tip off

Swan alters course, delivers early Christmas present for Joe

Wayne Swan’s abandonment of the surplus commitment isn’t the opening of the fiscal floodgates, but it’s a great gift for Joe Hockey. Perhaps voters will be smarter than either major party on this vexed issue.

Wayne Swan

Yes, Joe, there is a Santa Claus, his name is Wayne and he’s come five days early for you.

Ever since he became shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey has been saying Labor would never deliver a surplus. Yesterday Wayne Swan came as close to vindicating him as we’re likely to see before the election campaign.

This is a humiliating backdown by Swan. Since the 2010 budget, Swan has been insisting Labor would be back in the black by 2012-13. He’s referred to the surplus around 200 times in 2011 and 2012 alone, the most recent occasion 11 days ago. Sometimes the surplus rhetoric got a little wild. “We’ve nailed our colours to the mast,” Swan said on stage earlier this year. In 2010, Swan insisted the surplus would be achieved “come hell or high water”.

Well, the good ship Budget has now headed for safe harbour just four months into the voyage, though, to be strictly accurate in labouring this metaphor, the problem isn’t so much high water as the doldrums: as finance data to October showed, revenue is falling below forecast levels. While the strong dollar persists, corporate tax revenue will underperform as trade-exposed sectors of the economy struggle. And the flat housing market, not to mention politicians and newspapers insisting that the economy is a disaster, will continue to crimp domestic confidence.

The commitment has an interesting history. The Rudd government first made it in 2010 when the economy looked to be recovering from the financial crisis more quickly than expected, and Labor was spooked by the opposition’s incessant harping on debt and deficits. 2012-13 was safely off in the future and beyond the election at that point anyway, and the first version of the mining tax was expected to reap huge returns. Then came the floods at the start of 2011, and the government’s flood levy, and a chorus of criticism that there was no need to rush back to surplus so quickly.

The government defied that, the economy picked up in the second half of 2011 and the early part of 2012, but the surplus was continually winnowed back as Treasury realised tax revenue wasn’t springing back anywhere near as fast as expected and Labor kept having to bring spending forward or push it back, or cut it altogether, to keep its prospects alive. The slowdown in the second half of this year, which followed a comparative slowdown in China, was the final straw: Labor isn’t going to cut any more.

Still, Swan has reversed course, and Hockey can pick and choose from an extensive list of Swan’s own statements to throw at the Treasurer. As he well should.

The announcement has been attended by quite a bit of stupidity. Tony Abbott suggested Australian families would somehow pay for the departure from the surplus commitment, as if a switch between a $1 billion surplus and a $5 billion deficit is going to have an impact on inflation or, for that matter, interest rates.

Swan has spent three years preparing the big stick with which Joe Hockey is going to belt him all the way to the election.”

It also sits oddly with Hockey’s lament that the RBA was being asked to do too much work to “catch a falling economy”; indeed, if the Coalition does believe the economy is falling — as Hockey and Abbott’s refusal to commit to a surplus next year suggests — their rhetoric on the need for surplus is bizarre (then again, all they need do is point to Swan’s many statement about why it’s economically necessary to return to surplus).

The opposition also continues to claim the government is “spending like drunken sailors” when its spending-to-GDP ratio this year — 23.8% at MYEFO, currently on track to be a tad lower — is lower than the average spending-to-GDP ratio of the Howard government.

Then there was the opposite reaction, by Rob Oakeshott, the Greens, some press gallery journalists, and various barrow-pushers, that having walked away from the surplus commitment, the government could now unleash the floodgates on spending, restoring savings made during the course of the last two years. One notable exception was ACOSS, which said the government should look to fund NDIS, Gonski and increased health spending by “clear[ing] wasteful and poorly targeted expenditure from the budget, and to avoid introducing new programs that are not rigorously designed to meet the country’s essential economic and social needs”.

The spend-up-big types — who in effect are saying “we’re going to have lower income this year, so let’s spend more” — missed or ignored what Swan specifically said, which was that the government was not going to make any further cuts to make up for the failure of revenue to meet projections; the surplus commitment has been abandoned only as far as tax revenue falls short. Nor is there strong evidence of a need for any fiscal stimulus. Unemployment remains low and steady; commodity prices have picked up significantly in recent weeks, buoyed by China’s return to strong growth, and there’s still plenty of stimulus to come from the RBA’s interest rate cuts, so a stronger second half of the financial year is a distinct possibility (with attendant higher tax revenues).

In fact Swan has steered a sensible fiscal course so far, refusing until now to react to the constant claims that the economy is in trouble and being endangered by a rapid fiscal contraction. In the end, the bulletproof dollar has defeated him, but there’s no case for abandoning fiscal discipline.

Still, regardless of the merits of the decision, Swan has spent three years preparing the big stick with which Joe Hockey is going to belt him all the way to the election. Whether that has any political impact remains to be seen. At the end of October, Essential found more voters opposed returning to surplus on the back of further spending cuts than supported it. Maybe voters are more sensible and realistic on budget policy than either Labor or the Liberals.

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  • 1
    GeeWizz
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    First it was going to be a $3 Billion Dollar Surplus.

    Then a $1.5 Billion Dollar Surplus

    Then a $1.1 Billion Dollar Surplus.

    Then 4 months into the data Labor gives up and says it’s all just too hard.

    Now we are gonna get a $10+ Billion Dollar deficit. But it’s okay says Swanny, it’s not my fault.. how was I to know things wouldn’t go exactly to Plan A’s specifications, this running an economy thingy is kinda hard.

    Hey we’ve given up on stopping the boats, given up to the Greens blackmail on the carbon tax and now we are giving up on a budget surplus.

    But don’t worry folks… Labor can have another shot at that elusive Labor budget surplus… in another 23 Years.

  • 2
    floorer
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Maybe voters opposed a return to surplus because they know how bad the economy is despite the *stats* saying otherwise.

  • 3
    Apollo
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    No need to worry about the surplus because the world is going to end today.

    But if we survive, we might get unexpected strong revenue for December. I went into Melbourne the other day and saw businesses were buzzing, property sales looked good too. Maybe it’s because we’re close to Christmas.

  • 4
    WTF
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Only Swan was saying he can do it, anyone with half a brain realised a long time ago that every sentence leaving the man’s lips is rubbish. In any case - surely if it can’t be pinned on Abbott than the bigger the deficit the better it must be for working families. That is how incompetence works!

  • 5
    Apollo
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Australian businesses might be able to bring the Australian dollar down against the USD. Maybe if they divest 70% of their export returns into other currencies to convert back to AUD when it’s profitable, and 30% USD to AUD. I’m guessing, I don’t know a lot about currency tradings.

  • 6
    GeeWizz
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    JOURNALIST: If you don’t make a, get the Budget back in to surplus in 2012-2013, this is a question to both of you, the cameras are on – will you resign?

    PM: (laughs) The Budget is coming back to surplus, no ifs no buts it will happen.

    JOURNALIST: So that’s a ‘yes’?

    PM: Matthew, I know and you know like these questions during campaigns but the Budget’s coming back to surplus. There’s no credible analysis on our economic plan that it won’t come back to surplus.

  • 7
    Paul Barry
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Good decision. No need to weaken the economy now. Should the economy becomes robust enough in the second half, they can cut spending in the final quarter if it looks achievable.

  • 8
    Hunt Ian
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    GeeWizz is all full of it - as a person who has never thought it especially necessary to get the budget back to surplus this year, nor even that it has to be in balance over the cycle, I am not dismayed by Swan’s refusal to shove the economy into recession.

    Unfortunately, we cannot say that “austerity” Abbott and Joe will refuse to push the economy into recession. In fact, it is guaranteed that they will, while trying to cook up a monstrous shortfall in the books with a repeat of the Costello audit of Queensland and blame Labor for the recession they will say we will to have because Labor “spent like drunken sailors”. They will no doubt be assisted by MSM, especially the “small government” push that Murdoch employs. Unfortunately again, many Australians seem a bit as thick as Abbott and Joe think them to be. So sending the economy into recession (Tony has been learning all about it in the UK) and dismantling the welfare state will be order of the day, along with attempts to resurrect the worst elements of Work Choices around individual agreements and withdrawal of rights of access, with the help of Consevative state governments.

    Joe has already signalled how to dismantle the welfare state. There must be incentives for families to spend themslves on tyheir health care and these incentives should be universal. Everyone, rich and poor, should have an incentive to take out private health insurance for health care,. In the case of the poor, the incentives will include cutting all levels of publicly funded care to a bare minimum and waiting in very long queues for elective procedures. In education, everyone, whether rich or poor, should have an incentive to contribute to their own children’s education, provided by bigger grants to schools that don’t get state funding and cutting back on extra federal funding for public schools so that poorer parents have an incentive to contribute more through school fees. The higher the school fees, the less will federal funding of public schools be cut back.
    We unfortunately can expect that deception and all the Goebbels techniques that some parts of MSM already seem to have adopted from Fox News, even if not so thoroughly, will play a big part in this. GeeWizz, can we suggest that you have a little celebration over Xmas? it will be on the house.

  • 9
    مكينSultanofAustralisTerraNullius
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    ooooo, that swanie is such a c()ck teaser. first he flirted with the Ozis on the surplus, now he teases blowjoe’s weener. he may do bullwinkle to surprise us all.

  • 10
    Bill Hilliger
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    @ Geewizz: Wayne Swan is a fool, he should have done what Joe Hockey will do if he gets to control the fiscal levers, that is; sell Medibank Private, and any of the few remaining government assets after the Howard/Costello sell offs to bring about a surplus. He should have cut Health, Education, free financial gifts to private school, sell off public schools, delete child care assistance, increase taxes for people earning between $50-250K. That would have brought a surplus. But wait that’s not all! Cut taxes for people earning more than $250K as they are the job creators; you know a’ la’ the Fux News and Republican Tea Party mantra that would be so familiar to you. Lastly make the Hume, Newell, Pacific and New England highways toll roads, or better still sell them too. Lastly cut old age pensions by at least 20% and stop subsidising incontince pads for people over 75. There would be a massive surplus, and the spending like drunken sailors transferred to the Australian people. THAT’S what we want, and thats what we will get if Joe gets in. Can’t wait for the wailing to start. Oh how, (according to the polls the MSM, it seems like many fellow Australian people) I hate an even a slightly caring for the people government.

  • 11
    Paul Barry
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    become

    Changed ‘when’ to ‘should’ but forgot to delete s from becomes.

  • 12
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    The Teasurer on the burning deck,
    His colours to the mast,
    He happened to be standing there,
    When Hockey happened past.
    Now Hockey was cunning chap
    He scoffed at Swan’s excuse,
    And as he deigned to take it up
    He made him look a goose.

    apologies to “Oscar”!

  • 13
    Malcolm Harrison
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    What an appalling state of affairs when the first two paragraphs of Keane’s piece is regarded as relevant news, and so many people will take it seriously as though it will make significant difference to our economic future. Yes, Joe and the rest of the scream team will make the most of it but only because the audience is economically illiterate.
    The real story is the stupidity of the government in painting themselves into an avoidable corner and the way in which they go on trying to rationalise their actions.
    Penny Wong being interviewed by Chris Uhlmann on 7.30 report squirmed as she tried to wriggle out from under accusations of loss of economic credibility. Uhlmann himself pursued this chimera relentlessly as though he too believed the government had lost its way and was taking the rest of the country with it. It was certainly the worst interview I saw this week, making nonsense of any claims that the ABC is in the thrall of left wing bias.

  • 14
    Mr Tank
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    About time Comrade, and yep I agree maintain your fiscal discipline but with one exception. RAISE THE DOLE! It is more than just a politically astute move - it will improve our primary vote - it is the moral thing to do.

  • 15
    Mr Tank
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Apologies for the crappy sentence structure. Oh and for the few still in denial about the desperation of the unemployed in this wealthy country and are therefore likely to indulge in their usual shoot the messenger behaviour this dual citizen cashed out the last of his Super under EXTREME FINANCIAl HARDSHIP and bailed. At least now I have a full stomach.

  • 16
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Swan is a goner, so is Gillard. Labor will have to replace both, in order to save seats. I would not be surprised if they bring back Rudd call a snap poll and hope for the best.

    For Gillard to hide yesterday and not face the music, make it even worse.

    Where is Jimmy from the spin office. Hello hello

    Merry Christmas to all crickey readers.

  • 17
    hern andog
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps voters will be smarter than either major party on this vexed issue.”

    that really would be a christmas miracle.

  • 18
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    That old recipe for embarrassment : “Take one politician and simply add microphone” …. that’s why Abbott avoids them as much as possible (and the party glad he’s on such a short lead).

  • 19
    Holden Back
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” John Kenneth Gailbraith

    QED.

  • 20
    zut alors
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Sure, we all watched Swan and Gillard preparing ‘the big stick with which Joe Hockey is going to belt him’ but they wouldn’t, and couldn’t, take heed to drop it.

    The government is too easily baited by the economically vacuous Coalition and their simplistic baying for a surplus. Swan has made a wise decision and changed course. Which is precisely the dilemma Abbott would face re axing the carbon price.

    If Hockey is relishing this ‘broken promise’, the fun hasn’t even begun, he ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  • 21
    shepherdmarilyn
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    For god’s sake a surplus is over charging of taxes without supplying services.

    There is no legal basis for it so why do the Australian moron media pretend they know what they are talking about.

  • 22
    Bill Hilliger
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    @ Geewizz: Wayne Swan is a fool, he should have done what Joe Hockey will do if he gets to control the fiscal levers, that is; sell Medibank Private, and any of the few remaining government assets after the Howard/Costello sell offs to bring about a surplus. He should have cut Health, Education, free financial gifts to private school, sell off public schools, delete child care assistance, increase taxes for people earning between $50-250K. That would have brought a surplus. But wait that’s not all! Cut taxes for people earning more than $250K as they are the job creators; you know a’ la’ the Fux News and Republican Tea Party mantra that would be so familiar to you. Lastly make the Hume, Newell, Pacific and New England highways toll roads, or better still sell them too. Lastly cut old age pensions by at least 20% and stop subsidising incontince pads for people over 75. There would be a massive surplus, and the spending like drunken sailors transferred to the Australian people. THAT’S what we want, and thats what we will get if Joe gets in. Can’t wait for the wailing to start. Oh how, (according to the polls the MSM, it seems like many fellow Australian people) I dislike even a slightly caring for the people government.

  • 23
    GeeWizz
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne… Jimmy was going to pay me 2/1 on my $100 bet that Dillard wouldn’t post a budget surplus.

    When can I expect my cheque?

  • 24
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    No one in voter land is listening. They are all on holidays or shopping.

    Swan knows this. Hockey too, hence the annoyance.

    Will anyone remember outside the beltway after the holidays? Too soon to tell.

    For instance what if the USA goes over that cliff and there is a global recession. Sticking to a surplus would look really dumb then as our markets fall further.

    Then the political dynamic will be around - who will keep society together (the mummy party = ALP), who will be nasty and stingy with public funding (the daddy party = LNP).

    It’s a significant political play, no doubt and the PM still has wriggle room to over rule the treasurer if it all turns around back to surplus, by dodging this announcement.

  • 25
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    It is now accepted that the Australian East Coast States are in recession.
    The down turn in economic growth is caused by the scorched earth, austerity measures put in place by conservative governments.
    You cannot castigate Swan as being foolish to promise a surplus without also recognising that that federal surplus has been sabotaged by conservative state governments.
    Those who are blind to the politics will also be blind to the Inevitable Abbott Recession, which can be abborrtted by a business boycott of funding for the Liberal’s election war chests.
    The underlying problem is the unsustainable $1TRILlION howard era mortgage debt and the Annual $60 BILLION mortgage interest bill which is nolonger, in the post GFC world, can no longer be ameliorated by Howard era, debt-fuelled capital gain.
    the conservative aim is to absolutely cut government spending and in turn direct money to an upturn in housing capital gain. A recipe for recession.
    As Adam Smith argued, “Capitalists have an interest to deceive and oppress the public, using all means at their disposal to have governments interfere in their favour”
    The bankrupting debt assailing Australia is not government debt but private mortgage debt.
    As the PM said the surplus would be delivered as long as growth continued, it didn’t.
    Blame Howard, Costello, Newman, O’Farrell and Baillieu, deceivers, oppressors and democracy destroying economic vandals, one and all.
    Business, their erstwhile supporters, are finally waking up to the fact that the welfare of a working population is more important to themselves and the nation than the deadly, economy destroying greed of “The Idle Rich”.

  • 26
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Why, on earth, is Adam Smith always moderated on Crikey?

  • 27
    Damon Coles
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Swan should have called the surplus a non-core promise.

  • 28
    Patriot
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Another stuff-up by the bungling Labor buffoons. They couldn’t organise a root in a brоthel. Oh, wait…

  • 29
    David Hand
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Firstly, the step back from a surplus is good economics. At last, government fiscal policy can come into line with the RBA to provide economic stimulation to promote growth. The Coalition will need to be careful about how it puts the boot in because no responsible government would be contracting the economy in the conditions we face today.

    The real story is the absolutely vacuous rhetoric that has come from Swan’s lips in the past two years. All the talk of a surplus was unadulterated bullshit. Swan knew it was bullshit, we knew it was bullshit, he knew that we knew it was bullshit and we knew that he knew that we knew it was bullshit. But he said it anyway.

    So what we have is the absolute destruction of any vestage of integrity in anything the treasurer says. That’s where the damage has been done and that’s where the Coalition should attack.

    The other thing is that all you lefties in the Crikey crypt can at last shut up about coalition costings and black holes. With the entire apparatus of Treasury to support him, once again we have the government accounts shifting by billions and billions of dollars a mere month after the MYEFO.

    It’s a joke, they’re a joke and Swan is a joke.

  • 30
    Matt Hardin
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Funny how the right wing commentators are out in force today. Where were you all when the articles on Rares’ decision were published?

  • 31
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Friday, 21 December 2012 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Yes Matt Hardin they do appear out of the wet scrub so infrequently these days.
    Morgan’s last poll was interseting. Maybe an outlyer or perhaps indicative of a trend??
    Embarrassing as Swannies adoption of reality must be, I dont think he will get much media stick when the MSM focus on the Tea Party ‘cliff hanger shuffle’ that they have just performed, without an orchestra, for Boehmer and the GOP

  • 32
    GeeWizz
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    Matt… quick look over there… something to try and distract everyone from the latest Labor policy implosion!

    No one gives a stuff about Slipper… he is yesterdays news and a poll in his electorate says a huge 3% would vote for the bloke again.

    If Labor thinks poor slippery Petes been hard done by they should reinstate him as speaker again and pre-select him a a Labor candidate in his electorate.

    Oh whats that? You’ve gone all quiet… quick better find your next little distraction… Swan’s “no if’s, no but’s, no maybes” budget beens blown out the water.

    23 Years since the last Labor surplus… these guys are gold class losers.

  • 33
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Labor’s long promised Budget surplus was comprehensively sabotaged by the Australian East Coast Recession, itself an artefact of the scorched earth, slash and burn, austerity policies of conservative state regimes.
    It is probably being reported, just like this, in the overseas press.
    By contrast, domestically, the numberdunce economic fops instead indulge in hyaenic hyperventilation about biblical covenants between God and the people being broken by godless communism.
    This is Franco’s Spain, eighty years out of date.
    Who are these idiots on the opposition front bench?
    Do we have to burn them out, like Hercules did with the poisonous, seven headed Hydra, which these ultra-conservatives most closely resemble?
    Nothing Christian about this crew.
    Abborrtt the Abbott Recession!

  • 34
    David Hand
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Great stirring prose Hamis!
    I am particularly taken by your comparison to Franco’s Spain.

    Yes! Swanny’s lost his surplus cos of the evil Campbell Newman! It’s all the tories’ fault!
    We all feel better now.

  • 35
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Everybody identifies Peter Costello as the ultimate “Gold Class Loser”; was it billions lost in pursuit of a “Golden Era” surplus.?
    Tell us more about how some sort of covenant between God and Abborrtt’s supporters will guarantee an “immaculate budget surplus”, every year, for three years if voters, the little lambs that they are, allow themselves to be gently shepherded into the paradise, the absolute promised land of rule by and for the “Idle Rich”?
    Golden Calves anyone; that conservative article of faith indeed. What do you have to say oh ye of the pious econo-foppery, besides thoughtless belching and farting?
    OH, that’s right, if God had wanted you to think he would have given you a brain! Emulate Mr Abbott! Meh, meh meh.

  • 36
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Hey! Ask Mr Abborrtt why he uses Biblical terminology in the economic debate? He started it!
    It is a weird sort of dog -whistling with such a ploy.
    Certainly there will be no ears pricking up no among those who credit “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s” as the ultimate argument for the separation of Church and State.
    Instead, Abbott is hinting that he and his supporters are “Chosen People”; part of a “covenant” between them and God. For the collapse of godless democracy and the “end of Times”?, as demonstrated by Labor’s “breaking of the covenant” Politico-religious dementoids indeed, with econo-foppery just part of the syndrome.
    Please Explain!!! Was Pauline Hanson’s real threat that she
    had, as does the PM, that red hair common to all “witches”.
    Be careful little lambs!

  • 37
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    David, do the maths.

  • 38
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    B.A. Santamaria, the immediate post war idol for the Politico-religious dementoids on the oppostion front bench.
    Santamamria’s plain objective was to avoid the proper punishment of the defeated totalitarian extremists who gave us the 54 million dead of WWII.
    Daddy, Daddy what did you do in the Cold War?
    Why, dear I had may brain completely frozen by fear of communism, just so I could save you from the godless horrors of democracy.
    And look, now you can safely join the lovely Mr Abbott’s
    “covenant”.
    Why look! his popularity just about matches the population proportions of that religious community that can protect you from godless communism but not pervert priests?
    Smokescreens?
    Yes, yes! if god had wanted you to think etc etc.
    Go for the Hockey style, hyaenic hyperventilation intead, Doesn’t it just fill you with complete, rapturous confidence? It is so good being part of the Abbott “covenant”!

  • 39
    klewso
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    The truth is Swan didn’t have to open his mouth - knowing it would run off - in an attempt to please those that he can’t please. That wasn’t smart politics - it was inane.
    Now he (and the party hierarchy) is being haunted by the spectre of a Cheshire Cat, the product of his own fertile imagination (over reality), that taunted and mocked him as it kept moving just beyond reach.
    Now it’s caught him and it’s giving him a licking.

  • 40
    TheFamousEccles
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    An “own goal” for Swan. I (reluctantly) find myself agreeing with David Hand - in part - that Swan is a lightweight and a poor bullshit artiste.

    I have always thought he was a weak link, and was by pure good fortune and adherence to advice able to steer the country through the GFC, though sadly with this surplus-at-all-costs palava he has dashed all good faith I had developed in him. This is an admission coming from a committed Lefty.

    However, with the benefit of not having to back up their claims with data and with the principles that we all understand the rightards to possess, I am firmly convinced that if the Coalition had been in government at the time of the GFC, with their predilection for austerity and hair shirts for the great unwashed (witness the eastern states and the recession they didnt have to have), the nation would be a basket case. Particularly with a fundamentally illiterate, god-bothering “Rhodes Scholar” at the helm.

    We have the best of two bad choices, so it seems.

    Hobsons’ choice?

  • 41
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Econo-fops!

  • 42
    Hunt Ian
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Yes, Swan was silly to turn a forecast from Treasury into a promise. The deeper silliness is the concession to the basic economics and politics of the “small government” push. Taking pride in spending less of DPD than Howard is silly in the long run as Australia will have to increase the share of GDP spent by government to maintain the welfare state as our population ages. That silliness aside, Swan rightly withdraws the commitment in favour of preserving our economy from recession. So Swan should be praised for the right economic policy but deserves a smack for putting projections from Treasury in the form of promises. It would have been simpler to say that economic policy did not favour the “small government” policy and to be proud of the difference that the govt’s stance puts between it and the raving that comes from the opposition.

  • 43
    Johnfromplanetearth
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    To be a politician is to be a master of the art of bullshit. Both the Libs and Labor have their heads up their arses, I’m sick of politicians that look like child molestors. WTF? Are we paying these guys and “chicks” (oops i did it again..) to run the country or to sit there and be ugly? Swan has failed and should be sacked immediately, better still he should be strapped to a catapult and launched down a mountain. If i was running the show no vegetarians would be allowed in parliament. They obviously don’t know what’s good for them, so we don’t want them making decisions for anyone. Everyone would have to address me as “Supreme king ruler of the house, who I am indebted to for the privilege of existence.” Everything i say and do would be gospel and anyone who objects would be catapulted! See, it’s easy to be a Labor politician in 2012.

  • 44
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Abborrtt could go, in his inimicable Roman style, the full Caligula and make horses into Senators.
    An improvement on the donkeys already there.
    Any chance for a beatification and canonisation before the next election?
    Saint Anthony of the Holy Surplus, complete with golden halo, martyred loser of 2010, miraculously still leader; surely a sign of divine intervention!
    Once we have a theocracy in place we can call off the Royal Commission into institutionalised child abuse.
    “For All The Believers” (On the opposition front bench).

  • 45
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    @ GeeWizz “Suzanne… Jimmy was going to pay me 2/1 on my $100 bet that Dillard wouldn’t post a budget surplus.

    When can I expect my cheque?”

    Never, Jimmy goes to ground when the news is bad and there is nothing left on the spin roll. Nothing to wipe with.

  • 46
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    With the hundreds of Swan and Gillard, rock solid surplus promises, and the quotes from Labor Ministers and PM at the February leadership challenge, Humprey B Bear with bells on will win the next election.

    Labor will HAVE to replace Gillard and Swan to save furniture and I now think Abbott maybe replaced as well.

    Interestind times ahead, as the ecomony stalls.

  • 47
    geomac62
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Nothings changed with the opposition regarding economic matters . Hockey refuses to guarantee a surplus if in office while Abbott promises a surplus every year . Do they actually talk to each other on policy matters or just converse when Ashby and bringing down the government is the topic ? Maybe they are more comfortable with collusion than consultation .
    How to end a door stop with Abbott ? Ask about Brough and Ashby . Run rAbbott Run rAbbott run , run , run .

  • 48
    David Hand
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m enjoying your writing Hamis, but don’t give up your day job.

  • 49
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Glad you are amused David, but, like many others, prospects for self-employment have been seriously sabotaged by the annual $6o Billion, Howard originated, golden-era mortgage interest bill beggaring most of my potential clients.
    So idly engaged in R and D while the “Idle Rich” continue to suck the economy dry.
    For example, Abborrrtt’s negativity, projected to the next election, will have cost Mudorcs News Limited a cool $1 Billion in lost revenue.
    The accceptable price of conservative politics?
    Rational business people are bound to recognise, even out of pure self-interest, that sacrificing their wealth producing enterprises and their workforces to the insatiable demands of the Idle Rich just cannot continue.
    So expect Andrew Robb to be very short on cash come the next election campaign when business donations dry up.
    The Idle Rich won’t be parting with any money, that is not what they do.
    There is no surplus of economic sanity in the politico-religious (dementoid) ranks of the Abbotteers, and it pays to look a lttle farther than the immediate present to source their motivations, which are most definitely not democratic.(By their actions shall ye know them???)

  • 50
    David Hand
    Posted Saturday, 22 December 2012 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Hamis,
    I’m not aware of too many idle rich in australia. Most of the rich I read about and occasionally meet are very hard working.

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