • education courses, course materials, student accommodation;
  • child care services registered under the Childcare Rebate, eligible child care centres or other child care services
  • exports of goods and services from Australia if exported within 60 days after the earlier of the day payment is received or the invoice is issued;
  • religious services;
  • non-commercial activities of charitable institutions;
  • water and sewerage goods and services;
  • sales of businesses as going concerns;
  • sales of precious metals after refinement by the supplier and delivery to a precious metal dealer
  • inwards duty free goods sales to a relevant traveller;
  • sales of freehold interest in land or long-term lease made by a Commonwealth, State or Territory Government;
  • subdivided farm land
  • cars for use by disabled people.

I’m not sure about sales of precious metals and subdivided farmland, but I think Australia has its exemptions about right. It’s late but I can’t find food on the list. Most but not all food is exempt as explained here.

I’ve been explaining that Bowen and Rudd did not leave the budget in a mess (see ABC FactCheck). By adding $68 billion to the deficit, however, Hockey has created quite a mess of his own. Treasury boss Martin Parkinson explained that brave assumptions were required to fix it:

Prior to this budget, we were banking the house on 33 years of uninterrupted economic growth and there’s no precedent for that. We’re banking on another 10 years of fiscal drag and that being pocketed, and that has quite significant regressive impacts, and even then, we still don’t get back to surplus.

“Fiscal drag” means bracket creep.

Thanks Joe!

Tax the rich, I say. At least 80% for incomes of over half a million and a wealth tax for those who organise to have no income. Peter Martin points out that the wealthiest 75 have an average taxable income of $82.

Meanwhile NATSEM modelling has found that low earners do most of the heavy lifting:

The budget hits 1.25 million low and middle income families with children on average by about $3000 a year in 2017-18 while it actually benefits upper middle and upper income families through removing the carbon price, according to modelling done by NATSEM at University of Canberra.

That’s apart from the young unemployed, where a 26 year-old loses $6944.

10262004_10154113572330198_5995357860786883638_n_500

Clearly there is a need for a thorough review of the total tax system, which Labor undertook and then largely ignored. That was a major blot on the legacy of Swan’s treasurership and the Rudd/Gillard years, having commissioned the Henry review and then largely ignored it.

Poll anger or a shift in the tectonic plates?

The polls are disastrous for the LNP. Nielsen is 56-44 to Labor, Newspoll is 55-45 and Morgan is a staggering 56.5 to 43.5. Historically Morgan tends to favour Labor, Nielsen was the most accurate at the last election.

The question is now whether these results represent short term anger at the budget or whether the tectonic plates have shifted. Laura Tingle comes out in favour of the latter:

Just every so often in politics there is a moment when you can almost hear the tectonic plates shift, and they don’t necessarily come with elections.

We saw one of these in 2010 when it emerged that Kevin Rudd was dumping his commitment to an emissions trading scheme.

The Fairfax-Nielsen poll suggests the 2014 budget is proving another such moment when politics can be turned on its head.

It is not just the dramatic slump in the government’s primary and two-party preferred vote, or the fact that Labor is, for the first time, the major beneficiary of this slump. It is not just that voters – in spectacular, angry numbers – think the budget is both unfair and not good for the country.

It is not even that Tony Abbott’s barefaced refusal to confront the fact he is breaking promises has enraged voters in a way that makes his position with them unrecoverable.

It is the fact that this poll suggests Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey will have little choice but to go back and rethink the entire political and economic strategy on which this budget is built.

Unfairness, not good for the country, broken promises, lies.

We are often told that Labor needs a 4 in front of its first preference vote in order to win. Suddenly it has one, for the first time since 2010, and the LNP doesn’t. There has been a cross-over:

Labor LNP vote_cropped

Perhaps notably, the Greens have lost three points and the indies have picked up three.

This graph shows the Nielsen two-party preferred vote, ending with May 19:

2PP vote_cropped

Labor lost its way when Gillard announced the carbon ‘tax’ early in 2011. It looks as though there has been a shake-out since Rudd’s second coming, with the latest poll marking a decisive shift. Time will tell, but Tingle thinks the LNP will need to rethink it’s entire economic and political strategy.

In other aspects of the poll:

    The only demographic where the LNP tops Labor is in the 55+, were it is now 43-39 to the LNP compared to 49-33 in April.
    Shorten is now ahead of Abbott as preferred PM 51-40.

    Abbott’s approval rating has gone from a net -7 to -28. Only 34% approve whereas 62% disapprove.

    Shorten’s approval rating has gone from +2 to +12.

    A staggering 63% say the budget is unfair, the first time ever there was a majority, compared with 33% who say it was fair. Gillard/Swan in 2013 scored 43-46.

    53% thought the budget was good for Australia, again the first majority ever, compared with 42% who say it was good. Gillard/Swan scored 42-44.

Abbott said that the LNP was in a similar position after Howard’s first budget in 1996. He lied.

Abbott said there would be no cuts to health and education for several years. Again he lied. There will be $1.8 billion in hospital cuts from July.

Finally I want to emphasise again that Abbott, Hockey, Cormann and company are lying about Labor leaving a budget mess. This ABC FactCheck shows that Bowen and Rudd left the budget in good shape:

PEFO_cropped_600

Elsewhere Mark’s excellent post stresses the unfairness of the 2014 budget and its attack on a foundational Australian value. It’s not too much to say, I think, that it has breached the social compact on which the Australian polity is based.

Offset credit trading

Australia’s successful RET emission trading scheme is an Offset Credit Trading Scheme (OCTS) that has been quietly driving investment in utility scale renewable energy since 2001.  Best of all, it has been doing this without causing any dramatic increase in power prices or political pain.  This quiet success  means that few Australian’s have heard of the RET scheme let alone understand what offset credit trading is.

Continue reading Offset credit trading

Energy Storage Using Phase Change Materials

Batteries are not the only way for a house to store energy.  This post looks at ways of storing heat and cold directly using phase change materials (PCM’s).  They can be more efficient than batteries as a result of storing energy when outside temperatures are closer to target temperatures.

Continue reading Energy Storage Using Phase Change Materials

Climate clippings 96

Climate clippings_175 This edition looks at changes in the cryosphere, a major US report, the prospects for an El Niño and the problem of China burning coal.

1. Pacific Ocean hot spot

Scientists have discovered a hot spot in the Pacific Ocean which is partly responsible for global warming in the Arctic. Incredibly this hot spot is east of Papua New Guinea.

This phenomenon is attributed to natural variations rather than global warming. Therein, perhaps, lies the reason that scientists have been constantly surprised by the rapidity of the Arctic sea ice loss.

2. Southern Ocean winds strengthening and moving south

Scientists have confirmed in a study covering the last 1000 years that winds are strengthening in the Southern Ocean and moving south. They found a definite trend greater than can be explained by natural variability and attributable to the effect of increased greenhouse gases.

Hence the drying of southern Australia is expected to continue. Also the tightening of winds around Antarctica inhibits warming of the continent. Nevertheless the warming of West Antarctica is considerable.

3. Antarctic glaciers melting past point of no return

A group of melting glaciers in West Antarctica appears to have reached the point of no return according to scientists from NASA and the University of California Irvine. Even if we cut back greenhouse gas emissions savagely now the melting will continue. We are probably looking at 3 to 5 metres of sea level rise, from Antarctica alone – that is our gift to future generations. Dangerous climate change is no longer just a future possibility, it’s happening now!

The question is, how long will it take? Here there is uncertainty. It could be as short as two centuries or as long as nine. Professor Eric Rignot thinks two centuries is “not outrageous”.

4. East Antarctica more vulnerable than thought

Part of East Antarctica is more vulnerable than expected to a thaw that could trigger an unstoppable slide of ice into the ocean and raise world sea levels for thousands of years, a study showed on Sunday.

The Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica, stretching more than 1,000 km (600 miles) inland, has enough ice to raise sea levels by 3 to 4 meters (10-13 feet) if it were to melt as an effect of global warming, the report said.

The Wilkes is vulnerable because it is held in place by a small rim of ice, resting on bedrock below sea level by the coast of the frozen continent. That “ice plug” might melt away in coming centuries if ocean waters warm up.

“East Antarctica’s Wilkes Basin is like a bottle on a slant. Once uncorked, it empties out,” Matthias Mengel of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, lead author of the study in the journal Nature Climate Change, said in a statement.

Wilkes basin could be more vulnerable than West Antarctica, but perhaps on longer time scales. Again there is concern with tipping points. James Hansen famously said, You can’t sling a rope around an ice sheet!

5. Climate change is clear and present danger, says landmark US report

Climate change is already severely impacting US economy, ecology and health, according to the the third National Climate Assessment report. Arid areas will become dryer, moist areas wetter and wildfires and storms will become more frequent and severe. For example floods have increased in frequency, mainly in the Midwest and Northeast:

CS_extreme-precip-index_13263_V9_600

From The Guardian:

Climate change has moved from distant threat to present-day danger and no American will be left unscathed, according to a landmark report due to be unveiled on Tuesday.

The National Climate Assessment, a 1,300-page report compiled by 300 leading scientists and experts, is meant to be the definitive account of the effects of climate change on the US. It will be formally released at a White House event and is expected to drive the remaining two years of Barack Obama’s environmental agenda.

The findings are expected to guide Obama as he rolls out the next and most ambitious phase of his climate change plan in June – a proposal to cut emissions from the current generation of power plants, America’s largest single source of carbon pollution.

Joe Romm at Climate Progress has more, while Emily Atkin looks at the impact on indigenous groups in Alaska and Pacific Islands.

6. Chances of El Niño almost 4 out of 5

The chances of an El Niño developing this year are now at almost 80% according to some estimates. This graph shows the increased temperature in El Niño years.

gistemp_nino_s-600

It could be a warm one.

Parts of the western United States suffering chronic drought could have flooding rains. In Oz where large areas are in drought, there would be even less chance of relief.

7. China, please stop using coal!

China should put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from coal by 2020, and then swiftly reduce its dependency on the fossil fuel, according to a new study. Otherwise climate change will be impossible to stop.

Of relevance, back in 2011 the IEA said that after 2017 any new fossil fuel power generation should be matched by the decommissioning of equivalent existing capacity.

Reminder: Use this thread as an open thread on climate change.

Saturday salon 17/5

voltaire_230

An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

Shredding the fig leaf

Direct Action was always a fig leaf for a government pretending to have a climate policy. Now the climate change denialists in Abbott’s cabinet have taken the opportunity to shred the fig leaf to the complete embarrassment of Greg Hunt.

Giles Parkinson thinks the 2014 budget is Abbott settling old scores, and dumping clean energy in favour of the asphalt economy.

With proposals to repeal the carbon price, dismantle the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the dilution of the Renewable Energy Target already in train, these budget measures – which include the closure of ARENA, the dumping of the million solar roofs program (both contrary to election promises) and the research funding cuts at the CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology and elsewhere – mean that the obliteration of the Clean Energy Future package will be complete, if it can get past the Senate.

Dumping ARENA is particularly stupid, as the fund was leveraging private investment at the rate of $2.50 to one and doing much to support the off-grid activities of the mining industry.

ARENA will maintain funds of $1 billion for around 190 projects – mostly R&D – that have already been contracted since its creation in 2012, but it will have a measly budget of just $15 million over each of the next two years for new projects.

Some 150 of its 180 projects already allocated are in support of research and development, a core competency not valued by the Government.

The Emissions Reduction Fund ($2.55 billion) has been spread over 10 years, rather than four. Tristan Edis explains that $2.55 billion will be allocated over the next four years, but the scheme only pays on completion. However, this does call into question the efficacy of the scheme.

Clive Palmer wants to divert the funds to pensions and is prepared to vote it down.

The million solar roofs scheme was a featured election promise.

The million solar roofs program, once a $1 billion centrepiece of Direct Action to bring solar to lower-income earners and renters, has sunk without trace — replaced by a derisory $2.1 million program to install solar on RSLs and bowling clubs in seven electorates, many of them marginal (yes, really).

But not to worry we still have “$525 million to pay up to 15,000 under-25s to pick up litter at below-award wages under the guise of the Green Army”.

Parkinson further reports

the abrupt closure of the Energy Efficiency Opportunities, as well as rejecting calls for the revival of Low Carbon Australia, which also supported investments in energy efficiency. It has also brought an end to support for ethanol and algae fuel programs.

The Energy Efficiency Opportunities program, which was to cost $20 million to run over the next five years, had helped deliver more than $1 billion a year in savings since 2006.

Alan Pears at The Conversation has more. He says the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which has already mobilised $2.5 billion of mostly private funding for low-emission energy and agriculture projects would make a profit for the government if allowed to continue. Like ARENA the CEFC will continue trading until stopped by legislation.

Pears says that leaves the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme as “the last major remaining piece of federal government policy that supports ongoing investment.” It has already led to $20 billion worth of investment, but is under review with climate sceptic Dick Warburton at the helm.

There’s more at The Guardian and at Planet Oz. There Graham Readfearn tells of the axing of a small $1.3 million program, which has been supporting more than a 150 local and state-based conservation groups across the country since 1973. Such is the depth and thoroughness of the attack on the environment.

Meanwhile global renewable energy jobs surged to almost 6.5 million in 2013. In Germany, where the government strategy was to take first mover advantage, renewable energy production reached 74% the other day.

We are striving to be last.

A crisis in trust

Politics is broken, is the shorter message of Mark’s post at The new social democrat. Mark, writing before Hockey’s budget speech predicted that the budget would be “horrible”.

He was right. There may have been a feeling that the bad news had been leaked early. In fact the true horror is being revealed in the detail coming out after the speech.The speech sounded like severe belt tightening with a raft of cuts (summary here). In the interview after the speech Sarah Ferguson nailed Hockey on at least two major points. The first is that ordinary folk will carry a bigger burden than the rich, not just proportionately, but in actual dollars. On one count $1400 for the rich and $3000 to $5000 for lower to middle income families.

In fact middle Australia, the poor, the young and the marginalised will be hammered in Hockey’s vision of an age of opportunity, rather than entitlement.

Take the young unemployed:

The Abbott government’s first budget revealed job seekers applying for Newstart or Youth Allowance, who have not been previously employed, will face a six-month waiting period of no income support before they are eligible for payments by undertaking 25 hours a week in the Work for the Dole program.

Once they have spent six months on the program, they will lose income support for another six months unless they undertake training or study.

People under 25 will not be eligible for the dole and instead will have to apply for Youth Allowance which is about $100 less a fortnight. Newstart and Youth Allowance will also be frozen for the next three years.

The hourly rate on Work for the Dole will be $10.20 for Newstart and $8.29 for Youth Allowance.

In the six months applicants for Newstart and Youth Allowance do not receive income support, they will be required to undertake government-funded job seeking programs.

For those thrown out of work Newstart will be limited. With some exceptions:

Newstart applicants will receive one month of income support for every year they worked before applying for the dole and exceptions to the six months…

I don’t think we can talk in terms of a general safety net any longer. We have instead active harassment in the name of stimulating greater personal responsibility. We are leaving a system where all are looked after in favour of a system where only the deserving are supportis severely conditional and incomplete.

Family payments will save a whopping $7 billion, but hardest hit will be:

Sole parents, single parents and parents of disabled children will be hardest hit under changes to family tax benefits, designed to save money and get primary carers back to work.

More harassment.

The second point coming out of the Ferguson/Hockey interview was that the Abbott government is intent on forcing the states to increase the GST by cutting the funding for schools and hospitals by $80 billion over the next 10 years. Hockey’s response was “States runs schools and states run the hospitals” and “All the GST goes to the states so it is up to them.”

That’s clear enough, but not what voters expected or were told to expect.

Mark quotes EMC research:

this week’s Essential Report suggests voters are expecting to take the fall for a budget emergency that is really just a false alarm.

Without believing the central premise of the budget, voters are left with a sick feeling they’ll pay for a budget that doesn’t fix the economy but rather punishes ordinary people in favour of the wealthy.

Mark says (read the whole post!):

The most important thing about this Budget is that it symbolises the brokenness of Australian politics. It’s a tipping point, a crisis moment for the political class.

Everything they [the Government] think they learnt in politics school is wrong, and the focus groups must be feeding this back. We can see this reflected through the inconsistent and panicked messaging from the government.

Confected austerity economics will not work in a crisis of trust. Nor will “let’s all pull together” work in an age of upper middle class entitlement, generously fostered by John Howard’s electoral/fiscal calculus.

I still have some faith in Chris Bowen, who seems to me principled, articulate and genuine. I’d rather he gave the budget reply speech, but there is some hope for Shorten. He sounds less like a politician than many and that may eventually play in his favour.

Abbott has calibrated his message to mask his detailed promises about no cuts “full stop”. For example, he promised no cuts the the ABC and SBS, Instead $43.5 million is being taken out of their budget over the forward estimates. That’s 1% of general funding, plus cancellation of the Australia Network contract one year in, halving its budget. The ABC used the Australia Network funding to enhance its threadbare foreign coverage for the network generally.

Abbott is a silver tongued politician, master of slogans, but is sounding more and more like a salesman, inherently untrustworthy.

You don’t build a stronger Australia by shredding safety nets and increasing inequality.

Update: I thought I’d add here from this post the ABC FactCheck verdict showing how Hockey has added $68 billion to the deficit and essentially confected a budget ‘crisis’, as shown in this table:

PEFO_cropped_600

See also Hockey’s morality play.

Also see Mark on Hockey’s social dystopia and John Quiggin on the mess of contradictions, meanness, trickiness and tribalism that is the Abbott-Hockey Government’s first budget.

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff