Turnbull’s Swan Song

Join us for the continuing saga of Ute-Gate and the up-to-the-minute unbridled, unopinionated and truly effervescent commentary that only the Blogocrats can provide…

With his credibility in tatters, Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull is fighting for his political life after conceding that Kevin Rudd no longer has a case to answer following the AFP’s finding that The Liberal party’s key piece of “evidence” an email, is a fake.

The Liberal Party has now focused their attention on the conduct of the Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, however the further they go, the more desperate they appear..

Is that Amanda Vandstone I can hear singing from afar?

It was the night before Budget Night..

And Nick Minchin and Helen Coonan are saying that they’re going to hold the Labor Government to account to make sure that “no election promises are broken!”

Oh, the irony of it all….

Let this be our open Budget discussion thread…..

Budget Looms. What are your Predictions?

All will be revealed by Wayne Swan in next week’s Budget and, by all (media) accounts it’s going to be a “horror” Budget.

We’ve already been warned that “Middle-class” welfare will be targeted and that the looming Budget deficit may take several years to restore itself to the black.

Interestingly, we’ve had very few “precise” Budget measures leaked to the media as in previous years.

The budget is expected to record a deficit for next financial year of at least $50 billion but probably closer to $70 billion.

In a search for savings, and the billions needed to increase pensions, the budget will target those on higher incomes.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Such measures will include the means-testing of middle-class welfare, probably at a combined income level for families of $150,000.

The Government could means-test the $3.5 billion-a-year health insurance rebate, reducing the 30 per cent tax break for those on high incomes.

That would breach Labor’s election pledge but the Government could argue that high earners would benefit from tax cuts of up to $41 a week.

For the first time, the budget will contain long-range revenue and spending projections, beyond the standard four-year estimates, to plot a path back to surplus. It will pledge that once growth returns to trend levels, spending growth will be capped at 2 per cent and all tax revenues directed to pay off the deficit.

Speaking from a position of great experience, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has said that “Kevin Rudd will never deliver a surplus budget.”

So what would you like to see in next week’s Budget?

(Next week, I’ll post an analysis of The Budget and what economists think of it).

Alcopops Bill Takes Aim at Double Dissolution

In what could be described as a masterstroke of political tactics, the Federal Government is set to reintroduce its previously failed Alcopops Bill to Parliament.

The move will simultaneously paint the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull as an Obstructionist – a perception that is beginning to take shape in the public domain – as well as potentially bring on an early election if the Bill is once again knocked back.

The Australian reports that if the Liberal leader refuses to reverse his opposition to the $1.6 billion tax increase, Senate rejection of the bill could provide a constitutional trigger for a double dissolution of the parliament and a fresh election, depending on the nature of the bill and the timing involved.

While the Treasurer stressed that the Government was not planning an early election, his deliberate move to raise the possibility, combined with a savage attack on Mr Turnbull as obstructionist, heralded a marked shift in government tactics to paint the Opposition Leader as negative and out of touch.

As health groups applauded the Government’s push to revive its rejected tax increase, Mr Turnbull counter-attacked last night, saying the measure on so-called alcopops was a cynical tax grab and accusing Mr Swan of adopting the bullying tactics of a man unable to get his own way.

Family First senator Steve Fielding, whose vote was instrumental in sinking the first alcopops bill in March, said he would reject it again unless the Government agreed to ban alcohol advertising during television broadcasts of sport.

When the Senate rejects legislation twice with a three-month interval between each vote, the Government has the right to seek the Governor-General’s permission to dissolve parliament.

Asked about this yesterday, Mr Swan said: “Malcolm Turnbull might load the gun, but we certainly have no intention of firing it. What we want to do is put our legislation up into the Senate and have it passed.”

Mr Swan said Mr Turnbull had opposed a string of government initiatives, including the alcopops tax, a national broadband network, two economic stimulus packages (including the biggest school modernisation program in Australian history and cash payments to pensioners and carers) and new spending on hospitals.

The other side just want to be opportunistic and play politics with a serious measure that deals with a serious public health problem,” Mr Swan said.

“Mr Turnbull and the Liberals have been negative, they’ve been obstructionist.”

Mr Turnbull told The Australian last night he did not necessarily accept that the alcopops bill could be an election trigger, because the Constitution was very complex.

But he said he had no intention of supporting the bill and rejected the claim that he was being obstructionist. “This is what every bully says when he can’t get his own way,” Mr Turnbull said.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out and whether Fielding will repeat his last performance…