Monday, May 11, 2009

Guess what? It's Howard's fault

WAYNE Swan has promised help for the poor in a "very Labor" Budget tomorrow, but will also use the economic blueprint to demolish what he describes as John Howard's contentious system of middle-class welfare.

The Treasurer has also appealed to voters to accept that the global recession is so severe it has forced Labor to shift direction on key policies it took to the 2007 election campaign.

Two days before delivering his second Budget at a time of unprecedented global economic upheaval, Mr Swan yesterday told The Australian his efforts to deal with the recession-driven, $200 billion collapse in revenue had been complicated by a legacy of reckless spending by the previous government. In an apparent move to make Mr Howard a fall guy for a tough Budget, Mr Swan said the former prime minister had behaved "as if the mining boom was never going to end" in handing out payments across the community. "As a consequence of those unsustainable habits which developed at the top of the boom and, given the nature of the global recession and the unwinding of the mining boom, everybody will have to do their bit to put the budget on a more sustainable footing," Mr Swan said.

His comment provides the first glimpse of Labor's political strategy leading into the Budget session, with the Coalition already accusing it of breaking promises and threatening to fight it in the Senate. Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said yesterday the Coalition would be looking at all these "so-called tough initiatives" and how much of the deficit they would pay off. "Ultimately someone will have to pay for all this," Mr Hockey said. "It has to be all Australians. They will end up paying higher taxes, higher interest rates, not just for one or two years, but perhaps a decade or more."

Access Economics is forecasting a $58.9 billion deficit for tomorrow's 2009-10 budget, allowing for an extra $9 billion of infrastructure spending and $3.9 billion for pension reform. In its Budget Monitor, it expects a $53.2 billion deficit in 2010-11.

For 2009-10, the deficit would represent 5.0 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), trumping the deficits racked up during the early 1990s recession and the deficits of the Whitlam years, it says. Access economist Chris Richardson says the damage to the budget bottom line was done well before the past year. "The boom in the budget in recent years was brilliant. We then promptly spent most of it," Mr Richardson said. "The federal budget will be mired deeply in deficit after the GFC (global financial crisis) is long gone."

He said governments usually hold their policy fire to assist with fighting downturns, but in the past six years parties of "both stripes" had handed back the fiscal dividend of the good times, limiting the ability to defend Australia from recession. [This is an absolute lie. The Howard government used strong revenues to reduce the national debt to nil and also put aside large savings in a future fund -- which the Labour government promptly blew]


Comment from Australian Conservative

Let me make sure I understand this properly. Wayne Swan says all the trouble with the budget is because of John Howard’s legacy of middle-class welfare.

So he is evidently going to respond in tomorrow’s budget by announcing a delayed paid parental leave system which would be means tested above $150,000. So a working parent earning, say, $120,000, is going to be given nearly $10,000 every time they have a child. If that isn’t middle class welfare, then what is?

That the media, including The Australian, have not worked this out is another example of the media giving Kevin Rudd and co a great big helping hand to hoodwink the electorate.

Promises, promises

What do YOU think a politician's promise is worth?

AUSTRALIA will finally join the rest of the Western world in introducing a paid parental leave scheme, but not till 2011. [i.e. after the next election]

And the scheme will not be universal. Around 140,000 stay-at-home mums - and the rich - will miss out. But tens of thousands of women who work part-time or casually could end up getting more than their working wage. Eligible parents will collect at least the minimum wage of $544 a week while on 18 weeks' leave to look after newborns.

Treasurer Wayne Swan used Mother's Day yesterday to announce the scheme, as final touches were applied to a Budget billed as the toughest in living memory. An attack on middle-class welfare - including means-testing of the private health insurance rebate and elimination of lucrative superannuation concessions - will allow for tax cuts and an increase in age pensions. But the Budget is still expected to plunge to a record deficit of around $60 billion, while borrowings will blow out to as much as $300 billion.

Consequently, the parental scheme is unlikely to begin until January 1, 2011 - possibly after the next election. Mr Swan said that start-up date was necessary because the global economic crisis had ripped a $200 billion black hole in revenue over four years. But shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said this was "putting promises on the never-never".

Mr Swan said: "We are one of only two countries in the Western world that doesn't have paid parental leave. "We have got to get that balance between work and family right, and paid parental leave is an essential reform," he told the Nine Network.

Families in which the main breadwinner earns $150,000 or more will be ineligible. And to qualify, a prospective mum would have to have worked only 330 hours, or one day a week for 10 months in the 13 months before the birth. The $5000 baby bonus will be bundled into the new payment.

But stay-at-home mums will get only the baby bonus, plus family tax benefits, halving the overall cost of the scheme to around $260 million a year. "Stay-at-home mothers are being dudded once again," Australian Family Association president John Morrisey said. "And 18 weeks is not long enough anyway. A child needs two or three years of one-on-one with their mother, instead of becoming aggressive graduates of long day care."

But working mum Sarah Horton wishes the scheme had been available sooner. "It would have been fantastic to have had financial help with our first child. In all probability, we would have started a family earlier," she said. Mrs Horton, who gave birth to Ned Robert yesterday, said the scheme would be fantastic news for her next child. "It means we can go ahead without the worry and concern about financial stability."

Parents can share the 18 weeks' leave, or one parent can take it all. And workers can still use parental leave provided by employers, either at the same time or back-to-back.

Employers will not contribute to the government scheme or cover superannuation on leave entitlements. But Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Peter Anderson warned the Government not to force businesses to pay administration costs, which could leave them out of pocket. Though welcoming the announcement, Council of Small Businesses of Australia chief Jaye Radisich said its impact on small businesses would be greater. "But if you want to encourage women to have babies, maternity leave is good for society," she said.


Green leek parrot endangers 1000 jobs in NSW

All based on speculation that the birds MIGHT be upset. Nobody is killing them and they are still there after years of work in the area

A PARROT is about to cost 1000 workers their jobs because the Federal Government has ordered a timber industry to be shut down to protect the bird. The unprecedented government intervention will see the jobs cut within days.

The Daily Telegraph has learned Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett's department issued a stop-work order to the New South Wales Government 10 days ago, a move the industry claims could wipe out the entire town of Deniliquin in the state's south.

The Opposition says the move is overkill and has branded Mr Garrett a "warbling twit". "There are a lot of them out there," Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said of the parrots. "As one person put it to me this morning, you've got the warbling twit protecting the green leak parrot but sacrificing 1000 jobs."

The Environment Department ordered New South Wales cease all clear felling of red gum in the Central Murray Darling region - timber used mainly for firewood and railway sleepers - due to concerns over the future of the parrot.

Sometimes referred to as the green leek parrot, the social bird nests in the hollows of the red gums and is nationally listed as vulnerable. Conservationists claim the flight patterns of the bird, which lives for up to 25 years, are being disrupted as it does not like flying over open spaces.

The discovery hundreds of families face losing their livelihoods comes a day before Treasurer Wayne Swan hands down a Budget aiming to help buffer the country against unemployment. The State Government is seeking an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Mr Garrett, claiming the intervention by the Commonwealth to declare the logging illegal would cause the immediate loss of at least 500 timber jobs and 360 indirectly related jobs.

The NSW Government is also seeking legal advice on whether it can get around the Federal Government order, which has given NSW State Forests until May 31 to stop logging of the Central Murray wetlands in the Riverina area or face legal action. A Forests NSW briefing note obtained by The Daily Telegraph warned 11 sawmills would be forced to close overnight and 800 people would lose their jobs along with the closure of an industry worth $60 million to the NSW economy. It accused the Federal Government of being cavalier in its approach to NSW by acting before a $2 million State Government funded Environmental Impact Statement on logging in the area had been completed. It was due to go on public exhibition a day later on June 1.

The Daily Telegraph has obtained a letter of demand to stop work, written on May 1 from Mr Garrett's secretary for the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), Rose Webb, to Forests NSW manager Garry Rodda. Ms Webb raised concerns about the impacts of the State Government's harvesting practices on the birds' flight patterns and nesting habitat.


Universities demand easier passage for academic migrants

Hard to see any objection to this

UNIVERSITIES are urging the Government to ease immigration restrictions on academics to help head off a looming shortage as large numbers of baby-boomer professors and lecturers retire. Amid the fallout from the global financial crisis, the Government in March moved to cut the permanent skilled migration intake. But universities, which see migration as a way to overcome looming academic skills shortages, are warning that the move could leave the economy short when it recovers.

"There is generally a two-year time lag from immigration policy change to outcome, so as a response to the global financial crisis, this policy will do little to protect the jobs of Australian citizens in the short to medium term," Vicki Thomson, executive director of the Australian Technology Network group of five universities, said in a briefing paper. "In fact, it has the potential to see the economy left wanting precisely at the time we expect to see improved economic conditions."

The ATN is lobbying Immigration Minister Chris Evans to ease restrictions on academic migration to make it easier to recruit offshore amid rising competition globally for academics. Between 1994 and 2006, Australian universities employed more than 7000 academics from overseas on permanent or long-term arrangements. "This figure will need to grow expotentially to replace the exodus of academics leaving the workforce in the next 15 years," the ATN said.


1 comment:

Federal Budget said...

So budget announced. How it affects ordinary Australian citizen?