Tuesday, December 19, 2017

At last! A start on reducing the national debt

It is a common situation in Australia and elsewhere for a new Leftist government to implement big new spending policies without raising taxes to pay for them.  New welfare programs are popular but new taxes are not.  So the Left just borrow the money and pile up debt year after year. And it is left to the next conservative government to clear up the mess.

In 2007 the Labor party inherited a treasury  from the conservatives that had ZERO federal debt.  When they were finally booted out, the debt had ballooned to $400 billion. So in a vicious circle, a lot of taxpayer money had to go to the banks in interest payments and so made constructive spending even more difficult to fund. 

The incoming conservative governments under Abbott and Turnbull found it politically difficult to abandon all the new spending that the Left had put in train so had to continue borrowing for some time.  That has now come to an end

IT’S a tiny figure of a few decimal points but it represents a change the Government says will save taxpayers billions of dollars over a few years.

In fact, the savings could reach $1 billion a year, Treasurer Scott Morrison will argue today.

The Treasurer will release the Midyear Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) — the half-yearly progress report on the Budget delivered last May.

The updated calculations will highlight a projected fall in government debt, compared to the total announced in the Budget. That debt currently stands at just over half a trillion dollars and has steadily been rising.

But today, the Government will boast that by keeping “expenditure under control” it no longer has to borrow to pay for the recurrent bills of the business of government such as wages.

Its new calculations raise the prospect of a $40 billion cut in debt over 10 years, a reduction necessary for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to fund in part at least promised income tax cuts and massive tax relief for big business.

Net debt is now expected to peak next financial year — in 2018-19 — at 19.2 per cent of GDP, or national output.

This would be a 0.6 percentage point improvement on the 19.8 per cent forecast in the Budget. And the difference amounts to $11.9 billion.

The Treasurer will forecast that in three years gross debt will be $2.3 billion lower than calculated last May.

The smaller debt will mean the Government’s interest bill will be lopped by $2.3 billion over three years, reaching $1 billion a year in savings by 2020-21, the Treasurer will announce.

Mr Morrison said in a statement yesterday the MYFO figures would show the Government was “deliver on our prudent and responsible economic management, staying the course to keep expenditure under control and return the Budget back to balance”.

“We are making real headway, bringing down our expected gross debt by $23 billion, meaning lower interest payments of up to a billion dollars a year,” he said.

“In the years ahead we intend to make further progress on bringing down the debt as we get the Budget back into balance as promised.

“In MYEFO, over the next 10 years we expect gross debt to be $40 billion less than we were projecting in May.”

Mr Morrison said the debt reduction this financial year was the equivalent of putting the national grocery bill on the credit card.

“Our responsible budget management means we are now in a position to no longer be borrowing to pay for everyday [recurrent] expenditure, like schools funding, Medicare and welfare, a year earlier than forecast,” he said.

“We are acting, as we promised, in a fiscally responsible way to reduce our debt so that we can sustainably fund the essential services like health, schools as well as infrastructure, that Australians rely on.”

Labor leads the Coalition on a two-party preferred vote by 53 per cent to 47, representing a national swing against the Government of three per cent, the last Newspoll for the year shows.

The poll of 1669 voters across the country, conducted exclusively for The Australian, shows the Coalition has made no ground in the past two weeks with Labor maintaining a one point primary vote lead of 37.

The poll conducted over the weekend shows the major parties have not shifted since the last poll held between November 30 and December 3. The Greens remained steady on 10 per cent while One Nation dropped a further point to seven per cent.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull maintained his narrow lead over Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister, lifting two points to 41 per cent while the opposition leader lifted a point to 34 per cent.


We have to move away from the worship of university entry as the only path to success in life

In education I worry there is too much competition. Students compete from the days of the National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy right through selective school and scholarship exams, the Higher School Certificate, and their courses at university.

Academics at university compete for tenure-track jobs, for grants and for papers in high-impact journals.

Universities compete with each other globally, and even compete against the vocational education and training sector here.

Competition drives us to be better. Life is competitive, and I enjoy the striving and fulfilment that comes from healthy competition. I, more than most perhaps, have engaged with metrics as a university manager and I never tire of the data and statistics.

But even I worry when the competition becomes too intense. I worry for the mental health of students and the futures of our staff. I worry when everyone dreams of being president — top dog — and when every university wants to be Harvard.

I worry about what I call the witch’s hat type of competition, where everyone is converging on the same goal and competition intensifies as one ascends. There isn’t much room at the top of a witch’s hat.

Globalisation is driving the same dreams and uniformity is taking over from diversity. I worry that people increasingly will be lured into a futile race up the witch’s hat. Most people are bound to fail.

I envisage another type of competition, the ice cream cone view of life. Here individuals spread out as they climb to achieve their goals. There is room at the top in an ice cream cone because everyone is doing something different. One person aims to be the best mathematician, one the best plumber, another the best ballet dancer.

Some universities want to be like Harvard but others want to be small teaching communities with a focus on values.

One doesn’t need to get to the top to reach fulfilment. Ice cream trickles down to the various ridges that cover the cone. Eventually some melts and nourishes those who are still at the bottom. In an inclusive society one climbs up the inside of the cone.

So what magic will invert the witch’s hat to make an ice cream cone? Many of the elements are already in place. In addition to academically selective high schools, we also have high schools that concentrate on sports, or the performing arts, technology, or ostensibly even on agriculture. We might think about establishing more science, technology, engineering and maths senior high schools, and perhaps arts and humanities high schools, too.

We have to move away from the worship of university entry as the only path to success in life. The university sector, the vocational education and training sector, and the government must work together to sort out how to help students find their way into the system that suits them best.

Existing mechanisms that encourage diversification of the university sector could be strength­ened further. Funds should be allocated to reward true excellence in teaching as well as true excellence in research, so institutions make choices rather than everyone aiming for the same thing.

We have systems for measuring research excellence and for rating the student experience, but perhaps because we know these systems will never be perfect we lack the confidence to attach significant funding to them.

What about those young academics who are trapped in the race up the slippery slope of the witch’s hat, completing PhDs and aiming for fellowships and grants, or struggling to survive on casual or sessional teaching?

Some of these might thrive in educational-focused roles where they could concentrate on building a career through teaching without having to compete for the fixed pool of research grants. Others might benefit from focusing intensely on research supported by Australia’s fellowship systems.

Some might move to high schools or into the vocational sector, if these parts of our education system were better supported.

Most of all we must not lose our nerve when other countries post on their Facebook pages that they are having fun.

While globalisation has many benefits the uniformity of thinking is a risk. We should remain confident that we can find many different ways of being happy and prosperous.


Green Party's war on Christmas annoys even their own supporters

A Greens senator has annoyed even his own supporters by posting an image with the word 'Christmas' scrubbed off a banner.

Nick McKim, his media adviser Patrick Caruana and fellow Tasmanian Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson stood in front of a modified 'Merry Christmas' sign, with the word 'Christmas' crossed out and replaced with, 'Non-denominational seasonal festivity'.

The Greens' attempt at trolling conservative Liberal Party politicians on Facebook appears to have annoyed even their own supporters, with one supporter of the far-left party expressing his annoyance.

'I'm a Green voter, an atheist and totally against all this 'religious freedom' bulls*** but can we stop with this PC crap?,' he said.

Senator McKim, a Hobart-based federal politician who had initially sought to annoy conservative Liberal senator Eric Abetz, copped a serve from Treasurer Scott Morrison.

'What a bunch of pathetic muppets,' the senior Liberal wrote on Facebook. 'The Greens are actually opposed to Christmas. For many millions of Australians Christmas is a very spiritual time of year and central to their religious faith.

'For members of parliament to treat this important religious occasion with such disrespect is as offensive as it is disappointing.'

Several other people also expressed their annoyance on Senator McKim's Facebook page. 'Attention seeking clowns,' one man wrote. 'Greens have nothing to add.' He added he was glad the Greens, who have 10 per cent support in the latest Newspoll, were a minority.


Police face charges for 'leaving an overdosed teenager to die' - and he would have survived if they'd taken him to hospital

The Gold Coast cops have a very bad reputation

The death of a Gold Coast teenager from a drug overdose in 2015 could lead to charges against police officers who attended the scene.

Coroner Terry Ryan delivered his findings at Southport Courthouse on Thursday into the death of 19-year-old Charlie Robertson at his Miami apartment in June.

Mr Ryan found Mr Robertson's death was preventable and said police had 'acted inappropriately and incompetently' in their care for the young man.

Mr Robertson was unconscious in his bedroom when seven officers from the Gold Coast's Rapid Action Patrol raided the property, looking for one of his flatmates.

Despite being unable to wake Mr Robertson, the officers left without providing him with medical assistance despite the presence of paramedics at the property, the inquest heard.

The inquest found Mr Roberston would 'very likely' have survived had he received treatment.

'I consider that the attending police officers who witnessed Charlie's condition acted inappropriately and incompetently with respect to his presentation,' Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan added evidence given at the inquest that officers lifting a mattress the unconscious Mr Robertson was lying on was 'inappropriate' while laughter heard from officers when Mr Robertson fell from the mattress reflected 'very poorly' on the officers involved.

Mr Ryan said he will refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions, meaning the officers could be potentially be charged for their actions.

Charlie's father Graham Robertson told reporters outside court the inquest had shown his son would be '100 per cent alive today' had police acted 'accordingly'.

The inquest heard at the time of Mr Robertson's death, frontline officers had not been trained in recognising signs of drug overdose but that this training has since taken place.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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