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Budget surplus with added sex scandal

Journalists will be locked up for seven hours in Parliament House today to pour over Treasurer Wayne Swan’s latest budget offering, which promises to return a $1.5 billion surplus.

Check out Crikey’s budget watch breakdown from yesterday, outlining the latest cuts and plans (and occasional sweeteners) as the government cuts $20 billion in spending.

The biggest winner in this year’s budget will be families, says Jason Murphy in The Australian Financial Review:

The average family with two school-aged children will get payments in the budget that, with promised tax cuts, will put them about $1200 ahead, even accounting for the carbon tax.

Families are emerging as the key beneficiary of the government’s “trad­itional Labor” budget with money for school-aged children plus compensation for the carbon tax.

Around six in 10 taxpayers will get a tax cut of at least $300. The government has decided on a lift in the tax-free threshold from $6000 to $18,200.”

Swan’s surplus is a small mercy, says the Fin Review’s editorial:

It is a good thing that the federal government plans to deliver a budget surplus in 2012/13. At a time when most of the developed world’s economies are perilously indebted and struggling with genuine fiscal austerity, a surplus budget sends out a powerful signal that in the midst of resources boom, Australia can run disciplined finances. Europe’s economic depression and the political extremism, social unrest and political instability that it generates highlight the dangers of governments that fail to reform their economies while racking up unsustainable debt.

Even so, the picture behind the headline surplus is not so impressive given Australia’s unique reliance on the China boom. “

But the Gillard government struggles to define who is rich and who is poor in Australia, declares Dennis Shanahan in The Australian:

The problem Labor has experienced in recent times is deciding exactly who is rich and who is poor, who supports Labor and who doesn’t.”

The government promised to deliver a surplus and it’s determined to keep that promise even if a surplus doesn’t make economic sense, writes Tim Colebatch in The Age:

The government has been releasing good news before the budget, to make sure it gets noticed. But the bottom line is that in 2012-13, the government will pull more than $40 billion out of Australia’s economy, either by spending less, taxing more, or both.

It doesn’t have to do that. There is no pressure from markets or voters for Australia to run a budget surplus. Money is flooding in to buy government bonds. And an Essential Research poll found just 12 per cent of us want to get the budget into surplus in 2012-13.”

This budget is based on politics, not economics, argues Terry McCrann in the Herald Sun:

Surprisingly for a slash-and-burn Budget there are going to be a series of new handouts.

Again, the Government wants to buy votes; and it is going to pay for those votes by a combination of taking money from higher-income earners and some welfare recipients.”

Meanwhile, the Fair Work Australia investigation into the Health Services Union was released yesterday, with damning evidence against MP Craig Thomson. The investigation found that Thomson, who was booted from the Labor Party recently and now sits on the cross benches —  where he holds a crucial vote for the government — misused hundreds of thousands of dollars on union funds in his former role as HSU National Secretary. The embezzled funds were then allegedly spent on election expenses, restaurants meals, hotels, flights for his wife and nearly $6000 on prostitutes.

As Tony Wright says in The Age:

Budget Schmudget.

While the national press gallery and a gathering of hacks from throughout the nation are locked up tight trying to pull apart Wayne Swan’s Great Austerity Budget today, the real action is likely to be taking place on the floor of the House of Representatives.

There, Julia Gillard and colleagues will be endeavouring to stare down Tony Abbott and his Merry Men and Women over a surplus of that most delicious of political stews, the sex scandal.”

The government needs Thomson’s support to pass this year’s budget, notes Geoff Kitney at the Fin Review:

The messy business of minority government has an awful smell which will linger for as long as the Labor Party depends on Craig Thomson’s support to hang on to power.

The damage this will do will start today, with the federal budget being brought down by Treasurer Wayne Swan immediately overshadowed by the appalling details of Fair Work Australia’s findings from its investigations into Thomson’s administration of the Health Services Union.

The government needs Thomson’s vote in the parliament to pass the budget.”

Stay tuned for Crikey’s special budget edition email tonight (only available to subscribers).

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  • 1
    Frank Campbell
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Journalists will be locked up for seven hours in Parliament House today to pour over Treasurer Wayne Swan’s latest budget offering”

    Unconscious irony or just unsteady hands?

  • 2
    Frank Campbell
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    The budget is the charge of the Light Brigade, and you don’t get much lighter than Swan ‘n Gillard. Given the desperate state of the government, why would you punish your own base with a surplus?

    As Marshal Bosquet would have said, ” it’s magnificent, but it isn’t politics.”

  • 3
    BlackIvory
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    @FrankC - I think its because the word ‘p1ss’ would not make it through the filters.

  • 4
    Zarathrusta
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    As a single person I’m really pissed that I should have to subsidise other peoples’ reckless overpopulation of this country and this planet.

    Any education “assistance” should be given as a card so it can only be spent on truely education related items. Just like Howard and now this miserable government are doing to aboriginals.

  • 5
    GocomSys
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Budget surplus with added sex scandal”. Splendid tabloid headline. But what else can we expect from a sordid OZ MSM. Very sad really!

  • 6
    Arty
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Locking up journalists for only seven hours is to light a sentence.

    Give them 20 years and save society.

  • 7
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Still Thomson protects his innocence. I guess that stops when the hammer / trap door falls.

  • 8
    shepherdmarilyn
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    It did not say he misused the frigging funds for election expenses.

    It says they were used by others to get him elected.

    Jesus christ, you people are pathetic.

  • 9
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    @ shepherdmarilyn

    I have re-read the findings from page 611, how do you come to that conclusion?

  • 10
    Michael de Angelos
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see why the sex scandal that involves Sophie Mirabella, her late aging , demented lover, a will and relatives should be mentioned at budget time.

  • 11
    bluepoppy
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Sigh. It is vote buying time of the year again. Is anyone else over the shallow end of politics. Or are we all to blame by looking out for number one. Clearly there is something wrong with our system if we all pay taxes for services like health and education, roads and police only to be given some of it back again in pork chips. Much rather the services we pay for be top notch.

    Maybe the taxation system could be reformed to make tax more relevant and tailored to the PAYE rather than the waste in infrastructure to administer these post-tax arrangements.

  • 12
    Michael de Angelos
    Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Hacks like Geoff Kitney demonstrates what dills we have in the press gallery. Why on earth does anyone pay these fools good money?.

    As long as the government is there and gets it’s policies through, what is the bloody difference between one vote and 6o votes from a bunch of useless MPs in NSW & QLD?.

    In fact we have the very best situation Federally with a government and Opposition unable to coast but having to work hard.

    On Sunday the collective News Ltd /Pravda titles perpetuated another myth- a child payment was called a ‘bribe’ (you may as well call the OAP pension a ‘bribe’ or a policeman’s pay). The tone is set and all others follow like lemmings just as they have with their c*ap about Labor always on the brink.

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